West Coast Triple Plank | Community Connected

Registration for the 2024 West Coast Triple Plank opens March 28th at 6pm PST. Check out the Community Connected feature from Issue 15.2 covering the event below and plan accordingly. 


Spring on Vancouver Island is a special time. Greenery returns with pungent smells, precious daylight is abundant, and board riders flock to participate in the West Coast Triple Plank. It’s become a tradition of mine to get out to the Island for this one-of-a-kind event. 

My brother and I rolled into Mt. Washington parking lot around 10 p.m. to find a bonfire cranking and folks celebrating a successful dig day for the snowboard race course. Everyone reported a sunny day and a heavy freestyle session at sunset. The weather predictions for the following day were not nearly as cheerful, but the stoke was high nonetheless. Sure enough, rain started to fall on tents, trucks, and campers. Come morning, everything was drenched, but not an inch of stoke was diminished. Folks raged in the rain regardless. Party boarding at its finest, with just the right amount of speed and danger that all ages got down with. Day 1 of the Triple Plank went off, and the sopping-wet volunteers and competitors ventured over the inland pass to Tofino for the upcoming day of surfing and skating.

By Harry Kearney
Photos by Cory Grandfield


It’s difficult to call the West Coast Triple Plank a contest. The beauty of the journey from Mt. Washington to Tofino is enough to put the event in perspective, where the true focus is to honour and support the incredible environment that Vancouver Island is known for. The event celebrates board riding culture by supporting the very ecosystem where the event takes place. It has been about the improvement of salmon habitats on Vancouver Island since Day 1. 

The Triple Plank was started by Marie-France Roy and Alicia Gilmour back in 2017. In its first year, “People had to hike two hours up a logging road just to get to the bottom of the course.” Marie recalls, “Which itself was debatably dangerous with logs sticking out behind every bank. Our timing system was two iPhones and walkie-talkies at top and bottom—the furthest thing from precise,” Marie told me. “We snowboarded, surfed and skated and had over 40 people come out to plant native trees, bushes and ferns for Redd Fish at one of their local stream restoration sites.” In fact, 100 per cent of the proceeds of the event go to Redd Fish Restoration Society, a registered charity out of Ucluelet that works directly for the betterment of the local salmonids environment. It was really important for us to give back instead of just extracting the fun out of our playgrounds and calling it a day.” 


The Triple Plank seems to be an outlying annual weather phenomenon. When the surf-and-skate day comes around, the sun always shines. A miracle, given the weather from the day before. The surf heat I’ve had the (mis)fortune of being involved in for a few years now has pitted us Americans against one another, and the ongoing shit talk leading up finally culminates in the water. All in good fun. That reunion with those friends is something I look forward to. For the vast majority of competitors, the Triple Plank has built-in equalizers, so it's always humbling at some point. You might smoke the snowboard contest but get a smackdown at the skatepark, again, the competition of this event takes a back seat. 



After the surf in the morning, the Triple Plank rolled to the Tofino Skatepark. It was beautifully controlled chaos. Everyone from all walks got in on the session and not an inch of the park was spared. Heats of six people at a time momentarily organized the fray, but the park swelled with rippers between each of the heats. The skate portion of the Triple Plank is a scaled-down example of the logistical organization feat that the event is. To wrangle all of these people from one end of the island to another over the course of three days and four different events is far beyond herding cats.

When the skate session ended, the sum of Triple Plank energy moved to the Tofino Brewing Company for the awards ceremony. Again the traditional contest model was thrown aside. Arguably the best prize went to the “Middle of the Pack” winner, which ended up a tie. The tiebreaker? A heated round of rock-paper-scissors for the prize of an electric motorcycle. First-place finishers Austen Sweetin and Mary Rand got iced on the podium. And the biggest highlight was hearing that $25K was raised for the Redd Fish Restoration Society. 


The final day was truly the culmination of the Triple Plank’s purpose. The contest was done, the party was had, and upwards of 100 or so volunteers in varying degrees of hungover hauled themselves to a local trailhead to get their hands dirty with one of Redd Fish’s restoration projects. In years prior, there had been native tree and shrubbery planting along a creek home to salmon runs, and removal of invasive species from a local waterway. This year was a trail improvement for a public access point into a local salmon habit. After an educational walk and lecture through the trail, everyone formed the longest fire lines I had seen to haul gravel into the forest to lay a stronger trail for more sustainable access. Arms were well warmed up for it from digging on Mt Washington and paddling out at Cox bay. The impact was especially real when somebody spotted some salmon fry below a boardwalk section.


When it was done, folks returned to the ocean to wash off in the surf from the weekend or trickled back to the ferries to head home. The West Coast Triple Plank is unique not only because of the diverse group of people it gathers but because it gathers to help with a greater purpose beyond their board riding. The benefit is directly to the community. Thanks to Marie-France, Alicia, and the whole crew for creating one of the most special gatherings in our community, whose impacts are celebrated locally for sure, but also wherever we go to ride our boards. 

“The event has been led by incredible women. Alicia has put her heart into it, she makes the awards and helps with logistics and runs the skate event. I love her so much and am grateful that we have been doing this together. Claudia and Johnny (Genevieve), also my best friends, have given so much of their own free time and energy, the event would not have happened without them. Sarah King has generously donated her art skills. And new this year was the addition of Natalie Langmann as co-organizer and she brought it to a whole new level.” —Marie-France Roy


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