Surf Travel Ideas for 2011

February 24, 2011 - With winter coming to an end, now is the time to start looking at the hottest surfing destinations for 2011. Despite the fact that many surfing havens are becoming tourist hot spots, it is still possible to find locations across the globe which have big waves and uncrowded beaches. Surf travel company Xoxxi has just launched Sri Lanka as its newest surf destination. They provide completely environmentally friendly trips to this beautiful island and everything at their Sri Lankan destinations is supplied by the local community. All their accommodation is eco-friendly too, ensuring that nature gets back what it gives and that the local people receive every penny of profit from surfing trips which are booked here. Beaches with fantastic surf can be found all across the island; in fact Sri Lanka is one of the world`s most reliable surf destinations as the Indian Ocean has consistent swells all year long. Surf here is particularly good between October and April when the monsoon season in the northeast of the island creates consistent off shore winds and perfect waves to ride whether you are a beginner or a seasoned surfer.

Another great place to catch some waves is on the Pacific coast of Columbia. It`s the only country in South America with both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines and has some awesome places for surfers who like to get off the beaten track and discover uncrowded and pristine beaches. The most popular place for surfers to base themselves is Nuqui which features some amazing surfing spots in the local vicinity. The area is becoming increasingly popular as a surf travel destination, largely due to the fact that as one of the most bio-diverse locations on the planet it features a landscape made up of tropical rainforests, mangrove swamps, hot springs and unspoilt beaches. Book your trip before it gets discovered by the hordes.

Head further north to El Salvador in Central America and you will find some of the best surfers in the world competing in the 2011 ISA World Masters Surfing Championship from October 16-23

The competition is to be held in the stunning waves of Punta Roca in the town of La Libertad and will feature surfers from over 30 countries. It is the first time the world championships have been hosted by El Salvador, despite the fact that the area has over 300 miles of coastline and some of the most dependable waves in the world. Holding the competition here marks a turn in the tide for surfing in this part of the world and will help El Salvador to become an increasingly important surf-tourism destination.

When it comes to the latest surfing fashion, the originals are still best. The new season Reef Fanning Flip Flops hold dear to the Aguerre brothers original concept of comfortable footwear which holds up to the rigours of beach lifestyle. Designed with comfort and practicality in mind, the latest styles are every bit as durable and hard wearing as their 1980`s forerunners. Today they are available in an array of different materials and there`s a colour to suit every mood. The concealed bottle opener in the sole, comfortable moulded EVA footbed and full 360 degrees heel airbag makes them essential footwear wherever you go.

--Sponsored Story

Mid Winter Surfing Contest in its 43rd Year

43 Years and Counting

by Peter Pan

This year’s contest is scheduled to take place on February 19th at the Narragansett Town Beach. The contest is on call for Friday night, February 18th. Interested spectators and contestants can call the ESA Hotline at 401-789-1954 anytime after 6:00 PM for updates. Contest information will also be available on the ESA website For email inquiries, interested parties can email the ESA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

I seriously doubt that in the icy cold winter of 1968, Eastern Surfing Association organizers thought that they would still be running a crazy contest like the Annual New England Mid-Winter Surfing Championships in 2011. The original event, held at the Narragansett Town Beach during the height of surfing popularity in the 1960’s, was a small affair with only a handful of hearty surfers attending. Winter wetsuits had not yet been produced, and those who ventured out in the frigid water had to contend with poorly designed dive suits, stiff ¼ inch helmets, and leaky 3mm boots and gloves. There were no leashes so wiping out was a devastating shock to the system.

We came up with the idea at a University of Rhode Island Surf Club meeting at the Memorial Union on one cold winter night. The club had a few dollars in the treasury for trophies and it sounded like a good idea at the time. While the URI surf club sponsored and ran it, the event drew not only local surfers, but also those from several area colleges and universities. The contest turned out to be a very successful venture and we have been running it ever since as an ESA rated contest.

While different organizations and manufacturers have sponsored winter surfing events since that time, the Annual New England Mid-Winter Surfing Championships is the longest and oldest running winter surfing event in the world. And while the other events come and go, our winter competition has never been cancelled in 42 years.

This event has been witness to every possible winter weather situation over the past 42 years. The contest has been held in blizzard conditions, sleet, rain, and snow, as well as below zero air temperatures. At one contest, the frigid arctic winds blew so hard that the contest jersies froze as they were being pulled off the competitor’s backs after the heat was over. They had to be submerged in the ocean before the next surfer could put the jersey on.

