Monday, September 8, 2008

Moments - The San Carlos Experience

(Picture taken by Jim Crawford)

Yeah...thats what it experience. You could call it an adventure, a trip, or an event. But it was the experience of it all. As Kevin Trejo says, "you just don't know until you go".

It was also somewhat of a milestone for me as well. A full week of wavesailing of which I've never done before. 7 straight days of wavesailing. It would have been 8 straight days but I went mountain biking the last morning we were there. My back and hands were done after that. And to think I almost didn't go because of my recent back issues. I'm so glad I went. My back is pretty sore and stiff but now I can focus the next few weeks on rehabilitating it back to 100%. Been windsurfing for 20+ years and only been in the waves a few times. And that was in onshore winds, mushy waves, and riding backside. So you can call me a beginner wavesailor. What in the world was I doing going to what many pros say is arguably the best windsurfing wave in the world?
(Picture taken by Rob Cornwell)

Well, besides being a wave the pros love for it's long down the line rides and seemingly endless bottom turns, it's also a user friendly wave. Most east coast waves have short period swells along with onshore winds meaning there are waves on top of waves and lots of chop in high winds. Baja had long period swells and side offshore winds meaning there is relatively flat water in between the waves. And the way the ocean floor, rocks, and geography are made up there make for very long waves that you can ride frontside and surf "down the line". Finally, when the wave breaks at San Carlos, it crumbles on itself. It doesn't curl over and pound you like other big wave spots. So it's hard to get into trouble if you fall in the impact zone. Just hold onto the mast tip, keep yourself between the wave and the gear, take a wave on the head, plenty of time to waterstart between waves because of the aforementioned long swell period, and you're golden. This has to be the best place to learn to wavesail. Problem I'm spoiled on side-off down the line wavesailing.

Me, on a sweet San Carlos wave (picture taken by Jim Crawford...thanks Jim!)

Now we're back home and still dreaming of the place. Hard to get going at work for sure. I keep thinking of the "moments".....just observations of all the cool stuff we did all week long. If you've ever thought of going to Punta San Carlos, here are some of those "moments" for you to ponder....

Food – Omigosh! The food was amazing. Eating at a Mexican restaurant at home will never be the same again - we had fresh salmon, huevos rancheros, tamales, cheeseburgers, Mexican chicken and rice soup, sliced avocados, breakfast burritos, crab claws, ribs, fish tacos, posole (Mexican fish soup), pancakes & bacon, fresh fruits, and salads. The Mexican ladies there can cook up some serious food.

(Picture taken by Rob Cornwell)

(Picture taken by Rob Cornwell)

The Beach Bar - and night.

(Picture taken by Jim Crawford)

The Lounge - outdoor lounge with comfy sofas and all the windsurfing/kiting/surfing magazines you wanted to peruse.

(Picture taken by Jim Crawford)

Jim napping

Tents - large and comfortable with air mattress

The Thatched Umbrella overlooking The Beach Break - you roll out of your tent and the view is all in front of you. You could sit anywhere in camp and see the wavesailing action on the water but the old van seats under the thatched umbrella provided the best action watching and picture taking.

The Bombora, The Beach Break, The Point, The Chili Bowl, Bird%#&! Rock, Fish Camp - From right to left facing the water...those are all the different breaks you could surf/sail.

Beer & Tequila – All the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages you wanted. Kevin pulled out the very good aged tequila from his long time family Guadalaharan friends…from wooden barrels...very nice!

The Cessna plane ride down and back - a lot quicker and more convenient than driving...and great views of the Baja coastline. Fun landing on the dirt and rock landing strip at the beach camp. I have video of the landing...stay tuned for future post of videos.

(Wyatt, Mac, Clark, Josh, Rob, Mike)

The People You Meet -
- Solo Sports owner Kevin Trejo, camp photographer and author Clark Merritt, Gear Master Rodney, SoCal Joey, and the local Mexican staff - It was a laugh a better have a good sense of humor.
- Josh Sampiero/Editor of Windsurfing Magazine

- NorCal and Gorge Pro Wyatt Miller - he said it was his “best week at San Carlos ever” then told us the story of how he fell off the beach cliff on his 1st trip there (in the first 5 minutes after he arrived) at age 15 with his father....funny but scary story.

- Taylor Congdon – famous motocross producer and videographer and former downhill mountain bike racer, turns out he's been windsurfing since age 11 and loves to sail/mtn bike San Carlos.
- Kevin McGillavry – Central Cal Pro, great guy and gave helpful tips.
(Picture taken by Jim Crawford)
- Brian Caserio – former pro windsurfer back in the 80s and 90s, waterman filmmaker, and can also rip on a kite and stand up paddle board. Brian was one of the pioneers of San Carlos.
- SoCal pro Casey Hauser
- Our other Solo Sports campers - take Coogey for instance. Coogey was our Japanese guy who was there for 3 weeks straight. He had a knee injury but was out there ripping it up every day. He'd go in the water and come off the water limping. He supposedly didn't know any English. So his only form of communication was the internet and he was on it...a lot. He would have 20 web pages open at once and be watching Japanese Youtube...and bring down the internet every time he was on it. Kevin tried to ban him from the wifi but when Kevin walked away, Coogey was back on it bringing down the internet again. We now think he was playing us all week and actually knows English...what a riot. And then there was Sergai, our new Russian our new friends from Portland (Iron Man Ken...he logged the most time of anyone on the water kiteboarding), San Francisco Mike, San Francisco Hugh, Santa Barbara Mike, and Cleveland John.

