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As our twentieth Tofino summer fades into fall its high time to relax, breathe deep, and reflect on our little business at the heart of the Tofino surf community. 

First waves, huge smiles, arms raised in the air and hoots of joy. That’s where it started, that’s what it’s about. If you add it up, that is a lot of stoke generated in the last twenty years.

It was like that in 1998, when Jay Bowers was teaching surf lessons with Adam Smalllwood at Blue Planet guiding and working part-time at Allistair Fernie’s surf shop, Ocean Surf, now known as Storm Surf Shop. 

 Adam Smallwood stepped back from running lessons and Jay took over the business, forming Pacific Surf School. Storm was a go to spot for experienced and aspiring surfers alike. It was a great base for Jay to run Pacific Surf School and work together with Storm to create a one stop shop to fullfill your gnar-shredding needs!

Tofino was still becoming the hub of Canadian surfing it is now so widely known as. At the time there was only one other surf school, Surf Sister, and one other surf shop, Live To Surf. On a quiet day, Jay and Allistair may not have seen a customer. If the waves were epic, you may have walked up to the locked front door, and found a note frantically scribbled on it explaining just that.

What happened in the next twenty years can most aptly be described as a boom. Pacific Surf School was successful and other surf schools emerged too, fuelling competition and driving standards of professionalism and surf coaching. 









As demand for surf lessons grew, so did the demand for good gear! Increasing business meant that Jay and Allistair decided operate out of their own spaces but maintain a close partnership. The two companies now sit opposite each other on Campbell street, close enough to hurl insults across the street, make plans for surf later, or conduct stealth raids on each other’s surf wax stores.

This summer marks my fifth year working for Pacific Surf Company and I know it well  as a place that cares about people getting in the water and experiencing the ocean in a positive way. We are passionate about working with adaptive and youth groups , in particular Power to Be (they are a rad organisation you should check them out). We also run weekly surf clubs for the local elementary school. Can you imagine that? Schools out, time for surf class! 

We teach surf lessons rain or shine, snow or hail. Though things slow down a bit for the winter, more and more visitors are discovering that a bit of rain never hurt anyone, and that you can indeed surf in a snowstorm. 

Our doors stay open year round now, even when waves are epic. That’s because we are a strong team of individuals that loves the ocean and loves sharing it, too.

Snag the last bit of our 20th Anniversary Special Edition apparel on our online store with discount code FUNFIN20. This code will get you 20% off our Anniversary Surf Fin tees. 


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  • Hi, I’m trying to get in touch with Jay Bowers, we were friends from high school.

    Jana Johnson on

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