Global Waves, Local Roots: Claire Parsons' Journey from Nova Scotia to El Salvador

Global Waves, Local Roots: Claire Parsons' Journey from Nova Scotia to El Salvador

By: Miles Anderson

It's a rare occurrence for surfers from Nova Scotia to venture onto the global stage, but Claire Parsons has managed this feat for two consecutive years. From Dartmouth, Claire recently took her longboards down south in April to the World Longboard Championships in El Salvador hosted by the International Surfing Association.

After securing second place in 2023, she entered this year's competition with a strong sense of self-assurance. “In the past couple of years I have done a lot of competitions and I do really enjoy them,” Claire said. “I am a competitive person and I’m just naturally drawn to surf contests.”

The competition culture along the East Coast is gaining prominence. With events like the Fall Classic, Log Fest, and the Point Michaud Surf Classic, all hosted by Surf Nova Scotia, locals have ample chances to dip their toes into competitive surfing.

When I spoke with Claire about the disparity between international and local competitions, she underscored their complete distinctiveness.“The International Surf Association and El Salvador are hugely investing in surf contests to drive tourism and trying to position themselves similarly to Costa Rica. They are putting a lot of money into hosting.”


In comparison to how local competitions are held, Claire said they are “all volunteer based” and the investment is on a much smaller scale.

Competitive Culture

After Claire and her Canadian longboard team placed 11th in 2023 and 15th in 2024, the consistency of having the same crew surfing the same wave for consecutive years fuelled their enthusiasm.

“My surfing over the 10 days I was there got so much better because you are exposed to the world's best,” said Parsons.

In international competitions, there's a universal bond forged by a mutual love for surfing and competitive spirit. As surfers gather from all corners of the world to converge on a single break, the experience can evoke feelings of isolation and nerves. One of the strengths of the surf community is its inclusivity; everyone finds a place within it. “I was hanging out with Guatemala and Ireland a lot. Wales, England, you’ve got everyone mixing and mingling,” Claire mentioned.

The journey a surfer embarks on from their hometown waves to the global spotlight of a major competition often escapes attention. Fortunately, the tight-knit community of Lawrencetown, along with the supportive shores of Nova Scotia, rallied behind Claire, ensuring she had the love and support she needed to venture across international waters.

All Hands On Deck

The surfing industry doesn't prioritize athlete earnings. Travel costs remain as high as ever, posing a challenge for surfers, sponsored or not. With no guarantee of success or earning some coin, surfers often struggle to gather the funds required to journey across the globe for competitions.

Fortunately, the surf community always rallies together. Claire’s home away from home Lawrencetown Beach not only offers one of the best right point breaks on the East Coast, but it also supports its surfers to no end. 

Jill and Nico Manos, founders of Lawrencetown Surf Co. came up with the idea to hold a dewaxing session to fundraise for Claire’s trip. Held at Lawrencetown Surf Co. the afternoon was filled with volunteers from the community offering their hands for dewaxing, board washing, and a good old BBQ bash.

“We really wanted to get behind Claire and support her in however we could,” Nico said. “We wanted to do something that people would enjoy. One person had a dryer, one person was scraping, and it was fun and different which made it a memorable event and more meaningful than a regular fundraiser.”

Canadian surf spots may not be the most sought-after destinations, but they foster resilience in those who embrace the cold and face conditions distinct from those in warmer climates. “Surfing has expanded globally enough to the point where Canadians are competing at the highest level. I’ve seen surf spots that are under ice, and that to me is inspiring that our athletes are persevering through those challenges to compete with those typical surfing countries like Australia and the


Photo credits in order of appearance:

ISA/Pablo Franco

ISA/Pablo Jimenez

Tyler Tindale

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