Legends; Buck Mackhuegh of Scotland / Dennis Hudson of USA California / Malcom Deanney of England / Alvaro ” Toca ” Gonzalez of COSTA RICA
THE HISTORY OF KAYAK SURFING IN COSTA RICA
By Álvaro “Toca” González Gómez born on August 26, 1952.
Around 1992 a “Gringo” arrived in Costa Rica, who wanted to set up a Sea Kayaking business in Manuel Antonio.
Steven or Steve and his family partnered with the friends of ¨Rios Tropicales¨, and brought to the country a flotilla of “SIT ON TOP” kayaks. These Ocean Kayak brand kayaks were new to the market and designed by someone who later became a friend- TIM NIEMIER. Made from plastic in rotating molds, these were the first kayaks that were user friendly – they revolutionized the market and oar sports worldwide. Before these kayaks there were the typical river kayaks made for long-distance rowing in lakes and seas, in which a person sat inside them with a “petticoat” that covered the hole where the rower sat. The new ability to sit on top of the kayak gave a feeling of mobility and freedom, with much easier navigation capacity. I can not describe how it felt the first time I sat on one of these devices. It was something sensational- I could catch waves …and ACHIEVE SURF!!!!! All this happened in the same all day session, experimenting and having fun, but getting WET!!!!
Since I was the owner and the one who managed ¨El Centro de Aventura¨ in the group of friends, I decided to import these kayaks to Costa Rica and to thus promote this new sport that had so many taboos. ¨The Adventure Center¨ was a store that sold equipment for adventure sports. The owners were: Juan Carlos Crespo, Víctor Gallo and the Ríos Tropicales group, Fernando Esquivel, Rafael Gallo, and Jimmy Nixon. We started the trend of “organized” adventure sports in our country. In the process of figuring out how to import the Ocean Kayak brand, I met Mark Olson, who was the company sales representative for Southern California and Central America. I got Mark to come to Costa Rica with the first order and went to wait for him at the airport with a cooler full of beers – from there we went to Guanacaste to sell kayaks. Mark taught us everything there was to know about the kayaks including sales techniques and recommended accessories. We started by importing the ¨SCRAMBLER¨ a good beginner kayak model for ALL types of paddling and waters. It was like a ferry, carrying passengers safely through the practicing and learning stages of kayak surf. An added bonus to these Sit on Tops is that they float, and thus they serve as a lifesaving device when overturned.
This same year, 1992, Mark Olson, told us that there was a World Surf Kayak competition in Santa Cruz, California, in the famous Steamers Lane. An immense point wave that is under a reef from where everything that is happening in the sea is seen – something precious and unique. Our group came to organize a World Rafting Championship on the Reventazón River, and we were left with the desire to continue organizing events related to the sport of our interest. We had the contacts, sponsors, and most of all the desire to do new and novel things in our country. Not only did we go to the 1993 World Championship, in Santa Cruz, California – we went with a proposal to organize the next championship, in 1995, here in Costa Rica. Of course the response was not only unanimous acceptance, but applause and celebration by all the Kayak Surfing group present in that tournament, which at that time were only from the USA and the United Kingdom. This is the time in which surfers who attended that tournament always remind me of. I’ll tell you details later …This was a unique opportunity, for the world of Kayak Surfing, to grow and to involve the rest of the world in sports. At a competitive level, there were two powers: the Gringos, almost all Californians, and those from the United Kingdom. In the latter group: Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland and the Jersey Islands. With the “Ticos” we already had 7 teams, 12 participants per team- we numbered 84 people for the tournament. In order to organize this World Cup, they put conditions on us. The most important and the really fun, was that we had to organize at least 4 championships in two years here in Costa Rica and go to participate in competition twice abroad. With these conditions they made sure that we got involved fully and that the organization was the best possible. With the store, I had to travel to the places where the surf action was, and I stayed connected with the world group. We were united.
