The Inside Peak – Weekly Wrap Up 04.15.13

Hello again, Inside Peak followers.
Yet another week has passed down here in Guiones at Safari Surf School, Costa Rica´s premier surf academy. As we march through the month of April there is still no sign of the first rains of the wet season. We have experienced two or three days that were tantalizingly close to opening up, but it seems that every time the clouds pass over the mountains and head towards the coast they lose their mojo. With the water levels at dangerously  low levels for some rural parts of Nosara, the rains really cannot come soon enough.
However, a crack team of SSS Instructors, (led by our resident Englishman Owen who hails from the witch capital of the world, Cornwall) have been performing nightly rain dances in the hopes of enticing the storm gods to release their bounty, so we expect to see some results soon. I wonder if a “Sustainability through Paganism” initiative could take off?

Cool clouds, but no rain!

While the weather gods have been uncooperative in the precipitation department, they surely have been smiling on us when it comes to the surf! It seems like every week I am writing something along of the lines of “…and the swell just keeps on coming at Playa Guiones” because, well, the swell DOES just keeps on coming at Playa Guiones!  Storm cells in the South Pacific – which produce the strong southerly swells have been experiencing – have been particularly active. We are entering week four of continuous quality swell, and it still shows no real signs of abating.
Ok so it isn´t quite Guiones but we still know how these guys feel.

As always our clients have been right in the thick of it, with beginners to intermediates to advanced all giving their best – and having the times of their lives in the process. While some of the extra big days have made conditions hazardous at certain times and tides, we have made sure that our lessons have been situated at the optimal hours for client safety. And if moving your lesson to 6:30AM means that you get to catch the sun rise while you surf, it is really a small price to pay!
Check out a few of our more recent client shots below:

Nice drop, take 1.
Nice drop, take 1.
Nice drop, take 2
Nice drop, take 2
Lauren, up and riding on her very first lesson!
Lauren,  Seattle´s newest surfer, up and riding on her very first lesson!
Shelby takes her last ride of the trip all the way to the beach.
Shelby takes her last ride of the trip all the way to the beach.
Fox 1...
Fox goes left…
... and Fox  goes right!
… and Fox goes right!
“Watch out mum!” Guitar family fun.
Anna got some excellent waves on her trip, but I could not go past this excellent wipe out shot… Sorry, Anna! I will owe you a drink for this one next time you are here.

Our Kids Camp has continued in full swing, with the eager little grommies absolutely eating up the fun conditions on the inside break.

“This surfing caper is so easy…
The backwards man strikes again!
SSS Instructor Helberth lends a guiding hand.
Alonso and the happy campers, post surf.

On top of these great photos, you can check out this video put together exclusively for Safari Surf School showcasing some of our students and instructors in the second half of March:

As I mentioned last week, some of our instructors, and more advanced students, have been taking some trips up and down the coast to search out some of the other quality set ups in this area. I have personally surfed two breaks here in the past week that I never knew existed, and have scored some absolutely world class waves in the process. I will post a few teasers below, but keep your eyes out in the next week or so for some quality photos and footage. The surprises this place can throw up never cease to amaze me!

This wave is a lot bigger than it looks, and is not too far away from our HQ. But where, you ask?

Secret spot #2 was a heavy reef break left that requires boat access… this was us bringing it ashore yesterday afternoon. But from where?

And on that note, that is a wrap for this week. As I said, be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts for more exclusive photos and footage, as well as all the latest happenings from SSS.

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 – 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.