Tofino and Ucluelet’s best sports stories of 2018

The West Coast’s athletes filled 2018 with flair, personal achievements and competitive success.


Below are some of the most triumphant accomplishments the Westerly News reported on last year.

Warriors basketball win North Island Championships

Ucluelet’s senior boys basketball team won the North Island Championships on Feb.8-10.

The athletic squad travelled to Gold River for a 6 p.m. tipoff time against Nanaimo Christian. They won their tournament opener by 18 points.

The next night, they went on to beat Gold River, the host team and Basketball on the Edge tournament winner, 48-36.

The weekend’s tournament final saw the Ucluelet Warriors narrowly defeat Nanaimo Christian 51-42.

“It was a tough fought battle right down to the end. They had a very hard road to get back to us. They played six games, we played three. They played hard the entire time. We squeaked out a win,” said Warriors team manager Jason Sam.

“All the games were really close going into the fourth quarter. We just pulled away when we needed to and won all the games at the very end.”

Senior Warrior Matteo Ludlow was named the player of the tournament.

Ucluelet First Nation basketball star earns all-star nod

Hesquiaht Storm guard Jada Touchie led her team to a second place finish at the Junior All Native B.C. tournament in the spring. Touchie’s strong play earned her a Tournament All-Star award.

“It just shows that hard work pays off,” she said adding she remains focused on upping her game.

“I felt good about the way I played in each game, playing good defence and shooting on offence. I felt a big improvement since last year, but there’s always time for improvement and practice…I do feel like I need to improve. There’s room to get better on defense by not having as much fouls and on offence by having a better shot and driving strong to the hoop.”

National surf champs crowned at Wickaninnish Beach

Surf Canada Nationals was held as a stand-alone event at Wick Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve during the first weekend in May. Tofino surfer Peter Devries won his eighth national title, putting him one step closer to qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s great to see the level of Canadian surfing being pushed. Thanks to all my supporters and sponsors that have supported me for so long,” Devries said at the awards ceremony.

In the final heat of the day, which unfortunately featured windy, junky wave conditions, Devries beat out Costa Rican-based Sean Foerster, Hawaii-based Cody Young, and Tofino’s Michael Darling.

Californian-Canadian Bethany Zelasko, above photo, claimed the women’s open title. Sanoa Dempfle-Olin, last year’s champion, was runner up. Hawaii resident and big wave surfer Paige Alms, who is originally from Victoria, was third and Mathea Dempfle-Olin was fourth.

Platenius wins Rip Curl Pro men’s open

Tofino’s Reed Platenius,14, put on an above stellar performance at the 12th annual Rip Curl Pro, taking the men’s open title and the under-16 boys title. The weekend before, he claimed the under-16 national title at Wickaninnish Beach.

“I feel like I’m in a good state. My boards are good. Just everything feels good. My body feels good and surfing, I’m stoked about it right now,” he said, adding that he’s excited to compete in the men’s pro division next year.

Mathea Olin, a newly signed Rip Curl athlete, surfed her way to the top of the under-16 girls podium and finished second in the pro/amateur women’s event. San Clemente, California professional surfer Tia Blanco,21, was crowned the Rip Curl Pro Tofino women’s pro queen. Elijah Fox, 18, took home the 2018 Rip Curl Pro Tofino men’s pro title.

Kayak guides circumnavigate Vancouver Island

Local kayak guides Alaina McNeil and Shannon Jensen left Ucluelet in a two-person kayak on May 7 and completed their roughly 1,150-kilometre voyage around the Island in 28 days.

“We had really good weather. We were lucky. I expected there to be more impossibly challenging days, we did have a couple but, all-in-all, it went pretty smoothly: no epics, no capsizes, no crash landings,” McNeil said. “It went by really quick. I feel like we left here last week and now we’re back.”

Friends and fellow paddlers cheered the pair into Majestic Ocean Kayaking as they crossed the finish line of their Vancouver Island circumnavigation on June 4.

Comox runner takes 19th Edge to Edge race

Stephan Smit of Comox B.C. defended his half marathon title in a time of one hour, 33 minutes and 57 seconds.

He said he encountered a bit of excitement within the first few kilometres of the race.

“I had to stop for a bear at 5k. Luckily one of the drivers saw me because I didn’t know what to do. He got the bear to go back into the forest,” he said.

It was Smit’s second consecutive Edge to Edge win.

Former professional triathlon athlete Gillian Clayton placed first overall in the women’s division of the half-marathon.

“It took longer than I had thought. Almost 10 minutes longer than I had trained for. It definitely was a challenging course. I was aiming for 1:30 and I came in at about 1:40,” said Clayton, who had an official race time of one hour, 41 minutes and three seconds.

Edge to Edge race director announced the 20th E2E races would moved from June to be the end of Oct. 2019.

Ukee Special Olympian earns gold at Canada Summer Games

Maxtin Lengyel charged his way to two well-deserved medals at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games. The young track star earned a gold medal in the 200-metre race and also earned a silver medal as part of Team B.C.’s 4×100 relay team.

