The coaches and managers meeting took place on Friday evening in the Luxury 5 star complex of Rancho Santana, which overlooks the contest break. It was great to meet all the staff from the other nations and hear about where they are staying and what they have been doing to prepare for the event. During the day on Friday the swell had peaked and there were no spots along the coast that were surfable. Guys had been towing into outer reef spots and all the beach breaks were closing out and washing through. We had tried to find shelter at the locations we had surfed on Thursday, but with no success. It was a great relief to learn that there were a significant number of teams who hadn’t managed to surf the contest peak at all since they arrived. Any team that had left it until Wednesday to arrive in Nicaragua had been caught in storms in Managua and unable to travel on the dirt roads to get to their accommodation.
When we woke on Saturday morning at 5am, it was a great relief to see that although it was still large, the surf had started to decrease in size and team GB were able to complete a solid morning of contest preparation training on the beach break in front of the team hotel. The sets were still double overhead and closing out, but there were some ride able waves in-between the bomb sets. Everyone was able to have a 2 hour surf before breakfast and then surf 2 heats each before we had to leave for the parade in San Juan Del Sur. Throughout the morning all the boys performed amazing, achieving some good scores that gave everyone the confidence boost that was needed after not being able to surf the day before. With all the training now complete, there was only the parade to attend before all the action gets underway.
After lunch on Saturday we loaded all our Union Jack flags into the bus, put on our team kit and headed south on the long drive to San Juan Del Sur for the opening ceremony and parade of nations. Although only around 60km in distance, on the dirt roads that form the transport network around the Tola Rivas region of Nicaragua, 60km takes almost 2 hours. Bouncing and weaving our way along the dirt tracks, around 20km from San Juan we drove into what was one of the biggest rainstorms we had seen since we arrived. With the sky turning black for as far as the eye could see, it was clear that we were all going to get extremely wet.
This’ll give you an idea of how noisy it was!
As luck would have it, while all the nations were lining up along the roads waiting for the parade to begin, we were lucky that the sun did briefly shine to get the carnival atmosphere going. It was a great experience for all the team, especially the ones experiencing it for the first time. It really felt like we were at the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. San Juan Del Sur is a popular tourist destination and the streets were lined with hundreds of people all cheering, dancing and taking pictures. Everyone felt an enormous sense of pride while walking through the streets singing and dancing underneath the Union Jack.
Team Captain Miles Lee Hargreaves and Vice Team Captain Paddy Daniel had the honor of completing the sand exchanging ceremony for the team. Miles poured a small part of Croyde beach into the container with the rest of the sand from around the world, while Paddy waved our flag. Both Paddy and Miles have competed together for Team GB for the last 4 years. This will be their last time as junior team members and they were both extremely honored to be able to take part in the ceremony together as an exclamation point to their time competing with the team.
With all the ceremonial duties complete we headed back to camp to rest for tomorrows big day. It has been a long process of training and selection to get to this point. All the hard work and preparation has been done and everyone on the team is in great condition to be able to achieve their competition goals. It’s now time to get our game faces on and show the rest of the world what we are made of. LETS DO THIS!!!!!
Over and out….