The idea of hosting SWA retreats in Peru was born in conversation with one of our newest additions to the Surf With Amigas surf instructor team, Natalie. Natalie has been living and surfing in Peru for the past few years where she’s hosted plenty of surf retreats with her non-profit organization, Groundswell Community Project.
The longest left in the world
After chatting about Peru, the waves, the history and the people, Natalie totally stoked us out on holding SWA retreats there and sharing waves in her backyard! The retreat spot, Chicama, is home to the longest left in the world. It was easy to convince the team that it would be EPIC to surf with Amigas on another world class left point break. You know how we love those!
What surf specific exercises can I do to prepare for my retreat?
Surf With Amigas’ head yoga instructor Reesie just made this perfect compilation of workouts and stretches that you should do to prepare for your next retreat with SWA. Expect to do pop-up practice, stabilizing core workouts, and a few juicy hip openers. After completing the exercises in this video (a few times) you’ll be ready to go!
Interested in more surf-related tutorials or workouts? Let us know!
There’s no shortage of inspiration when we look at the lives of SWA’s Co-Owners, Jackie George and Holly Beck. Now that you’ve all met Jackie, we’re excited for you to learn more about SWA’s founder, Holly! This former pro-surfer and mom of two has many incredible stories to tell.
MEET HOLLY BECK
Hometown: As a child, Palos Verdes, CA. Currently rotating between Aposentillo, North Nicaragua and Pavones, South Costa Rica.
How did you learn to surf? Well my mom told me that surfing was for boys, not something a nice young lady should be doing, and that if I surfed, I’d never get a boyfriend. “You should be sitting on the beach looking cute in a bikini, not out competing with the boys.”
By the time I was 15 I’d bought myself a board and wetsuit from a garage sale and had friends with licenses to drive me to the beach. I was still a little wary that no one was going to like me if I surfed though, especially since there were very few girls that surfed in the mid 90s. Luckily, a couple of boys from the surf team took me in and I threw everything into surfing. I was totally obsessed. I papered my walls in surf mag photos, did every school report I could on something related to surfing, and really found healing in the ocean. I picked it up quickly and started competing right away. I got 2nd place in my first contest and then became super driven to get better and win!
Favorite board at the moment? I like to ride different things. I get tired of any one feel. I’ve been riding a 5’4 round tail twin fin quite a bit lately, but also enjoying the glide of finless boards.
What’s playing on the speaker while you gear up for a surf? I’ve been into Rising Appalachia. Folky, female, and has a bit of a political stance.
If you could have one super power, what would it be? To travel through time and space with the snap of a finger. Go back to that swell last week in Nicaragua and get tubed. Dip over to Pavones when it’s firing. Go give my kids a quick cuddle when they’re spending time with their dad, etc.
Dawn patrol or sunset session? Dawn patrol without question.
Name a surfer that inspires you- I love the way steph gilmore is always smiling, plus her super stylish but also radical approach to riding waves. My favorite male surfers are the ones that ride everything, can be goofy, but also rip. Ryan Burch and Rob Machado.
Wildest surf story… go! Ooooo that’s a tough one. I have a lot of really wild surf stories from when i was on tour. Lately surf stories are a lot more tame, especially since I often have kids along for the ride. Probably the wildest story lately was when I was at the beach with my kids and the swell was pumping and my almost 4 yr old grom Soleo really wanted to surf.
I had a 7’6 with us on the beach. The waves were overhead and peeling down the line but there was a good channel and I knew the spot well (and most of the people who were out). I put him on the nose of my board and we paddled out. We had to pop over a couple big whitewash waves but then we paddled super fast between sets and made it out. We waited and waited, and people were tripping on us being out there in such big waves. Finally, a good one came. There was someone on it, but it was a friend that I knew wouldn’t mind us sharing. We dropped in on a well overhead wave and rode it all the way down the point. Soleo was super stoked and so was mom!
To learn more about the other amazing surf ladies that make up the SWA team, click here!
What would it be like to take a surf trip through Morocco?
If you’re wondering whether morocco is the right surf destination for you, read jackie’s story to take a journey down the coast of north africa with our team of surf instructors and find out!
Our trip to Morocco was epic.
