Our time in Ecuador is drawing to an end. The ISA World Junior Surfing Games have now finished and all that is left for Team GB is pack up and commence the long journey back home to the UK. It has been a great two weeks and as always there have been experiences and memories that will be remembered by everyone for the rest of their lives.
Since the last competitor of our group exited the contest, we have been enjoying surfing up the coast from where we have been staying. One hour north of Salinas is Montanita, which is where the ISA held their masters event last year. It has a fun right hand point at the northern end of the bay and plenty of fun beach break peaks to the south. Montanita is a popular tourist destination and the beach is lined with cafes, bars and surf schools. Each morning we have been loading up the vehicles and making the trip north to hang out on the beach and surf for the day. With the swell building in time for finals day, the guys have had a fun wave rich playground to enjoy for their last couple of days.
With more down time available in the camp now there is no competition, the Uno cards have been brought out and some pretty serious games have been played within the team. Starting out playing for the right to ride shot gun in the mini bus or have control of the stereo, the stakes have been increased as the games went on. Head Coach Lloyd Cole, Assistant Coach Damon Beveridge and myself have been getting involved, and as you would expect, everyone in the team has wanted to get one over on us. There have been some close calls, but as yet we have all avoided last place and an embarrassing forfeit.
The team is disappointed to not have achieved the goal of a top ten finish in the competition. However, there have been some real positives throughout the two weeks, and everyone is going home a stronger competitor than when they arrived in Ecuador two weeks ago. We have plenty of ideas and even more motivation to continue the training and development of British junior surfing and are looking forward to working on the process to get the team ready for the games in 2015 as soon as we return home.
Everyone in the team would like to thank everyone who has supported our journey to this point. Without all the amazing support of everyone who donated to the Crowd Funder appeal and all our team sponsors this whole experience would not have been possible. It would take a long time to mention everyone who has helped us get here, but there are some people and organisations that deserve a very special thank you.
Nigel Hudson has worked tirelessly coordinating the crowdfunder appeal. Without his hard work and dedication the project would never have got to the point it did. There have been a large number of volunteers at home involved with Surfing GB that have been putting in a lot of work to support us while we have been out here. In Particular, Rob Tibbles deserves a huge thank you for being our media link and updating everyone with our progress throughout the event. Matt Knight has been calculating all the heat times and running order for our daily heats, a job that has made our life much easier when returning from a long day at the beach. Suzanne Hobbs, as always, has thrown herself into any task that has needed completing for the good of the team. Kevin Smith made the long journey to Heathrow and back in the early hours of the morning driving the team mini bus so we all made our flight to get here.
Our team sponsors have been amazing and their continued support is something the athletes have been extremely grateful of. A massive thank you to Calypso soft drinks (www.aquajuice.co.uk), Acer laptops (www.acer.com/uk), Offsure surf travel insurance (www.surfoffsure.co.uk), Posca (www.posca.com/uk), Surfdome (www.surfdome.com), Robie Robes (www.robierobes.com) and Sherwen Engineering. Without your help and support our time competing in Ecuador would not have happened.
Finally, the team has been treated like kings by all the staff at our camp in Salinas (www.hosteriaelfaroecolodge.com), Without the assistance of Gabriel and his team, our stay would not have been the same. We think that as a team we enjoyed the best accommodation on offer in Salinas and would not have wished to be anywhere else. If you ever pass through Salinas, make sure this is the place you come and stay.
We are off to pack our bags and make the long journey back to the UK.
Over and out….