The gear - all good stuff from RRD, Ezzy, Quatro, Real Wind, Goya, and Streamlined.

(Picture taken by Rob Cornwell)

Here's a rundown on my daily equipment:
Sat – Real Wind 270 with Ezzy Wave 6.3 (light wind)
Sun – RRD Freestyle Wave 110 with Ezzy Wave 6.0 overpowered and dropped down to 5.2
Mon – RRD Freestyle Wave 102 with Ezzy Wave 5.0
Tues – RRD Freestyle Wave 102 with Ezzy Wave 5.5
Wed – 102 with 5.5
Thurs – 102 with 5.2
Fri – 102 with 5.5 (way overpowered, should have been on 4.7 or 5.0 easy)

Sat – mountain biking on Cannondale bike. The trails were class. (Picture taken by Rob Cornwell)

Surfing, stand up paddle surfing, and mountain biking - Every morning campers would partake, then wavesail in the afternoon, like clockwork.

Donald with stand up paddle board in hand (picture taken by Jim Crawford)

Rob on a wave


I read “In Search of Captain Zero” by Alan Weisbecker, the perfect book for this trip. There were surf/kite/windsurf mags everywhere, and a great library of old books left by campers.

Reading Room - The outhouses....'nuff said.

Recreation room - pool table, foosball table, dinner table, wifi, TV/DVD with all kinds of videos.

Blisters - I was out of action for almost 2 months leading up to the trip with back issues so I lost my hand calluses from all the spring windsurfing. I should have dipped them in rubbing alcohol for a few days before going (the apparent tip that supposedly works). Here's the results after 8 days of adrenaline...ouch!

Exploring - you could go hiking and biking for miles and find all kinds of cool stuff like ancient indian petroglyphs and awesome views.....

Seals - we saw seals everyday...very cool. One popped up about 10 feet beside me as I sailed by. I said "greetings". He said "whats up" and ducked under.

Whale - Even cooler, we saw a whale breaching our last day there. Rodney said it unusual for this time of year. We also saw dolphin and porpoise. I never get tired of seeing dolphin.

There are rattlesnakes and scorpions around but we didn't see any the entire week. Pelicans and seagulls aplenty.

The kelp and seaweed - this was a new experience for me. There wasn't a lot of it in the general sailing area but there were some clumps here and there. It was closer to the shallower beach break that made it interesting. If you stopped there to rest, or were entering or exiting the water, it was almost like the stuff would wrap itself around your legs and not let you go.

Warm water – I was in a 3/2 short sleeve wetsuit and got a bit warm some days. There were others out in only their trunks. Solo Sports usually recommends a 4/3 suit as the water does get colder.

Thats a wrap. I have a ton more pics and video footage so I'll be working on a picture/music slide show and edited videos over the next couple of months, so check back for more on San Carlos.

Special thanks goes out to Alan for organizing the trip and giving us helpful tips throughout, the rest of the NC windsurfing crew (Rob, Jim, Tommy, Donald, Troy, Alan, and Alain) for such a great time together, and to the Solo Sports staff (Kevin, Clark, Rodney, Joey, and the Mexican staff) for being such great hosts.


Catapulting Aaron said...

mac -- looks amazing... glad you guys scored. now back to reality?

Outdrsmn said...

Nice! How economical was the trip compaired to say Maui or Bonaire.
I need to plan a real windsurfing vacation but I want to get the most bang for the least buck.

Waterturtle said...

Aaron, back to reality...yeah...hard to get back into it.

Outdrsmn, I haven't been to Maui in 16 years and I haven't yet been to Bonaire (but plan to), so can't really say. But Solo Sports cost included, gear, etc. I bet it was more economical. Plus, best place to learn or shore up the wavesailing skills. No wind? Go surfing, SUPing, mtn biking, or hiking.

Catapulting Aaron said...


Did you ride big boards because it was holy? Were you just more comfortable bigger boards?

Waterturtle said...

yeah...I'm 200 lbs and the 102 was very comfortable for me. Keep in mind I'm really a beginner wavesailor and not used to small boards anyway being on the east coast and a lot of lake sailing in gusty winds. I intended to try some smaller boards at PSC but got comfortable on the 102 and I didn't go crazy due to my back being less 100%.

Catapulting Aaron said...

Yeah that makes sense -- I had never sailed a board under 100L until my trip to Bonaire in January... and even then it was marginal.

I went out on my 104 for a couple days recently and my ankles felt like they were going to die! Of course, I have weenie 165lb guy ankles.

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