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Surfer hits podium after eight years off

Klaunzer surprises even himself at Rip Curl event



A camping trip led to a surfing medal for a Whistler local.

Steve Klaunzer took third place in the masters men's category at the Rip Curl Pro Tofino at Cox Bay near the Vancouver Island town from May 27 to 29.

Klaunzer, who thought about entering in 2015 but discovered at the time that all the slots were filled, admittedly forgot about it this spring.

However, his wife, Kartika Karjana, has taken up camping recently and was keen to go to Tofino.

"She asked me if I wanted to go in the Rip Curl Pro just so she could go camping, I think," he said.

Entering on a whim, he was pleased to have risen to the rank that he did.

"It was quite a surprise, actually, because I don't really get to surf that often," he said. "I've been living in Whistler for seven, eight years so I don't really get to surf. I'll sometimes go out there (to Tofino) for a weekend trip or something like that, but I haven't had much time on the board so I was quite proud."

Klaunzer's 35-plus division began with four heats of five competitors before eventually narrowing down to a six-man final. Ben Murphy and Greg Urata finished ahead of him, with Urata making a late charge to slip pass Klaunzer late.

"It was quite hard to get waves," he said. "I think I got lucky. I got a couple of long waves coming up the back. In the semifinal and in the final I got a couple long waves there.

"In the final, I was actually second most of the time. It was a bit of a nailbiter there, (Urata) snagged a really big one at the end and took my second place."

Klaunzer also noted Gutemburg Da Cunha of Costa Rica, the 2015 champ, appeared to catch a good wave late that seemed prime to deliver him into third.

"(After finishing), I think I got fourth but at the presentation they called him up first and he got fourth place and then I was third, so I was quite happy," he said.

Having grown up surfing, Klaunzer is no slouch, especially in the smaller waves Tofino presented over the course of the competition.

"I'm quite practiced in surf competitions but I hadn't been in one in over eight years now," he said. "I'm quite good in small waves and pretty good under pressure when it comes to the kind of conditions that we had. I've had many competitions in small waves before."

With some confidence back in his game, Klaunzer now is looking at other events in the future, noting he'll plan a return to the event in 2017.

"I'll be a little bit more prepared as well, and I'll probably have a new surfboard, for one," he said. "I might even get a (new) wetsuit as well because I was quite cold out there. I had a wetsuit that was too good, too warm and then I had one that was too cold. I ended up going for the too-cold wetsuit because it was a little bit more flexible and I knew I was only going to have to last 20 minutes."