Lengyel was the first local Special Olympian to compete at the national event, which was held in Antigonish, N.S., from July 31 to Aug. 4.

The teenager was thrilled to secure a gold medal by finishing the 200-metre race in just 30.17 seconds, a personal best.

“It was the fastest I have ever ran,” Lengyel told the Westerly News from his family’s hotel room on Monday night. “I felt very strong.”

Ucluetians gathered outside Image West to welcome Lengyel home on Aug. 12. He was given a police escort into town and greeted with cheers, hugs and high fives from his fans.

Jasmine Porter completes ‘Surftember’ hat-trick

Rising Tofino surf star Jasmine Porter had one awesome September; the month locals often refer to as ‘Surftember’. On Sept. 15, she won both the under-14 and under-18 girls divisions at the 2018 Bruhwiler Kids Surf Classic at Cox Bay.

The next weekend, the Canadian junior surf team athlete went down to Westport, Washington for the 17th Surfrider Clean Water Classic and brought home title winning trophies in both mixed junior divisions.

“[Westport] is a lot more powerful than a lot of the waves that we surf at home. It can be a lot of fun. I was just riding my old board. It was feeling a bit weird for a bit, but I put new fins on it and it seemed really fun,” said Porter, a member of the Ucluelet Secondary School Surfrider Youth Club and leader of the waste-free lunch program.

On Sept. 30, Porter capped off the successful month by winning the Princess of Peak under-16 division at the 9th annual Queen of the Peak all-female surf contest at Cox Bay.

McRae rocks Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock

Tofino firefighter, paramedic and massage therapist Amanda McRae represented the West Coast as a member of the 2018 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team. The ride involved cycling over 1,000 kilometres across Vancouver Island from Sept 23 to Oct. 5, stopping in roughly 27 communities along the way to raise support and awareness for pediatric cancer research.

“I felt like a kid at Christmas. I was so excited to come to the West Coast,” McRae told the Westerly News when the team stopped in Ucluelet on Sept. 29. “Seeing familiar faces and faces that have helped me raise all this money to send kids to Camp Goodtimes; my heart is warm and I’m happy to be here.”

McRae raised $22,953.70, according to her Tour de Rock fundraising website, and she said she is grateful for her home coast’s support.

“This is my family. This is my home. You guys have supported me from day one,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

West Coast hosts Purple Dragon International Belt Grading

About 175 martial arts students from around the world filled the Ucluelet Community Centre on Aug.24-26 for the 145th Purple Dragon Don Jitsu Ryu black belt testing. It was the first time the event has ever been hosted in Canada.

“One of the other reasons we picked Ucluelet is because somehow it feels like you’re going on a journey. Maybe not to the people here because you’re used to it, but to us, it’s almost like a spiritual journey when you have to drive through all these mountains and just roll the glass down and smell the beauty of the trees and the water,” said Grande Master Prof. Don Jacob.

“I want my students to come from different paths and to be able to experience my footsteps,” he said. All the students passed and received black belt upgrades. Local instructor Senpai Ian graduated to a fourth-degree black belt and Sensai.

Corlazzoli runs over 500-km for anti-trophy hunting campaign

Ucluelet local Giordano Corlazzoli ran the length of Vancouver Island in an effort to raise awareness on trophy hunting carnivores along the coast. On Nov. 27, he kick-started the run in Port Hardy and within two weeks he had made it to Victoria.

The marathon was an effort to raise funds for a campaign, “Safeguard Coastal Carnivores” endorsed by Raincoast Conservation Foundation. The cause buys hunting tags in the Great Bear Rainforest to prevent commercial hunters from being able to hunt bears. He was able to raise more than $6,200.

“If you can’t beat ‘em, you buy ‘em,” Corlazzoli said.

Corlazzoli ran 40 km per day for 13 days straight, taking as many back roads as possible to avoid highways. He had the support of his parents, sister and friends as they followed him down the Island in an RV, and even cycled alongside him.

He said every morning was a bit of a struggle as he realized he had another 40 km to run.

“It was tough, but I’d wake up in the morning and stretch my legs and see that they still work,” he said. “I was surprised how good my legs felt, and I was fortunate not to have any major injuries.”

Ucluelet dirt bike racer switches gears to snow

A Ucluetian dirt biker enjoyed an extreme winter wonderland experience.

Sicamous B.C. hosted its second annual Sledgehammers Ripped Snowfest from Feb. 9-11 where Ucluetian Ian Jacobs took his first crack at snow-bike racing.

He said the Snowfest was “a great experience,” though icy track conditions made for tough terrain and a couple falls pushed him into seventh place in the event.

“It was super icy,” he said. “Right on the second turn, I went down on the ice and lost my position and I went down twice on the second heat. The ice is pretty unforgiving, that’s for sure.”

He said he would definitely participate in the event again.

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