Not a single day goes by that I don’t think about this magical place that is known as Canada’s surf capital. Trees taller than you could ever imagine, the smell of the saltwater as you take a breath, Rainforests that have stories to tell, are all what make up Tofino British Columbia. Tofino sits on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, a part of the Esowista Peninsula, and is located in the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. This is where every year CSA Surf Canada hosts the Rip Curl Pro Nationals event. This three day surf competition determines which athletes get to represent Team Canada at the ISA World Surfing games each year.
This year on April 8-10th a showing of 185 athletes competed for a title in their respective divisions. On Friday April 8th the contest was put on hold due to high winds for the first time since 2007! On Saturday April 9th the contest was relocated from Cox Bay to North Chesterman beach for friendlier conditions. Two heats were run at the same time on two different sides of the beach in order to make up for the first day that was lost. It was absolutely thrilling to watch two heats happen at the same time! There was never a dull moment in the water that day. Even though there was still quite a bit of wind, the sun was shining for most of the competition. Rain appeared near the end of the final heats for the day but overall competitors were happy. Afterwards participants and friends gathered at Lil’ Ronnie's BBQ to celebrate the successes of the day and watch a preview of Nat Laverty’s newest film featuring Mathea Olin. We watched in awe as Mathea surfed Canada’s pristine west coast on the screen in front of us.
The second and final day of the competition turned out to be even more spectacular than the day before. The contest was delayed one hour due to high fog, but eventually the sun came out and the surf turned on! Beautiful off-shore winds made for strong conditions at Cox Bay for all divisions. Canadians from all over the country surfed their hearts out, including surfers from Alberta, the Great Lakes, and Nova Scotia. There was lots of beautiful rail work done, and technical surfing accomplished by the athletes in the approximate 3-4ft swell. Everyone watching was cheering and yelling in excitement at the display of high level surfing put on by all of the athletes. A special shout out goes to the amazing Nova Scotia crew that definitely demonstrated the most stoke for their teammates out of everyone in the crowd.
Final results showed Noah Cohen winning the Men's pro division, and Mathea Olin defending her Women’s pro division title. Kat Rosen won the Women's open title, alongside Clay Chiovitti for the Mens open title at just age 13! Local surfers Shea Bruhwiler and Chloe Platenius won the U16 category while Sanoa Dempfle-Olin and Reed Platenius claimed the U18 titles. Additionally Jeffery Spencer and Ruby Woodruff came out on top for the longboarding division. Finally, a massive congratulations goes to all of the competitors, event organizers, volunteers, and photographers who came together to make this event another phenomenal success. It will be exciting to see where the future of surfing in Canada goes and how this sport continues to grow with so many talented and passionate surfers shredding down the line.
Maddi Leblanc is a Niagara born, Toronto-based stand up paddling athlete for Team Canada, SUP instructor, and lake surfer. Maddi is also the new General Manager at Surf the Greats. She has been paddle boarding for nine years, competing in SUP for six years, and surfing the Great Lakes for six years. She recently just completed her Masters at Brock University in Recreation & Leisure Studies. Find her on Instagram.