How often do you make the pilgrimage over to Vancouver Island?
Well it all depends on the swell of course but I guess I am over there a couple times a month, more in the Spring/Fall months. It can take up to 6 hours from my apartment in Vancouver to one of the breaks in Tofino and I will usually stay for a few nights at-least; always worth it.
With wetsuits that stand up to the test and a thirst for the uncrowded, Tofino and the far west is fast establishing itself as the ‘cold Hawaii’. Tell us about the scene over there.
As each year passes, the car parks are getting busier and the lineups tighter. It is inevitable as more and more travellers are touching down in British Columbia and seeking swell. Tofino and its neighbouring town Ucluelet have pretty much everything you could need. Beer/Coffee/Food/Waves.
I’d say it has a similar vibe to how it rolls in Cornwall. It takes a while for the locals to warm up, see that you’re not just some kook from the city dropping in on a swelly but serious about the game. There are some great folks out there, I've made some strong friends which make the paddle out good fun and through the winter months it’s better returning to a friend’s warm house than my van… which can be a little uninviting after a surf in frigid waters.
It was Peter Devries who said "if your car can handle the roads, have a boat to get around or a buddy with a sea plane (plus a good sense of direction) then you can find some pretty great waves." How far have you explored?
It’s true. It can be pretty tricky to get around Coastal British Columbia if you don’t have the correct transport. Having a 4wd Van has been perfect for the long untouched logging roads and river beds. I’ve managed to venture fairly far up and down the coast of Vancouver Island with a couple boat trips to some gems… But that’s all I can really say.
Tell us about your version of Vancouver Island.
More often than not I’m strapped for time. So it is a 5am start in Vancouver with the first ferry out of the city to Nanaimo (Vancouver Island) where I will then drive on across the island to the West Coast (Tofino) or head to the South of the island for some other swell catchers… I will usually roll in to Tofino by lunch, jump in where ever the tide sits and get a couple hours in. Followed by a coffee and an hour or two catching up on emails and then back in the water before the light drops. Most folks who live in a city with no easy access to waves know you've just gotta get what you’re given sometimes.
What environmental threats and concerns are becoming ever more prevalent there?
Right now one of the largest threats to British Columbia and its coastal regions is the new proposed Kinder Morgan Oil Pipeline and its new oceanside dock which is just outside the city of Vancouver. Having this will greatly increase the traffic of Ocean tankers into the area and really increase the chances of oil spillages. BC is known for its vast wildlife in the ocean and out, introducing a change like this to the already threatened environment will only bring negative effects.
A hot topic back here given our women's wetsuit tester programme and the general conversation about the misrepresentation of women in our sport. What's the feeling out there regarding equality in the water and where do you see this quiet corner of the world playing a part?
I’m the one getting sprayed by the ladies out in the waves. It's totally equal out here, a number of times I have been the only dude in the water.
There is a huge female surf community in BC, mainly in Tofino with its female run surf school (Surf Sister). I can only imagine that Canada are going to be producing some of the top female surfers to introduce to the circuit.
Is the draw still there to stay put out west, or shall we be seeing you back on home soil in Cornwall anytime soon?
Right now it is. Work is here, we still have so much more to explore and see. In good time we will be back…
Follow Fricker's cold water journey here.