Looking at the map it’s tempting to put Panama in the same travel- time bracket as somewhere in the States, or the at worst, the Caribbean. Certainly we weren’t contemplating the sort of journey time one would normally associate with Australia! Bit of a shock then, to have arrived, finally, at 3 am local time, nearly 36 hours after leaving North Devon, Wales, Cornwall, or In Will Davey’s case Lanzarote.
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Card marathon continues at Madrid Airport
An epic journey, and like clockwork as far as the usual pitfalls are concerned. No-ones’ boards got smashed, all bags arrived. The minibus we were offered had the number of seats we had booked , and we found a panel van big enough to carry all the boards, together with Jose, to drive it, so the logistical excersise of transferring from airport to remote campsite via the maze of unsigned roads that is Panama was sorted at a stroke. When we did finally gun it up the last treacherous stretch of dirt track to our campsite, the tents were there waiting for us, pitched, overlooking the contest beach, and bathed in silvery moonlight. Despite the fatigue stoke levels went through the roof like a flying Journalist.
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First morning, Camp Surfing GB overlooking Playa Venao
It’s a remote area, the Azuero Peninsular… which is why the drive in was so long. But as with most remote areas in the world, remoteness means beauty. We woke to the sight of Playa Venao, a classic horseshoe bay, laid out in front of us, glass textured water and an a-frame sand bar in the middle where the silt from a stream creates a permanent sand bank, offering rights & lefts. This will be the site of the main peak at the World Junior Champs. Further down the beach a second peak looks like the obvious spot for podium 2. Beneath our campsite, the sheltered end of the bay looks as though it will hold a better shaped wave when the swell picks up a bit.
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The bay is guarded by headlands of rock, steep and wooded, with a long stretch of grey sand lining the shore between. The kids were on it from first light, frothing to be in the sea in boardies after the long winter of training in heavy wetsuits.
Today is a day of unwinding after the months of fundraising and the long journey. Everyone is in the water. Tomorrow the whip cracks at dawn as head Coaches Lloyd Cole & Joanne Denison start to ramp up the intensity & concentration levels. We have three or four days to get the juniors familiar with the break and ready for the pressure cooker atmosphere generated by 300 of the worlds top u-18 surfers battling it out for supremacy on one small stretch of sea.
Here’s the team on their first day of training on the contest peak at Playa Venao
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Head Coach Lloyd Cole giving Luke Dillon some advice
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Ellen Harding loving the warm water
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Lucy Campbell smashing it
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Miles lee Hargreaves
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Harry De Roth
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Head Female Coach Jo Denison insisting on military discipline in the camp, Luke Dillon is shorn
An epic first day and we’re reaping the rewards from being out early- the break isn’t too crowded and the surf is pumping Food is great, the setup is top.
Thanks to all the Supporters who have thrown their weight behind the GB Junior team