I have to mention one of the relationships that helped the most in this process … LACSA! The sales manager for Los Angeles, California, was Rodolfo Dent- an intimate friend of mine and ¨compa¨ of life. If it had not been for Rudy, things would have gone differently. LACSA became the number 1 sponsor of the upcoming World Cup to be organized in Costa Rica. We traveled to almost all the destinations with the airline for free. We were on standby, but they almost always got us on flights, especially from Los Angeles and San Francisco. I could go to a tournament on Friday morning, and return on the Sunday flight at midnight. All this gave me a lot of personal exposure and helped me to understand and to learn from these tournaments and their organization. As a side note, at that time – about 8 months before the World Cup here, I was surfing SIT ON TOPS … I had finished second and third in two or three tournaments in California, I had won 1 or 2, and with Mark Olson we were the terror of the waters. They introduced me as ¨The King of The Sit on Tops¨ . Once, we were in a final with two more dudes and missing 1 minute to finish the hit. We were alone on the point, because conditions were very rough and the other two dudes were already on the beach. We cast ROCK PAPER SCISSORS to decide who would take the next wave – I won, took the next wave and took the championship! That was south of San Francisco, I believe in a place called Pacifica. The WORLDWIDE Surf Kayak dream was very much on track. I just had to do something to bring together the two powers of Kayak Surf here in Costa Rica: the Gringos and the greats of the United Kingdom.You can imagine the difficulty in resolving the two sets of rules in the world of oar sports: the English have always been stubborn.
I met with Rudy Dent from LACSA and I explained my plan. Next to Hotel FIESTA at that time, we programmed a weekend of surfing and water sports. It was called. THE PARTY OF THE WAVES. Organized by us and María Amalia Rebelo from the Fiesta – a GREAT EVENT: super fun, and full of activities. The Party of the Waves, was from August 28 to September 5, 2003, in Boca Barranca. All the foreigners came for LACSA, its official sponsor. Dan Crandal came from the United States for the the tournament- one of the best of the sport. Dennis Hudson also came, as organizer of the World Cup and the most important annual tournament of this sport to this day, The Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival. Paul Mchuegh, Judge and connoisseur of the gringo rules, and some friendly gringos who were in the same group, came as well, but ended up being more fun than helpful! Mark Olson, Scott McGuiare and Scott Tilney, as well as Colleen, a girlfriend of Dan Crandal who was a specialist in taking scores during tournaments, taught us a lot. Very importantly, Mark invited TIM NIEMIER, owner and designer of the first ´Sit On Top´OCEAN KAYAKS. From the United Kingdom came Malcolm Pearsy, manufacturer of kayaks and a consistently influential person in the sport. We were also accompanied by a select group of people from Central America, Víctor Gallo, Rolando Mayorga from Nicaragua, and Che Mariano Cash. After the Tournament, we rented two minivans and we went to meet, surf, drink and have fun, and talk rules for a week in Guanacaste. The base was TAMARINDO. It was a process of 3 people talking for hours to cover all the points of the rules in which there were differences between the US and UK. With these summaries, we decided that I would be responsible during the next 3 months to REWRITE a new set of regulations. Basically what had changed was the technical specifications of the kayaks to reflect the new technologies being developed.
In just 12 months, we had already organized 3 practice tournaments. We already had more followers and the support among kayakers was increasing. We already had: Hotel Yield, El Fiesta Hotel, LACSA Sponsor Airline and one or another national and gringo sponsor, but nothing serious. With this we started to form the COSTA RICA TEAM. We started training on weekends and on weekdays when we could, and again with the support of LACSA- by March 1995, we brought a team to the Santa Cruz Festival, California. At the Kayak Surf festival in Santa Cruz, we were what for the first time in our country could be called a Costa Rica Team, or Team Costa Rica. To participate we went: Jency Cabrera, Laura Montenegro, Víctor Gallo, Rolando Mayorga, Mariano Cash and me. Accompanying were: Rodrigo de Bedeout, as representative and promoter of the Hotel Fiesta and Roberto de Bedeout.This trip was promotional for the tournament- they gave us a place standing and we did what we had to do taking turns. The truth is that Costa Rica did not have to promote it much, but it definitely helped us to be there. Once back in our country, we began to do the last things to finish the organization of what we called at the beginning, THE THIRD WORLD KAYAK SURF CHAMPIONSHIPS …
THE WORLD CUP 1995.
To Boca Barranca, the perfect place to make this event, we had to transform it!
