Our Tofino Neighbours: Krissy Montgomery of Surf Sister
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Krissy Montgomery didn’t start Surf Sister, but it wouldn’t be Surf Sister without her; she is integral to what the all-female-instructed surf school is today. A central hub in Tofino—not just for surf lessons (catering to both men and women)—Surf Sister is a place where people gather, and community is created. On the day-to-day you’ll find there’s always a person or four to share a coffee and chat with, and, annually, it’s homebase for the making of Queen of the Peak, Canada’s biggest all-female surf competition.
Having grown up in Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Krissy’s family started visiting Long Beach and Tofino when she was a small kiddo. Growing up, she camped and surfed on the west coast a number of times before moving here just before her 19th birthday. For two years she worked as a housekeeper at Ocean Village as a self-proclaimed “Blue Crush-dream girl,” surfing as much as she could between shifts.
Five years after moving to the coast, she started working at Surf Sister and, perhaps because she’d had an office job prior to the position, she says, she took on managing and cash procedures within her first month. Six years later, in 2009, she bought the company.
While Surf Sister itself has grown over the years, Krissy has used the company as a base for unifying a community of female surfers and, organically, strengthened the surf community at large. And it’s not just the business, while busy, Krissy is approachable and welcoming, and brings a positive presence both in and out of the water!
As a crown jewel of her many accomplishments, Queen of the Peak (co-founded by Jay Gildenhuys, owner of Shelter Restaurant) just had its tenth annual competition over the past weekend. The competition celebrates female surfers of all ages—groms to masters—putting them in the spotlight (in comparison, it’s usually male surfers who get all the prize money and recognition). Queen of the Peak (QOP) empowers women and girls to see themselves as the athletes they are while also creating an event for them to have fun and pamper themselves (entry fees include a variety of events and perks like goodie bags, child care during their heats and beach-side massages afterwards by the Wick’s Ancient Cedar Spa practitioners).
Rather than create any division, QOP has built a camaraderie amongst surfers here, and internationally! The word has gotten out and competitors from California and Hawaii have appeared as the event gains recognition. It’s also given local surfers a goal as something to progress towards, inevitably raising the level of surfing on the coast. Krissy says she is continuing to work towards making the competition more sustainable (right now it relies on a lot of volunteer hours), but thus far the competition has exceeded any of her initial goals.
The Wickaninnish Inn has been a proud supporter of QOP since its inception, and we applaud Krissy for continuing to develop this vision in our community. We also applaud her for filling in a last-minute spot in a heat this year—her first time ever competing in the event!
While Krissy says she would love to get out for a surf every day, in reality she only gets out a few times a week. However, she still has that first pay stub from Surf Sister taped up in the shop to remind her she’s living that Blue Crush dream she’s always wanted.
The winners of Queen of the Peak 2019 are:
Long Board – Leah Dawson
Short Board – Mathea Olin
Princess of the Peak – Keanna Hasz
Masters – Catherine Bruhwiler