Sanoa Olin, 12, grew up playing in the ocean and naturally gravitated towards surfing. She says her big sister, Mathea, is an inspiration to her. “I see her and I want to do what she’s doing – she’s the bar I’m reaching for right now.”
 The sun sets on Cox Bay Beach, a popular surfing destination in Tofino.
 Born and raised in Tofino, Sarah Sloman (centre) first tried surfing when she was 13 years old. She remembers her mom ordering a custom-made two-piece wetsuit, but by the time it arrived in the mail, she had already outgrown it and lost interest. It wasn’t until she was 19 that she fully committed. “I never stopped after that,” she said. Now, her main surfing companions are her 13-year-old twin daughters, Serena (right) and Jasmine Porter. “I think it’s pretty cool because we have a lot of people to look up to here,” Jasmine, who recently landed a sponsorship deal with XCEL said. “When my mom was growing up there wasn’t really anybody older than her that surfed.”
 Bryanna Wiebe moved from Whistler to Tofino three years ago in pursuit of learning to surf, saying even thinking about it today gives her the goosebumps. “I’ve always experienced good vibes, high fives and party waves,” she said of Tofino’s waters. “It’s a form of meditation, just being in the ocean [and] feeling the waves and the movement – I’m addicted to it.”
 Not to be overshadowed by her father, Canada’s first professional surfer Raph Bruhwiler, 12-year-old Aqua Bruhwiler is carving her own waves. Born and raised in Tofino, the budding surfer got her start when she was only eight years old and “just never really stopped,” she said. “It’s my passion so I want to carry it on with me to the places I go.”
 Katie Elston carries her surf board on her head as she walks back from Cox Bay Beach.
 Originally hailing from Ontario, Jennifer Smallwood moved to Tofino in 2001 after connecting with surfing while traveling in warmer climates. What started as a fear for the ocean developed into a love. “I think we have a playful surf community that’s inclusive – it stretches all the boundaries of young and old [and] gender[s],” she said. Compared to places like Hawaii, California and Australia, Tofino’s surf scene is young, “we’re all grommets – still frothing at the new experience,” she said.
 Heavy swell rolls onto South Chesterman beach under the setting sun in Tofino, British Columbia.
 Catherine Bruhwiler grew up on Chesterman Beach, at a time when only a handful of surfers were in the water. “I probably got into [surfing] by accident – just because it was something to do,” she said. “We grew up without a TV, and we were right there, so that was like our playground.” Bruhwiler became Canada’s first professional female surfer, and continues to compete for Team Canada as a surfer and stand-up paddler.
 Stephanie Wightman surfed until she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her first child. And even though surfing changed a lot for her over the course of her pregnancy, she said “it’s just nice to be in the ocean.” Wightman joined the Surf Sister tribe when she first moved to Tofino in 2004 and has worked there ever since. As the company grew, she watched the women’s surf-scene grow with it. “I’ve never seen as many women in the water as there are here,” she said.
 Born and raised in southern Vancouver Island, Tia Traviss moved to Tofino in 2004 to become a surf instructor at Surf Sister. She now works as a realtor, but reminisces about the job as if it were a dream that she still can’t believe came true. “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would be a surf instructor twice a week,” she said. “I love that job.”
 As one of the first women to surf off Tofino’s coast, Shelley Renard began learning when she was 23 years old. She wanted to prove that she could be out there and catch a wave. “It was to show men that I could do as well as some of them,” she said. The 65-year-old still revisits the sport, saying that surfing fills her with euphoria. “Your whole body feels wonderful after you’ve surfed. It’s that sense that you did something in this beautiful environment that’s made you a better person,” she said.
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