Wondering how best to protect your skin while surfing? Here are our top three pics (two in the video below and one other further down) for sunscreens that stay on your face, as well as other strategies to minimize sunscreen use but still stay protected. We love wearing hats and cute surf gear in the water. No one wants any more wrinkles!
One of my favorite things about Surf With Amigas is the chance to help ladies improve their surfing. But what if you can’t make it on a retreat? Can you still get some tips? YES!
We have decided to start offering an opportunity to get feedback from one of our coaches to ladies who may not be able to join us on a retreat, or who have been on a retreat but want to keep working on things at home. Here’s our first student!
We received this letter from an Amiga who lives in Australia:
My name is Turia, I’m a 28 year old Aussie who was badly burned during an ultra marathon four years ago. I got burned because a fire started during the ultra and swept through the course. I’ve managed to relearn (almost!) everything – from getting dressed to competing in triathlons.
I live on the coast and I’ve surfed since I was a little girl, but since my accident I can’t figure out the pop up! I do yoga regularly, I do 20 pop ups a day (on dry land) but when I get in the water… I can’t figure it out. The worst thing is that I’ve gotten into the habit of getting on my knees. I’d love to send you some videos of me, maybe you can give me some pointers?
From SWA Coach, Holly Beck:
Turia Pitt was competing in an ultramarathon through Western Australia’s Kimberley region in 2011 when she was caught in a bushfire. She suffered burns to 65% of her body and had four fingers from her left hand and her right thumb amputated.
Pitt was named the New South Wales Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year 2014, and she was a finalist for Young Australian of the Year. She has graced the cover of The Australian Women’s Weekly, which attracted world-wide media attention.
By Surf With Amigas Surf and Yoga Instructor Carly Fox
How to Make Friends and Catch More Waves: Surfing in a Lineup!
“Dont check-in the surfboards, I’m staying”
These were the last words I told to my then boyfriend, when we were at the airport about to end a trip to Costa Rica for our home in Spain. It was one of those moments where everything seemed to line up – everything stopped and in that instant it hit me, this was my quest for freedom and change.
Just like in surfing when a perfect wave comes to you, and you happen to be sitting in the right spot. You need to ride that wave no matter the consequences, and me, I had to take this “wave” that was approaching me.
It wasn’t anything I did lightly. I’d been with my boyfriend for many years. We had lived together in a camper van running a surf school in Spain. I’d known for a little while that maybe everything wasn’t happening the way I wanted for my life and a trip to Costa Rica opened my eyes to what else was out there. But it wasn’t until we were at the airport, checking in on our way home that it hit me. I couldn’t get on that plane.
In that moment of revelation my now ex-boyfriend started shouting at me – “What are you doing? Are you crazy? You’re going to regret this for the rest of your life, and there’s no coming back”.
All of a sudden the feelings of insecurity and fear started to boil in me, and in those milliseconds I thought to myself:
“This trip has changed my life completely, from a personal and spiritual perspective. Everything in my life until this moment was good and I am very grateful for it, however something in me is lacking and I’m not sure – what! I have to find out.”
The voyage to Costa Rica made me feel free. Being surrounded by life, nature and kind people, it was the best I had felt in a long time. This place filled me up with energy, made me feel more complete, love myself more, and helped me gain confidence in myself again. All this thanks to getting out of my comfort zone and confronting life.
I asked myself – ‘was I going to put all of this at risk?’. Since I finally felt one with myself again the answer had to be YES!
Sometimes we get stuck in patterns, habits, unfulfilling jobs and relationships. And there are times when you ask yourself, “Am I where I want to be?”
We get comfortable in everyday routines, we get stuck, and we can’t grow. We are not feeling bad, but were not feeling good. The beauty is out there, but we cannot see it. We know something is missing, but we don’t know what.
And Then it strikes you: it’s time to change.
While I was standing there at the airport alone, with two surfboard bags, without a credit card, and only 20$ in my pocket, for a second I questioned myself:
Did I make the right decision?
While I was thinking that, a random guy approached and asked me, “Where are you going?”
I replied, “I was just about to go back home to Spain, but I heard winter’s coming up here in Costa Rica and the waves are going to be really sick, so I decided to stay.”
He said, “Good for you, that’s the way to do it”, and shoved 80$ in my pocket and disappeared.
I guess that was life’s way of telling me I was on the right path.
I have learned that when you make a decision that you feel deeply in your heart, life opens its arms to you. It wants you to be happy and follow your path.
So whenever you have a strong feeling, deep inside, follow it because life’s there waiting to help you, to receive you and embrace you.
Don’t be scared to start a new beginning.