The tournament was in October, and guess what? Two weeks before the start of the event, the Management in charge of making events at the Fiesta Hotel had put the RABBIT KEKAI LONG BOARD CLASSIC. I realized this a couple of months before they started -very late since the dates were fixed for the two events. The ¨Rabbit Kekai¨ was at that time the largest Long Board tournament in the world. There were about 120 participants from all parts of the world. They celebrated Mr. Rabbit Kekai, Hawaiian, who was the most important living legend of surfing. One of the original pupils of the Father of Competitive Surfing – Duke Kahanamoku. La Boca de Barranca was full of long boards and kayaks – after a couple of days of friction in the water, Hank Raymond (organizer of the Kekai) looked for me to see what we were doing. We sat down to talk and we decided that we would respect each other, giving right of way to the boards and that we the kayakers would use the full wave after they finished. Everything worked wonders, taking into consideration what could have happened. The Kekai was over and Barranca was ours. Apart from this, I want to mention that from here on I had a relationship with the Fiesta Hotel and with Hank Raymond, who continued organizing the Kekai and then 8 WORLD Women’s Long Board Championships.
As we had already organized successfully in the Kayak Surf World Championship and indirectly participated in the Kekai, the Fiesta Hotel signed me up for the next 10 years so that I would be in charge of the tournament here in Costa Rica. I spent 2 weeks in the Fiesta Hotel, in full organization and surfing mode … I can say that I surfed alongside the best Long Board surfers in the world at that time – in a Kayak! These tournaments were set up in California, by Hank Raymond. The official name was, THE TOES ON THE NOSE RABBIT KEKAI COSTA RICA LONG BOARD CLASSIC. This was held next to the WOMANS WORLDS LONG BOARD CHAMPIONSHIP. I dare say that in the history of surfing in our country, we must include them. It was 12 years of great events which put the name of Costa Rica in the mouths of the best longboarders in the world, with all the publicity and propaganda that these tournaments bring. They were 11 years dealing with the media and trying to make them understand what all this surfing business was that we were doing in our country. I feel that they NEVER understood! In addition, Frank Mora (q.e.d.p), at that time president of the Surf Association of Costa Rica, could not understand the income that these surfers brought and the benefits that could have been used from their visits. We continued with our own without involving the Surf Association of Costa Rica directly. I always said, when talking to the media … It’s like bringing Pele, and his entourage to play football here. The Rabbit was as famous in surfing as Pele in his sport of soccer.
From 1994 to 2004, these events were organized
The 95 World Championship had 7 days in competition. From September 17 to 24, 1995. The mouth of Barranca blessed us with two weeks of waves. 90 people came from, Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, Jersey, USA, East and West, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It is the first and only time that our country has a full team in a World Cup … we were nicknamed the Dangerous Team!!!! We were: Neil Kahn, Víctor Gallo, Jensy Cabreras, Miguel Cabreras, Laura Montenegro, and two other people whose names I don’t remember. This tournament left us connected throughout the world of Kayak Surf. I had invitations from everywhere and I was definitely going to travel, compete and enjoy. From then on I decided to get into the world circuit of this sport, and also in the World Association itself, which by the way was formed, as a COMMITTEE here in Costa Rica. In this committee, and then the Association I was a member for 15 years. Costa Rica 95 was a tournament that will go down in history as the one that broke all the traditional schemes of performing this type of event. Not only was the participation excellent, but excellent judges and tabulators were also hired. The party that was put together will remain in the memory of all of us who came together to make this event a success. The communities of Barranca and Puntarenas were involved. I connected with all my old friends in the area, I made some great new ones, and considering that it was low season an event was created that was all the more enjoyable.
Things worthy of success …
- Waves the entire event.
- Hotel headquarters giving total support.
- Good sponsors.
- “Tica” party 4 of the 7 Days, at the hotel and in El Puerto.
- A container of Kayaks from the United Kingdom was transported.
- LACSA helped in the transportation of all the participants from California.
- The closing party – we all ended up in the pool including the Hotel Manager.
- There was the first cycle of a team of Kayak Surf in Costa Rica.
- We showed the world what we are and what we can do.
After Costa Rica 95, my life changed. Suddenly I was an influential person in the world of sports. I enjoyed it so much that what happened would not distress me in anything: I had thousands of contacts throughout the world, many of whom I still enjoy. Claro was an excellent host here in my country, open to receiving and hosting a lot of people. This gave me and my family free accommodation in return. It was a beautiful time for all those involved in kayak surfing, because it began to open the world to the sport – it began to receive new participants from different countries all over the world. My next objective was to become a World Champion, or at least to try. I already had the equipment, knowledge of the competition, and contacts for all the logistics when traveling. What I needed was … HOURS IN THE WATER …. I dedicated myself to training, but in those times that meant having to handle twice what it takes now; trying to get at least one surf session a week, and from then on everything I could on weekends. This was very cool since I was traveling to beaches all over my country with my family to surf. After a while it was expensive, but I managed it somehow.
