Cox Bay provided glorious sun and ideal surf conditions for the return of Tofino’s Queen of the Peak surf competition over the weekend.
The annual women-only sporting event was founded by Surf Sister owner Krissy Montgomery and Shelter Restaurant owner Jay Gildenhuys after a discussion about how the women on the West Coast were being “sidelined and shafted” at surf contests.
“Thirteen years ago when we started we had 30 participants. It was pouring rain. We had to bribe all the participants to sign up… And look at us now. This year the contest sold out in under five minutes. That is a true test to how alive and well competitive surfing is here in town. Be proud of yourselves and thank you guys so much for being a part of it,” Montgomery told the surfers at a competitors only dinner hosted by Shelter on Sept. 29.
The 11th Queen of the Peak featured 48 athletes in the shortboard division, 48 athletes in the longboard, and 16 athletes in the Princess of the Peak U16 division. Winners in the shortboard and longboard scored $3,000, second place received $1,500, third $750 and fourth place got $375. The Princess of the Peak took home $500 with the runner-up getting $250, third $125 and fourth $75.
Team Canada’s Mathea Olin was crowned the 2022 longboard queen and finished runner-up to Erin Brooks of Hawaii in the shortboard division. Olin earned a total prize purse of $4,500 for making both podiums.
She told the Westerly that the future of women’s surfing in Canada is “incredible”.
“Right before the final, me and Hanna (Scott) were talking about when I first did the event when I was nine-years-old and she was 20. Now I’m 20 and we are watching nine-year-olds paddle out and absolutely ripping. It’s really cool just to see how everyone is improving and how bright the future is here,” said Olin after the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
Tofino surfer Ocea Green, 13, handily surfed her way to the top of the Princess of the Peak podium.
“It was super fun and the waves were super good. All the girls were ripping so hard. I’m super excited to get the win,” said Green, who also pocketed a $500 cheque for ‘Wave of the Day’. She said she’ll probably use her $1,000 total winnings on a new surfboard.
Queen of the Peak shortboard champ Brooks, who is recognized as one of the world’s best junior surfers, recently won a gold medal for Team Canada at the World Junior Surf Championships. For the young Oahu-resident whose dad has Quebec heritage, this past week marked her inaugural dip into Canadian waters.
“It’s been so much fun here. It’s been so beautiful and the waves are awesome. We’ve been scoring since we’ve been here. Everyone is so nice here and it’s so fun to surf in Canada. I actually love surfing in booties because it has great grip and it’s really good for airs,” said Brooks.
“Thank you to God, thank you to my family and my sponsors and to all the girls ripping here today. I feel so blessed just to be able to surf here and to be able to travel to Canada,” she went on to note.
Leading up to the contest, Olin and her younger sister Sanoa spent a few days showing Brooks around.
“Brooks is an absolute ripper. She inspires me so much just to start pushing my surfing more in the aerials,” said Olin.
Special accolades and prize packs also went out to surfers who had amazing performances: Tofino surfer Jasmine Turner was named the ‘Surf Sister People’s Champion’, Surf Sister crew Kate Prothero earned the ‘best longboard female over 40’ and Ucluelet surfer Nicole Gerbrandt scored the ‘best shortboard female over 40’.
Montgomery showered praise and love to everyone who helped out with the contest.
“I’ve never been more stoked to be Canadian. Thank you all for coming out, thank you all for supporting this event, I’ll see you all on the dance floor.”