Everything after that fell into place. I got a job at an oceanfront hotel where I worked and lived for a while. I got to surf the winter waves, the biggest waves I had ever surfed.
I also had massive wipe outs.
I did several surf trips around the country where I happened to meet Holly along the way.
We were out in the surf at Pavones, the waves were super fun and all of a sudden we started talking, connected and she offered me this great opportunity to work in Surf With Amigas.
Working with Surf with Amigas has been a dream job. All the people you meet, the places you go, the food you eat, the waves you surf and the yoga from the heart. It’s been mind blowing ,the idea of helping people push themselves, surf waves they had never surfed and progressing in their surfing in ways they didn’t even imagine. It’s been a very nourishing experience, all the unique women i’ve met, the moments we’ve shared , the conversations we’ve had, the tears, the laughs, the wild moments and the adrenaline rushes. It’s been awesome and I have learned so much about life, people, situations and myself.
After this big change in my life I feel that there are no coincidences. Everything is connected and happens for a reason and it’s all perfect the way it is.
Just as the world is in constant movement with the sun, the moon and all living things, we too move with it. As it changes we change with it, and as it grows we grow with it.
Everything is in harmony. The ocean moves through the force of the tides and the winds, and these move because of the circular motion of the earth. We too move within them. Life is expressing itself through wanting us to be true to our real nature.
We are all part of the same circle and we are all inhabitants of the same planet. We are all heroes of our paths. We all have the potential to do great things, to seek our happiness and feel fulfilled. All that is needed is to make little steps in the direction that feels right in our hearts.
Be the architect of your future and let life be your expression.
With love, Alex
The most exciting thing I have been doing on my vacation is working on my new surfboard.
A friend of mine had been constructing a machine to make surfboards for a while now and he had finally finished, so I was tempted to try it. I have now officially learned all the steps to making a board and it was very interesting!
The steps to making a surfboard are basically choosing the design and materials, gluing the stringer to foam, cutting foam, shaping it, glassing/laminating, and last sanding it.
Then it should be ready to surf.
I wanted to create a mix in between two short boards I had that I really liked. One, a high performance regular short board made for bigger waves, and the other a high performance small wave board. They were both really good boards, but very different.
-Small wave boards are normally characterized by being a bit shorter, wider and with less rocker. (Rocker is the amount of curve a board has from nose to tail – how much it flips up on either end). Flatter boards usually go faster, skimming over the surface of the water.
-Bigger wave boards are usually a bit longer with more planing surface making it easier to paddle into the waves, narrower and with more rocker. The rocker helps the board fit better in the contour of the wave, allowing you to surf in the steeper part of the wave and do a more critical type of surfing. On a bigger wave, the wave provides more power. A board with more curve will need more push to go fast, and will hold into the wave better.
The first step was to measure both of the surfboards, length, width, thickness and rocker.
After that we put the measurements into the computer, digitized the two boards and combined them to create a hybrid.
Now came the moment to choose the materials. There have been many advances through the years from the early days of surfing when the Hawaiians used surfboards made from the wood of Koa trees to the Californians later using redwood, to continuing after WW2 when new materials became available through advances in technology. Polyurethane (or PU) was the most significant for many years until polystyrene (like styrofoam) started to become more popular over the last decade.
*Many people note a difference between epoxy or fiberglass but this is not correct. Epoxy is a type of resin that can be applied to either polyurethane or polystyrene foam, but most commonly is paired with polystyrene. Both Epoxy AND PU surfboards are coated with fiberglass.
I had always used PU surfboards boards but this time I wanted to try something different and opted for an epoxy board made with polystyrene foam. Epoxy is a material thats becoming more a more popular in the surfing world. The resin is more environmentally friendly to use and the foam is lighter and stronger, which equals to more speed and easier maneuvering. The only disadvantage is that it is usually stiffer than a PU board which can make the board feel like it’s riding on top of the water – something only a more advanced surfer would feel and something that can be a benefit in certain types of waves.
This brings me to the stringer of the board. The stringer is the thin strip of wood that runs down the middle of the board. They are traditionally used to strengthen the core of the surfboard, helping it prevent from breaking in half. Since I used an Epoxy board which are known to be less flexible than fiberglass boards we decided to use a new material – PVC for the stringer used normally for constructing sewer pipes, yikes! This is supposed to add more flexibility to the board since its plastic not wood, making it bend more so it can shoot you out through the turns allowing you to build up more speed. Hopefully I won’t get shot out of the wave!
Gluing stringer to foam
Then we proceeded to cut the foam in half vertically from nose to tail and glued the PVC stringer in between the two halves, and clamped it back together.
This was the most exciting part. First we situated the foam in the middle of the machine, centralized and attached it, and watched the machine cut the foam. Once it was finished we used rough sandpaper to shape the rails (the outside edge of a surfboard) nose and tail.