Eight years ago, the contest was held the morning after a snowstorm had occurred. ESA officials had to shovel their way into the town beach parking lot in order to set up the judging stand. Although the snow was over three feet deep, the contest went off without a hitch in perfect 3-5 foot waves.

Last year’s event was held in frigid conditions with solid overhead swells pouring into the town beach. A storm system had just dumped almost two feet of fresh powder the night before and snow flurries came down through most of the contest. Local Narragansett surfers dominated in the quirky shore break, finding ridable walls amidst the ever, present closeout sections. The big winner in last year’s event was Narragansett’s James Pilkington, who charged through to both the Junior Men’s and Open titles. Area surfer Jose Galvez ripped it up to take the Senior Men’s crown, while local Andrew Ragosta captured the Junior Longboard event. Other notable winners included Kitty Pechet, Joe Booth, Ray Jarvis, Sara Parker, and Naoto Ohashi.

Last year’s winners received 5mm Hyperflex Lobsta Claw winter mitts as prizes and everyone was very pleased with the idea. Due to the success of that venture, The ESA has decided to do it again. All finalists will receive a new set of Hyperflex mitts for their effort again this year. As Narragansett’s Andy Ragosta stated at last year’s event, “In this weather, we need warm mitts instead of plastic trophies.”

Winter surfing isn't as cold as it looks - mostly.


January 24, 2011 - Watching surfers walk across snow to ride waves in nearly frozen water, in sub freezing air, first time observers typically have two thoughts: 1) "Those guys are nuts" followed by, 2) "Aren't they cold?" On the first point most surfers would agree. There's a level of passion that surfers have for their sport that can border on insanity. Surprisingly, despite ocean water temperatures that commonly reach 38F in early February, winter surfing in New England can be a relatively warm and comfortable experience - with one big exception.

Modern wetsuits use neoprene of varying thicknesses to maximize warmth and provide effort-reducing stretchiness. Chest areas may have 5,6 and even 7mm of neoprene while material in arms and legs may thin out to 2, 3 and 4mm.   An integral hood is preferred but some surfers use a secondary vest with a hood in conjunction with a non-hooded thinner spring wetsuit. In addition to a wetsuit that covers legs, arms, torso and head, winter surfers also wear neoprene booties and gloves (lobster-claw style for extreme cold). The only thing exposed directly to the elements is the central portion of the face, from just above the chin to the forehead.

Now to that exception. Remember, the face is exposed. This is necessary so the surfer can see and breathe. When a surfer ducks under or falls off a wave, the exposed face comes into contact with water that's about to undergo a cold induced phase change from liquid to solid.  The ice water jets past the face and into the wetsuit hood and torso area where it assaults blissfully toasty skin on scalp, neck, chest and back. It feels like a hard smack from an open palm. When ice water meets head a few times in succession - common when surfing in bigger waves - "ice cream headaches" can occur.  In some cases this cold water immersion brings on nausea and even vomiting.

One "secret" surfers use to stay warm in winter water is to drive to and from the beach dressed in the wetsuit - with the heat on full blast and a thermos full of hot coffee. Another technique is to wear additional layers of neoprene inside and outside their wetsuits

Each surfer has his or her own rule on when air and water is too cold or waves too big. Generally speaking you'll rarely see anyone in the water if the wind chill drops below zero.

Winter wetsuits with integral hoods are available from Billabong, Hotline, Hurley, Matuse, O'Neill, Patagonia and Rip Curl for prices ranging between $350 to $600.  Booties cost around $50 and gloves/mittens around $35.

"Semper Tepidus!"

Image above by Tina Spadafora of surfer Chris Kelly - Honorable mention in 2006 MoreBeach Winter Surfing Photo Contest





Jet Powered Surfboard - New at SurfExpo

January 7, 2011, Orlando FL - When a hot product is introduced that revolutionizes a market the business world calls it a paradigm shift.The WaveJet, a jet-powered surfboard, could become the i-phone of the waves if and when the price comes down.  With an introductory cost of around $4,000 it's unlikely that surfing lineups will become overcrowded with the device overnight. But if and when it becomes affordable, it could change everything.

WaveJet uses waterproofed lithium batteries to drive impellers embedded in a powerpack installed into the belly of the board. The batteries and powerpack/drive assembly weigh roughly 10 lbs, last for 30-45 minutes of continuous use and can be installed in almost any board type as part of new construction. The wireless connection between wrist and motor is set so that if you fall off the board it automatically cuts the motor.  The batteries can be charged by your car as you drive to the beach.