There’s no other word that can properly describe it. I knew traveling with SWA instructors, Alex, Coco, and Michelle, would be perfect. Two regular footers, and two goofy footers; the perfect balance of wild and chill. We decided to arrive in Morocco about ten days early for a little pre-retreat adventure, and to get our bearings on a new continent. Coco and I flew from California to Madrid, and met up with Michelle in an airbnb downtown.
Traveling from the USA over to Europe and staying for a few days is the perfect way to explore more and deal with jet lag before heading to morocco. I recommend it!
Normally around 9 pm, I start to wind down for bedtime, but that’s not how the Spanish operate. So, thanks to the time difference, most nights we ate dinner at 10pm, followed by hours of laughing and roaming through the cobblestone streets. After Madrid, we made our way to the south of Spain for a couple more memorable nights with SWA surf instructor, Alex, in her home turf.
The trip to Spain was short but jam-packed (I think we barely slept). In a flash, the four of us were on our way to Tarifa, where we’d take a ferry to Tangiers, Morocco.
Arriving to Morocco by ferry was like a scene from a movie. The Moorish architecture and sounds of prayer heightened our senses as we bobbed our way across the straight of Gibraltar. When we arrived, chaos ensued (as it normally does when you arrive to a place where everyone wants to help you). A few hours later we were on our way south, in a rental car we had delivered to us. I’ll never forget that first meal at the gas station passing through Tangier. All the food was fabulous during the trip, but we all agreed that gas station meal was the best meal of the month!
The road trip down the coast was cruisy.
We had no plans, just knew we wanted to get to a point break because there was swell on the way. The point breaks are in the south of the country, so we had a good eight hours of driving that day. We had heard of a wave in a town north of Essaouira, so at some point we decided to exit the highway and call it a night. In retrospect, it’s a bit uncharacteristic of us to not have had a place to stay- normally we’d book a hotel or airbnb and save the trouble of asking around. The phones weren’t working and it was about 10 pm. We had just gotten our first (of many) speeding tickets of the trip and were starting to wonder if we’d even find a good place to stay. We pulled into a gas station and found some girls to ask. They immediately saw our stack of surfboards on the car, and directed us to Mehdi’s place, a guesthouse for surfers.
We found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.
The pre-retreat adventure that was meant to be a few different stops along the coast ended up being dominated by our stay in Safi. We had everything we wanted at this gorgeous Moroccan guesthouse. The owner, Mehdi, who put us in “Kelly Slater’s room,” took us surfing everyday, and sent cookies and tea to our room every evening. While waiting for the point break to turn on, we found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.
We got scrubbed down at a local spa with Mehdi’s wife, and bathed our wetsuits in the rosewater fountain after surfing. My favorite aspect of the stay in Safi was the lack of tourists. We were totally out of our comfort zones in a new city on the coast of north Africa, and totally loving it. We stayed till the last possible moment that we could and wound up scoring waves on the very last morning.
side-of-the-road Camel rides? we’re in!
After saying our good byes to our new Safi family, we made our way down the coast to Imsouane, the retreat location! We had a villa to get to and a couple of retreats to run. During this leg of the journey we saw a guy with some camels on the side of the road, so we stopped for a quick lap on the camels to break up the drive. We got lost for a few more hours in a countryside full of argon fields and goats in the trees before we finally arrived to the retreat villa in Imsouane- the Dar Zitoun.
We crashed hard that first night in Imsouane, and I woke up at sunrise to check the surf. I knew immediately we were going to have perfect retreats. The point break is the perfect set up- it’s a super long, perfect right. Maybe the longest wave in SWA retreat location history. The wave is a bit slower, which makes it just dreamy for long boarding. That first session by myself was pure magic, and every session after that did not disappoint.
The retreat villa is totally fabulous, the food is delicious, the cultural experience is so rich, and the wave is right out front. What more could you want from a SWA retreat location? Us instructors love going to new locations for retreats and Morocco was exactly the adventure we were craving. We knew a few days into the first retreat, we’d have to come back for more.
The bottom turn. It’s the setup for most maneuvers in surfing. Want to get barreled? Do a cutback? A snap off the top?
