Celebrate our coast at annual wave hunt

China Beach is the scene of the two-day surfing event

Wave Hunter takes place on February4 and 5 at China Beach.

Wave Hunter takes place on February4 and 5 at China Beach.

Grab your surfboard and wax and pack your wetsuit– the 2012 local Wave Hunt Surf contest is just around the corner!

Strictly for fun and the enjoyment of surfing with friends, this non-profit volunteer run event will take place at China Beach with the first heat starting at 7:30 a.m. sharp on February 4. Surfrider’s Danny Amato, the main co-ordinator of the event, looks forward to seeing it all come together.

“I love seeing people share waves and enjoy the ocean environment. It’s also a chance for people to make friends with other individuals who share similar interests,” he said.

For the last six years China Beach has been home base for the surf contest because as Amato tells me, “it’s a special place in a park that has a 30-minute walk through an old-growth forest and great waves.”

The Wave Hunt has never been cancelled but seeing as it’s winter on the West Coast, wild weather remains a possibility.

“If the swell conditions are less than optimal we’ll deal with that when it happens,” said Amato.

In this event there are no age or board requirements but contestants must purchase a Surfrider membership prior to entering. All experience levels are welcome with the exception of pros and individuals with bad attitudes.

“Sponsored riders can not enter because we want to encourage your average surfer to participate. Peter Devries will not be attending.”

Five-person heats will commence with a five-minute paddle-out with 30-40 minutes to surf. There is no wave limit but the competitors must return to the beach when the flag is up and their heat is over. Two quick blasts of the air-horn will indicate when five minutes are left in your heat. The next heat then paddles out but stays on the shoulder until one long blast is heard indicating that the heat is over and that the next heat has begun. At this point, the previous heat must belly ride or paddle back to the beach. Dropping in or any other misconduct will result in the highest wave being removed from the final score of the individual.

In the past, the surfers, mostly young adults, have come from Vancouver and Tofino but the majority drive in from Victoria or Sooke. Men’s and Women’s divisions will surf together and it’s a family friendly events so kids are welcome. “We try to mimic a regular fun day of surfing where men and women surf together but they are judged separately,” said Amato.

An unconventional contest, contestants judge each other’s filmed surfing performance Sunday evening at McRae’s but naturally they are restricted from judging their own. Categories include: height of wave, length of wave, amount of maneuvers, critical degree of turns, style, complementing the waves potential, most stoke, best bail and longest ride. Two custom Barracuda surfboards will be awarded to the top men and women’s championships along with hand carved statues. The contest is much more about play than it is about serious surfing though.

“We want to steer away from the competitive side of things.  I am looking forward to sending a real environmental message promoting clean water, public beach access and the enjoyment of riding waves,” he said.

The cut-off date for the contest is three days prior but Amato prefers people to enter earlier. More contest details are listed on the website: http://www.wavehunt.ca

The contest will take place on Feb. 4 and 5 starting at 7:30 a.m. at China Beach.

See you in the water!

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