WaveJet was invented by a tow-in surfer who wanted to get into monster waves unassisted by a jetski. WaveJet will do that. Big wave champion surfer Garrett McNamara endorses the product. But big wave surfers are few and far between. Even with a WaveJet not many people will take the chance of being crushed by a four-story office-building sized wave.  If it comes, the paradigm shift will come to the waves surfers see daily at local beaches.

With a wave jet a surfer can push a button and reach the line-up with virtually no effort at all. The effort of paddling into the lineup is the one thing that keeps surfing breaks from becoming even more crowded than they already are. WaveJet enables virtually anyone, at any skill level, to get out to the lineup faster than even the most experienced and best conditioned surfers.  And once in the line-up the WaveJet enables its user to claim virtually any wave he or she wants... paddling into the wave is virtually effortless too.

From WaveJet's brochure:

"Wirelessly controlled from a band on your wrist, WaveJet's patented PWP technology helps even the most experienced surfer catch more waves. Capable of eight to ten knots on still water, WaveJet lets surfers paddle out four times faster than by using arms alone... it puts you where you want to be to catch the wave."

While 30-45 minutes of continuous use doesn't sound like much, that could translate into 30-45 1-minute assists for paddling out (or in) to waves. Without power assistance, ten waves in 2 hours is a pretty good surfing session for most surfers. With WaveJet a surfer might ride 3-4 times more waves per session.

I spoke at length with a WaveJet rep. He's used the thing and says it works as advertised - in shortboards, SUPs and even kayaks. "Don't the guys hate you in the lineup?" No, he explained, he's cool about WaveJet and doesn't abuse its powers - "I could have every wave if I wanted to, but I hold back." What about someone less thoughtful?  He had no answer to that.

WaveJet drive assembly with embedded batteries

Boards with WaveJets installed




Cape Cod Born-Bred Surfer Publishes Surf Poetry Calendar

Bryan Knowles is one of the bravest surfers around. Not because he gets pitted deeper into the hollow of the wave than anyone else at Mavericks (he surfs big but not that big). No. He's brave because he dares to put into words the feelings and sentiments that many surfers feel but never articulate. He writes about the emotions of surfing. Most surfers have strong feelings about waiting for waves and riding them. But they don't talk about them. It's somehow too personal, too deep, too intimate. Knowles, 26, writes about those feelings and he writes well.

Growing up surfing on Cape Cod, Knowles now leads a life possessed by surfing in California. When he's not in the water, he's either shaping surfboards under his label Ride Anything or reinterpreting surfing through words on his blog Whether reflecting on the sensation of a New England duck-dive in February or the haunting mind warp that accompanies surfing Northern California's sharkier breaks, Knowles posts a new surf inspired poem every week or so. In collaboration with several up and coming surf photographers, he has produced a one of a kind Surf Poetry Calendar for 2011, featuring a collection of his poetry paired with first rate surf imagery. It can be purchased for $12.99 at

"Spooks in Suits"
Bryan Knowles

October’s offshores reign

As almond eyes open upon crisp mornings

Tempting he who goes there.

Bobbing in the lineup,

Back to Cali’s rolling hills and golden landscape,

Facing corduroy lines as far as a wavering horizon permits your view.

To feel in tune with something so vast

Sends chills like those that leaky rubber lets in

Along with thoughts of vulnerability.

A matchless thrill

Feeling alive as the sea you’re in.

With angst of what passes beneath

Surrendered to back of mind

Devouring perfect waves

You join in a food chain

Whose kingdom we don’t throne.

Inevitable this time of year

Are humbling tails of spooks in suits

Who mix with our predation.

Pro Surfer Andy Irons Dies of Dengue Fever

wikipedia imageAndy Irons passed away in Dallas this afternoon while en route from Puerto Rico to his home in Hawaii. He came down with dengue fever while competing in Portugal. He was 32 years old and leaves behind a pregnant wife and a world full of fans. Irons grew up on the North Shore in Kauai, Hawaii, and has three world titles (2002, 2003, 2004), three Quiksilver Pro France titles (2003, 2004, 2005), two Rip Curl Pro Search titles (2006 and 2007) and 19 elite tour victories. On September 3rd 2010 he won the Billabong Pro in Tahiti.He and his family have hosted the Annual Irons Brothers Pinetrees Classic, a contest for youngsters, to give back to the community that has given them so much. The governor of Hawaii deemed February 13 forever 'Andy Irons day'.His younger brother, Bruce Irons, is a former competitor on the World Championship Tour of Surfing (WCT). During his childhood Andy would lose to Bruce in contests, but that changed once he entered the World Championship Tour, where he dominated.