A born and raised Ucluetian crushed China Beach’s waves for her first-ever surf competition win. Jessie Della Vedova topped the women’s division at Surfrider Vancouver Island’s 9th annual Wave Hunt on Feb. 25.
Vedova told the Westerly News she “felt really good on a couple of waves,” but was not expecting to take her division’s top honours.
“The waves were kind of small, but to go out and give it everything you’ve got with the waves you’ve been given is pretty cool,” Vedova told the Westerly News.
“I didn’t really ask about the scores, I just took off and they messaged me the next day with the results…My eyebrows went up and I had a little grin on my face. I was chuffed. I was stoked.”
The 34 year-old grew up around the surf, but didn’t dedicate herself to it until she was 17 and spent the summer hitting the waves with a friend.
“We just decided to go every single day for a whole summer,” she said.
“It was basically us two egging each other on and going home to watch surf videos and taking notes. We learned together and I was hooked…I hope I can do it forever.”
She said the challenge keeps luring her back.
“Every wave is totally different so it’s a challenge because you have to read the wave and adapt to it…I’m always going on and trying new things and trying to get better,” she said. “There’s an element of meditation in there too, because you stop thinking about everything else. It’s just you and nature and the waves and all that energy around you.”
She encourages West Coasters to take advantage of their choice surroundings and get into the surf.
“There’s so many things that I’ve gotten to see out there that people haven’t seen, like having grey whales or orcas swim right past you. I had a sea lion pull on my leash one time,” she said.
“You don’t end up interacting with the ocean unless you’re right in it. It’s a pretty special way to see that environment and the animals that are in there.”
Vedova lives in Victoria now and misses the West Coast’s waves.
“I really miss being in Ukee, where it’s right on your doorstep like that,” she said. “Those waves are beautiful. They’re world class beautiful and it’s all just right there for everyone to enjoy if they know it’s out there and if they can bear to put the wetsuit on and paddle out. You’ve got to go at least 30 times before you’re addicted to it, but it’s all right there for you.”
With her first win notched, Vedova is excited to enter more competitions.
“When I was in my 20’s, I was super competitive and I thought I would hate comparing myself to other people, so I didn’t want to compete. I’m chilling out a little more in my 30’s, so I’m definitely going to keep competing,” she said.
“I’m not expecting to win anything again. I was kind of shocked that happened, but it’s going to be good incentive to get out surfing because I’ve got to practice for next year.”