G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Surfing: Part 5 El Anclote

They call El Anclote the Mexican Malibu for good reason. This long and winding right hander peels across a gently arcing point for a long way when it's small, and for a longer way when it gets bigger. Optimum surfing for this wave is during the hot, humid rainy summer months, when the south swells pour into and over the Punta de Mita at the northern tip of the Bay of Banderas. But even during the off-season when El Anclote is small it's super ridable and lot's of fun.

M and I got our first look at El Anclote (the anchorage) late one afternoon after a trek into Puerto Vallarta for a timeshare presentation. What predicated this astonishing "anti-vacation" act was the lure of 3,000 pesos in cash to sit through it and the fact that I am a dedicated cheapskate. (I was able to subsidize my rental car costs by half.) So on our way back to Sayulita from PV we decided to take the back road via Punta de Mita and El Anclote. As we pulled into the parking space that directly faces the break, looking through a chain link fence, it was firing. The ever present offshore winds were blowing the tops off the sweetly reeling chest/head high waves in perfectly hued colors of the tropical sea. Of course I didn't have my board with me. I drooled, I groaned, I lamented, I shot some vid. And we vowed to come back soon.

I should have returned sooner than two days later, when the south swell dropped way off, but it was early in the trip and I hadn't gotten my internet forecasts sites up and running so...I really missed it. But I still got some fun little waves and a taste of what it could be like.

El Anclote could be the most friendly "learn how to surf" location on the face of the planet. It's a small friendly community with 12 or 15 restaurants, surf schools, shops, hotels and condos conveniently located on a gently s-curving strip of shoreline that is both beautiful and accommodating. When it's small the wave is a soft, cleanly synchronized and symmetrical breaking wave with lots of face to play on and easy on mistakes. A learner's paradise. The water is clear and shimmering with translucent blue-green color. The beach is clean and spacious with plenty of room for families. Food, drink, pangas for rent and other resources are at your beck and call.

Beginners will have access to numerous Mexican surf instructors who are very good. I watched four or five groups receive lessons from extremely competent local instructors who were both excellent teachers and professional level surfers. SUPs are popular here, not as much in the surf as for paddling, and this is a great place to learn. So what if you fall off, the water was 74 degrees, and that's as cold as it gets here.

After my SUP session in the waves of El Anclote, M and I set up our beach chairs and umbrella for a day of relaxing and doing what we like doing best here in Mexico. Nothing. When we got hungry we wandered over to the nearest restaurant, located at the Coral Hotel complex. The food was outstanding and the portions served so large we ended up taking our meal home and eating the rest of it for dinner. The cervezas were ice cold.

El Anclote means "anchorage" and two jetties provide shelter for a number of small boats. Pangas can be hired for transport to a half dozen surf spots only accessible by boat, FWD vehicle or a $400/night stay at the fancy resorts at the very tip of Punta de Mita. For more on surfing the area, check out this website. The owner rents his condos to surfers and has provided a lot of good info. I would go back there in a heartbeat and if I can swing it this summer, I just might. I would love to hook into some head high plus bombs and snag some 200 yard rides.

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Part 5 El Anclote from Srfnff on Vimeo.

Here are a few tidbits re the group Los de Abajo, their name, and their tune Cabanas.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The L41 High Performance SUP Interviews

The second generation SIMSUP, SIMSUP2, came back from the cutter's and was ready for final sanding/shaping on Saturday April 16. I took advantage of the situation to make a five-part video series on that process which includes on-the-job interviews with Kirk McGinty (L41 Surfboards owner/shaper/designer). Each piece is about five-six minutes long and not only includes the final shaping process, but a lot of good info about progressive SUP design, CAD designing and shaping, EPS cores especially stringerless blanks and some other stuff thrown in. Kirk is an open and honest guy, always a gentleman. His candid insights are refreshingly free from self promotion, and will have value for everyone, from the beginning SUP practitioner to seasoned riders and shapers. Enjoy.

The L41 Performance SUP Interview - Part 1 from Srfnff on Vimeo.

The L41 Performance SUP Interview Part 2 from Srfnff on Vimeo.

The L41 Performance SUP Interview Part 3 from Srfnff on Vimeo.

The L41 Performance SUP Interview Part 4 from Srfnff on Vimeo.

The L41 Performance SUP Interview Part 5 Final from Srfnff on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Surfing: Part 4 Lefts

Some would argue that the best wave in Sayulita is the left in front of the trailer park. I would agree with that if you added best "potential" wave, as I never really saw anything get really good, but the potential is definitely there.

The Sayulita River bisects the community between the downtown business district and the outlying restaurants, hotels, businesses and residences. During the "high" tourist season the water draining to the sea through the river is just a feeble stream, but during the wet season it can be a raging torrential flood that wipes out it's banks and bridges. Which is exactly what happened during the wet season of 2010. The rain and subsequent flow was so intense, it took out the bridge into town on the main thoroughfare, Avenida Revolucion, and undermined several buildings along the river banks, leaving them tilting precariously towards the flow. Although work on the new bridge seems nearly complete, the buildings still stand askew, mute testimony to the power of nature.

