The original seminal surf book Switch-Foot could be back in its third incarnation thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. It is nearly ten years (2005) since the first Switch-Foot book took to the surfing world, creating ripple effects wherever it went.

Chris Preston interviews Sydney's Matt Chojnacki. His surfing may be heavily influenced by the glories of the past, but to tag him as just another retro dude is missing the mark. Words: Chris Preston. Photos: Matt Johnson / thesealife.com.au

They're trained to defend their country and protect our freedom and liberty, but when active service is over, many soldiers find themselves struggling with personal and mental problems that the army just doesn't want to know about. Could surfing provide some answers? Words & photos: Russ Pierre

Flitting between awesome waves at Aileens and Nelscott Reef is all in a week's work for Ireland's big-wave master Al Mennie. Words: Al Mennie Photos: Al Mennie, Gary McCall, Larry Jansky, Richard Hallman

Co-founder of the original Aussie counter-culture surf bible, Tracks, and director of 'Morning of the Earth', Alby Falzon lives up to his reputation as the spiritual father of the alternative surf lifestyle. Words: Jair Bortoleto Photos: Courtesy of Alby Falzon

Tucked away at the top of a hill near Gwenver beach in Cornwall, Skewjacks was the definitive 1970s surf camp. Drift took four of its founding fathers - Dicky, Harvey, Jamo and Mickey - to the pub and reminisced about good times gone by. Words: Jamie Bott Credit & thanks to Graham Shephard & Mel Sedgwick

Jimmy Newitt pays homage to one of South Devon's treasures - not a break but a surfer who stands tall in the crowd. Words: Jimmy Newitt Photos: Ollie Howe

Dane Peterson and Belinda Peterson-Baggs recently travelled to Indonesia with aid supplies that are still much in demand nearly four years after the tsunami... Words: Belinda Peterson-Baggs Photos: Dane Peterson; Adam Kobayashi

Al Knost is one of the best sliders around and has a close connection with a scene far removed from the modern marketplace hustle. Ryan Tatar tracked him down with his project partner Tyler Manson and gave us an insight into their freshest work. Words: Ryan Tatar Photos: Jamie Bott & Tyler Manson

When it comes to surfcraft there's a newcomer making waves. Drift discovers the new world of handplaning with Cornwall's finest craftsmen. Words: Clare Howdle

From Gerry Lopez to machine shaping and the retro scene, Tim Stafford chews the fat with UK surf veteran - and mighty leader of the Foam Asylum - Nigel Semmens


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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