From Costa Rica 95, my next competition was Santa Cruz, California again in Steamers Lane – one of the craziest places to run waves that I know. That year I had the stars on my side and I Won the open event. Something unprecedented and with an incredible transcendence. Here in Costa Rica they gave me a prize, along with other athletes, to recognize those of us who had excelled abroad during that year. They did interviews in gringo and national newspapers as well. While serving on the World Surf Kayak Committee, and having recently won Santa Cruz, I was invited to the Home International Tournament in Jersey, Channel Islands UK. Something out of the ordinary since these tournaments are very closed and almost never invite anyone who is not from the United Kingdom. During this time I acted as an ambassador for Kayak Surf, because wherever we went we had meetings and we talked about the sport and its development. This tournament could not finish because the sea stopped throwing waves and was canceled after having competed only one day. This was on the French North Coast, below the United Kingdom: a group of islands in the middle of nowhere which often serves as a tax haven. My next objective was the next World Cup. This was in Thurso, Scotland that year: a very cold, inhosítable place with a dangerous sea. It is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Black Sea – the Land of Vikings, men of the north, my favorite heroes after Mohamed Ali. For this tournament I prepared as well as I could. I conscientiously trained, spending hours in the water and in general I dedicated myself to everything that could be done well. A big factor in the competition was that the wave was a very fast right on a point – it came out on top of a flat stone and ended in flat stone too.
The weather was unpredictable -everything difficult that you can imagine. The first week I stayed in a Trailer Camp which was practically on top of the wave with Malcom Pearsy. An English “brother” of mine and owner of MEGA Performance Kayaks– at that time the leader in the manufacture of surf kayaks. In that week I dedicated myself to acclimatizing, to know local surf points in the area and to surf the wave of Thurso. As an anecdote, the day after my arrival, I was going to meet with part of the Scottish team, in the break. The wind was impressive “in shore”. I remember seeing them when they arrived; I got out of the car to say hello and they were untying kayaks from the roof. From one moment to the next all the boats went flying away in the wind! The competitors were big people: Tony, Neil, Daby, and Edy. From then on -plan B: to find another beach to surf. We drove about half an hour to the northeast, to an inlet that was about 1 kilometer away from a Nuclear plant there. Even in the inlet there were waves of the wind. To run whatever waves there were you had to row and row just to stay in position. Another curious fact with Daby, who had been a rower for years – he had a disease that made him lose all of his body hair. Two years ago we had been in Siberia in a World of Rafting event called Project RAFT Worlds. When I saw Daby, Russia came to my mind. I asked him if he had been around and he had indeed gone with Neil, another of the group. It was too good a coincidence! From there we went to have beers (birra) and Scotch Whiskey. That week had a lot of stories: people were coming to the tournament and groups of acquaintances were making themselves. Neil Kahn, from here in CRC, and owner of Kayak Jaco signed up with Jasmine Chollette that were in there honey Moon. The cold was too intense, and Neil could enter the water.
