Meet the young B.C. surfer who conquered Canada’s toughest wave

Click to play video: 'This Is BC: Catching up with B.C.’s teen surfing prodigy'
This Is BC: Catching up with B.C.’s teen surfing prodigy
WATCH: Global News reporter Jay Durant catches up with 18-year-old Mathea Olin, B.C.'s surfing prodigy, as she prepares for the national championships. – Sep 23, 2021

It is considered Canada’s toughest wave.

Local surfers call the formation, located off the coast of Tofino, B.C., “the slab.”

And it was a local teen, Mathea Olin, who became the first female to successfully surf it — coming through the barrel still on her board.

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“It feels like you’re in there forever. Like, time does stand still. For me that’s what it’s all about,” the 18-year-old told Global News.

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Each outing is fraught with danger. It’s Canada’s heaviest wave, meaning huge amounts of water pour down with amazing force which could end up driving a surfer down hard into the incredibly shallow relief below.

“They have a point up in a certain direction. It’s all the same along the shoreline,” eight-time Canadian surf champ Pete Devries said, describing the reef.

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“With the slab, the consequences are, if you take off and fall on the drop, you’re probably going to hit the rocks below.”

Devries is quick to add that help is not coming quick if something goes wrong.

“The location of the wave is way out there, so it’s far away from medical help, there’s no cell service out there, so the consequences get real really fast,” he said.

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Olin is a surfing prodigy. She first picked up the sport when she was only five years old, started surfing competitively at age 10, and by the time she was 14, had won multiple medals from the Pan American games trials. But she failed to qualify for the last Olympics.

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“That kind of took me on a huge rollercoaster of emotions this year, but definitely the next few Olympics games in the summer are a huge goal of mine” Olin said.

It’s less than three years until the Paris games and as Olin strives to reach that elite level, there’s always a very good challenge waiting for in the ocean waters just off her hometown.

“It’s one of the funnest waves in the world and even to this day that wave I find terrifying,” Olin said, referring to the slab.

“But I’ll continue surfing that wave and hopefully get it on a few magical dream days.”

If you know someone who has a great story to tell or something unique to B.C. that people need to know about, email your ideas to Jay Durant at

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