tofino’s queen of the peak
posted: November 7, 2013
Almost everything I know about women’s surfing—and men’s too, for that matter—I learned from the movie Blue Crush. I attended my first ever surf competition in Tofino, BC last month and while the competitors were all badass women, it wasn’t exactly bikini weather. As it turns out, a little rain and a dip in the thermostat is nothing a good wetsuit can’t handle.
Queen of the Peak is a two-day competition and the passion project of Tofino-based Krissy Montgomery, who runs the surf school and shop Surf Sister, and Mike Jacobsen of Shelter, a local restaurant that’s focused on using sustainably sourced, organic ingredients.
Rain and shine, the beach at Cox Bay was packed with supportive spectators and competitors ranging from sponsored athletes to stoked locals to self-described weekend warriors. For such a grass roots event, it’s interesting that it stemmed from professional surfing. When the pro surfing event the Cold Water Classic rolled through Tofino a few years ago and women weren’t allowed to participate, Mike and Krissy sat down to discuss why women are treated as secondary in the surf industry. Thus, Queen of the Peak was born. About 45 girls showed up for the first competition, which was held on a rainy Friday four years ago.
Today Queen of the Peak has grown into a two-day event with over 100 entrants—some of whom come from as far as California to surf. About 25 of those who compete are girls between the ages of six and 12 who are keen to paddle out to compete for the title of Princess of the Peak, an addition to the contest the past two years.
What’s next? The dream is to bring an ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) sanctioned event to the area in addition to the Queen of the Peak, says Krissy. “Men have semi-pro events and professional events coming into the area but women don’t have that opportunity. [An ASP event] would up the level of talent locally and influence and inspire the local girls.”
After watching the girls kill it in the surf all weekend, I decided to give it a go myself. After all, I’d heard that that yoga was a strong foundation for catching waves and I’d even had a surf-inspired yoga class led by lululemon ambassador Cydney Connor and Surf Sister’s Nicole Lohse.
So I pulled on a wetsuit, paddled out and cruised in on the white wash a few times, at which point I figured I was ready to catch a green wave. (Kate Bosworth, eat your heart out!)
It turned out that Blue Crush taught me nothing and my confidence was incredibly short lived. I paddled out past the break and got pounded by wave after wave. Soon, I was so physically exhausted the rest of my surfing performance bore no semblance whatsoever to the girls I’d been watching all weekend. Clearly I was a few Chaturanga Danasanas short of the upper body strength required to catch a real wave, let alone the timing and skill required to make it look graceful.
Yet despite the ocean’s beating, the smile I was sporting was causing my facial muscles to ache just a little more than the rest of me. Surfing is so hard, but it is so much fun. So while I won’t be vying for Queen of the Peak any time soon, I’m pretty sure I could get used to the lifestyle of the weekend warrior.
5 things you absolutely must do while you’re in Tofino:
1) Eat at Tacofino. More specifically, eat the fish tacos and chocolate diablo cookie there. This is non-negotiable. You can thank me later.
2) The Tofitian. Good coffee. Need I say more?
3) Get in the water. If you can’t surf yet, check out Surf Sister (you too, boys—who doesn’t want badass girls teaching them to surf?).
5) Yoga! Post-surf and pre-Shelter, take lululemon ambassador and local teacher Insiya Rasiwala-Finn’s class at Coastal Bliss Yoga if possible.