Surfing Vancouver Island  

an Interview with Raph Bruhwiler By Malcolm Johnson  

an Interview with Raph Bruhwiler

an Interview with Raph Bruhwiler

By Malcolm Johnson

For most people familiar with Canadian surf culture, Raph Bruhwiler needs little introduction. The born-and-raised Tofino local, along with brothers Sepp and Francis and sister Cath, has led the sport here to new levels of performance. Raphís fast, fluid and ballsy surfing and his dedication to the authentic Island lifestyle have earned him a high degree of respect both here and abroad. Usually letting his surfing speak for itself Ė dropping into heaving closeout barrels at big (spot) as a matter of course Ė Raph spoke to about his development as a surfer, his surf camp, and his views on the current state of west coast Canadian surfing.

MJ:To start off, can you talk a bit about some of your earliest memories of surfing? When were the first times you clued into it as a sport, and the first times you hooked into real waves?

RB: Yeah, the first time was Mackenzie Beach. I was probably 7 or 8, and we had our property at Chestermanís but we were living at Mackenzie still, because my dad was building on it. I remember being at Chestermanís and seeing this guy surf out front. So we went back home to Mackenzie where we were staying and I got my dad to build me a surfboard out of plywood. I was so bummed because it didnít workÖI was in waves at Mackenzie like a foot big, and I just couldnít make it work. There was just a few oldtimers back then, we were pretty much the youngest ones at that time; and then we went to the Co-Op and bought one of those boards that were like 5 feet and 18 inches wide and no fin or nothing. Then I just had that, and I had fun with that for a whileÖwe moved to Chestermanís, and our neighbours were Barry Campbell and his sons Mike Campbell and Ben Campbell. We used to always hang out and surf a lot, and Barry, who still works for the park, he used to bring this 9 foot foam board. We used to just get on top of it, be standing already with no waves, way out there waiting for a good little swell, and heíd push us into it and weíd ride it all the way to the beach. So thatís pretty much the first waves I remember catching. Just getting pushed into them, not even paddling...

MJ:What are some of your other memories of Tofino in those days, of what the surf scene was like back in the Ď80s?

RB: It was just wake up, look out the window, check the surfÖcall up Jack Greig, Bryan Greig, the Killinsí, the Campbells, there was a whole bunch of us living on the beach on the south side there. Iíd just call them all up, and weíd just all go surfing together all the time, and then when the surf was flat we had a halfpipe at the side of our house, and weíd skate the halfpipe. It was mostly that main crew that always surfed, but we just kinda hung out with youngsters. There were some older guys, like the Buckles, and John Haley. The guys that were quite a bit older than us, we just kinda really looked up to them, like Jack Gilley, Jack Bauer, all those guys, we always watched them, weíd be like ďah man, one day we want to be like themÖĒ and weíd always be surfing the inside when it was bigger, and weíd watch them outside catching these green wavesÖ.it was like ďone day, one dayÖĒ then finally we made it out and started surfing them. So we all kinda grew up together. In high school those guys quit for a long time, and me and my brothers and my sister were the only ones that kinda just kept doing it. But now theyíre all back into it, and Ryan Erickson too, he lived in town but he always came out there.

MJ:Were there other people that were pushing you to keep going out there, or was it more just you and Cath and Sepp and Francis doing it on your own?

RB: It was just all of us kinda doing it on our own. And watching the other guys surfing here, we just wanted to do it, it looked so fun, and eventually we started getting surf videosÖand then I went to a Paskowitz Surf Camp when I think I was 12, my dad drove me down thereÖI learned a bit, but basically they just sit on the beach and they just watch you go outÖI didnít learn much from them, but watching better guys out surfing down there, that really pushed me. Here I had kinda got to the level of the guys I was looking up to, but when I went down there I saw a higher level and I started doing all those tricks and manuevers. And videos too, videos helped, I basically learned to surf off Momentum and all those videos. I didnít have anybody else to really push me.