A good bottom turn will set you up for success
We know its not as simple as it sounds, so here we are. We encourage you to play around with these techniques. Consider how your board feels different under your feet each time you try something new, and practice, practice, practice.
Below are 4 simple steps to improve your bottom turn:
Keep your back foot on the tail pad
The tail (back end) of the surfboard is the point where the board pivots and turns. If your stance is in the middle of your board and your back foot isn’t placed on the tail pad, you may notice that the board feels stiff and difficult to turn. If you don’t usually get your foot all the way back there, just start here! Practice this. Notice how the board starts to respond differently. Just get used to placing your foot back there, then move on to step 2.
Position yourself at the bottom of the wave
Mid-wave bottom turns just aren’t as good. Why? If you’re already halfway up the wave, there’s not much space to really set up for a good turn! The best a mid-wave bottom turn will ever produce is an average horizontal cutback. Try to get speed and pump yourself down to the bottom of the wave to set up for the bottom turn. This will ultimately give you more space on the wave to work with and result in a bigger, better maneuver.
Touch the wave with your inside hand/fingertips
Once you’re positioned at the bottom of the wave, try to reach your inside hand or fingertips down to touch the wave. This will automatically pull your chest down closer to the wave and get you in a lower stance. It also creates a pivot point on the wave. Creating this pivot point will not only give you more control, but will help direct the nose of your board more vertically up the wave. Getting the hang of this is seriously a game-changer! When you try it out you’ll know what I mean. It may be a technique that you’ve never even noticed before, but after reading this I encourage you to go watch a few surf videos (of short boarders) and you’ll notice that talented surfers do it on almost every single wave.
Look up (or ahead) at the section on the wave that you want to go to
The momentum from your bottom turn needs to take you somewhere! As you reach your inside hand into the water you should already be looking up (or ahead) at the part of the wave you’d like to go to. The purpose of a bottom turn is ultimately to set up for a barrel, snap, or cutback. Keep this in mind and keep your eyes on the prize as you set it all up.
We hope this 4 step guide to improve your bottom turn is helpful and encouraging. If you try out these techniques and they work for you, please share with us! If you’d like for us to break down another surf maneuver, contact us here.
Standing on the beach and watching the waves with butterflies going crazy in your stomach. Paddling halfway to the outside only to turn back around out of fear or anxiety. Or making it to the outside but then feeling too far out of your comfort zone to catch any waves.
Here are three tools that may help you overcome anxiety in the ocean so you can tap into the joy of surfing and catch more waves.
Surf with friends (aka, surf with amigas!)
So much pressure is taken off when there’s a familiar face in the water. Surfing with friends means that someone can keep an eye on you, while you keep an eye on them. It also means that you can encourage each other to catch waves, cheer each other on, and laugh at the wipeouts together. Wiping out without a friend close by just isn’t the same. If you can’t line up a surf session with a friend, the next best thing you can do is chat with another surfer in the water. This will immediately take the edge off. Not to mention your new buddy will also be more likely to share a few waves with you!
Spend time swimming and playing in the ocean
Surfing comes with many challenges. Surfers have to learn how to read waves, build up paddle and core strength, be able to steer clear of other surfers in the water, and overcome big wipeouts, to name a few. We can all agree that it’s hard. Swimming and playing in the waves (close to shore) is a great way to open up a more playful mindset while you’re in the ocean. Laughing loud, jumping over and swimming under waves, body surfing in the shore pound, laughing loud all over again. These are just a few things that will not only teach you how to tap into a more relaxed and playful approach to surfing, but will also build your confidence in reading waves and being underwater.
Although this one’s a no brainer, it’s hard to remember to just breathe when you’re amidst the chaos! Deep, slow breaths will calm your nerves and get you re-centered. Try taking a few deep breaths every time you reach the outside and have a chance to sit up on your board. This will help to get rid of any panicky feelings you have and put you back in the zone. Try to make this a consistent practice.
We hope these simple tools help you calm your nerves and tap into the joy of surfing and ocean-play. If you try one of these tools and it works, we’d love to hear your story! If you have other practices that have worked for you, we’d love to hear about those too.
