Surfers bid Zander farewell
THE SURFING COMMUNITY came out en masse to bid farewell to pro junior surfer Zander Venezia yesterday.
On a morning when the overcast conditions mirrored the sombre mood at Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens, thousands dressed in their blues and greens created a human canvas of seascape colours that spilled into the wings, under specially set up tents and onto the driveway on the outside.
Even the ties of those from his alma mater, The St Michael School, blended in, as the man Zander referred to as “Uncle Al”, explained why the 16-year-old was at Box by Box, Cattlewash surfing monster waves thrown this way as a result of Hurricane Irma.
Only a surfer knows
In a packed chapel with standing room only and before an audience that included surfers who were at the Box with Zander on September 5, as well as members, current and past presidents of the Barbados Surfing Association, Sir Charles Williams and champion driver Roger ‘The Sheriff” Skeete, Alan Burke, a former pro-surfer, admitted the question ‘Why do we surf?’ would even stump surfers themselves.
“Could it be the challenge with Mother Nature? Becoming one with the ocean? The adrenalin? The exhilarating feeling of going across a wave? The unpredictable and predictable outcome? The fear one conquers especially in surf of consequence? The sense of accomplishment when performing in a surf competition environment? Or could it just be the inclusion of being a part of a worldwide family, also known as a surf community?” Burke asked.
“Whatever it is, there is an old saying – only a surfer knows the feeling,” he said.
Burke went on to describe Zander as an “excellent skateboarder, a little daredevil” who found pleasure not only in go-kart racing but in “surfing Soup Bowl on the biggest days”.
“At only 16 years old, he quickly became a competent and an accomplished big wave surfer, gaining his experience by chalking up countless hours in the line-up with a select few over the past few years,” Burke said.
He also recalled Zander being “a jovial, quirky, fun-loving, respectful, kind-hearted kid”, adding this was evident in the outpouring of support on social media and which occasioned the hashtag #livelikezander.
And in a touching moment, Burke revealed that a few days ago, the executive director of the National Scholastics Surfing Association (NSSA) had driven two hours to meet him in California to hand over the contest jersey Zander was wearing when he won his last competition a few weeks ago.
“I brought this for Lou [Zander’s father Louis],” he said after a pause to recollect his composure. “This is the jersey he was wearing. This is what he lived for, buddy,” he told the elder Venezia.
Meanwhile, Nicky Marshall, who delivered the message, said people might question Zander’s death at such a young age.
“I don’t think there are any easy answers or explanations for this. Bad things just happen. They happen to good people; they happen to 16-year-old kids,” he said.
“I don’t believe that God took Zander away from us for some greater purpose. I’m not sure there is any meaning or explanation to his death in that sense. I think it is up to us to give his death meaning. We do this in all of the wonderful memories we have of who he was and . . . in the good things we do for the world in his memory,” he said, urging his listeners to be encouraged through faith, hope and love.
During the ceremony, Zander’s sister Isabella and family friend Karyn Fakoory read poems to his memory.
He will be cremated but a paddle-out is being organised in his honour.
JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!
That was the pledge from Acting Attorney General Michael Lashley as he spoke to the DAILY NATION in the graveyard of St Catherine’s Anglican Church yesterday evening, where the bodies of Kyle Rico “Sad Boy” Burgess and Renaldo “Conan” Gittens, both 24, were interred.
The two cousins were gunned down while liming on the block at Marley Vale, St Philip, with a group of people on August 29. It was not far from their East Point homes.
“We have a Royal Barbados Police Force that is looking after investigations and I have full confidence that they will do whatever is necessary, and of course the Fair Trial provisions. Once that person is given all the access to a fair trial, then justice will prevail,” said Lashley, who is also parliamentary representative for the area.
He was echoing the call by officiating minister Reverend David Yarde, who urged those who were hurting and grieving not to seek revenge.
“This is not a time for revenge. Basically, most of the murders the police have been able to solve for the past couple of months and years. Once we get full cooperation from the persons who allegedly would have seen the offence, I think that there will be no need for any revenge. St Philip and Marley Vale – we don’t have that characteristic basically,” Lashley stated.
During his sermon, Yarde said he recognised amidst the pain, people might feel the deaths of the two, whose lives were cut short through gun violence, needed to be avenged. He queried whether any real satisfaction would be gained from it.