MJ:Was there some point when you realized you were really good, you know, an exceptional surfer as opposed to the majority of people who just go surfing?

RB: Yeah, the first time was basically when I won my first contest when I was 13. Tony Heald used to own a shopÖyou know at Weigh West thereís that big Adventure sign, that used to be a garage, and he used to have a shop in there, a surf / skate shop. When we were little punks we used to always skate too. Weíd actually skate as much as we surfed. Weíd always skate around there and hang out there, and one day he said ďYou know, thereís this contest coming up, the Westbeach contest, do you want to do it?Ē He was making a team, four guys to a team, and I was like ďah, nah, whateverÖĒ I was just a young kid, but he paid for me, basically he put me in there and I was like ďo.k., well I guess Iím doing it,Ē and then he put me in the Advanced division and I ended up winning it. I was just a little guy and there were these older guys I remember before my heat just laughing at me, like ďlook at this little guy, weíre going to kick his ass.Ē I was kinda scared, but I went out there and beat everybody. And after that, thatís when I really started progressing lots, you know, I started really pushing it to do good. I knew I could maybe do something out of it, if I was beating these 20 to 30 year old guys when I was like 13. I think that pushed me the most, so thanks, Tony. Thatís why we should have more contests than we do; to get more of the local kids into surfing, so they have something to push themselves for and work towards every year.

MJ:In 49 Degrees those days at South were shown as this idealized beach life thatís disappeared now, thatís how Susan Tabata portrayed it. Did you agree with how you guys came off in that, the way that your lives got presented?

RB: Yeah, I didnít really mind it. Itís pretty much how we grew up. We were just beach bums really. Weíd come into town to skate once in a while at the skate park, but we basically just stayed on the beachÖwe had a halfpipe there, we had a paved road, we had surf, so we basicallyÖit was just beach life. Just surfed all the time, didnít do anything else. And we still kinda do thatÖ

MJ:Itís a good life.

RB: Ah yeah.

MJ:It seems like a lot of people are still holding on to this stereotype that surfers are all drugs, parties, that whole scene; that seems to be something that doesnít really apply to you, you seem to be pretty focussed, pretty cleanÖ

RB: Yeah, Iím pretty clean. Iíve had my day when I was young, but I think itís just age. The older you get, itís kinda like youíve done it. I donít want to surf every day hung over. I want to be able to surf and feel it; you know, feel the water, feel the surf. I did it when I was young; I think everybody does it, but I think itís just because Iím a bit older now. Back then when youíre living at home, you donít have a job, you just surf all the time, itís pretty easy. But, like you say, there are a lot of people that do that, but I just surf more for just surfing, not really that much for the scene.

MJ:Getting sponsored, how did that start off for you? Because you were pretty much the first Canadian surfer to get serious sponsorship supportÖ

RB: I started from shops; people would be like ďyou know, this guyís doing good at contests, letís get him to ride our stuff,Ē that kinda thing. And once there was the magazine stuff, you got a lot of people always approaching you and asking. A lot of my sponsors came like that, and others I just called them up and said this is who I am, Iíll send you a portfolio and a video; and a lot of people probably never watched the video, so they didnít really know, and some people that did were like ďholy shit, heís Canadian!?Ē

MJ:Is that how it worked with Quiksilver?

RB: With Quik, it was just after the contest I won in 2000. I was riding for Arson, and I wasnít getting much from them, I wanted a bit more. So I just phoned Quiksilver up and said could I ride for you guys, and they offered it to me.

MJ:So what are they expecting, are they pretty happy with what youíre doing?

RB: Yeah, I think so. I hope theyíre happy. Itís basically just getting exposure and using their stuff, basically just promoting it well. They seem pretty happy and theyíve treated me really well and theyíve helped me out a lot.

MJ:This isnít always the easiest place to live, small-town B.C. is a pretty hard place to make a living.

