The Inside Peak – “Back in Business” Weekly Wrap Up 03.29.13


Hola Inside Peakers
Apologies for the break between my last blog post and now – some technical difficulties involving a missing passport, travel arrangements and computer access on my end have kept me away from the keyboard. I know the Safari family – and the surf industry at large – had been missing their bi-weekly hits of The Inside Peak. In fact, just yesterday I was talking to Hollywood star Ethan Hawke* at the Harmony Juice Bar, and he was saying how ticked off he and the rest of the A-listers currently visiting Guiones are for missing out on featuring in my posts.**
But fear not, I have returned. And I am sure you have all been missing me as much as Ethan has, right?
Moving on, you will be happy to know that life has continued on at its glorious place here in Guiones. We have had non-stop surf for the past two weeks, with dozens of happy Safari campers scoring the waves of their lives.  Check out some of the action in the video below:

The weather has been warm (surprise!) and the town is close to jam-packed with Spring Break and Semana Santa revelers. Casa Tucan is still pumping out good food and great vibes, our sustainability initiatives are still redefining the sustainable tourism industry (more on that soon), and our surf instructors are still the best in Costa Rica.
In short,  visiting Playa Guiones is still like visiting paradise, and as always we have the VIP seats.
Be sure to keep a lookout on the Safari Surf School Facebook and Instagram accounts for daily updates, and if all goes to plan I should have my regular weekly wrap up ready for viewing sometime on Monday morning.
*I did see Ethan Hawke, but we did not actually talk.
**However I am sure this statement is still true. FYI, other famous types spotted around town in the last week include Julianne Moore, Gislle Bundchen and Tom Brady, Leonoardo  DiCaprio, and, most excitingly, 1980s Hawaiian amateur surfing pro, Tyler Marsh!

The Inside Peak – Weekly Wrap Up 03.10.13

It’s been another week of good waves here in Guiones. Picking up from the tail end of last weekend’s solid swell, we saw some great chest to head high conditions throughout all of this week for the Inside Peak. The strong offshore winds have also stuck around, often blowing throughout the day. They have made for some excellent surf conditions, but have also resulted in the upwelling of some “colder” water to the surface.
However, it is important to remember that “colder” in Costa Rica means ‘refreshingly cool’ as opposed to ‘tropical bath’. Most guests actually quite enjoy the milder water temps, but I know a few of our more dramatic instructors were imagining they had just been surfing in 5mm wetsuits off the side of an iceberg.

How the instructors described the water this week...
How the instructors described the water this week… opposed to how the students described the water this week.
…as opposed to how the students described the water this week.

On that note, the students were firing on all cylinders this week. Shout out to student Megan for scoring the bomb of the week:
“This is going straight to Facebooooook!”

The waves were so fun, Tyler even unchained me from my desk for half an hour so I could catch my yearly wave.
The waves were so fun, Tyler even unchained me from my desk for half an hour so I could catch my yearly wave.

Owen giving out some tips:
Owen giving out some tips: “When the wave breaks here, don’t be there, or ya gonna get drillled”

And with plenty more swell – and a record amount of new students – due this week, there are sure to be a whole bunch of “bomb of the week” photos on their way!
As always with Safari Surf School, the action wasn’t just on the waves. Our Sustainability Director, Carl Kish, and biodiesel expert, Ryan King, have been working their hides off on our Innovative Biodiesel Project. The project is very close to completion, and is an absolutely outstanding initiative. You can read more about it in Carl’s blog here.
Always committed to sharing the good word of science and sustainability, Carl and Ryan took some time out of their busy schedule this week to show some grade 7 students from Nosara’s Del Mar Academy around the biodiesel project. The students were able to see the production process first hand, and with Ryan promising to follow up their visit with a classroom presentation in the near future, it won’t be long before we have a new generation of sustainability experts ready to follow in Ryan and Carl’s footsteps.
Interested students peer intently at the biodiesel producer, while Instructor Nico presumably attempts to smell it.
Interested students peer intently at the biodiesel producer, while Instructor Nico presumably attempts to smell it.

Also this week, Safari Surf School guests Megan, Tara and Dave took advantage of our Sustainable Surfer Package to check out the Barra Guiones Reforestation Project, a sustainability project created and managed by Costas Verdes. Through this project, land around Playa Guiones is being gradually reforested, after being cleared for cattle use decades ago. The Safari Surf School team is so stoked to be able to support initiatives that will have such a positive impact on the local ecosystem – and just as stoked to see guests like Megan, Tara and Dave that take such an active interest in these important issues!
Gerardo Bolinas of Costas Verdes showing SSS guests Dave, Tara and Megan the reforestation project.

