Team Canada finished sixth out of 20 nations that competed in the 2018 Pan American Surfing Games in Peru from Dec. 2 to 8. Team Peru won the title of Team Gold for the fifth time, Team Brazil placed second and Argentina placed third.
The continental championships featured 270 of the best surfers in the Americas and were a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Surf Canada obtained two podium results: Lina Augaitis from Vernon B.C. won bronze in the women’s SUP race division and Hawaiian-Canadian Finn Spencer finished fourth in the men’s SUP surf event. The results guarantee Augaitis and Spencer a place in the 2019 Pan Am Games, unofficially.
Mathea Olin, last year’s Pan American longboard champion and bronze medalist in women’s shortboard, didn’t reach the podium this year, but has unofficially retained her spot in the women’s longboard division for the 2019 Pan Am Games.
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Canadian men’s shortboard champion Peter Devries didn’t make it out of the first round.
“Our men’s shortboard team was one of the favourites going into the event however, due to a multitude of extraneous conditions outside our control and decisions made during competition, our men’s team did not qualify for Lima 2019. This will mean that the only pathway available to qualify for Tokyo 2020 is through the ISA World Surfing Games in 2019 and 2020,” executive director of Surf Canada Dom Domic said via email.
Tofino longboarder Asia Dryden was selected to represent Canada at the Pan Am Surfing Games after having a strong result at the Surf Nationals held at Wickaninnish Beach in May 2018.
“I only got to surf the one heat and just missed advancing by 0.6 points,” Dryden wrote in an email to the Westerly from Peru.
“I caught a good wave and got second highest score of the heat, but then I got washed in by a large set and was stuck inside until the last minute of the heat, had to scramble to get a second wave and it wasn’t quite enough,” he said.
“I would have loved to make one more heat. However, from the quarterfinals onwards the talent pool was amazing. There were two world champion longboarders in the draw that were amazing to see in person. One of whom won the contest for the second year in a row.”
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The international surf contest took place at a wave called Punta Rocas in Playa Negra, located about an hour south of Lima.
“The waves were quite large for most of the warm-up and throughout the event. Everything from head-high to double-overhead on the biggest days. It is one of Peru’s most consistent spots with an amphitheater like bluff so it is really ideal for holding a large contest like this,” said Dryden.
Travelling with the team was an amazing experience, Dryden notes.
“We would all watch each others’ heats together and cheer as loud as we could for every wave. When you were in the water, you could hear everyone cheering and screaming whenever there was a wave anywhere near you.”
Mike Darbyshire from North Vancouver finished 11th in the men’s SUP race category, which unofficially qualifies him for the 2019 Pan Am Games.
Californian-Canadian Bethany Zelasko, the Canadian women’s shortboard champion, unofficially qualified for the 2019 Pan Am shortboard event.