At Queen of the Peak Women's Surf Championship in Tofino, women are riding the crest
The Queen of the Peak all women’s surf championship in Tofino aims to return female surfers to their former status as “Queens” in surfing’s “sport of Kings.” Surfing in pre-colonial Hawaii and Polynesia, was practiced and enjoyed equally by women and men. But somewhere between Captain James Cook, Beach Party Bingo, Gidget and the Beach Boys, female surfers became trivialized, objectified and left on the beach watching as surfing became a male sport.
Then, four years ago, when the men’s professional surfing competition Cold Water Classic was destined for Tofino, BC, Shelter restaurant Manager Mike Jacobsen asked Krissy Montgomery Owner of Surf Sister, surf school, “from the girl’s surf community here, do you guys feel left out because it’s not a women’s event and there’s no option for women to participate?” Krissy replied “well, to be honest, in the surf world, girls are used to coming in second.”
Said Krissy, “all the local competitions that have ever happened here and in other competitions around the world, women surf in the afternoon when the surf isn’t good, the prize money is less, it’s always kind of sidelined.”
And so Shelter Restaurant and Surf Sister created the Queen of the Peak annual all women's surf championship in Tofino. Queen of the Peak showcases both the beauty and great surfing conditions of Tofino as well as the abundance of great female surfers in the area.
Says Krissy, “in Tofino we have such a high, such a huge female surf population, it’s higher than anywhere else I’ve been in the world, and you know I’ve done quite a bit of surf travel and never seen the amount of girls in the water like I do here.”
This year’s Queen of the Peak Surf Championship takes place on October 5 & 6, 2013 and is sponsored by Billabong and The Wickanininish Inn. The contest includes shortboard and longboard categories and for the first time this year, a Princess of the Peak division for under 16s.
But Queen of the Peak doesn’t just emulate mens' surfing contests. It puts a decidedly female spin on things. For starters, the event features free child-care and dog-watching.
Says Krissy, “when we had talked about creating a contest and why women had never entered in the past, one of the things we brought up was, a lot of these surfers are moms. So they can’t just drop everything and go enter this contest.”
Indeed, women in their 40s and 50s are the fastest growing segment of new surfers.
Another female-friendly feature is The Wickaninnish Inn’s world-class spa, Ancient Cedars, has a tent set up on the beach and offers free massages to competitors.
Other Queen of the Peak events include a wine and cheese welcome reception at Surf Sister and instead of an awards ceremony on the beach, a gala multi-course dinner and awards ceremony at Shelter Restaurant. All proceeds from the event are donated to the Keep a Breast Canada, whose mission is to help eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support.
Some of the surfers to watch this year are: Leah Oke from Port Renfrew who’s won the contest a couple of years. Hanna Scott is a local Tofino girl who works at Surf Sister. She won it one year and is definitely a contender. There’s Cath Bruwiler a born and raised Tofino local who’s always in the finals. And Tamarah Stephens who always makes it into the finals too.
As far as who might walk away with the crown, Krissy says, “the pool of female talent here has gotten so strong that really it’s hard to predict anymore. It’s kind of neat because it could really be anybody’s crown. “
Says Mike, "A bunch of the local sponsored pro-guys do the judging. Every year we get blown away by how good the girls surf."
Says Krissy, “because the competition itself is a celebration of women, you’ll often see the camaraderie between the competitors is just awesome. You see girls hugging before they go out. You don’t see that in many other sports.”
Find more info about Queen of the Peak Women's Surf Championship
Book three surf lessons or rentals and your fourth surfer goes free. Just say "We have a fourth!" (i.e. the promotional code) when contacting these participating Tofino surf schools and Tofino surf shops highlighted on Tourism Tofino site to book your October 2013 surf lessons or rentals.
Find info about travel and accommodation during Queen of the Peak by contacting Tourism Tofino.