The gringo locals said that the powerful outflow moved tons of sand and boulders not only out the river mouth, but all along the alluvial fan created by the moving currents. They say this changed the waves some, but from what I could see in person vis a vis the videos of Sayulita on You Tube, it looks pretty much the same as in previous years. At any rate, for me not being goofy, I preferred the rights down the beach overall, but still the sweetest, cleanest walls were at the lefts. Always more inconsistent though. Added to that were the plethora of underwater rocks absolutely covered in razor sharp barnacles that put a half dozen bloody slices and avulsions on my feet and ankles as a result of surfing the left over the course of two weeks. (I brought tropical booties but couldn't force myself to wear them. I love surfing barefoot and my home waters only allow me to do this for half of the year.)

Here then are a handful of clips shot at the trailer park left at different times of the day.

Viva Mexico Chapter 1 Surfing Part 4 Lefts from Srfnff on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Surfing: Part 3 Mornings

Of the two weeks we stayed in Sayulita, I surfed nine sessions, mostly in Sayulita. But I also had a chance to surf El Anclote and La Caleta. Part 3 Mornings of this Chapter documents a smattering of morning sessions I surfed at Sayulita. Every day but two had surfable waves. For sure it wasn't the greatest surfing when it was small, but it was fun.

I'm a dawn patrol kinda guy and I particularly enjoy getting up early while it's still dark and the day is fresh and new. Without fail the wind blew offshore with every sunrise as regularly as the roosters crowed and the morning birds sang out. Almost every day the cloudless skies would free the rising sun to cloak me in a layer of sunlight as it crawled over the ridge at the south end of town. This welcome solar gain was gratefully received, especially when standing soaked from a wipeout. With morning air temps in the mid-60's, the ocean at 74 or 75 degrees felt like bath water. Back at home, before I left for Sayulita, I had removed my two mil short john from my suitcase, thinking I wouldn't need it. Wrong. It would have come in handy for all those dawn patrol sessions, and I won't make that mistake next time. It wasn't super uncomfortable, but rash guard and board shorts when soaking wet and standing in an offshore wind don't cut it. But as soon as the sun did shine, life was even better and my comfort level rose dramatically.

Starting off every day with a morning surf was like the icing. After that, the rest of the day was all cake.

Viva Mexico Chapter 1 Surfing Part 3 Mornings from Srfnff on Vimeo.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Surfing: Part 2

I surfed every day but three including a final Sunday morning session before departing the warm weather and waters of mainland Mex for home. Sayulita is on the north side of Punta de Mita and breaks best on a northwest swell, but it does see a south if the angle isn't too steep. It was surfable just about every day, if not in Sayulita, then on the Punta de Mita side.

The wave quality never went above 2.5 on a scale of 5 in my estimation. All the gringo locals I met said that this winter has not been a good one for northwest swells. The mild La Nina seems to have affected this region just like back home. The waves have a beach break quality, even though they break over reef-like rock piles. Last summer proved to be violently wet and during one particularly stormy patch several parts of the new back road that connects Sayulita with Punta de Mita, and the bridge on the main road into Sayulita were washed away. The locals say this extreme outflow moved boulders and sand away from usual locations, and changed the wave shape some. I'll have to take their word for it. From what I've read, the best season for surf is still summer, when the south swells blast up from the southern hemisphere.

There is a party, good-time atmosphere in the water at both breaks in Sayulita, and it's usually always crowded. Lots of beginners populate the spots, and since SUP is catching on everywhere, there are more than a fair share of folks out for the first time. Therefore I never surfed past 10 o'clock in the morning, preferring the somewhat less crowded dawn patrol. The only locals in Sayulita are the Mexicans, and there are many excellent Mexican surfers and pros who hail from Sayulita. They demand and deserve respect.

If you're looking for solitude, it isn't spelled Sayulita. But the vibe overall is good, so many people are just having fun in a warm and inviting place. We look forward to going back one of these days.

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Surfing: Part 2 from Srfnff on Vimeo.

Viva Mexico! Two Weeks South of the Border

M and I flew south for two weeks of relaxing, sight-seeing and surfing. We stayed in Sayulita, Nayarit, just north of the Bay of Banderas and the south swell magnet known as Punta de Mita. Our neighbors at home, Michael and Kalena, offered up their brand new condo for a price we couldn't refuse and we were set. The weather and location were perfect and the surfing was decent, staying in the fun category for the entire trip.

I took 305 video clips and 145 stills with my Kodak Playsport ZX5. It took almost a week after our return home, just to view them all and organize them into categories. I've organized the videos into chapters, each with it's own topic. The largest category is surfing (of course) and there are several chapter parts devoted just to surfing. Finally I edited and organized the stills and will post them here, and on Picasa when I get to it.

The video chapters are not necessarily in chronological order but hopefully they make enough sense that viewers will be able to get a sense of the place we stayed, what we enjoyed and the surfing experience while we were there.

I'll add to this blog as I finish each video. I hope you all enjoy the videos and stories.

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Surfing: Part 1 from Srfnff on Vimeo.