tofino surf company: la nina's leashes

Tofino Surf company: Cold Surf Co. – La Nina's Leashes

by Malcolm Johnson, Tofino


Vancouver Island’s indigenous surf industry is quite the proliferate thing these days, and with the talents of shapers like Tofino’s Stefan Aftanas, whose boards are being ridden by town heroes Peter Devries and Sepp Bruhwiler, the local waveriding community seems to be nearing self-sufficiency. The best stuff, as British Columbians are sure to know, is homegrown, and the recently estab- lished Cold Surf Co. is joining the local industry as a provider of ultra-functional surf accessories. The babychild of Tofino resident Nina Waltl, Cold’s territory is leashes, board bags and board socks, as well as canine leashes for our ever-stoked quadripedal surf check companions.

Cold’s product comes from solid sources – no suspicious Third World manufacturing, all of it handmade by Nina and her industrial sewing machine in her house near the Tonquin woods. A snowboarder who discovered surfing in the ‘90’s in Morocco, Nina ended up on the Island and has since distinguished herself as one of the few female year-round regulars at the Tofino breaks. “Last fall and winter I was surfing a lot, and had a lot of time to think,” she says, “and that’s when I had the idea and started to go ahead with it. I had help from the government’s self-employment program, they kind of hold your hand through the whole process of starting a business, and without that help and support this would’ve been really hard to do.”

Nina’s leashes are an independent Canadian alternative to American and Australian products, and they’re of equal, if not superior, quality. They’re cold water specific, with longer ankle straps to accommodate the thickness of a wetsuit and boots, and they’ve got key pockets for our somewhat untrustworthy parking lots. Sewn-on leash loops, brass swivels rated to 800 pounds and hand-tied urethane cords mean no breakage of v-molded plastic parts, and that means no swimming in after leashes fly apart in frigid winter storm swells. They’re made for locals by locals, and that for sure is a good thing.

With their stylized logo of a maple leaf laid over the Oxford mathematician John Wallis’ 17th-century infinity symbol, Cold’s goods have been steadily appearing in the Tofino lineups over the last few months, and Nina has enlisted local surfers Ollie Atkey and grom ripper / future world champion Noah Cohen as her first team riders. “When you know the people you’re selling to,” Nina says, “you have a lot more invested in making sure it’s a good product, because your reputation is depending on it.” She seems to have stood by that statement; her designs are getting great reviews and proving themselves to be of the highest quality.

Backed by a six-month materials and workmanship warranty, Cold’s gear is available through Storm Surf Shop in Tofino, at, or by emailing Nina at

Malcolm Johnson is a Tofino-based journalist and kayak guide.

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Tofino surf comany Cold Surf Co. makes surf board leashes, board bags. Nina Watl handmakes surf accessories near Tonquin woods.

tofino time july 2004

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