December 20th was my last post, such a lot has happened since then it all just seems such a blur now. Since then I managed to get a couple of decent sessions in, one on Christmas Eve on the Bonga with Shane and another on a beautiful New Years day on the 7’8″, but to be honest my head was already on the beach at Playa Guiones.
We just managed to dodge the snow and ice and flew out of Heathrow on time on the 6th of January, connecting painlessly in Houston to arrive at Liberia having been on the road for 24 hours. Those that read this regularly will probably be pleased to know that I’m going to keep the travelogue to a minimum. If you need more info about Costa Rica feel free to contact me but this blog is mainly about the people and the board. What a board!!
The ULI GL-X1 has been in my board shed since May, I have taken it out on occasions, pumped it up and had a few sessions on it but being a travel board I have basically kept it for travel and used my hard boards at home. I had packed the Lopez, an original 6′ Uli surfboard, the new high pressure pump, spare Uli 3pc alloy paddle and my new 3pc Werner Nitro carbon paddle all in the same Gelert bag that I use to keep the Uli Steamroller in. All up weight still way under the 23kg bag limit. On arrival at the Casa Romantica we unpacked our kit, pumped the boards up fitted leashes, put the paddles together and made our way down to the beach to check out the surf. Not that we were keen but it took about 25 minutes tops.
The tide was pretty full with a decent swell forming plenty of usable peaks all down the beach, it was good to be back but where the hell had all these people come from? Last year Playa Guiones seemed to be a fairly quite, sleepy little place – 12 months on and the sea was full of surfers.
Nervously I paddled out, I had not been on a board for a week and it had been ages since I had been on the Lopez in decent surf. Desperately trying to avoid any eye contact I paddled out, up and over the wash. The pulled in nose and rocker made light work of the breaking waves and I was soon out the back with dry hair. Good start. Easing my way into some space I cruised along the line up hoping for a decent first wave. It’s always good to throw down a marker not least to let other people know that you are basically competent, sort of sets their mind at rest.
Paddled for my first wave and . . . bugger it sort of slipped by with me putting my last paddle stroke in on the left when it should have been on the right. Result – missed catch, never mind still dry and no-one too close so paddled back to where I thought the next peak would should. Nose to the horizon I back paddled rear to front on alternate sides and waited for the next chance. Back paddling swings the nose around massively with each stroke and providing the stroke is balanced with rail pressure and followed up with an opposite side normal stroke, I can scan for sets with my back to the beach and easily and very quickly turn the board 180′ left or right with a single paddle stroke. Great for watching out for ‘sneaker sets’, maintaining position and ‘sculling’ in to adjust for a catch. The technique also helps me with balance, anyway next wave showed as I back paddled left, single front paddle right followed by a couple of digs and away – to a lovely peeling right which I managed to work top to bottom with a fairly hard slashy cutback thrown in before popping out the back neatly and smugly. Oh yes Uli Lopez 1 – rest of the world 0.
A good start to a session seems to set the tone and pretty soon I was making a pig of myself, pushing harder on the bottom turns and turn the board down the line earlier on the catches. Very quickly I dialled in to the Lopez – this was going to be a fun trip and I did not think that I was going to miss my Naish 9’3 at all.
I decided not to milk the first session as I had the best part of three weeks here and paddled in after an hour and a half paddle surf orgy of indecently good waves in 26’c water – not bad for a first day – now where’s that Imperial?
Photo’s – some of the pics are mine, some are Charmaine’s but the really good ones (apart from the beer of course) are by a guy called Jeff Logan. He set’s up camp at the Guilded Iguana in Playa Guiones and can even make a muppet like me look reasonable – if you squint – and drink lots of the aforementioned Imperial.
Look him up if you are there he looks like this.
His contact phone number in Costa Rica for 2010 is the Guilded Iguana (2682-0259).
193 Lake Drive North