I’m just going to tell one more story about Scotland: on one occasion, l went out with the Scottish group,and Dennis Hudson (organizer of the Steamers Lane tournament in Santa Cruz for many years). Legend says the waves were about 15 feet, but I think they were more like 8. The place was called BRUMS NEST.: a break over stones, very technical, a point that ended in rock and rock and more rock. We parked on a dairy farm that overlooked the sea. After instructions on how to get to the wave in the middle of all the stones, we got into the sea ….I was almost all out to be able to surf, it was my turn to play the big one … no matter how hard I tried, that huge and powerful wave grabbed me, threw me back almost in the air and removed my paddle, the kayak and everything … sure, emergency. The thing was now to rescue me and take me to the shore. Hypothermia sets in fast out there …. these people were expert kayakers and rescue specialists – everything you would want in that situation. The good thing was that we were all armed with everything you could need for a problem of this kind. They pulled me out, mounted me on my kayak full of water and towed. We paddled an endless 300 meters of cold ocean until we reached a mini beach, full of cow dung and dairy waste. That was the most “heavy” experience of my life. From this day forward, that point was baptized TOCAS TAKE … There is this song that I sang that same day after the risky paddling and already with a few beers “birritas” inside me. It was composed by Neil Baxter, captain of the Scottish team. The World Cup started with a parade in the streets of Thurso: very emotional and cold. We were 90 participants in several different categories: Those who had come to Costa Rica, plus really cool new people from the Vasco Country. I enrolled in two categories: in the OPEN, which is all against all, and in the Masters above 40 years old. During the competition the waves were quite small. We had had waves up to 8 feet in the Thurso break during the previous days, and in those conditions we had trained and surfed. The facts that the waves were lower meant that it was necessary to change the break; we had to move the tournament to the West of Thurso, to a beach break that was about 45 minutes from where we were staying. There were still no qualified judges for these events and we had to rotate all the participants to take part in the Court. It was an interminable week, but very beautiful. The surf stayed at 3 to 5 feet. In these tournaments, there is individual and team competition. The teams are of minimum 7 people. I organized an international team where I gathered several competitors, so I stayed wet every day as I reached the two semifinals in my two individual categories. In the end I think I was the participant who competed most in the heats of the whole group. The final result was a FOURTH place in the MASTERS, and A FIFTH in the open: everything a success.
I would like to mention something that made a difference in the end …
The tournament was structured to end on a Saturday. As there was a lack of waves for a few days, it had to be extended until the following SUNDAY. What happened to me was that I had been careful to plan all week to close on Saturday. The closing party was already scheduled for Saturday night and for the Sunday of semifinals and finals, it was necessary to be ready to leave the sea and go to Edinburgh from there straight from the beach. I had to leave the hotel on Sunday for Edinburgh, sleep in Edinburgh, and on Monday take a plane to London, with my kayak packed and everything ready. I decided on Saturday to celebrate at the party while having fun. I wanted to enjoy with my friends as much as I could and to say goodbye to almost everyone there. That’s how it was; I went partying, knowing that on Sunday I was going to pay the price … I hardly slept, and when I woke up, there was a meeting of the competitors to see where the waves were and where we would decide to go to compete. In Thurso, which was small, but near the hotel, or at that beach 40 minutes away ? Of course to that beach … that decision came with a lot of difficulty …the location was in a paddock, without shade and everything quite improvised, but there were waves. I passed in the “heat” of semi-finals in the Masters, to reach fourth in the final and in the world in the Masters category, and to be fifth in the Open to reach number 5 in the world in the Open category. This was the peak of my career as a competitor. From then on I have taken good places, but never like in Scotland 97. I kept going to the tournament in Santa Cruz, California. In 99, the World Cup was in Barra de Tijuca, in Rio de Janeiro, but I did not attend until 2001 when the World Cup came back to Santa Cruz, California. In Santa Cruz 2001, I went with Aleja Pacheco to compete. Alejo did very well, I think he reached the finals. I had an injury on the 3rd day of competition that did not get better until almost the end, but it was already too late, so I enjoyed the event, the camaraderie, and the party that was very fun. Something curious happened to me after this tournament; I got tired of kayak surfing. I started experimenting with other types of rowing. I had had, through my involvement in sports, a friendship with the son of the owners of Pepsi Cola in Panama – Christ Kitras. This person had told me that every year there was a Panamanian “CAYUCOS” race that crossed the Panama Canal. I do not remember how I managed to connect with the organizers of the race. The thing was that I went to visit them and I found out everything that was pertinent and how one signed up and participated. I even brought some sample oars since they had their regulations …
In 2002, we formed a 4-person team of rowers, to cross the Channel … the first complete “TICOS” team that did it and perhaps the first non-Panamanian Latin American team to do so. They were 3 days of competition, leaving David on the Caribbean side, and arriving at the Bridge of the Americas, in the Pacific. We had to compete in Cayucos (canoes) made in Panama, with Panamanian wood, and enrolled in the race with certain specific dimensions. In addition, we had to use REMOS of Panamanian wood and with certain regulations as well. The Cayuco was included in the registration, and the oars had to be purchased. We went to participate: Rolando Mayorga, the Ambassador, Tato Bustamente, our supplier, and El Coronel, Juan Carlos Campos, and of course our “ride”, Sonny … Panamanian and driver of our limousine and supplier of beers. This is a story of dying of laughter, which I will write later on as it leaves the subject of Kayak surfing. We repeated this visit to Panama in 2003 as well, with the same team, but this time we hit the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the competition. I continued as usual, going to California. I was still part of the International Kayak Surf Committee, now WSKA, or WORLD SURF KAYAK ASOCIATION. By then I had been nominated to be President of the Association and I had refused for personal reasons. It was a good time, but I am the only representative of Costa Rica in this sport, there are many other countries, where there is constant competition, and there is communication with everything related to Kayak Surf, so it puts many people ahead of me to be the leader of this sport. The effort brought forward can be much larger than mine, coming from someone who belongs to a geographical area where there is a lot of kayak surf action.