Then marked with a pencil were the fins will be situated, drilled the holes and then placed the fin plugs. Then it was ready for lamination and glassing.
Lamination and Glassing:
There are two materials to be used here : the fiberglass and the epoxy resin.
Fiberglass is a cloth that is laid over the surface of the board and then cut to the boards shape. The resin is poured over the fiberglass and spread evenly. First the top is done, then left to dry, and then the bottom part of the board.
Once dry we drill a hole through the tail to attach the leash.
This is the last step and the one i’m on right now. We just need to sand every curve and line to its perfection and then it will be ready to surf.
Yihaaa its been a long process almost a month, but we’re almost there!
Cant wait to try it!
Sofia Costa joined Surf With Amigas on a retreat towards the end of 2014. She is a Dr. of physical therapy originally from Puerto Rico, now living and treating surfers in Santa Monica, CA.
Sofia has offered to provide some physical therapy content that Amigas can use to treat their bodies right in between surf sessions. See below for a little introduction and her first offering!
“Life doesn’t hold still for us. If we don’t move with it,nlife is just going to pass us right by. Surfing teaches us to go with the flow smoothly, and live in the moment spontaneously to get the most out of the wave and out of life.” – Gerry Lopez
Surfing is an experience that allows you to co-exist with nature and with yourself!
As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, my mission is to create body awareness, mindfulness, and teach you exercises that are specific for you and for surfing. I have a great passion to give back to surfers; to aid with recovery and provide skills necessary to self-manage and prevent injury; and as a gain, you can experience the addicting “stoke” that keeps you going out for more.
Contact Sofia at Sofia.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Instagram @costasurfpt
The first thing a new surfer wants to learn (after they’ve learned the very basics of how to stand up on a wave) is how to “read” waves. While we wish there was a secret password to unlocking this mystery that we could easily share with you, it’s actually a complicated skill to learn which takes years to grasp and a lifetime to master. When you think about it, reading waves is actually like predicting the future. You have to look at a lump of water and be able to anticipate what it’s going to look like in 5, 10, 15 seconds and then position yourself accordingly. Not an easy task! But, there are some shortcuts and tips that we can share to give you a jumpstart. This is the first lesson in our series, so read on to learn more about the different types of waves. If you want to get the full experience, join us on a retreat to have these features pointed out to you in person!
The Three Main Types of Surf Breaks
Have you ever been watching surfers from beach thinking “man, they make that look so easy” or “why didn’t he go for that wave?” If you’ve never tried surfing it’s easy to think it looks like a paddle out, surf a wave cycle on repeat. If you have surfed before, you are aware there is much more to surfing than that and 90% of your time in the ocean is spent either paddling (out, over, in, for a wave, to avoid a wave you don’t want) or sitting on your board studying the horizon looking for a wave to ride.
To start with the very basics, here’s a graphic showing how waves work. Wind blows over the ocean surface pushing surface water up into waves. The wind-blown waves will travel on indefinitely until they encounter a shallow bottom surface, which slows down the bottom part of the wave, causing the top part of the wave to topple over and form a breaking wave.
The abruptness of the change in bottom contour affects the power of the breaking wave. Imagine yourself jogging. You trip over a speed bump and slightly topple over but are able to keep running. This is a wave encountering a gradually sloping bottom or very small sandbar or with a high tide. Now imagine you trip over a curb. Your fall will be more complete and harder. This is what happens at a medium tide. Finally, imagine tripping over a waist high wall – you would double over with force. This is what happens at low tide or when a wave hits a shallow reef sitting in deep water.
How fast you’re running will make a difference as well. So imagine the speed of your run to equal the strength of the swell, and the thing you trip over to be the ocean bottom contour, whether it’s rock, reef, or sand.
Being able to read waves is one of the most difficult skills to master in surfing. The way you approach waves changes from wave to wave, day to day, and surf break to surf break. Only time and experience can get you to know when you should paddle for a wave or skip it. There are many aspects to reading waves but starting with the very basics : knowing what kind of break you are surfing is step one to gaining the knowledge of wave reading. Ok, onto the different types of bottom contours…
There are three main types of breaks:
Beach breaks are waves breaking over a sandy bottom. They are usually the most consistent types of breaks – meaning there would be surf-able waves on most days – since little swell is needed for waves to break over the sandy bottom.
Waves break on sandbars that form on the ocean floor due to currents and wave action. The sand bars can shift with different storm and swell patterns which means that waves don’t break in the same spot every time.
With all the water coming towards shore via waves, that water needs a way to get back out to sea. This is how riptides form.
