Here's another sample of work from the Peterborough Pete's stuff.
When he’s not serving five for fighting, Petes’ right winger Jack Walchessen can be found surfing and hanging ten. The 180-lbs 19-year-old started shredding waves when he was 12 years old, and admits, if he had started surfing when he was five (instead of starting to play hockey) he might have tried to make a career out of it. But he’s happy with his choice; “I wouldn’t exchange playing hockey for surfing by any means.”
Walchessen says surfing was a family inspiration, beginning with his father who would travel to Puerto Rico when he was younger to spend months surfing. Jack’s older brother, Joe, also set the trend when they were younger. “I kind of just followed him with everything. He started playing hockey, so I started playing hockey. He started surfing, I started trying it out. It went from there,” says Jack.
Raised in Ortly Beach, New Jersey – a place the average Canuck may not think is a surfing destination – the area has some of the best beaches on the eastern seaboard. “I live on one of those barrier islands, and people don’t really associate surfing with New Jersey, they don’t realize that the ocean’s there. New Jersey has a couple hundred miles of coastlines. New Jersey gets a bad rap, there’s the bad parts, but it also has some of the nicest parts in the country,” said Walchessen.
As for surfing, he swears it’s one of the best spots on the east coast. “Florida gets a big name for surfing just because it’s warm, but we (in New Jersey) actually get better waves than Florida.”
With a demanding hockey schedule over the fall and winter months, Walchessen gets out surfing whenever time allows, even if the waves aren’t great. “I’ll go out if it’s two feet and choppy, not that good… I don’t get to do it for eight months out of the year, so when I get a chance to, I like to go as much as I can,” he admits. He even goes out into the ocean during the Christmas holidays when the water is bordering around freezing.
“I remember we had a snow day, and the waves were really good that morning. It was freezing. With the wind chill, it was like - 10 Fahrenheit, and it was so cold and the waves were so good, it was so worth it. But everything was numb. When I got in the shower, everything was tingling.”
“It gets down to 34 or 32 Fahrenheit, but it won’t freeze because there’s so much salt and it’s always moving. I’ll wear a 6mm wetsuit … put on some boots and gloves and you stay really warm. You could last three or four hours out there,” he said.
Even though he doesn’t mind the cold temp during a New Jersey winter, Walchy can be a wetsuit wanderlust and save up for a big trip over the summer. He’s surfed out in southern California, the North Shore of Hawaii, but his favourite ‘surfari’ destination is in Indonesia.
“Indonesia is the best,” he says without reservation. “I don’t have to go anywhere else. It’s the best land, the best water, best waves in the world. All the pros go out there.” Walchessen finds the entire sport relaxing. “I’m used to so much pressure with hockey and stuff, and then when I go surf, it more so relaxes me and gets me away from all the stress from hockey and the stress of training,” he says.
“It’s pretty mellow, everyone’s on vacation, and it’s the best waves in the world, so there’s no confrontations,” he says of Indonesia, “But Hawaii, you have confrontations.”
Just like the colloquial hockey code, a group of native Hawaiians on the North Shore of Oahu have established the Da Hui who enforce the local culture and surf etiquette of the land. Even though Walchessen was second in the league in fighting majors last season, he knows it’s always better to show respect than cause trouble at the beach.
“I’ve been to the North Shore of Oahu two times, and it’s a respect thing. They (the Da Hui) live there and they get the waves first … I remember I was out there and I didn’t catch a wave for an hour and half. I just sat there giving respect, and they’ll notice that you’re respecting them, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, the next wave’s yours.’ If you give them respect, they’ll give you respect right back.”
The lessons of respect found on the swelling water of the North Shore translate well to the frozen surfaces of the OHL, as Walchessen continues to earn the respect of his teammates and peers, while policing the hockey code across the league.