RB: Yeah, especially when youíre trying to surf every day. But there was fish plants in the summer, construction, working for my dad logging, then driving boats for a lot of years. My dadís a faller. Heís still doing that, but I used to go when I was young, go carry the gas around for him and heíd give me 50 bucks a day or something. And then whale watching, I did that for a long time and surfed, and then got worn out, and then I started the surf camp. So basically I can surf and teach other people how to surf, and itís good.

MJ:How did the camp come about?

RB: Well, the thing with surfing professionally Ė to just surf and not do anything else in Canada is impossible. It will never happen where somebody can; well maybe down the road, but right now I canít see it happening. I get paid a salary or whatever, but itís not really enough to live. You can get paid by your sponsors, but I donít think in Canada youíll ever make enough to save up, so you kinda always have to do something else too. With the surf camp, I just wanted to always be in the water; and being able to teach people, thatís what I love, and in the water is where I feel comfortable, so I might as well just do it. My mom has been nagging us to do it for years and years, but we never did, then finally I just said ďo.k., screw it, Iím tired of whale watching, letís do it.Ē

MJ:There are 3 or 4 different schools nowÖwhatís your point of view on that? Do you think it affects the local surf population much, or is it more equivalent to a kayak tour or something, where people just come up and do it once and just move along?

RB: A lot of people I think will just do it once, get stoked, you know, they love it, but theyíll probably only do it once or twice. I donít know; Tofino, the way I see it, itís getting more and more crowded but thereís nothing you can do about it. Itís a beautiful place, so thereís nothing you can really do about it. So instead of fighting it I might as well join it. But if everybody else is making money off it, thenÖ I think that we had a big role in the growth of surfing here and we were born and raised here, so if everybody else is making money off of it, then it seems like we should have a piece of it too. Thatís kinda the way I think.

MJ:Do you have a couple most memorable sessions?

RB: In Australia Iíve probably had the best. But in Canada, I donít know, Iíve had lots of good sessions. Yesterday I had a good session. Waves that stand out in my mind are some big days, like a couple years ago at (spot), where it was the biggest Iíve ever seen it, no video, nothing, there was probably about 20 people just lined up on the beach. There was a few of us out, and standing on the beach looking out it looked like you were in Hawaii, it was probably 15 feet and cranking. It didnít look like you were in Canada. It was sunny, offshore. That stands out in my mind. Thereís no footage of it, but thatís fine, itís in my memory bank. That was probably some of the best waves, hollowest waves Iíve caught in Canada. To me a good ride is pretty much getting barrelled. Iíll remember barrels. I wonít remember airs, I wonít remember big turns, but Iíll definitely remember long barrels. And thereís been some good days at Cox Bay, and (spot) back in the day when it used to be good, but it hasnít been good for probably about five years. I donít know, thereís been so many sessions, and hopefully this winter will be good. Iím always looking forward to the fall and winter. I love the wintertime. But when youíre in winter and itís shitty surf, youíre like ďah, I canít wait for summer,Ē and then summer comes around and youíre like ďah, I canít wait for winter.Ē I think weíre going to get some really good surf, this year, some really good wavesÖIíve got some spots eyed up.

MJ:Do you think about the risks involved much? Like at (spot), pulling into those waves?

RB: I never do. I donít know, I havenít gotten scared in so many years, actually scared of waves. So this winter I want to try to get scared, thatís my goal for the winter, to try to get scared again. I donít know how big of a wave Iím going to need, but I want to try to find some really big waves this winter. Hooking up with Peter Mel and those guys helped; watching Maverickís, we watched Maverickís break quite a few times, and one day I was just ready to go out there, I had a board I could use and went out on the cliffs there, but there was like 50 guys out. It was big, it wasnít real gnarly Maverickís, probably 15 feet, but just too many people, and I didnít even want to try. But yeah, those guys help, with the tow-ins and stuff. Itís just so so fun doing tow-ins; I went up the island and did some tow-ins on some big outer reefs, and saw a lot of big-wave potential on the Island. One of my goals is to try to find a really huge wave on the island and go tow it; where we surfed was about 15 feet, but on the way out we were looking at 25 to 30 foot waves breaking off one of the reefs there. The period was a bit too short for it, and it was closing out, so we skipped it and surfed a different reef, but on a different swell it would work. It looked like a Cortes Bank style wave.

