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National surfing champions crowned in Tofino

Rip Curl Canadian National Surf Championships fills Cox Bay with legends and supporters
Tofino’s Reed Platenius celebrates atop the Mens Open division podium at Cox Bay on Sunday after winning the final heat with a score of 14.6 over Michael Darling, 11.36, Pete DeVries, 10, and Sam Coffey 6.97. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Cox Bay swelled with pride over the weekend as the Rip Curl Canadian National Surf Championships filled the beach with legends and supporters.

“It was a super nice weekend. It’s always fun to put on a jersey at home and spend time with my family,” Mathea Dempfle-Olin told the Westerly News after the podium announcements.

“Having everyone down here is always a good vibe and it’s just so amazing how much surfing in Canada has grown over the years. There’s a huge future for Canadian surfing.”

Mathea, 21, took the top spot in the Womens Longboard division with a score of 13.4, besting her sister Sanoa Dempfle-Olin who placed second with a score of 8.44. Jasmine Turner, 6.84, took third in the division followed by Morgan McIntosh, 5.16, in fourth.

Sanoa, 19, went on to best Mathea in the Womens Open taking the division’s top spot with a score of 15.93. Ocea Green, 9.97, took second followed by Mathea, 7.5, and Kat Rosene, 3.86.

“Everyday was a little bit different. I definitely had trouble today getting on good waves, but I’m very proud of my sister for taking the win. It was very well deserved for her,” Mathea said, adding that she and Sanoa consistently support and push each other.

“We definitely always want to beat each other, but we definitely are each other’s biggest fans. There’s nobody else I’d rather see win and do well. She puts so much effort into life and into surfing. I’m always proud of her and we’re continuing to push each other and grow together, which is amazing.”

Sanoa said pride and support out rivals any competitive streaks.

“It’s 100 per cent pride. My sister is my biggest inspiration. Of course I’ve grown up looking up to her, so I love to beat her and competing against her is something that we’ve done in and out of contests and every aspect of life since we were super young. But, she’s my biggest supporter and, vice versa, I’m hers,” Sanoa told the Westerly. “Obviously we want to beat each other, but supporting each other comes first for sure.”

She said her winning finals heat started off slow, but she powered through to find the waves she needed to top the podium.

“I was just trying to find a wave I could get a solid score on to win the heat. You can’t really hear anything out there, so you don’t know what position you’re in and you kind of have to base it off of what you think your scores are,” she said. “When I got my first good wave I was super happy and I knew that I had a solid score to win and then when I got my second one I felt really good.”

She added starting slow can cause frustration, but she held her focus.

“You always have to keep positive and keep focused on what you have to do and what work you have to get done in the heat. If you can’t find waves and other people are getting scores, you can definitely get in your head and get frustrated,” she said. “There’s the physical challenge of it and the challenge of working with the ocean and finding waves and also staying in the right mindset for sure.”

The 19-year-old added she had not won the event since she was 11.

“I’m really proud of my performance in the final. I definitely had some bad heats earlier in the event, but I’ve been putting a lot of effort in and just feeling good. I’m always proud of the work I put in,” she said.

“Every contest you enter you want to win, so obviously it feels good to get it again, but it doesn’t make me want it any less next year.”

The Mens Open was earned by Tofino lifer Reed Platenius who took the top spot with a score of 14.6, followed by Michael Darling, 11.36, Pete DeVries, 10, and Sam Coffey, 6.97.

“Winning in your hometown is the most special win. I have all my friends down here, family, people I’ve grown up with and people I’ve looked up to,” Platenius told the Westerly, shouting out Canadian surf icon DeVries. “Just to have all that support, that’s what keeps me going…It fires you up to keep doing more.”

He said the noise of the elements surrounding him made score announcements from the beach inaudible, so it was hard to figure out how he was doing in the finals.

“Today was tough. The wind was super strong blowing onshore so we couldn’t hear anything,” he said. “In conditions like that, you really just have to try and pay attention to what the other surfers do, which plays into your mindset a little bit. If you see someone from the back throw a bunch of spray, then you get a bit worried and maybe a bit in your head. I kind of just stuck to my guns. I knew the waves that I was looking for and luckily I found them. It was really tough out there, but I am just stoked to get the win.”

He added being carried across the beach filled with massive local support was a testament to how grateful he is for his home community.

“Tofino and Ukee have a small surf culture, but it’s growing and it’s growing rapidly. It’s people that are very passionate about the sport. There’s not that many of us, but those that are there are supported to great lengths. I’m just so, so, so honoured to call this place home,” he said. “Whenever I mention it on the road, people are always just raving about how beautiful it is and I know how lucky I am to live here and to be a part of a community that’s so special.”

He added the future of the sport is strong with the next group of West Coast surfers in their early to midteens showing huge potential.

“That pack is so, so good and they’re going to push the level even higher than it is right now. I had a pack of a couple kids when I was growing up, but that pack behind me is insane,” he said.

One of those up and coming young surfers is 15 year-old Tofitian Ocea Green who topped the U18 Girls division with a score of 16.83, followed by Baylee Brown, 7.94, Ella Wallace, 7.0, and Teagan Sandvig, 6.47.

Green also won the U16 Girls division scoring 16.9 in the finals followed by Baylee Brown, 10, Teagan Sandvig 8.17, and Westerly Wyton, 7.2.

Green told the Westerly she couldn’t hear the results being announced on the beach and didn’t know how well she’d done until she paddled in to see her friends in a celebratory frenzy.

“They were all jumping up and down and super excited. I just love all the support. It’s been such a fun weekend,” she said. “It gives you so much confidence to know you have people cheering for you.”

She added she was happy and proud of her performance.

“I’m pretty proud. I went out there and I surfed heats, I caught waves and I achieved all my goals,” she said, adding the future of Canadian women’s surfing is bright. “There’s lots of young girls here coming up from Ukee and Tofino and they’re all ripping.”

The weekend’s other champions included Jonas Meskis, who earned gold in the U18 Boys division with a score of 15.7, followed by Shea Bruhwiler, 11.3, Nikolas Polischuk, 10.63, and Nathan Hereda, 5.0.

Clay Chiovitti won the U16 Boys division with a score of 17.06, besting Tanner Sandvig, 14.54, Shea Bruhwiler, 12.27, and Nathan Hereda, 9.53.

Sam Coffey scored 14.83 in the Mens Longboard final to take the podium’s top spot, followed by Michael Darling, 10.67, Paul Darling, 9.93, and Asia Dryden, 8.5.

The National Surfing Championships are a huge draw for both surfers and fans to the West Coast and many at the beach heaped praise onto Surf Canada executive director Dom Domic for keeping the event thriving.

“Everyone does a great job of putting it on. Dom and the whole crew put so much work into it,” Sanoa said. “I’m super grateful for everything everyone does to make it happen and it’s always so nice to have an event at home.”

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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