North Chesterman’s Beach was pitching powerful waves on Oct. 22, much to the delight of ocean athletes competing in the 3rd annual Tofino Paddle and Surf Championships.
Tofino locals and T’ashii Paddle School team riders Glen Pearson and Emre Bosut placed fourth and third respectively in the men’s pro division.
But once again, Maui-based Canadian passport holders Finn and Jeffrey Spencer nabbed the top two spots on the podium and the opportunity to represent Canada at the 2017 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Standup and Paddleboard Championships.
“We get a lot of ringers coming up from other areas, a lot of dual citizens, which is awesome,” said Pearson.
“It’s cool to see these people. If the Canadian title wasn’t on hand I feel we’d have more of a local vibe out there, but it’s cool to have those stakes,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s a concern that we get more competition from different areas of the world. I think it really pushes us here and you always surf better when you’re pushing yourself to compete with a higher skill level,” said Bosut.
Each year, Bosut sees more and more people SUP surfing at the beaches in Tofino.
“The really cool thing about the Tofino SUP community is we have such an amazing playground here. We have such a variety of waves, but not just waves, there is amazing paddling all year round. It’s a really unique area to paddle in the sense that you can challenge yourself touring as well,” he said.
Pearson, who completed the 715-km Yukon River Quest on a stand up paddleboard in July, said Long Beach is one of his favourite places to go.
“We have unlimited kilometres of beaches to practice on. You don’t have to be paddle surfing right on the Cox Bay corner or really popular spots that are coveted by the shortboarders. You can spread out. Long Beach is like 16-km of beach you can get on and find your peak,” he said.
The men’s pro division was 19 competitors deep, while the men’s amateur division fielded 20 competitors. For the first-time, a cash prize of $200 was awarded to the winner of men’s and women’s pro division.
Genna Flinkman from Edmonton, Alberta won the women’s pro division, securing her a place on the Canadian squad that will compete at next years’ Worlds set to take place in Denmark. Seven women entered in the pro division and there were nine women in the amateurs.
The 2016 ISA World Standup and Paddleboard Championships takes place in Fiji this Nov. 12-20. The Spencer Brothers and Tofino’s Catherine Bruhwiler will represent Canada in the SUP surf category.