The team visited the contest site for the first time at the end of day one. After spending the day surfing the beach break in front of the hotel when the waves were pumping, by the time we arrived at Playa Santana in the late afternoon, the tide had dropped out, the wind had gone onshore and conditions were far from ideal. Seeing the large-scale operation under way to construct the facilities at the site was extremely impressive. Unfortunately after spending the morning surfing picture perfect waves, everyone’s first impression of the waves on offer at the venue for the 2013 ISA World Surfing Games could have been better.
The forecast leading up to the start of competition on Sunday is for large waves that will make most of the surrounding beach breaks extremely difficult to surf. If the swell arrives as predicted, most teams will be unpacking their step up boards and searching for some spots that will hold more size. With only one average experience on the contest peak to draw on, it was vital that the team got to surf as much as possible at Playa Santana, when the tide was high and the early morning off shore winds were still blowing.
There was time for a very early morning session out front before a team breakfast and then it was all into the mini bus to make the 15-minute commute down the road to Playa Santana. Ideally head coach Lloyd Cole and assistant coach Gwen Spurlock would have liked to give the team one more day to adapt to their new surroundings before starting to increase the intensity of their contest preparation. However, with the forecast looking how it does, today was time for the team to get their contest heads on.
On arrival at the beach, as expected, with more favorable winds and on the high tide banks, the difference to the previous day was dramatic. Both contest peaks had good shape and were offering much more opportunity to achieve good scores. As the everyone warmed up and prepared their kit, you could sense the whole team breathing a collective sigh of relief. The construction of the event site was coming along significantly and the majority of teams were present. It was time for the squad to start to feel some national pride, puff out their chests and try their best to show the other nations what we have to offer. Lloyd and Gwen briefed the team on the structure of the morning, instructing them to split their time equally surfing both peaks and sent them in to battle.
Watching from the beach, it was clear to see that the atmosphere out in the water was extremely intense. Not many waves were passing through un-ridden by one or more surfers. Wave selection was vital and choosing the correct sections to try and fit in turns was sometimes difficult. However, everyone improved throughout the course of the morning and by the end of the session everyone had started to record steady improvements in their scores. Only just back in the water after his ankle injury and still wearing a supportive brace, Harry De Roth showed no signs that he was lacking form, using his full repertoire of turns and airs to full effect to be one of the stand out performers of the morning. Angus Scotney, Rhys Barfield and Will Davey also quickly adapted to the conditions to finish the session on a high.
Once back at camp, and after such an intense mornings training, the team enjoyed more fantastic food from the hotel menu as they relaxed around the pool. Unfortunately, the late evening glass off didn’t happen and the final evening surf at Popoyo was back to the windy, dredgey low tide dumpers that once the contest is running, will make heats at this time of day very tricky. Team captain Miles Lee Hargreaves led by example and was first to paddle out. This is a decision he later led to regret when he stood on a puffer fish as he stood up on the shallow inside bank after riding a wave. After patching him up, I took it upon myself to lighten the mood by paddling in to some low tide closeouts, giving myself numerous sand enemas and keeping the rest of the team amused.
With swell on the horizon, nobody managed to stay awake past 8pm. With an early breakfast feast ordered and transport booked for an early morning roll call, day three is all about loading up and venturing off onto the dirt tracks of the rainforest in search of some shelter and a more manageable wave.
Over and out….