Peter Devries celebrates his eighth National title on Saturday, May 5 at Wickaninnish Beach. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

National surf champs crowned at Wickaninnish Beach

Division winners earn spot on Team Canada

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)

On the last day of competition, Wick Beach provided gorgeous, clean little waves for the longboard and SUP surf events.

Mathea Dempfle-Olin defended her girls under-16 title and her title as Canada’s longboard queen in a suspenseful final heat between Tofino’s Lydia Ricard, Hanna Scott, and Leah Oke. Ricard had the lead with the best two wave total up until one-minute remaining on the clock when Mathea caught one last wave to get the score she needed for the win.

“But nothing gave me more joy then the tandem ride in with Hanna Scott. It reminded me what surfing is all about,” she wrote on her Instagram @Mathea_Olin.


Mathea Dempfle-Olin,left, and Hanna Scott set-up for a tandem ride during the women’s longboard final on May 6. (Nora O’Malley/Westerly News)

Former pro surfer Christian Thomson claimed the men’s longboard title in another tight heat between young goofy footer Reed Platenius, Jean-Laurence Vachon Vigneault, and Ucluelet’s Jeremy Bowery.

In the SUP surf category, Hawaii-based Jeffrey Spencer nabbed the men’s title and Tofino’s dear Catherine Bruhwiler took home the gold medal in the women’s. The veteran surfer also placed fifth in the women’s shortboard.

“I’m stoked to have got good waves beyond the result,” said Bruhwiler, who was one of five Bruhwiler’s to compete in the Canadian Surf Nationals. (It would have been six, but Raph Bruhwiler withdrew due to illness.)

“It’s super exciting to see what’s happening in surfing in Canada,” she said. “I love the lifestyle of the sport. It keeps me healthy and in shape. I get to train with Kalum and the other kids.”

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