The storm rolled in….
Just hours before the start of the contest, winter once again descended upon Tofino. The heat wave from the week before became a memory faster than you could say “raincoat” as the Southeast wind roared in with the rain. The surf crept up in size, from about a foot to about 12 feet almost overnight. Offshore spray whipped over the backs of the waves, sending showers over the 40 or so surfers who were playing in the ragged storm waves at North Chesterman Beach. It seemed everyone from Los Angeles to Halifax had journeyed to the Northwest for the annual Roxy/Quiksilver Summer Surf Jam.
2003 Roxy Quiksilver Summer Surf Jam
Every year this event gets bigger and bigger, with more competitors, more prize money, more sponsors, and even more spectators. This weekend was no exception, as the crowd gathered when the clouds cleared. The surf was pumping, probably a little too much on Saturday, as the paddle out took about the same time as the length of a heat, and that’s if you were lucky enough to make it out between sets. Rain squalls passed over us with winter-like fury, but most people seemed extra prepared this year. I think most everyone managed to stay dry either under a sponsor tent or a yellow Pacific Sands raincoat. Sunday brought out the Silver Bullet Girls in shiny bikinis, and fueled by sunshine and Coors light. The beach was packed with action as all eyes were on the perfect waves peeling in. The lineup was noticeably empty, even out of the contest area. Was this because commercialism has taken over our souls, or is it just because we are all so stoked to watch our friends compete? Either way, anyone who managed to sneak in a free surf that day really scored because those powerful clean lines kept coming in all day long. Whether you can take it or leave it, love it or hate it, the contest this year was a great event that will once again go down in Canadian surf history.
the next generation
The competition was as fierce as it always has been. Every surf contest has it’s local favorites, and the usual suspects were in action. Most of us already knew who was going to make the finals because the same guys ( and girls) have been winning for years. Not too much of a surprise who makes it, but it is always a spectacular show watching how they surf their way to the podium. Even the usual contest glitches such as missed heats, colour mix-ups, sleepy judges, and unfairness didn’t dampen the show. Canadian surfing definitely moved up a few notches this year. Whether you consider it due to the faster than light speed turns by Sepp Bruhwiler, the huge floaters by Peter Devries, the grace of Raph Bruhwiler, the Ironman capabilities of Mike Stewart, the dedication of Catherine Temple, or the stoked ness of the Surf Sisters, Canadian surfing it at it’s prime, right here, right now.
Sepp at a young age!
|Jenny Stewart runs Surf Sister Surf School in Tofino British Columbia. She is recently married to a surfer named Mike, and together they plan to travel the globe, surfing as much as possible before the thought of starting a family takes over. They live on Vancouver Island with their dog Sitka. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Summer Surf jam dates back to 1988 when Westbeach put on a small surf contest at Long Beach. The second one happened in 1989, and this time at Cox Bay.
These probably weren’t the first contests held in Tofino, as surfing’s history in Tofino dates so far back that most of us weren’t even born yet. These contests were the first in the new age of surfing, an age of commercialism that hadn’t been seen before in these parts. Pro surfing in California was booming in the 80’s and Canada had to get in on the action. Surfing in Tofino was known mostly to beach hippies and a few hardcore locals who already lived and breathed surf. The lineup was almost always empty and the wilderness not yet tamed. The worldwide surfing explosion of the late 90’s brought a boom to Tofino, and suddenly surf schools and even surf resorts became commonplace. So when you hear the old-timers say time and again that Tofino was really just a quaint fishing village back in the day, just remember, they speak the truth.
Team Canada in 1996 in Huntington Beach Calif.
The surf contest scene lay quiet for a few years until Pete Jenks, the owner of Car-ma-Jen Surf Shop in Ucluelet, had the idea of starting a surfing association. He noticed a number of younger surfers with a lot of talent and wanted to find a way to encourage them to travel and surf in contests around the world. 1993 marked the start of the BCSA, or British Columbia Surfing Association. The BCSA held small contests throughout the year, with just a handful of local competitors, as well as a few other talented surfers making the drive to the coast just to compete. The BCSA’s goal was to create a Canadian National Surf Team that traveled to compete in the world surfing games, an event that happened every two years and was considered the “Olympics” of surfing. It’s mission was successfully accomplished and the first full Canadian Team traveled to Brazil in 1994. Qualifying contests for the team were held every year to pick the strongest surfers. In 1996, the team traveled to Huntington Beach, California. 1998 was the year for Portugal, and 2000 was back to Brazil. Each of these events were quite spectacular, with teams from all over the world coming together for the 10 days of contest and mayhem. The level of surfing at these events was unreal, with future pros like Rob Machado, Keala Kennelly, and Kalani Rob making their debut at these events. All in all, the BCSA was a success for all those involved.
Surf Sister circa 1988
Today, the BCSA has changed it’s goals to include sending top competitors to more regional contests such as the Westport Cleanwater Classic. The BCSA has had a few different presidents over the years, the most popular one being Dom Domic. Dom is recognized for his years of dedication to the BCSA , both as a Team Canada member, competitor, and most importantly, for the revival of the Summer Surf Jam. Although the contest has been run almost single-handedly by Dom for the last few years, it is important to recognize also that it is the competitors who are the foundation of the association. The BCSA is something we can all support and give back to the community. Although you may not be an avid contest surfer, it takes only a quick look around for one to notice how stoked the kids are. This annual contest is for the younger generation more than anything, so let’s continue to support it so our kids can enjoy it just as we did years ago.
a soul surfer