tofino surfer pete devries

Tofino surfer Peter Devries - a true champion

by Mark Fuller

the letter 'W'WOW - what a week! After almost two years of planning and strategizing The O'Neill Cold Water Classic Canada has come and gone but the memories of Peter Devries' victory and the crowds that gathered to cheer him on on that unforgettable sunny Halloween Day will live forever. Victory could not have come to a more honourable and humble individual - if one is to look up the definition of a true champion you are sure to find a picture of Peter Devries; maybe even the one that is etched in everyone's mind - Peter being hoist from the chilly waters of North Chesterman's Beach by friends and supporters, clutching the Canadian flag with a look of elation on his smiling face.

The inaugural Cold Water Classic Canada started in what can only be described as quintessential CWC Series conditions - blustery, wet and wild weather that is pretty much the norm for Tofino in the fall. A day marked in history as the first day of professional surfing to take part in Canadian waters. Another first being the biggest field of local surfers to enter an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) event, as O'Neill in conjunction with the ASP allowed 23 spots for Canadian surfers.

Peter posted the highest single wave score of a 9.5 in his first heat in the Round of 144, but his route to the final was to be no easy task as he was to face some of the best surfers in the world. Pete rose to the occasion in every heat taking each combatant down with electrifying maneuvers and a fluidity performed by no other; making it convincingly through his first ever man-on-man heat in the round of 16 against French surfer Joan Duru - currently sitting at number 6 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) rankings and recently beating the likes of Joel Parkinson and Kelly Slater at the Quicksilver Pro in France a few months back.

Peter's local wave knowledge, having grown up steps from the competition site of North Chesterman Beach, allowed him to further his elimination of WQS top surfers Glenn Hall in his quarterfinal heat and Cory Lopez, former World Tour surfer and another favourite for this competition, in the semi-finals. An hour later in front of over 1000 spectators, Peter Devries won the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Canada in an energy fuelled final - both in and out of the water - against World Tour surfer Jay "Bottle" Thompson in what was a fairytale ending to a week on the wild edges of Canada.

It was a story that could almost have been a Hollywood script. Local Tofino surfer, Peter Devries started the week as one of the Canadian wildcards in this 6 Star ASP WQS competition and ended not only a hometown hero, but also a national icon. I get goose bumps when I think back to seeing Noah Cohen, O'Neill CWC Canada Event Ambassador, walk fully clothed waist deep into the frigid waters of North Chesterman Beach to be first to congratulate his best friend and mentor Peter Devries.

All competitors were surprised at his talent and commended him on his outstand- ing performance including finalist Jay "Bottle" Thompson who had nothing but kudos for the young Canadian winner, the beautiful surroundings and the support the community showed towards not only the event but also the visiting surfers.

For the unassuming tourist travelling through downtown Tofino during the final day of competition, and especially during Peter's heats, the town must have resembled that of a ghost town. Most businesses front doors adorned signs that read "Gone to watch Pete surf". Tofino is a small outpost at the end of the road with a big heart and a lot of support for one of its own, as was witnessed when the whole of Tofino lined the beach on this Halloween Saturday producing the biggest crowd ever seen at an O'Neill Cold Water Classic event. In such remote locations that the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series explores, it's rare to see massive crowds on the beach. Here in Tofino despite a small population of 1,700 inhabitants, there were huge numbers braving the elements along the beach to support their local hero.

Such an incredible experience in sporting history is rare and I am sure you all join me in congratulating Peter Devries for allowing us to be part of this astonishing moment.

For more info on the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series check out

Tofino Surfing Articles 

Tofino Time November 2009

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Tofino surfer Peter Devries won the O'Neill Coldwater Classic Canada surf competition in Tofino. Published in the November 2009 issue of Tofino Time Magazine.

tofino time november 2009