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Peter Devries of Tofino smashes the lip of a wave during the second round of competition at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic. ((Keven Drews/Canadian Press))

Some of the best surfers in the world are hitting the beaches of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Canadian leg of the O'Neill Cold Water Classic surf series.

Other locales in the series include Tasmania, South Africa, Scotland and California.

It's the second year Tofino has hosted the event and hopes are high that a local surfer can again win the top prize.

Tofino native Peter Devries believes familiarity with the relatively frigid conditions is what helped him win last year's competition.

"Having that extra local knowledge and being comfortable in the water here, I thought I could definitely compete with all those guys," said Devries. "But to win was definitely a whole other story."

Devries picked up a $20,000 cheque for the victory.

World-class destination

Tofino can serve up some great waves, but that's not the only reason it was chosen to host the event again, said contest director Matthew Wilson.

"We like that it's hard to get to and that it's cold and rugged," said Wilson. "It's not really particularly inviting to even go outside, let alone go in the water ... and that's the kind of look we want and the feel we want for the series."

Tofino, 200 kilometres west of Vancouver, is about a four-hour drive from Nanaimo on a twisting mountain highway.

Devries said the competition will be stiff, but he's hoping he can do just as well this year.

Wilson also likes Devries's chances to repeat as champion.

"He's looking really good," said Wilson. "But I don't be the one to place any undue pressure on him. I'm sure he's got enough pressure and expectation already, so it'll be a challenge for Pete."

The tournament runs until Oct. 15 giving organizers enough time to reschedule events in case the weather gets particularly nasty, which it often does during the fall on the West Coast.

With files from the CBC's Angie Brar