To cap off the week, Casa Tucan played host last night to the HSBAcademy Nosara kid’s movie night. This is a little gig we throw every few months to raise money for the Academy. Families come along to watch some great movies on a big projector out on the lawn, and we organise the pizza, popcorn and soda – with all money raised goeing directly back to the Academy. Last night was another success, with a bunch of happy families enjoying the beautiful weather and a great movie. I had taken what I thought were some nice photos on the night, only to upload them this morning and realise that I needed a lot more flash in the dark settings! But needless to say – or display – an excellent evening was had by all, and we can’t wait until the next event. We will keep you posted for details!
That’s a wrap for this week. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for our daily Facebook and Instagram posts, and I will see you all back here in the near future for some more word on the Guiones streets.

The Inside Peak – What Makes Guiones Tick?

It’s a blustery afternoon here in Guiones. After some excellent waves this morning we are all waiting for the wind to fade and the tide to rise so that we can head back out for the afternoon wave feast.
With waves on my mind, I think this is as good an opportunity as any to take some time to investigate the surf break that is Playa Guiones in this mini Inside Peak.  In case you hadn’t realised, the stretch of beach on which we run our lessons produces some of the most consistent, best quality conditions a surfer could dream of. It works when the waves are big or small; messy or clean; high tide or low.Yep, Playa Guiones is about as reliable a wave you can get – if you had the time, you could be pretty much guaranteed to get a surfable wave here 365 days a year.
But the greatest thing about this beach is that it caters for everybody, from the first time surfer to the life time pro. Why is this so? What makes the waves of Guiones stand out from the rest? Let’s take a look.
No, I’m not talking about the local pooches down at the beach chasing after sticks. In surfing, fetch refers to the amount of swell (i.e. surf) that a coastline is exposed to. Good swells are produced by winds blowing across long, unbroken stretches of water – the longer they can blow uninterrupted, the better the swell. Surf spots along the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, have minimal fetch due to small, enclosed nature of the body of water on which they reside. Hence their (generally) crappy waves. However, take out a map and look at the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and you will see that there is pretty much no land between it and the Philippines, thousands of miles across the other side of the ocean. Combine it with the fact that it receives swells from both the North and South Pacific, depending on the season, and you end up with a hell of a lot of fetch – which equals a hell of a lot of waves.

A swell window open to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres equals waves all year long.
A swell window open to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres equals waves all year long.

This is an Australian term (guilty as charged) which refers to outlying crops of rocks or reef that lie just beyond the breakers. These ‘bombies’ play a number of roles: they provide a nice home for fish, serpents and mermaids; a hazard for passing pirates / Spanish galleons; and a buena vista for daring divers. But, most importantly for us, the shallow water surrounding the bombies helps to prematurely refract and mould incoming swell. Stand on the beach on a big day at Guiones and look out towards the horizon, and you are sure to see peaking (or almost breaking) swells way, way out the back. This is the bombies weaving their magic, ensuring that by the time the waves reach us surfers they have been broken up into nice clean peaks which provide both left and right hand rides. If it weren’t for the bombies these swells would more likely arrive in one big long wall and close out the beach all at once. And there’s nothing surfers hate more than a close out.
Swell refraction in action.
Swell refraction in action.

Ocean Floor
The contours of the sea bed immediately below the impact zone of a wave plays the most important role in a wave’s final form. Sudden, shallow platforms of sand or reef rising rapidly from deep water will cause intense, powerful waves which can be incredibly dangerous: think Pipeline in Hawaii or Teahupoo in Tahiti.
This is not Guiones, thankfully.
This is not Guiones, thankfully.

Conversely, if there is no real rise at all most swells will simply lap or crash directly onto the shore, providing no chance to be ridden.
What we get at Guiones, however, is a perfect combination of elements. Beginning half a mile or so out to sea (right out near the bombies, as you can see in the earlier photo showing the swell refraction) the ocean floor rises in a gentle, even gradient as it approaches the shore line. This allows the incoming swells plenty of time to build, slowing down their speed while increasing their size as the water grows shallower beneath them. By the time they reach the first line of surfers, they have developed into the quintessential Guiones peaks, offering a great rippable wall – and even the odd barrel – for the more advanced surfers, while still breaking easily enough for beginners and intermediates to hone their skills on the open face. And once they’ve finally broken, the waves then transform into a broken wall of foam, rolling in for 40 yards or more before they reach the shore. It’s on these ‘foamies’ that countless individuals, ever since Tim and Tyler guided the first Safari Surf School student to their feet back in 1999, have taken the first steps of their surfing lives.
Of course, these aren’t the ONLY factors that make Guiones so great. The waves are still fun in pretty much any wind conditions, there are no big riptides or sweeps to wash you out to sea (however that’s not to say it can’t be dangerous – the ocean should ALWAYS be treated with caution and respect) and the water is as  warm as you could want it. And of course, you get to share this all with the most outgoing and friendliest people in the world (this is an actual scientific fact) who will go out of their way to ensure get the true Pura Vida experience.
All in all, you would be pretty hard stretched to find a more agreeable piece of coastline in the world for our surfing purposes.And it’s this simple fact that will keep us coming back to Playa Guiones, time and time again.
PS Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention the sunsets.

