RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — A 16-year-old junior professional surfer who won a competition at the North Carolina coast last month died this week in Barbados while surfing large swells generated by Hurricane Irma.
Zander Venezia was surfing on the island’s east coast when he drowned Tuesday as the hurricane churned several hundred miles away.
Family friend and surfing instructor Alan Burke said Venezia hit his head and lost consciousness. He said it was a freak accident that occurred under blue skies and ideal surfing conditions.
Venezia won his class in the 2017 Rip Curl GromSearch the weekend of Aug. 18 at Nags Head, according to surfing supply company Rip Curl.
Venezia had competed in the event for six years and this was his first win at the event, according to Rip Curl.
Burke said Venezia told a friend in his last words that he was surfing the best waves of his life.
Venezia had represented Barbados on its national surfing team as a junior pro.