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It’s not that Raph Bruhwiler doesn’t trust weather forecasts. It’s just that when you live only steps from the water, you might as well walk outside and get a peek for yourself. “I like to look at the ocean every day to see what it’s doing,” he says. “If there’s waves, I’m surfing.”
Bruhwiler may live for the big waves, but even when a flat Pacific means he has to leave his board at home, there are always plenty of outdoor options for a man who, by following his passion, has carved out quite an existence.
Bruhwiler grew up in Tofino, B.C., and still lives just outside the picturesque town. As a child, along with his two brothers and sister, he would hit Chesterman Beach, where his love of surfing really took hold. From wave one, Bruhwiler knew a nine-to-five life was never going to be his thing. His acumen on the board led to acclaim in various competitions—his first win in an advanced division came when he was 13—and he was able to parlay that into sponsorships and a surf school that keep him afloat today. Bruhwiler has been all over the world on his board, and though he doesn’t often compete anymore, he still travels to places like Hawaii and Indonesia, doing surf films and magazine shoots. But even with all the exotic locales he’s seen, Bruhwiler has never stopped cherishing the style of surfing in Tofino, where he has to work to find the best waves, something he considers part of the adventure. “To me, just driving to the beach every day and surfing perfect waves would be a bit boring,” says Bruhwiler, who also has love for Nova Scotia’s fall surfing scene. Finding optimal conditions often means hopping on his boat, which he also uses to give whale-watching tours and to go fishing with his wife, Joey, and their three young children. “I have a bunch of stuff going on,” he says, “but it’s all stuff I love to do.”