MJ:So what exactly are you thinking about when itís (spot) and you know the waveís going to close out and you know youíre going to get worked and you just pull inÖwhatís going through your mind in those situations?

RB: HehÖI guess Iím not thinking. I donít know, I donít know what I think. I mean, I should just kick out, but I honestly donít know. I guess I just try to get hammered. I know thereís a lot of waves that I go on that I know Iím not going to make it out of. So for that couple of seconds of being in there dry and not seeing the opening, itís just a thrill.


MJ:In terms of contests, do you have any motivation to go back into that, like what Peterís doing, to go to California and really push yourself in the States?

RB: I would probably, if it wouldnít cost so much. I did it when I was young and I did really good in the amateur ranks down there, and I did pretty good in some of the pro ones when I was younger, but I donít know, itís so much money to go down there. Iíd rather stay up here and shoot, get some good footage, get some good waves, do the contests up here in the Northwest. Iíll go do the odd one down there, but Iím not really into that much anymore. Iíd rather just stay up here and surf where nobodyís ever surfed before. But yeah, if somebody came along and said ďhere, you can have all the money you want for the whole tourĒ Iíd do it; but Iím not motivated to use money for that, Iíd rather use it for our other things. But when I was younger it was different. Peteís young, you know, Iím sure when heís my age heíll probably settle down; but itís good, it pushes you, and eventually maybe youíll do good in one of them, and then, you know, thatíll do everything for you. But itís just really hard down there; a lot of the judges, if they donít know you, itís a play sides kinda thing. If they donít know your name and youíre not big, Iíve seen guys like Sunny Garcia push through heats that thereís no way they shouldíve won, even Kalani Robb at the Worlds, thereís no way they shouldíve won it, but they got firsts. Itís just the way it goesÖlike with ice skating and boxing.

MJ:What about this year, at the Surf Jam, it took something like an hour before they released the results, and there were a lot of people who thought that you probably won.

RB: I donít know, I didnít see Seppís waves, so I canít really say about Sepp, about how he did; but I know thereís no way I shouldíve gotten third. I was next to Pete and I seen all his waves; I know he got one long one but thereís no way I shouldíve got third, I know that. And everybody on the beach was saying Iíd won or Iíd got second, because it was really tight. I donít know, I yelled at one of the judges. I think they got confused with the colours, thatís what I kinda got through one of the judges that I talked to the judge that had me third, and had Sepp in second and Pete in first. But whatever, itís just a contest, right? But when they have money involved, it should be better judging, you know, I lost 250 bucks. Itís not that much, itís not that big of a deal; I just think that they canít have two Bruhwiler brothers in first or second, thatís just the way it goes. That year I won, Sepp shouldíve totally got second, and they had to split it up. I think itís just politics. Back when I was younger I wouldíve been really mad, but nowadays, whatever, Iím mellowing out in my old age.

MJ:These days thereís total oversaturation of media coverage of surfing, with the internet and mags and DVDs all over the placeÖbut back when you were getting started, how aware were you guys of surfing outside Canada?

RB: Oh, totally aware. Tom Curren was my idol. From magazines, back in the early 90s and the 80s, they sold Surfer here, so just from reading those. Curren was world champ when I was young, I really liked his style. Christian Fletcher came up after that for airs, we were all stoked out on the Fletcher videos and all trying our airs and stuff; thereís better guys than him now though, but he pretty much started the airs. Thatís kinda when we started progressing, when he started with the airs, and when Curren was world champÖthat was kinda our year.

