Tofino saw a lot of high quality surfing this weekend, with the exception of Saturday’s visit from a fog cloud that overextended its welcome at Cox Bay. The drawn-out coastal haze put the 12th annual Rip Curl Pro Tofino on pause for rather irksome length of time.
“[Saturday] was pretty challenging, but we go it done. Thanks to everyone for your understanding on some of the quick thinking that we had to do along the way. It paid off. It was a pretty epic day and I’m pretty excited about getting it done and the level of surfing that we had seen,” said Rip Curl Pro event director, Nick Russell, at Sunday’s awards ceremonies.
“I really, really want to thank the judges. That day, it was a nightmare up there [in the judges booth]. They did such a great job. They are incredible. They pulled a 16-hour day and they got it done,” he said.
Tofino’s Reed Platenius,14, put on an above stellar performance, taking the men’s open title and the under-16 boys title. The weekend before, he claimed the under-16 national title at Wickaninnish Beach.
“It’s pretty hectic. It’s been fun having all the guys here from all around the world basically and that’s been pushing me the whole week. It’s been go, go, go,” said Platenius.
“I feel like I’m in a good state. My boards are good. Just everything feels good. My body feels good and surfing, I’m stoked about it right now,” he said, adding that he’s excited to compete in the men’s pro division next year.
Mathea Olin, a newly signed Rip Curl athlete, surfed her way to the top of the under-16 girls podium and finished second in the pro/amateur women’s event.
“We had really good swell, but there’s been really tricky sidebars and quite extreme tides. It’s been really, really hard to get out and really, really tiring. But there’s definitely been some really fun waves to be had. For the finals, all the girls were out there ripping. We’re just all having a blast,” said Olin.
“Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing mom. She’s been down here all day supporting me. And thank you to all my sponsors,” Olin went on to say.
San Clemente, California professional surfer Tia Blanco,21, was crowned the Rip Curl Pro Tofino women’s pro queen.
“This is my third time to Tofino. It’s one of my favourite places on the earth. I’ve travelled to so many different countries and I absolutely love this surf town. I was super happy to compete here and have a really fun weekend,” said Blanco, who is vying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a member of Team Puerto Rico.
Elijah Fox, 18, took home the 2018 Rip Curl Pro Tofino men’s pro title. The California-based surfer beat Dane Anderson in the final heat of the day by a score of 14.77 to 13.43. Team Canada surf coach, Shannon Campbell Brown, made the semi-finals alongside Californian-Canadian Cody Young. Last year’s Rip Curl Pro champ, Peter Devries, was taken out in round three.
Fox told the Westerly it took about 10-minutes to get past the white wash on day one and day two of the competition.
“It mellowed out [for the finals] and there was less swell. The waves opened up more and it was really fun. There are so many good competitors in this contest. I was so stoked to make it to the final and take it out,” he said.
In the longboard division, Hawaiian big wave surfer Paige Alms cruised her way to first place in a close heat between Hanna Scott, Kate Prothero, and Emily Ballard.
“I competed in the longboard just for fun because I got convinced to be a part of Nationals and I figured if I’m bringing a longboard here I may as well do [Rip Curl Pro] also. It was more just for shits and giggles personally,” said Alms.
“It was super challenging paddling out there with a longboard. It was way harder than with a shortboard. We take duckdiving for granted. I forgot. I’m just super happy. It’s been a really fun event to be a part of,” said the two-time Big Wave Tour title winner.
Sooke resident and family man, Christian Thomson, won the men’s longboard division. Tofino’s Darren Lundquist was second, Robbie Ferguson third, and Asia Dryden placed fourth.
“I think Cox Bay when it gets double overhead is pretty tricky,” he said. “It’s more of a stamina challenge, but the waves that we got for paddling out were definitely well-worth the paddle.”
Ben Cockcroft claimed the legends (over 50) title and Declan Lee-Smith won the masters (over 35) event.