Canada’s far West Coast is known for its rugged nature, its incredible views, and its population that swells in the summer months and when avid storm watchers descend upon the small tourism-centric towns of Tofino and Ucluelet, BC.
Lifelong residents are few and far between. And Raphael Bruhwiler happens to be one of them.
Growing up on the coast, he’s been exposed to the Pacific ocean since birth, and surfing it since he was 8. It didn’t take long for his natural skill to show itself; winning the men’s division of a local surfing competition...when he was just 13. That win gave him the confidence to pursue surfing beyond the beaches he knew, exploring more of the wild coastline seeking waves to surf.
After a near lifetime on the water, and 35 years surfing, Raph’s passion for his life on the water is unwavering. The ever-changing nature of the weather and conditions, the adventure he still feels every time he gets on a boat in search of waves; every time his feet hit terra firma, he’s excited for the next trip past the shoreline.
Life beyond land is his whole life. In his words: ‘The ocean is my playground, office, gym, supermarket and church. I can't imagine living without it.’
And it’s a life he’s wrapping into his family today; bringing his kids along on his adventures for fishing, and even free diving. But, not missing a beat when it comes to their safety: with his son going overboard when he was 4 (in a PFD), he’s becoming hyper-religious about PFD safety every time they get on the boat. He’s passing that consciousness along to his kids, plus how to respect nature, and how to be stewards of the environment - because we rely on the ocean’s ecosystem and it’s up to us to keep it healthy.
Last thing: if you get an invite from Raphael to join him for dinner, say yes. He’s a sushi fan with a knack for making salmon and tuna rolls - so that means one stellar meal for you.
- Surfer who moonlights as a Coast Guard (or vice versa)
- Stance: regular
- Big fan of barrel riding