MJ:What about right now, are there some people whose surfing you look at and try to emulate?

RB: Not reallyÖitís kinda too late, I have my own style now. But I think back then it was a lot of Curren, and Slater was starting to come up too back then. It was that style, trying to do nice turns and airs; I just try to go fast, use my rails, airs and barrels. Thereís still a lot of stuff I want to do on a wave that I havenít done yet; I want to land one of those barney flips, but you have to wait for the waves to get big. I just want to be able to land big airs. I really like big airs, when the waves get head high, just going up there and getting as high as you can. But barrels Ė if I could get barrelled for the rest of my life, thatís all Iíd do. Thatís the best ever. I should probably move to Indo or somethingÖ

MJ:There are some people who seem to get kinda riled up about you guys getting photographed a lot, but it seems that thatís not what itís really about for you, Iíve been out with you guys lots of times when thereís no cameras around and itís shitty and miserable and freezing cold. Whatís motivating you to be out there when itís like that?

RB: Because itís fun, and stay in shape. I know that every time I go out, even if itís shitty, Iíll catch at least one good wave out there thatís worth my whole two hour session. A lot of times I do sit out there, and Iím like ďwhy the heck did I come out?Ē and then I catch one good wave, and itís like ďo.k., that was why, I can go in nowÖĒ Thatís basically it. Just to keep in shape, and thereís nothing else to do here, soÖ Itís kind of a release as well, to just go out there and forget about everything and come in totally revived, you feel totally good. I donít know, itís an addiction. I think some people are probably just more dedicated to it. It just takes different people, everybodyís different, so some people do it more as a workout, some do it more as a hobby, some people do it to be in the scene, other people do it because itís like a religion, itís all you do. You live it, you eat it, you sleep it, itís that good.

MJ:So where do you see yourself being in 5 years?

RB: Probably doing the same thing; have a house here and one somewhere else. Thereís so many places I want to go. Have a house somewhere tropical with good waves. But Iíll probably always be here. Itís where I grew up, I like it, and the waves are good.

MJ:How about 30 years?

RB: 30 years, same deal. Iíll be riding a shortboard though, I know that. I wonít be riding longboards.

MJ:Where are your next travels, what are some of the projects youíve got coming up?

RB: Yeah, Peter Mel and I are going to be in a documentary about surfing the longest wave in the world Ė the Pororoca tidal bore in the Amazon Ė at the end of February. You can get rides up to 30 minutes, itís like surfing here for about 3 months on one wave. The tow-in footage from the Island is me training for that trip. Iím going to Mexico for a few weeks, and Hawaii in January or March.

MJ:Whatís your favourite place to surf here?

RB: Probably big (spot) when itís 8 to 10 feet or above. It smartens you up; you know, after surfing all these other spots that are kinda mellow, and you go out there on a big day and just get hammered and ragdolled around, you start thinking ďoh yeah, I better smarten up hereÖĒ and you start taking off on the shoulder a bit more instead of trying to take off right in the lip. Itís a good wave, itís got power. Itís a Hawaiian-style wave I think, and it doesnít break every day, so youíre always looking forward to surfing it. You kinda have to know the conditions when to go out; not everybody can surf it, because you get worked hard. You go out there and you know if you get worked hard youíre pretty much going to the beach.

MJ:What about abroad?

RB: Australiaís probably one of the better spots, I got really good waves there. Portugalís got some good waves. Hawaiiís alright but I havenít been there in a long time. Around Santa Cruz too, a lot of the places that Peter Mel and Tashnick and those guys surf, like northern Santa Cruz where not that many people go thatíre real sharky, thereís some really good waves out there, really good heavy reefbreaks.

MJ:It seems like things are going pretty well for you guys, with you and Jer working together and Numb selling in the States. It seems like you guys are almost on the edge of becoming really well-known in the surf worldÖare you going to welcome the attention if it comes?