In the top photo to the left you can see a low tide beach scene. The sand bar is visible along with a break in the bar caused by the water heading back out to sea that pulls sand with it. Since the water is deeper over the break in the bar, waves will be less likely to break there.
A rip tide is a great place to choose to paddle out. Not only is the current going to take you out to sea, you will also likely have fewer waves coming at you to have to duck-dive or turtle-roll. When sitting in the lineup looking for a wave to catch, you want to avoid sitting in a rip tide for the same reason : waves will be less likely to break there and those that do will usually be choppy from all the outrushing water.
If it has been a long time since a swell or storm has broken up the sand bottom then the sand can settle and flatten which means that breaking waves will be more likely to close out – meaning to break all at once without any opportunity for a long ride.
Other factors such as piers, jetties, and storm drains may dictate what may happen to a sand bar and also where the rip tides form. Those factors can create a more consistent sand bar which is why you often see surfers crowding these areas.
Beach breaks are great for learning because there is little to worry about in the way of obstacles such as rocks and reefs. Waves will be breaking in multiple places which helps spread out the crowd. Also the waves are usually consistent, giving beginners plenty of tries to get the hang of surfing and more advanced surfers plenty of waves to practice on.
Our Northern Nicaragua, Central Nicaragua, and Panama locations are all primarily held at beach breaks.
A reef break is a surf spot that has anything from smooth rock to razor sharp reef beneath the breaking waves. Since the reef doesn’t move around, these waves will break in generally the same spot and will be more predictable than a beach break.
Often times waves breaking over a reef have more power because when the swell energy approaches the reef, the abrupt change in bottom (material or depth) creates a more hollow wave. At lower tides reef breaks can be dangerous if the reef is shallow (note photo in the beginning of this section of dry rock visible very close to the surfer!).
Reef breaks are more predictable than beach breaks. The takeoff spot rarely varies very much so you can study where the waves are breaking, look towards the beach, choose a lineup marker (palm tree, hotel, lifeguard tower etc.), and then paddle directly to “the spot” each time, knowing that when the waves come, you’ll be in a good spot to catch one. Reef breaks typically have a consistent channel allowing you to paddle out easily. Since the takeoff spot is so predictable, crowds can often be more of an issue at a reef break than they would be at a shifty beach break.
While the potentially sharp and hard bottom of a reef break makes these spots more suited to more advanced surfers, there are some user-friendly waves that do break over reef. If you are a beginner planning to tackle a reef break, it’s a good idea to have a friend or someone like Surf With Amigas point you in the right direction to help you find the channel and avoid getting stuck inside on the reef.
If you are used to surfing beach breaks reef breaks are a great way to switch it up. They will force you to be more aware of your surroundings (shallow bottoms, line ups on the beach) and often offer better wave shape with the potential for a longer ride so you can practice new maneuvers in your surfing and have more time to think about what you’re doing.
On our Southern Nicaragua retreat you would have an opportunity to surf a very friendly reef break. If you join us on a Northern Nicaragua retreat and we have some swell, we’ll get a chance to surf a fun reef break as well.
Point breaks are the quintessential wave you see in a surfer’s notebook doodles.
The longest waves in the world are point breaks. The most well formed points come off of peninsulas that jut out into the ocean or some other feature underwater causing sand to build up to form very very long waves. They can have rock, reef, sand bottoms or a combination of rock or reef and sand (the rock or reef would act to hold the sand in place). Swell energy bends and peels along the peninsulas forming long, sometimes “perfect” waves.
The waves forming off these points break in the same direction, so they are either all breaking left or all breaking right. Like a reef break, the waves will typically begin breaking in the same spot and are therefore relatively easy to predict.
Point breaks are often times crowded due to their tight takeoff point and very long high quality rides. On a good day, riding a wave from the peak may turn into a slalom course with the surfer on the wave having to maneuver around surfers waiting for their own waves, paddling out, or trying to drop in. Unfortunately, point breaks are usually tucked alongside headlands that can block swell energy making them more fickle and require a larger swell than either reef breaks or beach breaks to make them work.
Pavones is the second longest wave in the world and if you join us at one of our Costa Rican retreats you will have a chance to surf it!
Test your knowledge:
If you want to work on your duck dive on dry land, here’s a short vinyasa sequence to activate the core and mimic the duck dive postures in order to strengthen the muscles and get the movements into muscle memory so that once you’re in the water it all feels natural.
Ieva Aldins, one of the yoga instructor at Surf With Amigas, describes and demonstrates a short flow to help improve your duck dive.
The key to riding down the line on a “green wave” is taking off at an angle. Here Britney explains the best way to take off to assure you get a nice ride down the line along with some examples of take offs gone wrong.