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There are few places on this planet, where one can truly feel on the edge of the world. I have never summited Everest or ventured to Rapa Nui, but I can imagine the feeling of looking out into the great vastness and being forced to reconcile the relative insignificance of one’s own existence. In a recent trip to document and experience a surf competition, we traveled from our small Great Lakes surfing community in Toronto, Ontario to the holy grail of Canadian surf – Tofino, British Columbia.

Surf the Greats

Californian Noah Wegrich took home the big prize in the Pro Men’s © Antonio Lennert / Surf the Greats

Cold water surfing has entered the public consciousness over the past decade, and surfers and photographers alike have recognised that great waves are there for those that are willing to trade in their board shorts for a hood and booties. The Rip Curl Pro Tofino, now in its 9th year, has brought the not so well hidden secret of Pacific North West Surfing to the broader community. We traveled with three qualifying Great Lake surfers who joined an international line up to compete. Surfers from across Canada, the US, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil suited up in this legendary event.

Surf the Greats

The vibe at the beach was pure Canadian stoke © Antonio Lennert / Surf the Greats

The competition itself strikes the perfect balance of a professional surf competition with an honest organic community event. Strong local representation saw many preserved titles including standout performances by local rising star Mathea Olin grabbing the national title at the tender age of 11, and native son Darren Lundquist beating out Great Lakes qualifier João Pedro Belfort for the Men’s Open title. The biggest news of the event saw Californian Noah Wegrich dethroning 6-time champion Pete Devries in a thrilling Pro Men’s Final. The international draw, serves notice that this event has moved up a notch on the world stage and ensures that next year’s 10th anniversary Rip Curl Pro Tofino is not to be missed.

Words by Lucas Murnaghan

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Surfing doesn’t only happen in the ocean, surf is where we find it

Local surfer Pete Devries wins the expression session © Antonio Lennert / Surf the Greats

Local surfer Pete Devries wins the expression session © Antonio Lennert / Surf the Greats

Australian export Shannon Brown getting in the zone before his heat © Antonio Lennert / Surf the Greats

Australian export Shannon Brown getting in the zone before his heat © Antonio Lennert / Surf the Greats

The event set up © Antonio Lennert / Surf the Greats

© Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

© Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Local surfer Leah Oke © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Local surfer Leah Oke © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Local surfer Darren Lundquist wins in the Men’s Open division © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Local surfer Darren Lundquist wins in the Men’s Open division © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Great Lakes surfer Aurélien Bouché-Pillon © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Great Lakes surfer Aurélien Bouché-Pillon © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Sunset session in British Columbia © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Sunset session in British Columbia © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Surf the Greats team rider João Pedro Belfort warming up for his heat © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Surf the Greats team rider João Pedro Belfort warming up for his heat © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Every direction is West © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

Every direction is West © Lucas Murnaghan / Surf the Greats

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