RB: Itís a hard question. Yeah, I guess I kinda have to, eh? I donít know, the way I see it itís better to have Canadian guys doing that than guys coming up here from the States and doing it. Itís better to keep it Canadian with a Canadian filmmaker. It could happen where a lot of guys from down there could come up here, but I think they know we have our own little thing going, so they just kinda let Jer do everything and let us surf. But itís better to see Canadians doing Canadian stuff than having a bunch of pros coming up here whoíll take everything. Itís definitely going to get more attention, but I donít know if itís going to really bring people from down there up here. Californians are scared of cold; I think itíll probably just make Canadians want to surf more. I donít really mind that much, as long people respect the ocean, respect the place, respect the locals. I donít mind sharing the waves, but if you get somebody out there who paddles out real cocky and tries to catch every wave, then yeah, of course one of us is going to tell him somethingÖbut I donít really mind sharing waves, because Iím pretty much going to get them all anyway.

MJ:Do you think that you guys get enough respect?

RB: I think so. I donít ever really have that many problems out there. You know, somebody drops in on me, whatever, itís an accident, if they drop in on me twice then o.k., they might get an earful. But I think everybody kinda knows. Itís like that anywhere in the world that you go; if I go somewhere else Iíll back off and Iíll let people catch waves and Iíll be casual. I respect them, and thatís the way it should be. And if it stays that way, itís fine. The thing with Tofino is that most people just stay in town, theyíre not going to really go venture off that much further. A lot of the spots that are further away from town, you really have to know everything they work on, the swells; and thereís a lot of people that know that, but Iím not too worried about it. Thereís so much surf, and the thing with Tofino, itís only in the summertime, and in the wintertime itís kinda calmed down a bit. Itís kind of a hard question for me. I donít mind sharing waves though, as long as thereís respect. As long as I get my wavesÖ

MJ:Thereís thousands of people that surf in BC now, and youíre one of the most prominentÖdo you feel any responsibility for where things are going or for directing where things are going to go in the future at all? Because people are going to value your opinions, and a lot of the younger people are going to look at you guys and take the vibe that youíre are putting out.

RB: I think if thereís something that you really love that youíre good at, you should try to make a living off of it. Thatís the way I see it. You canít really exploit it that much, but you know, to a certain extent the thing with Tofino is that itís already exploited. So up and comers are going to be surfing in crowds if they surf in Tofino. But the thing is, itís kinda too late to be all hard-core local. Itís too late. People can go try to do that, but people are just going to laugh at them. You canít do it anymore, itís just too crowded. I donít know; share the waves, chill out. Everybodyís just out there to have fun. Itís free, surfingís free. The oceanís what everybody enjoys, nobody owns it, as long as you respect the people that grew up here, thatís the way I see it.

MJ:There was an article in the Georgia Straight not too long ago that quoted Clay Hunting of Tatchu Adventures as saying that they were the Ďsoul of surfing,í and that the Tofino scene is all about fashion, being seen, and getting laidÖ

RB: It probably is nowadays, it probably is. Tofino probably is like that, and thatís probably why a lot of people start surfing here. I donít really know if heís the soul of surfing, but I think heís just somewhere where it hasnít been exploited yet, where it hasnít been taken over by a lot of people, and itís probably more soul surferish up there, whereas down here so many people do it and thereís like 3 surf shops. Everybody surfs in Tofino, which I think is cool, everybodyís laidback and I donít see anything wrong with it, but up there itís probably never going to happen, itís just so far away from everything. But yeah, Iím sure a lot of people do come here for that, just to get laidÖ

MJ:That video Cold Stuff that you guys made back in í95, you guys were a tight group that were really pushing each other in surfing and skatingÖit seems that right now thereís not really any teenagers out there.

