Canada’s first pro-surfing contest made a big splash with locals and surfers alike.
About a third of Tofino’s 2,000 people watched from the beach Saturday to cheer local surfer Pete Devries as he won the first annual O’Neill Cold Water Classic Canada.
Lynda Kaye, a spokeswoman for Tourism Tofino, called the victory “icing on the cake.”
“It gave me goosebumps,” Kaye said. “A lot of people were in tears to see our local boy come out of the water triumphant. It was extraordinary.”
The event, she said, is tentatively the first of five pro surfing events held in Canada’s surfing capital, as there has been no official commitment.
The O’Neill Cold Water Classic, billed as the “coldest surf competition on the planet,” concludes this week in Santa Cruz, Calif. It also featured events in Scotland, South Africa and Tasmania.
“No event in Tofino has ever garnered this much press coverage and national and international attention. I think that does a lot for our favourite sport.”
Kaye said the sign at a Co-op gas station read Go Pete Go. Local merchants closed up shop, leaving behind notes that read, “Gone to watch Pete surf.”
“My gut feeling is that everyone who was involved in this, without question, was very happy with the outcome.”