By Morissa Lindsay
Barbadian surfer Josh Burke is a happy man after making history as the first competitor from the English-speaking Caribbean to qualify for the men’s event Surfing League World Championship touring event currently taking place in El Salvador.
This is the first time a championship tour has taken place in El Salvador and Burke was lucky enough to get a wild card to face some of the best in the world.
Burke got the opportunity after it was announced that 11-time American-born world champion Kelly Slater had pulled out of competition due to what was described as a mysterious injury.
During an interview with Barbados TODAYthe talented Burke who continues to make a name for himself and is the highest ranked surfer in Central America and the Caribbean described this moment in his career as a huge opportunity.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me. It’s my first time on a WCT (World Championship Tour). I got the call as a wild card because the eleven-time world champion was retired due to injury and I got a wild card because I am currently the highest rated Central American and Caribbean surfer in the Challenger Series.
“I’m very happy to have this opportunity and also happy to be here competing in El Salvador. Of course, I’m also happy to represent my country and I hope I’ll be proud of myself and everyone. C It’s a huge opportunity for me to step into this WCT team and it could be the highlight of my career so far, especially if I win a few rounds and do well,” Burke said. Barbados TODAY.
He added: “Everyone keeps praising me for being in this event and yes it’s a huge accomplishment but I’m looking to do more than just qualify for the event.”
On the first day of competition this morning in the third run, Burke did well to advance to the second round after placing second in the third run. In the WCT, the first round is a non-elimination round and the winners of each round will skip a round which Burke says is not as is normally done in surfing. He noted that the top two of each heat under ordinary circumstances would advance and the remaining entrants would be eliminated.
However, the WCT has a different format where the winner of each heat will skip a round while the second and third will enter a knockout round. Unfortunately, Burke couldn’t win his round and skip a round, but is looking forward to the second-round showdown tomorrow.
It won’t be an easy road for Burke as he enters the second round of round three which will feature 2019 World Surfing League champion and Olympic gold medalist Italo Ferreira of Brazil.
As the second day of competition begins, Burke is hoping for what he described as towering dream waves to improve his performance. According to Burke, it was extremely windy today and hopes mother nature is cooperating when the event resumes tomorrow.
Confident in his place at this level, Burke said he intends to seize the opportunity with both hands. “I believe I belong on this circuit and in order for me to be on the circuit permanently, I have to qualify through the Challenger Series. I’m the lowest seed here and I’m surfing against the highest ranked guys on the contest right now, but my confidence level is high and I know I belong here.
Over the years, Burke has made notable achievements winning the 1000 Series Qualifiers at Cocoa Beach in Florida in 2018 and the following year in 2019 on home soil at the Soup Bowl in Bathsheba.
Although he did well to get this far, Burke said Barbados TODAY that he is not yet satisfied with his career and wants to do better. “I will be satisfied when I have proven myself in competition, and to prove myself I have to be permanently on the world tour. So, I am not satisfied yet and maybe other people are satisfied. but i am not satisfied right now i have proven myself with the talent i have and i have shown that i am one of the best surfers in the world but i have to prove myself in competition and get results.
Once finished with El Salvador, Burke will travel to Ballito, South Africa from July 3-10 for the Challenger Series.