It’s always nice to mix things up a bit. We know you’ve all been loving Reesie’s online Yin Yoga classes, but this week she’s given us something different! This easy-to-follow, 10-minute ab video targets the core and warms up the abs just right. As a long-time yogi and surfer, Reesie knows just what movements every surfer needs to maintain the perfect balance of strong and flexible. All of us have been so grateful for these online classes that have kept us centered, strong, and in tune with our bodies during the pandemic!
Our advice? Pair this quick ab workout with Reesie’s Yang Yoga class or tag it onto to other short workouts that you love!
As always, donations for Reesie’s online classes are gratefully accepted at Venmo- @Cherise-Richards or PayPal at [email protected]
Do you ever find yourself paddling for a ton of waves only to actually catch a few? Or do you find yourself feeling off-balance and slow while you’re paddling out? A few years back we made a paddle tutorial that may help you to improve your technique. It’s short, sweet, and right to the point!
The video below covers a few tips and techniques that will help you improve on the strength and length of your stroke, as well as your balance and control. It also includes a few things to avoid doing while you’re paddling.
Keep your fingers together and your hands in a scoop shape
Dig your entire arm into the water (up to your armpit)
Paddle in the shape of the Coco Chanel logo and draw big, “C’s” under your surfboard
Keep your sh** tight!
We hope this paddle tutorial is helpful! You can check out more surf tutorials on the Surf With Amigas YouTube channel here. As always, please let us know if there are any other surf-related tutorials you’d like to see.
The spine is the highway connecting the brain to the body and is home to our spiritual centers, the chakras. It has 76 joints and 24 bones. It’s a big deal. Stretching to maintain a well-oiled spine is vital because it helps to keep the body mobile and fluid (and ready to surf).
The spine is a big deal
So, we’re stoked that we have another opportunity to practice Yin Yoga and get our spines movin’ with SWA’s resident yogi-surfer, Reesie! In this class, “…we’ll bend forward then backward then forward then backward and top if off with a twist”.
Grab one block and a few pillows (or a bolster if you have one), then click the video below to dive in!
Donations for Reesie’s online Yin Yoga classes are being accepted at Venmo – @cherise-richards or paypal – [email protected]
Lost your stoke? Need some new reads to get hyped for your next surf adventure? Open up one of these books and take a journey with inspiring surfers in search of incredible waves.
In Search Of Captain Zero
a surfer’s road trip beyond the end of the road
By Allan C. Weisbecker
My favorite surf book ever. This book really captures the essence of surf travel and it opened up my mind to the wild magic of Mexico.
On his journey from New York to Central America in search of a long lost friend, Allan finds himself in some wild places, surfing empty waves and gathering clues of his dear friend Captain Zero’s whereabouts along the way. This book is hilarious and entertaining from beginning to end and it really inspired me. I still dream of driving through Mexico and Central America! Maybe one day. As far as I know Captain Zero is still living there in Mexico- my sister ran into him a few years ago in Panama and they surfed together.
Bustin’ Down the Door
By Wayne RABBIT Bartholomew
I read this book while living in Hawaii. The author, “Rabbit”, is an Australian surf legend who writes about his adventures in Hawaii in the winter of 1975 where he was almost chased out, first by locals, then by huge waves crashing through his front door in the night.
After reading this book I moved to Australia and eventually met Rabbit at Southern Cross University where I was studying Sports Management “surfing studies”. I remember during his open discussion he asked the students if we could leave our desks and sit in a circle on the floor instead. Legend indeed.
A Surfing Life
By William Finnegan
“The particulars of new places grabbed me and held me, the sweep of new coasts, cold, lovely, dawns. The world was incomprehensibly large, and there was still so much to see. Yes, I got sick sometimes of being an expatriate, always ignorant, on the outside of things, but I didn’t feel ready for domestic life, for seeing the same people, the same places, thinking more or less the same thoughts, each day. I liked surrendering to the onrush, the uncertainty, the serendipity of the road.” — Finnegan
This quote taken from Barbarian Days really sums up the excitement of surf travel. Never knowing what is around the next corner, traveling to new places, exposing yourself to new cultures, and embracing the unexpected. I read it in a just a few days! After reading I starting thinking about surfing bigger waves and began training a few weeks later too!