Surf Spot: Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
Jaco Beach Surfline: 2-3 ft. Light and variable east-southeast winds with smooth seas. Small short period wind waves from the southwest. SWELL: 2ft @ 6s from SW (228), 2ft @ 10s from SSW (195), 1ft @ 5s from S (173), 1ft @ 16s from SW (217)
Board: 7’4″ Ward Coffey Surfboard.
With the notion that I was to hit the waves at 8 AM for my first early morning surf session today, I fell asleep at 11 PM (earliest I have in awhile) at my temporary residence at the Cabinas Rancho Grande, steps away from Playa Hermosa. But with the Costa Rican Independence Day (from Spain) today, Maria from Del Mar Surf Camp picked me up earlier at 6:30 AM to get to Jaco Beach and I got about two and a half hours of decent surfing time in with the nice long waves today.
What’s best about advancing with a surf camp is that you have a seasoned surfer to help you spot the mistakes in your riding, especially critical when you’re first getting into surfing. I met Del Mar Surf Camp’s head instructor today who is also sponsored as a Lost Team Rider, Josymar Fuentes who with Maria Del Mar gave me three of the best beginner tips.
One of the key things I realized today was that while I didn’t mind paddling out so much and getting smacked constantly by water, I needed more strength in my paddle to actually get myself into the wave. Cupping your hand and extending it deeper into the water (“slow and deep”) made it seemingly easier to understand that paddling was in itself a technique to be learned and developed that is detrimental to catching good waves. Slow and deep gets you stronger momentum than frivolous speedy strokes.
As soon as you try to get up on the board, one of the first things you naturally do is watching where you put your feet. Unconsciously not realizing this, I was always watching where my feet were placed on the board rather than looking straight ahead at where I wanted to be. Just by looking up at where I needed to be and adjusting the placement of my feet if need be, I was able to garner more balance and stabilize myself on the board.
Finally, after all the paddling to get yourself into the center of the wave, the first thing you tend to do is hold your breath and hope you caught the wave at the right spot sometimes overwhelming yourself. Just before popping up onto the board and breathing, I was able to think about all the changes I needed to make from the last wave in order to improve and apply them to the current wave without letting the rush of the water get to you.
And that’s it. First surf here at Jaco Beach with three waves under my belt. Tomorrow, I am up at 6 AM again to head to another surf lesson with Del Mar Surf Camp, move into my new house in the town of Jaco and get settled into life in Costa Rica for the next few months.