A profile of shaper Chris Jones: If you surf sooner or later you’ll end up at Chris Jones’ door. Who else can offer you fifty years of shaping experience? Who else was there at the beginning? CJ, legendary shaper/surfer, rugby fanatic, pasty connoisseur is this morning sanding down a vintage Tiki for restoration.

Devastated by more than a decade of civil war, the Republic of Liberia is still in a serious state of flux. Could surfing bring a new hope and more peaceful future to this West African nation? Words & photos: Nicholai Lidow & Kate Thomas. Additional photos: Ted Grambeau & Jamie Bott

Surfboards come in all shapes and sizes, but none quite so unusual as the Meyerhoffer Peanut. Is this revolutionary design born of genius or madness? Chris Stevens finds out. [Photos 1, 3 & 8 by Chris Stevens; 4 & 7 by Nick Allen]

Homeless at fourteen, prison by eighteen, Jonny Gibbings endured a violent and difficult start to life, resulting in being illiterate until late teens. Now a published author Jonny talks to Drift and shares his lifelong passion for Surf.

The Mentawais have given a lot to surfers; now it's time to give something back. Kate and Luke Gerson celebrate the beauty of these islands and highlight the continued need for aid following the recent earthquake.

...in the age of the programmable hand. San Diego's Josh Hall explains why he has chosen to tread the well-worn path of hand-shaping, in conversation with Andy Smith. Photos: Garrett Highhouse, T. Colla, Ryan Tatar

Chris Brunt chats to west Penwith's prodigal son and professional journeyman Sam Bleakley about his thirst for adventure and love of longboarding. [All photos by Chris Brunt.]

Mat Arney hooks up with some old friends to go feral on the Arabian Peninsula and hunt down some truly isolated swell. Words & photos: Mat Arney

Sean Mattison has a reputation as a designer, a coach, and a businessman. His competitive experience, retail background and knowledge acquired from testing hundreds of surfboards made him one of the most versatile surfers in California. Words: Rui Ribeiro.

Self-confessed board hoarder Chris Preston expounds the delights to be found within his tardis-like garden shed, and explains how he came to favour the quiver approach to surfing. Photos by Jamie Bott [except no.3].

Big-wave riding is an awe-inspiring experience, but what happens when things go wrong? In an exclusive extract from his new book, Al Mennie explains what it's like to survive the mother of all wipeouts.


West Coast Wilderness


May 05, 2010 | Words By: SWAP

tofino-openerNestled on the west coast next to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Tofino is home to a small community with a rich cultural heritage, grounded in their amazingly beautiful surroundings.

It’s refreshing to visit towns like this – it seems that everyone you meet is into the outdoors, and fishing, surfing, hiking and yoga play a big part in most people’s lives here. And because their leisure time is so dependent on their natural surroundings, locals look after more than just their own backyards. The town has even introduced bylaws that minimise the colonisation of the town by global brands, so hopefully this means the likes of Starbucks and McDonalds will be kept firmly at arm’s length for years to come.

tofino-canadaThe road into town is long and winding; we meandered through snow-capped peaks and passed bright blue lakes before reaching the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – 511 square kilometres of rugged coastline and dense forest. Tofino nestles at the northern end of Long Beach, the most accessible of the Reserve’s three sites. The surf here is predominantly beach break waves; recognisable spots include Chestermans (which hit the global surf scene when local pro Pete Devries took the top spot here at the recent WQS O’Neill Cold Water Classic), Cox Bay and sections of Long Beach itself, depending on the swell and winds.

tofino-canada2The isolation, minimal transport routes and relatively long drive from serious civilisation make Tofino a weekend destination at best for the city crowds of Victoria and the surrounding suburbs. Saying that, surfing’s pretty massive in Canada, and as I paddled out on my first morning at Chestermans, I was greeted by a relatively large crowd already in the water.

If you’ve got a boat and some local knowledge, there’s no doubt that a bit of seabound exploration would turn up some secret spots, and with literally miles of beach and shifting peaks, it’s always possible to find a quiet place to surf. It’s the kind of area where you have to keep checking the banks along the bay – similar to the south of France, where certain spots are susceptible to tidal changes and alterations in sand banks – so a taking a little time to explore really pays off. Tofino is exposed to huge, relentless swells, and as a result there is usually somewhere to find a wave. Water temperatures drop to around 9-10C during the winter, and remain relatively low year-round, which tends to deter the less hardy surfer, but I never found it that traumatic. A good winter suit’s all you really need.

tofino-canada1I hit on a nice little left, breaking off a finger of rock, that wedged up in the corner and peeled its way onto the beach. I had the peak all to myself, or so I thought. It was only my girlfriend waving frantically from the beach that alerted me to the grey whale calming navigating around the rocks next to me.

Despite the rugged beauty of this area and the potential for quality waves, development in Tofino has remained relatively controlled, and a little solitude still exists on this portion of the wild west coast. Cold water might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but perhaps that’s a good thing.

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