2020 Rip Curl Hometown Showdown women’s champ Mathea Olin and men’s champ Peter Devries. (Bryanna Bradley photo)

2020 Rip Curl Hometown Showdown women’s champ Mathea Olin and men’s champ Peter Devries. (Bryanna Bradley photo)

Canada’s top surfers return to competition on Vancouver Island shores

“It felt so good to be back in a jersey competition and it made me realize how much I miss it.”

On Nov. 3, Surf Canada hosted an invite only surf contest at North Chesterman Beach in Tofino.

With the Rip Curl Surf Canada Nationals postponed until 2021, the Nov. 3 contest dubbed the ‘Rip Curl Hometown Showdown’ marked the first and only competition of the year.

The contest took place subject to District of Tofino restrictions and Covid-19 related policies in B.C. Athletes and essential staff were following strict Safe Return to Sport guidelines and in order to avoid gathering of spectators, Surf Canada did not promote the competition.

“Everyone involved was so fired-up to compete again,” said Dom Domic, executive director of Surf Canada. “I am so stoked to have our National Team back in the ocean competing and staying On Track to Tokyo.”

There were 10 resident National team athletes invited to the contest. The main reason the ‘B Team’ was not invited, notes Domic, was that they had to stay under an eleven person limit. All the participating athletes were under a nondisclosure agreement.

The unique contest format was purposefully designed to stress test the athletes by adding intentional financial incentives to each heat. Mathea Olin and Peter Devries claimed the top spots and $1000 prize purse.

Devries thanked Dom Domic and the event sponsors for getting the contest off the ground during these difficult times.

“It’s fun to see the level of talent in Canada and in Tofino these days. I think the other three finalists besides me have an average age of 16 so to say the future of Canadian surfing is bright would be a huge understatement,” Devries posted on his Instagram.

Mathea Olin said a word of thanks on her Instagram.

“It felt so good to be back in a jersey competition and it made me realize how much I miss it,” she wrote.

Domic told the Westerly via phone that Maui-based professional surfer Cody Young, big wave surfer Paige Alms and California-based Bethany Zelasko are 100 per cent committed to surfing for Canada.

“The athletes that are not local, they are on a bit of a different training program right now. Obviously it’s not ideal, but at least our resident athletes were able to compete,” he said, adding that if and when those athletes are allowed to travel, they definitely will.

A Surf Canada winter training camp is in the works for El Salvador, notes Domic. The International Surfing Association announced on Nov. 10 that the 2021 Surf City El Salvador World Surfing Games will take place May 29 to June 6 at two world-class locations in El Salvador: La Bocana and El Sunzal. The 2021 edition of the World Surfing Games is the last remaining piece of the Tokyo 2020 qualification process.

As far as getting to watch local talent perform close to home goes, Domic said they are targeting late March for the 2021 Open National Surf Championships.

“Sorry we weren’t able to open the [Hometown Showdown] up to everybody. It was to protect the health of the community, and we used it as a test case going into next year,” he said.

Results of the 10 invited resident National Team (five females and five males):

Olympic Pathway A Team

Mathea Olin – Champion

Pete Devries – Champion

B Team

Hanna Scott – 5th

Catherine Bruhwiler – 3rd

Kalum Bruhwiler Temple – 4th

Noah Cohen – 3rd

Michael Darling – 5th

NextGen Team

Sanoa Olin – Runner Up

Jasmine Porter – 4th

Reed Platenius – Runner Up

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