The Inside Peak – Weekly Wrap Up 03.03.13

Flying bulls, flying trees and flying surfers? No, it’s not the plot for a 1970s acid movie, but instead just some of the highlights from another wild and wonderful week at Safari Surf School in this week’s Inside Peak. There has been no shortage of excitement here in the last few days – which is exactly how we like it!
So, where to begin?
The last week of Tico Summer* saw some promising signs on the surfing front. A steadily building swell peaked on Friday with some solid overhead sets. Lessons ran non stop throughout the week, with our current team of students making some great progress on their skills.

Nick catches a nice one as instructor Nico looks on jealously.
Nick catches a nice one as instructor Nico looks on jealously.
Megan showing some style.
Megan showing some style.

While the swell has eased off somewhat, we are expecting a new south swell to hit early next week and then stick around for a few days at least.
Some big developments were also made on our biodiesel project, thanks to Carl, Ryan and their team. Look out for a more detailed blog post on that tomorrow.
While Safari Surf School students and instructors cruised through the mid-week waves, Saturday and Sunday saw a real kick-up in pace.  First off, a big group of new guests arrived at the Tucan on Saturday, instantly enhancing the already vibing atmosphere with their obvious stoke on arriving in Paradise.
After being greeted by the ever-smiling Peter and Jasmin in the Tucan office, many of the newcomers headed down to the beach to check out the action at the Nosara Triple Crown of Surfing. This three-stage team event was in its final leg at Guiones and the host beach did not disappoint, churning out quality waves all day long. The usual onshore wind that hits during the day at this time of year did not eventuate, ensuring that the competitors had excellent conditions over the whole period. The level of surfing was outstanding, as you can see in the following shots:

A massive air in the freesurfing section.
A high-pressure floater.
A tweaked-out air reverse.

Once the competition finished up, attention turned to the nearby town of Garza which was hosting the local fiesta / rodeo. These events are held once every few months during the dry season and are attended by, well, just about everybody. Never ones to miss out on the action, the Safari crew (piloted by SSS instructor Alonso) took a busload of Tucan guests to the rodeo to sample this entertaining slice of local culture. The action in the ring was intense, and thankfully the only injuries sustained on our team were some bruised egos (PS I swear I’ll get in the ring next time, I just didn’t have my lucky red shirt last night).

And finally, as if we hadn’t had enough action for the weekend, early Sunday morning Guiones was hit by gale-force winds that upended a tree straight into the Casa Tucan pool. A free six pack to the first guest to get out there and clear it.**

Crazy winds!
Crazy winds!

*Costa Ricans refer to the dry season, December through February, as their Summer.
**Just kidding, we had the tree cleared and the pool and surrounding area cleaned immediately.

The Inside Peak – Weekly Wrap Up 02.27.13

You will usually find me around the Tucan pool and bar of a morning, post-surf. It's a pretty tough office to work from but hopefully I will get by. If you do see me around, hola.
You will usually find me around the Tucan pool and bar of a morning, post-surf. It’s a pretty tough office to work from but hopefully I will get by. If you do see me around, hola.

Buenos dias Safari Surf crew, and welcome to the Inside Peak, our brand-new Safari Surf School blog.

My name is Nick Kachel and I am SSS’s social media / PR / communications / board waxer / pool cleaner guy. Starting from today I’ll be providing regular updates via this blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on all the latest happenings in the Safari Surf School world.
As the “man on the ground” in Guiones I want to provide a real insight into what being a guest of Safari is all about. I’ll be blogging about anything and everything to do with the triple S, from important surf tips to guest profiles to lesson updates. If one of our students catches the wave of the week, you’re going to see it here. If one of our instructors gets a crazy new haircut, you’ll have a photo within the hour. We want to make this blog so close to the real thing that you’ll need to be wearing sun block to read it.*
I’m really looking forward to giving you all the insider’s view of our beautiful little world – and I hope to see you down here in person soon!
*Not to be taken literally. Sun block can harm your keyboard, kids!