A group of pro surfers proved once again on Tuesday that extreme sports athletes are not normal people, flying to Barbados during Hurricane Irma to catch a wave that only breaks during intense hurricane-force winds.
One surfer met his match, however, tragically falling victim to the epic wave at the once-in-a-lifetime surf spot: “Box by Box.”
The Daily Mail reports that the World Surf League has confirmed the death of promising young surfer Zander Venezia after he was knocked unconscious by a reef when a wave sept him off his board. The autopsy revealed the reef knocked him out and then he drowned. Venezia was a Barbados native.
Pro surfer Alan Burke said Zander was hit by a “closeout set,” whereby the waves close in from both sides and that he “likely hit bottom.” One of the surfers that was part of the group that flew in, Nathan Florence, was the first to reach the unconscious Venezia.
“Zander was bleeding, and he wasn’t moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was very difficult,” Burke said. “Box by Box is a tough place to get in and out of, even if you have the ability. There’s lots of big rocks around, and some stick out of the water.”
Venezia’s last words, spoken to a fellow pro, Dylan Graves, reveal the eerie excitement at which these athletes look at life-threatening waves.
He told Graves, “I just got the best wave of my life!” Burke said. “Dylan was the last person to speak to Zander. Then that next closeout set came through.”
Pro Mark Holder says he wouldn’t dare surf Box by Box during a storm.
‘That wave only breaks when you have hurricane swells and it breaks in a different direction, so that swell breaks, like, once in a blue moon. When it is breaking, guys go there because it is a beautiful wave, but it is pretty dangerous,” Holder told Barbados Today.
The 16-year-old Venezia died tragically and far too young, but the full-tilt way he rushed headlong into the epic wave is a testament to the contract pro surfers sign with nature when they confront thousand-gallon-walls of water.
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