RB: No, there arenít, but Iím giving lessons to a bunch of local kids, like 7 to 13 year olds, theyíre into it a lot, I see them almost every day. Our surf school does surf camps that are sponsored by businesses around Tofino, and itís a mix of native and non-native kids, to try to get them hooked on surfing young so they have something to work towards, instead of being small-town kids and getting into drugs and alcohol. Itís a lot healthier to be out surfing. Theyíre probably the next generationÖafter us, weíre all pretty much in our 20s, thereís nobody really a few years below us, theyíre like 10 to 15 years below us. I donít know, itís really weird; our generation, I think itís a lot to do with us all growing up on the beach, the Greigs and everybody, we all grew up on the beach and thatís all we had to do ever was surf. And now those houses are all owned by rich people, thereís no kids really growing up on the beach. They live in town, they canít do it every single day, and I think thatís probably a big factor Ė even though itís so close, if you donít have a driverís license, itís still a pain to go out there. Itís a long bike ride, so I think thatís probably why. But there are quite a few kids that are getting into it now that are younger, which is good.

MJ:You have the surf camp going on, and you were talking about how a lot of people wanted to get into surfing because of the coverage of you guys in the magazines. Is that your feel of why so many people want to surf, why so many people want to come out here?

RB: I think itís just going mainstream, and we live in such a beautiful part of the world. The movies coming out, and people starting to figure out that you can actually surf in Canada and itís not that cold. Itís all around the world, itís not just in Canada that itís blowing up. And I think Canadians, weíre pretty outdoorsy people, so everybody wants to try it. Itís just going off, and itís going to get bigger and bigger, so why not make a living off it, teach people how to surf, and teach them about the rips so the Coast Guard doesnít have too much work. The reason that Canadaís surf spots are getting so crowded is because thereís no access to the surf; thereís only a few spots where you can access waves by road

MJ:If there was one clip of video or one photo or one moment to sum yourself up Ė this is Raph Bruhwiler Ė what would it be?

RB: Probably just a video clip of a huge closeout and getting hammered. A big barrel and big closeout. I feel pretty safe in the ocean, I just kinda go for it. Iíve been cut before though, by my boards and by the reef. I donít know if Jer has told you that story about Australia, but we were at Kirra, we were shooting at Kirra and it was the only time there was actually swell the time we were there. I got 3 waves, and on my next wave I pulled into the barrel, and I was going, going, and then I got clipped; I was underwater and my board shot up and hit me right at the eye socket. The nose came up and gave me 4 stitches right underneath my eye, and 4 stitches above my eye; and I was bleeding all over the place, and I come in, and Jerís filming on the beach. Iím like ďJer, drive me to the hospitalÖĒ and I didnít know where any hospital was; I had a headache, almost passing out, and heís like ďoh, I donít know how to drive itĒ because it was a standard stick shift. So I had to drive around for half an hour looking for a hospital, bleeding everywhere, almost passing out driving, and Jerís just sitting there next to me. So we finally found one and I walked in. Heís actually got a picture of me right after that. I couldnít surf for a week, and thatís probably the worst injury Iíve ever had, I guess that was the most scared I ever got, just missing my eye with the nose.

an Interview with Raph Bruhwiler

MJ:If you could only surf one more time in lifeÖthis is in one of those hypothetical questions where the scientists have discovered that earth is about to be destroyed by an asteroid in 24 hours but you get to go surfing one more timeÖwhere do you go, and who do you take with you?

RB: Well, Iíd say it would be me and my 2 brothers and my sister, everybody I grew up with in Chestermanís and in town, the whole crew. Me and family and my close friends that I grew up with. Iíd go surf (spot) at the biggest it ever got. I could try to die there I guessÖjust find the biggest wave around and try to die surfing. Shit, who wants to wait for an asteroid?

-- Malcolm Johnson

Malcolm Johnson @ capescott Malcolm Johnson lives in Tofino, B.C., where he writes and works as a kayak guide. He can be reached at

Bruhwiler Surf Camp


Bruhwiler Surf Camp, Tofino B.C.









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