By Darren Lum
Eagle Lake resident Pablo Bonilla is looking to a promising future after winning the long board event at the Canadian Surfing Championship from May 30 to 31 in Tofino, British Columbia.
Bonilla earned his spot last year at the second annual West Shore Huron Classic surfing competition on Oct. 18 after he was invited by the Blu Wave SUP team.
He travelled with wife Holly Bishop and represented The Great Lakes Surfers in the pro shortboard division and the pro amateur longboard divisions. They spent a few days in Tofino before the competition.
It came down to a bit of luck and reading the break of the waves, he said.
“I was stoked to have completed the mission, which was important. It’s real easy to just fall off the plan in a matter of seconds if you don’t get the wave. You got to do what you know with what you get. Little bit of luck. We’re stoked to at least come home with one trophy,” he said.
Conditions during the longboard event proved difficult, as the waves were only knee high after having been shoulder high days before.
Bonilla’s resume includes representing Mexico at the ISA World Surfing Games in Portugal and is a three-time Mexican National Longboard Champion.
His longboard success came after a disappointing early exit in a short board preliminary heat.
A third place ended his hopes for an appearance in the finals.
Although he missed his berth to the next round by one place, Bonilla is confident he can do better next year. He attributes his poor run to not being able to find the best spots on the wave, as it was regularly occupied by other competitors. Four riders shared the wave during a heat. The next time he competes he’ll take an aggressive approach as he did in the longboard, which resulted in the win.
Despite his preparation, spending a couple of days of surfing before the event, nerves came into play during the competition, he said.
“I was a bit nervous and I was trying real hard and a couple of inches away from having the right wave,” he said. “It was after I lost that I realized I should be more aggressive. I got more aggressive in my longboard heat.”
It’s been four years since he has competed in surfing.
The scale of this event is on another level than just going on a vacation, he said.
“It was fun, but there was stress. It’s not like you go out and hang out around the place and wait for the event. You get there and try to get comfortable with the waves,” he said.
He prepared with a short run, stretching and checked the conditions.
“There is continuous planning and setting up to be [at my] best,” he said.
While most riders are in their 20s, the 36-year-old knows he isn’t as flexible as he used to be when he was in his 20s, but believes the added body weight allows him to “hit the lip a little harder.”
The difference in age isn’t a concern for the confident rider.
“I always believe I can do anything just like anyone else,” he said.
Originally from Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico, Bonilla is intent on striving to be a presence on the surfing scene with improvements over a three year period.
He acknowledges his return to the championship won’t happen without sponsorship and planning for work, life and his family that includes three daughters.
“With the glory comes a little bit of work,” he said.
Bonilla and his family are planning to travel to Mexico for the winter where he will work on his surfing.
He loved the people and enjoyed the championship experience, but wants to improve and has every intention of returning.
“It was really nice to be over there. It will be nice to come back definitely,” he said.