By Steve Waters
South Florida is the ideal place to live for those who love the water, and Victoria Burgess takes advantage of all the opportunities the area offers.
The Pompano Beach resident’s first love is surfing, but she’s also into free-diving, lobstering, fishing, beach volleyball, standup paddleboarding and paddleboard racing.
She also makes time to introduce her passions to others, including youngsters and Special Olympians.
Burgess has been involved with Surfers for Autism, which helps kids with autism go surfing and raises money for autism charities, since its first event in 2008 in Deerfield Beach.
“It keeps you busy, that’s for sure,” said Burgess, 30, a former firefighter and now a fire inspector with Pompano Beach Fire Rescue.
Burgess makes the most of her time on the water. Although she’s been standup paddleboarding for only a year and a half, she competed in the Florida State Paddleboard Championship two weeks ago in Cocoa Beach for the first time and won the women’s 18-49, 12’6″ & Under division. She completed the six-mile race in just under an hour, winning by 13 seconds over the favorite.
Last year, fishing in her first tournament, Burgess was the top angler in the Ladies Fish-Off with two kingfish and two tunas weighing a total of 73.6 pounds to win $2,000. Hook Me Up, the boat on which she fished, was second in the team standings.
“She has that competitive drive in her and the determination to be the best at whatever she focuses on,” said Roray Kam, an expert paddleboarder who coaches Burgess. “Once she gets it in her mind, she’s going to do it. She works hard at it.”
Growing up in Lighthouse Point, Burgess spent more time competing on land than on the water. She was a starting pitcher for the United States Junior Olympic softball team and also played soccer, basketball and volleyball.