Tofino surfer Peter Devries won his eighth national title Saturday at Wickaninnish Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
The win gets him one step closer to qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s great to see the level of Canadian surfing being pushed. Thanks to all my supporters and sponsors that have supported me for so long,” Devries said at the awards ceremony.
In the final heat of the day, which unfortunately featured windy, junky wave conditions, Devries beat out Costa Rican-based Sean Foerster, Hawaii-based Cody Young, and Tofino’s Michael Darling.
Californian-Canadian Bethany Zelasko claimed the women’s open title. Sanoa Dempfle-Olin, last year’s champion, was runner up. Hawaii resident and big wave surfer Paige Alms, who is originally from Victoria, was third and Mathea Dempfle-Olin was fourth.
Sanoa, below, said it was so windy when they ran the final heat that she couldn’t hear a thing.
“I was just thinking, just go out there and surf and hope for the best.”
She said she felt like she performed well, considering.
“I mean you’re never fully satisfied unless you win, but I mean I felt like there is always room to improve,” said Sanoa.
Bethany Zelasko, open women’s and under-18 National Champion
Zelasko, 18, also won the under-18 girls division. The victories guarantee her a spot on Team Canada as they head to ISA junior Worlds and Pan American Games.
“Going into [Surf Nationals] I was thinking I should try and win every heat because I know I have the surfing. God gifted me with this talent and I might as well use it to the best of my ability,” said Zelasko. “My goal was to win every heat and then go and win the finals which I did.”
Wheeler Hasburgh, under-18 boys National Champion
Twelve-year-old Wheeler Hasburgh from Encinitas, California won the under-18 boys division. Even though he was born in Canada and his mom is from Richmond, Hasburgh said this was the first time surfing in Canada.
“It was an awesome experience. I came in a little bit before the contest and it was super exciting,” said Hasburgh.
Tofino’s Reed Platenius claimed the under-16 boys division in a super close heat between Hawaii-based Finn Spencer, Hasburgh, and last year’s under-16 winner, Fred Sanford.
“I’m stoked for sure. It was a great event and I’m super excited to surf with my friends from Maui, California and of course Tofino. Hanging out and surfing with everyone before and after the competition has been really fun,” said Platenius, a member of the USS Surfrider Youth Club.
Reed Platenius, under-16 boys National Champion
At the awards ceremony, Devries made a point of thanking contest organizer and president of Surf Canada, Dom Domic.
“Definitely everybody should give a huge round of applause to Dom here. He’s put in so much time to get this organized. Countless hours so thanks to Dom for getting it off the ground,” said Devries.
Peter Devries flies above the lip of a wave during Saturday’s semi-finals open men’s event at Wickaninnish Beach. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)