In the year 2003, something very good happened. For ALL my life, I had wanted to participate in a race of CANOAS HAWAIIANAS (Hawaiian Canoes). With the base of the competition in Panama, and knowing a little better what it meant to paddle switching rowing sides, I got into the idea of finding a race in Hawaii to go paddling. At the time it was not that difficult – the judges of the Long Board tournament, my friends Carlon Hanley and Kimo Miranda and some of the participants, Tony Roesh and Eddy were Hawaiians. Neil Khan, of Kayak Jaco, and I had the Canoes, and we had a group of people targeted to jump into the water and make a team to go to Hawaii. We entered a race called the QUEEN LILIUOKALANI CANOE RACE: the race with the most participants in the world. The race is for men and women and involves 30 kilometers of rowing. It was on The Big Island, in Kailua, Kona. The women racers of Kailua, 30 km away, went west and the men returned by the same place to reach Kailua. 300 canoes went in each outing, with groups of 6 paddlers in each canoe, all aligned to the exit. Our group was Rolando Mayorga, Neil Kahn, Guma, Juan Carlos Campos, Fernando Gurdian and myself. We repeated this experience for two years. The second (2004) we did two races, one in Kailua, Oaho and one in Kailua, Kona: an unforgettable experience. As a curious fact, we won the “CHOQUE ALOHA” prize in both races, that is, the team with the most Aloha feeling of the competition. This second group was: Fernando Gurdian, Rolando Mayorga, Miguel Sánchez, and Miguel Sánchez Junior, of Café Rey and myself with Carlton Hanley, my Hawaiian friend, who was the helmsman. In 2003, Alejo Pacheco, went to the World Championship of Ireland, in Easkey. At the time he lived in Italy and was able to connect with that group. In that competition, they asked him to make a new world cup here in Costa Rica. When Alejo arrived at CRC, we met and started rallying the idea. We accepted the challenge without questioning anything.
WORLDWIDE PURE LIFE OF SURF KAYAK, COSTA RICA 2005
World Championship in Costa Rica, 2005: From then on we began to detail everything necessary for this event to happen. The President of the WSKA was Rick Starr: a very good friend of mine and an excellent person. Between him, Neil Kahan and I we took the flag and carried it out. We chose Esterillos Oeste, a beach that always has waves, is accessible, near Jaco and the big city of San Jose, and has the infrastructure to carry out the event. For this World Cup we did not have LACSA as a sponsor but there was a better structure within the WSKA and people were more organized and involved in the sport. Everything flowed better. We got several important sponsors such as Patagonia, from California, the Jaco Beach Hotel (which was the venue) Red Bull, Kilo Telas, Rios Tropicales, Jaco Kayak and others who joined the event. We did something very nice- in Esterillos there is a school that is next to the sea. I do not remember what it’s called, but it’s entering the beach on the left about 500 meters. As we were going there so much to surf, we decided to dedicate the tournament to that school. What did this mean? To begin with, there had to be an interaction between competitors and students. All the delegations were asked to present their country to the students. We supplied translators. We asked the school to make among them all the flags of the visiting countries, which were to be used for all the official events of the event. We supplied them with the fabric sponsored by Kilo Gangas, and it was made. The inauguration was with a parade in Jaco, with 18 countries, approximately 250 people who came to visit our country at the end of October 2005. Everything happened as it should have: we had good waves just a couple of days of 3 feet, but Esterillos endures. The visiting countries were: two teams from the USA, England, Wales, Basque Country, Argentina, Japan, Germany, Canada, Scotland, Jersey, Ireland (2), Catalonia, Brazil, France, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Within the Costa Rican team, Neil Kahan was 3rd in the Masters. Nobody else was able to stand out, but the event was a success. Every day began at 6 am sharp and sometimes lasted up to 10 hours a day. All the judges and others stayed at our house in Hermosa, a good group of people. In this year it was also when the Rabbit Kekai was stopped. I disregarded Kayak Surf for a while, and I started doing it “free” without competing much, twice a year only, while always belonging to the WSKA Committee.
