A weekend that started with the rain and strong wind. A rough challenging weather when you're living your life on two wheels. But great challenges bring great rewards. A little bit more than 4 hours of cold and wet riding to reach camp. A clear window of an hour to set the tent and get ready to catch a few waves pretty messed-up by the South-West 40 knots wind. A rough night it was, the sea was raging, the wind was ready to tear apart his tent, the temperature just above 0-degree celsius and the sound of the driftwood getting rumbled by the waves. The sun was not up yet when the sound of the cars arriving at the beach woke him up. By the sound, the waves were big but he couldn't see them in the dark. By the time that he crawls out of his frozen sleeping bag, already 10-12 cars are in the parkade. The guys were getting ready and the sun was not anywhere near to be in sight.
But from a distance, Lepirate can tell that it was serious stuff. Walking off the rocky point to pass the shore break his feet were already numbed from putting up cold/soaked wetsuit. But the paddle out to the peak and the kick of adrenaline made him forget his frozen toes. The smaller waves at the peak were rolling in with 10 feet face and peeling for hundreds of meters. The takeoff was steep and fast. He got 6-7 waves and got barrelled on the takeoffs few times too. Then it started to get more crowded. He jumped out of the pack and paddle even further out where the bigger waves were at. He was probably looking like the retarded that don't know what he’s doing. But insight, a massive set of waves is forming further on the coast. He stroke to the outside to don't get crushed. Made it on time to turn around and catch one these giants walls of water. Doing the bottom turn, he realized what he was riding. He rushed back higher in the face. He was now standing under the lip with in front of him nothing but a perfect shoulder un-rolling what can be the wave of the day. Then a dude dropped in. Lepirate had to get out of his green room in a way to call him out and race to make the section that seemed like it might close out. Barely connecting the sections, Lepirate ended up under the green sky again. The wave was just going and going forever. The river mouth section was bumpy but the wave was still sizeable and with full on power. After maybe 5-6 cutbacks and countless turns the wave that started almost 800 meters ago at around 12'-14' face faded out to 1'-2' into a tiny shore break. His legs were sore from the ride and he probably had the biggest grin on his face. Walking out of the water: ‘’That was probably the best wave of my life, and all this before breakfast.’’
In the afternoon, he had to be in Victoria for a lunch at The Marina with the other nominees for the employee of the year grand prize draw. By the time he broke camp and start heading to the city, he was already short on time to make it for 2pm. On the way, he had to stop to put oil on the chain of The Beast. His motorcycle chain dried out from that wet ride yesterday. A bad manoeuver with the center stand made the bike go off balance and the grip slip off from the handle bar. In slow motion, the bike dropped right on the surf rack. Good thing a kid at the gas station help him out to straight her up. He lubed the hell out of that rusty old chain and blast the last 45 km separating him from Oak Bay. He probably made enough road infractions in 30min to probably put him behind bars, the beauty of riding a motorcycle. But how is that look like a nominee for the employee of the year late for the lunch and the draw...? He had just enough time to get down to his underwear in the parking lot to put better-looking clothes than his motorcycle pants and smelly long-sleeved shirt cover with paint. Sitting around a beautiful table at The Marina one of the high-end restaurants own by the company he is working for. His casual black jeans, black long sleeve shirt, a pair of steel toe cap boots, 3-month-old beard and long sun bleached salty hair made him stand out of the other customers. People around the table were probably thinking, who’s that bum?
Soon enough, a delicious Stout help him bring down the pressure and the adrenaline of the morning. He can barely speak, his hands are shaking. He can believe that crazy morning he just had. He is not even thinking about the price or anything. His mind is on a bubble, re-thinking over and over about that wave. He got bring back to earth when everyone around the table had to introduce themselves, where they worked at and what their work consist of. Before he realized, their names were in a box. Brook, the CEO of the company, is looking at him… Nah! That not just happened. Seem like he’s going down in the Bahamas! He can’t believe the day he’s having so far. He felt just so thankful for that recognition. Not a single day he worked the way he did this last summer with that prize in mind. He was just speechless.
After lunch, another surprise was on his way. A hotel room at the Delta Ocean Point has his name on it. The sun was still high and he has no plan for the rest of the day. So he decided to go the long way around following the side of the water. Warm sunny day! So enjoyable on a bike. Made it to the hotel where the Christmas party will be hosted on Saturday night. He has a nice room on the third floor, a bit different from his last rugged camping night. What's next? He might as well go exploring the city a bit. Grabbed a coffee and wander around for few hours. The pub was calling him. Looking around for live music he ended up in a cool pub with a barber shop inside. The music was good. But not live... He sat at the bar for enough drinks to make him want more. At some point, he decides to continue his quest for a live band.
