A changing of the guard is undeniable.
At at the 10th Rip Curl Pro Tofino Canadian Surf Championships, a throng of spectators lined the shores of Cox Bay and watched as rising surf stars, Matheo Olin and Freddy Sandford, scored top honours in not only their Under-16 categories, but in the Pro Women’s and Open Men’s divisions as well.
For the first time in her brief yet already heavily decorated sporting career, 13-year-old Mathea Olin surfed her way to the title of Women’s Pro Champion, beating out seasoned Rip Curl Pro and Queen of the Peak competitors Tamarah Stephens, Steph Wightman, and Leah Oke in the final heat.
“This does mean a lot to me,” Olin told the Westerly. “It’s my first time and I’m just really happy. I’ve been surfing this peak for like a month before, so I felt like I knew it pretty well.”
Prior to paddling out for the final, Olin was notably deep in concentration, while her competitors loosely chatted amongst the crowd.
“My game plan was to stick to myself and not pay attention to what the other people were doing,” said Olin. “And to stay focused and be on the best waves. It was definitely really difficult out there but I found a couple good ones.”
Olin, who is sponsored by Billabong, Live To Surf, and Shelter Restaurant, also took second place in the Women’s Longboard event. Her little sister, Sanoa Olin, won the Girls Under-12 division.
Freddy Sandford, 14, said he was stoked just to make the final of the Open Men’s division, let alone win the whole thing.
“Nobody got any great waves in the final, but it was close. Next year will be a lot harder,” Sandford said.
The Tofino grom bested a field of 32 competitors to earn a coveted spot with the Pros in next year’s contest.
For a second year in a row, crowd favourite Peter Devries suffered a heartbreaking 14.4-14.3 loss to a Californian surfer. While Devries still remains our Canadian Surf Champ, the top spot on the Pro Men’s podium was awarded to Kevin Schulz from San Clemente.
“It was a super close heat. Kevin had been surfing so well the whole event. I knew it was going to be a really tough final, especially with those little lefts and you could find those sections as the rights were not as good,” Devries said at the awards ceremony.
“I went into it trying to put myself on the best waves, and I found a couple lefts and just came up short in the end. It was a close one. Great job to him and great job to all the people that put on this event, Rip Curl, Monster, all the judges, everybody. Thank you.”
Schulz ricocheted the kind words back.
“Pete is an amazing surfer. And whether he knows it or not, I’ve been following him since I was a super grom,” Schulz said. “To be up on the podium with this guy is an honour. It was a great contest and thanks for all the sponsors for putting it on. Hopefully, I’ll come back next year.”
Monster Energy had a laid-back tent set-up at the event this year, with hammocks and a DJ playing good vibes all weekend long. On Finals Day, Monster also dished out hearty Rip Curl stew to a lineup of windblown spectators and contestants.