Last year I remember how boisterous the Rip Curl Pro contest made both the beach and surrounding town, due to the supercharged electricity of the ambiance. On Day 2 of the Rip Curl Pro 2016, we were treated to the opposite: a relaxed atmosphere where everyone was there for the right reasons.

There were more than a few people commenting on the whirlwind that swept through Tofino during the 2015 contest — and for locals that wasn’t always a good thing. But this year things were pretty mellow. And by that I mean a total blast.

Instead of the garbage mess of a waves delivered on Day 1, things had changed slightly for the Rip Curl Pro Saturday festivities. So while the waves were still some of the smallest we’ve had since last fall, the wind had shifted, creating clean walls of water. This allowed short and longboarders to focus on stylish elements, instead of just looking for anything resembling a rideable pocket.

Personally I enjoyed how the energy of the place was place was a delightful nonchalance that brought me back to several years of Rip Curl Pro events. There is truly something unique about this event. You may have to content with the often fickle nature of nature itself. But what’s been so awesome is seeing how honestly okay with that everyone is.

I talked to a local news reporter from Michigan who seemed over the moon just to experience the Pacific Northwest in all its glory. Over a fancy dinner in town later, two buddies who didn’t advance, congratulated their Hawaiian homie who did. It was just nice to be out surfing with friends in this unique spot on the globe, he said.

I was bouncing around taking pictures, doing interviews and grabbing audio snippets, when I realized one of the people I was talking to I literally hadn’t seen since the last Rip Curl Pro. It was one of those moments of reconnection, of just remembering what’s so special about the event.

Tonight I was fuelled by Monster energy drinks, leftover calories from the stew served up on the beach, and the stoke from the random clean offshore waves (you know, dope-ass 2-3 footers, of course) I snagged prior to heading in to work. I can’t say there was anything near the insanity of the May Long Weekend, or what I remember when the waves were bigger last year. But I can’t say I’m disappointed. More than anything I’m just thrilled, like many participants, things ended up the way they did.

I love when Cox Bay is like that. Way better than last year when I couldn’t even make it past the break. And I know I’m not the only one…

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