I think that at the beginning of 2006 I went to the Basque Country to compete in the first tournament they organized. It went well for me, I finished 3rd in the Open, and I connected well with the Basques who organized the next World Cup in MUNDAKA, and BAKIO as plan B for the waves. This is a spectacular place, especially Mundaka, that is very beautiful. The wave is a long point, Boca de Barranca type, but faster and very famous in Europe. In 2007, I decided to go to the Vasco Country World Cup, also in Mundaka. With the same format during the WSKA Meeting, I was again proposed to preside over it: here came Rick Starr. The truth is that for this tournament I went for a walk in the park – to see old friends. Of course I competed but it did not go well at all. I rediscovered an old friend – we made a party and I do not regret it. We stayed in Mundaka, in the pure port, about 70 rows from the Point. From the bed I could see the wave.It was called Hotel EL PUERTO and it´s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stayed: a small room, but with the necessities. We left all the equipment in a cellar near the hotel, with some fishermen. From then on I became very close to Txema Carreto and his family, as well as Oscar and others from the area. The competition was almost all in Bakio, a village 40 minutes from Mundaka. Mundaka almost did not throw waves: a very hard and difficult beach break. I didn’t mind as it was a good experience. After that there was a World Cup in Portugal, in Santa Cruz, then one in North Carolina, USA, and another in Australia, on the Sunshine Coast. I didn’t got to any of them and I continued with my FREE surfing, not wanting to compete or to get cold any more than I needed to. In addition, and very importantly, during this time I had three children at University with some big expenses, so the trips that were made were to visit family. During these years and the next two more, what we did was that people visited me instead: friend of the kayak surfing. This forced me to be in good physical condition and to continue on the right path. The truth is that I love being in the water, so there’s no problem. In 2015, Galicia decided to organize a World Cup: it caught our attention, as it was in warm water and in a country where the gastronomy is exquisite. In addition, we had been invited by our friends from the Vasco Country, and the truth is that the invitation could not be rejected. It was in a place called Pantin, a beach breaks with one or another point, crystal clear waters and easy access.
I signed up for the Long Boats category (3-meter kayaks), and the Grand Masters. In the open I did not do very well, but in the Grand Masters I achieved a fifth place. The interesting thing about all this is that I had already met almost everyone in my category with years of experience. I have a photo with the 4 of us older guys: we were JOCK, from Scotland, Dennis Hudsun, Tanguita from California, Marcolm Pears from England and myself, all above 60 years old. Incidentally, Dennis just died during the last World Cup in Northern Ireland: a super friend, with an attitude to live, a crazy guy. To finish, for now, the theme of World Cups- I think I’m preparing for what I hope will be my last in 2019, in Peru in Pacasmayo. A super left wave, very good but in very cold water. I spoke with Alejo Pacheco and we agreed to participate, but it will be in a very nice place, again with good gastronomy, and knowing the organizer well. In this last year, I was approached, by coincidence, by the ADAPTED SURF SELECTION. I will tell you … In October of 2016, I found myself in Barranca with Marcel, National Long Board Champion. Seeing me in a kayak, he wondered if I had an extra paddle for a friend of his, Juan Manuel Camacho. This person was shot in the back and paralyzed from the waist down. Since he was a surfer, he persevered in being able to surf again. He started running waves in a WAVESKY, and he has made it. In addition to giving him an oar, I have tried to teach him everything I can of my tricks in the water. Juan Manuel is trained by Gustavo Corrales, and I have taught him everything I can. Through these people I got to know the whole group of THE CHILDREN OF THE IMPOSSIBLE. A group of people who teach you to appreciate life and what you have and makes you vibrate again, whatever you do. We have been trying to help things happen. They just went to a World Cup in California and as a team they did very well, I invite you to meet them. I’m going out to visit Txema in Santa Teresa, and surf a little. Txema has a hotel called Canaima Chill House and its very cool.
I hope this story is important for our country, and leaves a legacy like other stories of our ancestors and friends of how the events, legends, and pioneers were born. Pura Vida Costa Rica.