Walking around town looking at the same time to get more cash that he’ll trade for more delicious refreshments. On his way to a place called the Swan's that have some live music on Friday night, he randomly looked on the ground and right there, folded in half, a 20 dollars bill. If this is not good fortune! What is it? Around the block, he gave away a 1/4 of his recent luck to someone that probably needed more than himself. The pub is packed! Again, he sat at the bar enjoying some good tunes. The nearby seat is free. But soon taken by a beautiful brown hair girl wearing a blue Arcteryx jacket. She starts talking to him asking if he’s by himself. She happens to be on a date but it didn't really work out apparently. Finally, she ended up never leaving that seat. They chat the night away while having a couple more pints. Instant connection with a random stranger, so beautiful when that happen. They just ended up having so many things in common. The night was soon running out of time by speaking about traveling, backcountry snowboarding, surfing, adventures, and the life they chose to live and on and on. Soon they got ask to leave has the bar is going to sleep for the night. She asked him if he’d like to continue the conversation around some wine. He has nothing to wake up for tomorrow, might as well… She drove him back to her place, two on a bicycle, it was probably a challenge to carry a drunk dude on a bike like that but they did make it alive. Sitting on the couch, enjoying a last drink in beautiful company, they kept going on how great is their life. Thinking for himself: ’’If that wasn’t the best day ever…?’’
The Next night it was the Christmas party. Under the theme of James Bond, everybody is dressed up nice, once again except him. Some 200 co-workers, from different resorts owned by the company, enjoying a nice evening of celebration. He felt weird that night, maybe it was the hangover maybe the 2-3 hours of sleep, or maybe… He just found himself in a party where he don’t feel that he belong to. Chatting a bit to some familiar faces and some new one, it soon was the time to have dinner. The banquet room was incredible, Christmas decoration, beautiful light show, white table clothes and a live band.
He found his table where a few of his co-worker were at. The seat nearby was again free and will stay that way. He though about last night unexpected new friend… It came a time during dinner where Brook invited all the nominees for the employee of the year to rise from their seat so everyone can see them. Lepirate being shy of nature didn’t really like that but still done it. Then Brook announced to everyone who is the winner of the famous employee of the year for Oak Bay Marine Group. Then in front of everyone, he read a message wrote by the Canadian Princess manager, Matt Brear, which is currently in the Bahamas.
He is one of those crew that made everyone go ‘wow’ - this guy is good! He worked incredibly hard, smiled constantly and evolved into a leader among our unparalleled Canadian Princess crew. He arrived in Ucluelet soaked through from his trans-Canada trip aboard his Kawasaki motorbike looking for a job, any job, any job at all. He spent the summer as a bartender for the crazy busy F&B operation aboard the CP. Regardless of what chaos surrounded him; his reaction was always to just work harder. Instead of complaining about how things were going wrong, he changed the way things went – with positivity and determination - making it a better work environment for his fellow crew members and a greater experience for our guests. Mid-season we had a shortage of line cooks and line-ups down the gangway - he jumped in to help with no hesitation. He didn’t do this for an hour or to cover a shift, he jumped in with both feet for a grueling week with no training and no complaining.
He devoted at least 8 hours a week to our recycling program on his own time. His recycling efforts raised enough money to fund not one but two season-end parties, one onboard the Chinook Princess and the other at a local restaurant.
If the staff accommodation needed attention, he was the first to assess the issue, attempt to fix it, or somehow address it. He never turned a blind eye. As a trained and educated Mechanical Engineer, he was an invaluable sidekick to full-time maintenance throughout the season and even in the off-season. When he wasn’t surfing he was plugging holes in the deck, painting, providing security, building and planning for greater efficiencies for next year. He is hands down the most respected and appreciated member of the CP Crew this season. His work ethic inspired us all to work harder and appreciate this opportunity we had to work together in spectacular Ucluelet. We had a truly phenomenal year up at the CP this year. He was one of the contributing factors to our success and we couldn’t be happier to call him Crew.
Tears came to his eyes listening to this message from his manager and friend, Matt: ‘’I can take that, it’s too much.’’ His friend Bruce sitting next to him: ‘’Dude, embrace it, you deserve that recognition.’’ It truly was a hard summer and he had to push through but he never did that for some kind of reward. Receiving such a prize in front of the whole company made him blush and really uncomfortable. Countless people came to congratulate him, some also came to thank him for all his effort to keep the boat afloat. When the music stopped, he decided to go for another walk in town, he ended up at a bar where some other co-workers were at. He was kind of hoping for a call from his new friend with the blue Arcteryx jacket… He ended up in an annoying conversation with a girl that was at the Christmas party so he decided to go back to his hotel room.
Riding his bike back to Ukee through the pass with the mountains summits all covered in snow. The trees are in winter mode, the sun was out and the light was just so beautiful. He’s on a no rush state, he decided to take it really easy and enjoy at it’s fullest what is to be probably his last motorcycle trip before the winter. The snow by the side of the highway and the black ice is telling him that he’ll be isolated on the coast until spring.
It was just cold enough to freeze his toes, which was making sure that he was not dreaming: ‘’This is a reality, this is my day to day life in adventure land. Life, that thing that is given to us. That unique chance that you have to experience and live in the greatest way possible. I'm so grateful for that life I'm living, for the people that jumped in it with me to share some moments, for the places I've been and going, for those opportunities that I have to learn new things, push my boundaries and become a better person. I’m still not sure what the whole point of life is, if we are all meant to die at the end. But why not using that great and beautiful gift at his fullest expression?