Peter Devries isn't the type of person who enjoys being the center of attention. Soft spoken and humble, he's quick to brush off a compliment as "…just being in the right place." It's a bit of a shame, really, because Pete has all of the talent needed to back up a steady flow of shit-talking if he so chose. But that's not Pete Devries. As such Pete must have been overwhelmed today when media and Canadian surf fans swarmed him after he dismantled his competition in his round two heat at the Cold Water Classic Canada. I guess I failed to mention that he was surfing against the likes of Dusty Payne…
As the sole Canadian left standing in the event, Devries literally pulled the local crowd out of the woodwork and into the water's edge when he threw on a jersey today. Despite the bone-numbing conditions, largely thanks to a steady surge of frosty onshores, the crowd at Chesterman's Bay swelled in anticipation of Pete's heat, hoping to get a glimpse of the local boy holding his own against the rest of the world.
So that's what he did.
From the outset, Devries didn't appear the slightest bit nervous as he approached the beach marshal to grab his jersey. He smiled to a few stoked Canadian fans and seemed to glide across the sand as he prepped for his showing. Not a single sign of pre-heat jitters to be found.
Stacked against Dusty Payne, one of the most celebrated surfers alive, and Zaffa ripper Damien Fahrenfort and American Matt Myers, you'd be forgiven if you thought Devries had bitten off a tad more than he could chew. After all, how well can he surf? He's … err … Canadian.
From the outset, Devries put a humbling end to all naysayers—myself included—when he tore the living hell out of the head-high beachbreak slop, all with a seamless style and poise. Dusty would counter with his own upside down backhand attack, but Pete was surfing on a different plane today. At one point, after connecting one of the better waves of the day from the outside wall to the shorebreak with a bevy of well-timed hacks, the crowd that had gathered in the freezing wind, with their flannels, slickers, and piping cups of coffee in hand, responded with a round of applause and whistles. Pete wins. Dusty takes second. It was very Rudy-esque. Go Canada.
"The waves weren't really all that good out there…pretty bad to be honest, but I was glad to get a couple…I've never really been too into surfing contests, so when I went out there, I just surfed sort of how I wanted to surf. And that seems to be working for me," said Devries after his heat.
The remainder of the day bore witness to some top-shelf surfing in some bottom-shelf conditions. The wind, which had been manageable for most of the morning, strengthened considerably, leaving event officials forced to call of the comp for the day in the early afternoon.
But that's all fine and well, because right now in Tofino, they're talking about one thing and one thing only: Peter Devries.