Years ago at Pipeline, a crisp tradewind blowing Raph Bruhwiler sat shivering in the lineup, the coldest he’d ever felt in the water. It’s a strange way to imagine Canada’s first professional surfer. Hundreds of surfers visit his hometown of Tofino, the quiet Vancouver Island village. Bruhwiler shares a grit and toughness with the area, earned over a lifetime chasing waves in the inhospitable and maddeningly fickle Pacific Northwest. But he’ll be the first to tell you, the elements that conspire against surfers -- whether it’s the North Shore tradewinds or Tofino’s numbing gales —they are as inherent to the PNW experience as the waves themselves.
We reached out to Bruhweiler and asked him about the lessons he’s learned from Tofino, the surf culture he helped create, the importance of family, and how the difference between surfing and survival all comes down to preparation.