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BARBADOS - windsurfing - Talma living his dream

Date July 10, 2005

TWENTY YEARS AGO, a fresh-faced youngster with long, sun-bleached hair stepped on to the windsurfing circuit, forever changing the way water sports and the beach would be viewed in Barbados.

Today, Brian Talma looks fondly back on his life, smiling about all that he has achieved.

"When I became a professional windsurfer I wanted to break all of the barriers and stigmas. Twenty years ago I looked like I look now, but I was not seen as an asset.

It was only by believing in myself," he told SUNSPORT.

In 1985, Talma started with the Mistral World Championship in Gran Canaria, one of eight people to represent Barbados. At that event, he attracted a lot of media attention and was able to generate lots of coverage for Barbados.

Talma went on to the World Cup in Aruba where he did well and also got a photo shoot that made the cover of four international windsurfing magazines.

That was a turning point in his career which showed the perfect blend of competition and sports promotion for Barbados.

He was one of the first Barbadian sporting personalities to appear on MTV Sports and has been featured on a number of networks, including ESPN, the Discovery Channel, Sky TV and VOX TV in Germany.

Talma has appeared in every major windsurfing magazine and graced five covers in 1995 alone. He soon branched out into photo shoots which told the story of countries, their hidden treasures and the beach culture, leading to more spreads in magazines in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, England, France, Italy and the United States.

Not only did he taste success as a competitor, he was also instrumental in the launch of the Professional Windsurfing Association's (PWA) freestyle windsurfing which is one of the biggest categories. He brought the PWA events to Barbados and coordinated them from 1992 to 1995, before launching the Waterman Festival back in 2000.

The Waterman Festival is in keeping with the tourism ambassador's work in promoting the beach culture of Barbados. Organised specifically to bring the international media to the island following personalities like former world freestyle champion Josh Stone, Kelly Slater, veteran Nevin Sayer, the festival has generated publicity in all corners of the globe.

A 23-minute show Wild Sprits was produced out of this year's festival and it was distributed across Europe, with stills in the leading windsurfing magazines. Segments

can also been seen locally on MCTV's Visitor Channel. He also ventured into music production, with CDs and videos again focusing on Barbados' beach culture.

"The greatest thing about this year is the international world recognising what I mean about beach culture. It is a lifestyle and it is a billion-dollar industry. Names such as Quiksilver, Billabong, Gotcha and Chiemsee - which is one of my sponsors - all have clothing and there are shops which sell the equipment and the image is spreading," he explained

"They not only promote a way of life, but they create job opportunities in tourism."

His next challenge will be finding a new home as he has been displaced from his base as Silver Rock now that the hotel has been sold. But this has not daunted the spirits of the Irie Man who is always smiling.

"I want to get paid to play," is how he summed it up.

"If you look at me today, I could say I lived my dream and now I would love to see other people live their dreams."

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