July 19-22, 2009: Tofino Stand Up Paddle Surf Mission

We’ve been pretty regular visitors to the Long Beach over the past twenty years or so, but this was our first trip with our stand up paddleboards in tow.

I decided last minute to head over to the Island on Sunday July 19 the trip couldn’t have been more perfect!

Corey was already on the Island for a previously scheduled event, so I walked onto the 8:30am Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay ferry with a 10’10  SUP, paddle and backpack in hand. He picked me up on the Nanaimo side and we made our way to Island Longboards to see what was happening with Colin and the crew.

Scott had just returned from a Discover Stand Up Paddling session down at Qualicum Beach, and the shop was bursting with activity with customers renting surf gear, and a few getting more information on their selection of Stand Up Paddleboards.

After a brief stop, we were on our way to the surf, arriving at Wickaninnish Beach at around 1:00pm. Checked the surf there but the swell was looking pretty chunky along with some pretty heavy winds, so we headed up to Long Beach’s Incinerator Rock parking lot to see if we could find some better conditions.

The wind was up there too but we decided to put in for a short session just to see how it went, as it was our first time paddling the boards in the waves. Not bad but not great, so we headed to Surf Junction campground to set up camp and wait for the wind to die.

We returned to Long Beach around 7:00pm and timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The wind was just starting to mellow out, the tide was on the upswing, and the swell was a nice small 2-3 ft with a long period, perfect introductory conditions for the SUP’s. Had an incredible glassy session and really started to learn the boards’ exceptional ability to catch waves early, resulting in some incredibly long rides.

We met another stand up paddler, Paul from Seattle, who’s working on some stand up paddleboard designs of his own. We had a good chat with him after the session and as a result will be showcasing some of his work on this site at a later date.

Next morning we returned to Long Beach and spent almost the entire day getting small, but super long, clean rides all day… Couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Tuesday was good for the morning session at Long Beach but the fog set in around 10am. We kept at it for a few hours but decided to head up to South Chesterman to see what was happening. Good call in terms of the weather, but the beach was packed with surf school students, making it very difficult to get the long rides we’ve grown accustomed to. As such, we decided to call it a day and headed back to camp.

Fog was still thick on Wednesday morning so we decided to call the trip a success and head back to Nanaimo for the ferry ride back to the mainland.

Overall it was an amazing trip…

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