Surfing in Tofino

May 23, 2024

Surfing in Tofino

Episode V: The Return of the Surf Camp

After 3 years of hiatus, 2024 marked the triumphal return of our Pacific Rim Surf Camp. 14 Paddlers took to the open coastline of Vancouver Island to push their skills and confidence to new levels, and bask in the positive community forged through their efforts.

With strong solar storm conditions decades in the making, the convergence of the great Northern Lights and the timing of our surf camp made this a once in a lifetime experience for paddlers.

Nestled in the West coast forest on the very edge of the continent, our camp overlooked Mackenzie Beach. Nothing stood between our paddlers and the leviathan forces of the mighty Pacific ocean, save for lonely Wickaninnish Island some 2km from shore. The shelter that Wickaninnish provides makes for ideal waters to begin an open coastal surf progression.

To Surf, or be Surfed

Every TRAK camp challenges our guests to reach beyond their comfort zones and self-imposed limits, and into the wellspring of potential contained within each paddler. This year, the TRAK coaches have adapted their own unique approach to training open-coastal paddlers, all based around what we call "The Surf Continuum"

The Surf Continuum ranges between fear and fun, and the key to unlocking the continuum is control. Boat control, awareness of conditions, and risk management form this basis of the "Trident Systemfor overcoming fear, and leading into fun.

The Trident has three main points to it:

1. The TRAK Factor: Uniqueness of the TRAK 2.0 Kayak

The TRAK 2.0 is remarkably capable in the hands of a paddler who understands how it works - where the amazing strengths are, and where the limitations to the equipment might be. Factoring in the "quirks of the craft" to the learning process is a key introduction over and above any content related to the hard-skills of paddling.

2. Dynamic Nature

Spoiler alert: the open West coast is subject to the mercurial factors of waves, wind, and other natural processes that are in a constant state of flux with each other. This dynamic, everchanging environment places certain demands on paddler and coach alike:

  • Responsibility for Learning: Encouraging active participation and accountability in personal growth.
  • A Rock Solid Foundation: Building strong, foundational skills for all participants. Taking our skills back to a crawl and relearning to walk before running.
  • Tailored Progression: Offering customized learning experiences to suit individual needs.
  • Situational Awareness: Developing awareness and responsiveness in dynamic water conditions.

3. Open Coastal Community Building

Cohesion and communication among the group need to be fostered from the outset, and contextualizing that process along the coast which we paddled was the key. Using the familiar "Lemons & Cherries" paradigm for assessing risk factors and communicating them among the group provided a common framework to cohesively reach our mutual and personal goals. 

The Results

By the end of the camp, participants had achieved sound risk management assessment skills and developed solid foundational sea kayak skills in dynamic water. The progression from fear to fun was evident as everyone grew more confident and capable in the surf. 

The pursuit of "stoke" is a journey along the surf continuum, and everybody reaches a slightly different end position along it. The conditions on the final day of the camp contributed to a challenging and rewarding transit to South Chesterman, with onshore winds providing mellow sets of waves for our group to enjoy before the final culmination of the camp. 

The Ryc Williamson Spirit Award

Each surf camp we host challenges paddlers in new and different ways, and rising to the task of answering that call requires perseverance, bravery, and an indomitable spirit. TRAK Pilot Duncan Bray is the traditional bestower of an award that honors the memory of Ryc Williamson - a TRAK Pilot and passionate sea kayaker who was generous in spirit and indispensable in the development of both the Pacific Rim Surf Camp and the TRAK 2.0 itself. 

This year, Duncan gave the honor of the award to Mishawn Hoover, based in Utah. Mishawn and her husband only recently received their new TRAK kayaks before heading to join the team far from home on Vancouver Island. The surf camp was their first real sea kayak trip, and it pushed Mishawn far outside of her comfort zone. The determination and spirit that Mishawn demonstrated in the face of adversity earned her place as the award winner for the 2024 camp. 

Will you Embrace the Waves? 

TRAK welcomes all paddlers, TRAK owners or otherwise, to join us on future camps and tours around the world. Each and every camp features its own specific focus and accompanying progression, but all have one thing in common: community. 

The TRAK Community comprises paddlers from every continent and well over 50 countries, with different personal and professional backgrounds, all coming together for the love of paddling and the stoke of sharing their experiences with likeminded others. 


Join us next year as a seasoned TRAK veteran, as a new TRAK owner looking to kickstart your journey with your new boat, or use our camps as a way to test out the TRAK 2.0 before you order your own. However you join us, we look forward to hosting you. 

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