"We Woke Up And A Bear Had Chewed A Wetsuit To Bits" - Stab Mag
Reed, all bundled up somewhere on Vancouver Island. Photo: Ryan Ell

“We Woke Up And A Bear Had Chewed A Wetsuit To Bits”

Didn’t know there were so many slabs in Canada, eh?

cinema // May 31, 2023
Words by Christian Bowcutt
Reading Time: 3 minutes
“We wear a 6/5/4 or just a 5/4 when it’s warmer. The main thing is having a thick pair of gloves and booties,” said Reed.

Canada is there.

It’s easy to forget sometimes. Canadians seem so quiet, cozy, and content up there compared to the U.S. with all their socialized healthcare, excellent syrup, hockey prodigies, and Justin Biebers.

But nevertheless, Canada exists. And Tofino, Canada — home of their brightest up-and-coming surfer, 19-year-old Reed Platenius — exists close to us Yanks, sitting on Vancouver Island, just across the Salish Sea from Kurt Cobain’s beloved Seattle.

Oceanic exploration in Canada seems almost tactical. Photo: Drew Austin

Reed Platenius is Canada’s first burst of talent onto the mainstream stage since now-39-year-old Pete Devries, who is a 9x consecutive Canadian surfing champion, a winner of the O’Neill Coldwater Classic, and a star in Taylor Steele’s acclaimed film Innersection (2011).

Reed and Pete are neighbors, and Pete has been a Mr. Miyagi-esque figure for Reed growing up, “Pete has been such a mentor to me. I grew up so far from the surf industry and didn’t know how it worked. Pete walked me through the nitty-gritty of contract stuff, contests, and promoting videos like this one,” said Reed.

Pete Devries 2011 Innersection part that introduced the world to world-class Canadian surfing. Film: Taylor Steele

Reed is a friendly kid — but you can tell he’s smart and more importantly, intentional. He comes from a family line of teachers and academics — his grandpa was a renowned whale researcher. But since Reed doesn’t come from a “surfing family” you can tell his surfing career is something he’s constructed on his own (with Pete’s counsel), and that it subsequently means a lot to him.

In Tofino, Reed explained, pursuing surfing as a career isn’t seen as a practical career path. It’s a blue-collar area — many of Reed’s friends dropped out of school to pursue the trades or work in the fishing industry. Reed decided to stay in school, save money working “random jobs” all summer, and travel as much as he could to keep his professional surfing dreams alive.

And it’s paying off. This year Reed won the WSL North American Junior title. “Last year I didn’t even make a heat. I felt so out of my comfort zone and didn’t know anyone.” said Reed, “This year I met more friends and started to have fun and the results came. I got a few wins and started falling in love with the competition.”

Reed flying like a Blue Jay. Photo: Jeremy Koreski

Reed is now competing one division up on the Qualifying Series, with the goal of soon surfing the Challenger Series with the ultimate aim of making the CT.

Reed said what makes him happiest though is scouring Vancouver Island for waves in a van or on his boat that his Grandpa (the whale researcher) gave him. “Sometimes we’ll drive or boat 18 hours for waves and get totally skunked,” says Reed, “but other times you can score really good waves with just you and your best friends out.”

And scouring for waves with friends in Canada is a little more Man vs. Wild than elsewhere, “One time we were camping and we heard animal noises all night. When we woke up a bear had chewed one of our wetsuits to bits. It must have smelled the pee or something.”

In this edit, entitled “Almanac”, you will see some of those pioneered waves — including some proper slabs — in all their snowy glory. Click play and feel grateful for reading this in a warm place with a stretchy, bear claw scar-free 3/2 hanging in your garage.


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