When we talk about riding cold Pacific swells in the great white north, Tofino is the first destination that comes to mind. From the nature freaks and draft dodgers who originally brought surfing to the remote fishing village in the 1960’s, Tofino’s surf culture has come a long way. With rapidly growing international attention, the town is now home to many of the most talented surfers in the world. However, on the grand scheme of surfing history, the culture in Tofino is in some ways very much in its infancy. Until recently, it was predominantly shortboarders braving the frigid lineups, and there was little alternative culture for those uninterested in competitive surfing.
Enter the Cold Feet Club, a Tofino-based brand created by Robert Fiorella, Jordie Morrison, and Jamie Ivars Hewitt. The brand offers a much less serious way of looking at surfing, promoting fun and creativity over pure competition. In order to spread their philosophy, they have developed a line of surf-casual apparel which can now be found on toque-clad surfers around town. Bumper stickers with their logo are proudly plastered on the boxy, surfboard topped cars of decades past doing laps to and from the local beaches. Last fall, The Club hosted the first annual “West Coast Weird Off” at Chesterman Beach, advertising it as an anti-competition, complete with different events for longboards, alternative surf craft, a soft-top costume contest, and “anything but a board”. Taking inspiration from fringe movements of the more mature surf cultures in California and Hawaii, The Club promotes choosing the right board for the waves, which is inevitably something of the single fin or twin-fin variety, and having a fun, expressive, creative time in the water.
Nowhere is their philosophy more apparent than in the photographs of camera man Robert Fiorella. Surfers either in mid-soul arch or speed-blurred crouching through an extra fast section appear to be among his favourite subjects to capture. Others include beach bonfires, and surfers having an all-around great time in the water, in spite of the often cold, wet conditions of the rugged Canadian setting. Few photographers are able to document surfing in such an inviting, and endearing way as Robert. Through the speed blurs and foggy, overcast skies shines an unmistakable honesty which draws us in and makes us fall in love with the rainy shores of the Western Canadian North.