information medicine

Aside

2011 watch out we’re going big

January 19th, 2011
single fin madness in Nosara

Hello world, I hope your 2011 has started off wonderfully.  I can’t believe its already January 19th but thats probably what you’re saying as well.  The Chargers didn’t make the playoffs this year but I got over it pretty quickly.  I spent New Years on the sailboat in Bocas del Toro Panama surfing with señor Nick Holt.  Last week I spent 5 days in Samara taking some time to chill with my wife and my boys and surfing with Andrew Illig.  When I’ve been in Tamarindo I made some surfboards, I dinged other surfboards, and I’m still waiting patiently for the season’s first official northwest swell on low tide in the rivermouth.

I have a hard-on for bamboo, the Guadua Angustifolia species to be exact.
Guadua Angustifolia
Guadua Angustifolia is amazing, to a point where I have decided to become a bamboo farmer and grow Guadua on the Zephyr farm.  The rains start in May and this will be the best time for planting, and I found some seeds from a Guadua Bamboo company here in Costa Rica.  Besides the financial returns generated from farming bamboo, I am more interested in the sustainability of the crop itself.  Bamboo can be used to build boards, panels, floors, furniture, buildings, cloth, paper and activated charcoal.  It has the potential to solve global warming.  Bamboo can solve the world’s housing crisis for the estimated 1 billion humans living in substandard housing.  Bamboo and epoxy resin has a stronger bond than fiberglass cloth and polyester resin, so you can use bamboo to build surfboards.  Maybe now you can see why I’m so excited about it.  I’m learning how to farm Guadua Angustifolia and starting a small bamboo plantation on the finca we have in Alemania (about an hour from Tamarindo).  Thats my big plan for 2011.

Bocas del Toro view from the sailboat
This is what Bocas del Toro looked like from the boat.  Just a chillin’ little Caribbean beach community with tons of heavy surf spots nearby.  Really feels like a modern-day pirate town, at least when you’re staying on a boat the whole time.  Every place has a dock and you travel everywhere by boat.  My favorite restaurant is called the Rip Tide, its an old trawler floating along an old shack of a building.  From what I heard it has sunk 3 times already.  Good burgers, cheap draft beer, reminds me of home.

Here’s some surfboards I’ve made lately.
7'0 thruster for Michael Murphy
This is a 7’0 thruster for a neighbor of mine Michael Murphy.  The waves haven’t been big enough for it in town since I finished it last week, and I’m kindof hoping he wants another one with thicker rails so I can take this one with me back to Bocas.

6'4 thruster for Nick Holt
This is a 6’4 thruster I shaped for Tamarindo resident Nick Holt.  I came up with the tail design and liked it when I finished it, so I’ve since made a template and made Mike’s board with the same tail.  Its pretty wide and gives the board a bit of volume which is good for catching waves on a shortboard when you’re surfing with a lot of people or the waves aren’t that big.

Chilo installing a leash plug
Here is Chilo, installing a leash plug.  We couldn’t find any new ones in the country so we have been recycling old ones, which work just as well.  We’re also using fin rope to glass on leash loops and glass on old-school fins we made.  I have a package coming down this Saturday that includes a large box of laminate paper, so I can make some “Witch’s Rock Surfboards” logos.  We’re still experimenting with different types of paints and clear coats that are available locally.  Most importantly we’re having a lot of fun.

Let me take this opportunity to clarify my view of Stand-Up Paddleboards, otherwise known as SUPs, mainly because I believe people have misconceptions about how I feel about them.

First off and most important, I believe that everyone is entitled to ride whatever kind of surfboard they want. Shortboard, longboard, bodyboard, and yes, even the giant SUP.  As long as you are enjoying yourself you’ve got it figured out.  Having fun is why I surf and probably why you surf too.

It is true that SUPs have gained much popularity in recent years.  For the surfing industry, there is a lot of money to be made on them.  SUPs sell for 2-3 times what a surfboard sells for, and people don’t need to know how to surf or live near an ocean to own one.  For these same reasons, renting SUPs in Tamarindo or any other beach town could be a very lucrative but a very dangerous business.

Witch’s Rock Surf Camp does not rent SUPs or offer SUP surf camps.  I feel that surfing on SUPs is simply too dangerous of a sport to help popularize.  SUPs are HUGE and much more difficult to turn and control.  They have a giant fin, they are heavy as hell, unless you are a very competent surfer you can do serious damage to others. Just imagine what the lineup would look like if every surf shop, hotel, and tour office in town rented SUPs to tourists from Alabama (no offense, Alabama).  The lineup would be total fucking chaos.

Tamarindo is a surf town.  Every business in this town relies on the beach in one way or another.  Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, like every other surf shop, contributes to the crowds in the water. We have 70 employees, yet our surf school has only 10-15 students each week in the lineup (not each lesson, each week).  If these guests were on SUPs the lineup would be much more dangerous.  If every surf shop rented SUPs?  If SUP Magazine wrote an article calling Tamarindo the best SUP destination ever?  Less people would come to Tamarindo to surf.  Its no wonder stickers have been popping up from California to Hawaii blaming Laird, or why the mayor of Malibu Jefferson Wagner is trying to get SUPs banned from the lineup.  So, for the record, I am not an SUP hater.  I will not be involved in the SUP gold rush.

single fin madness in Nosara
What ever happened to longboards?  I’ve been riding shortboards the last few years and these days I never ride a longboard much.  I’d rather take off later, make more barrels, do sharper turns, etc.  But when the waves are small and weak a longboard is tons of fun.  I made the blue 9’4 on the right, this past week when we went to Samara we took these 2 single fins and had a full-on blast surfing a little hidden beach break with nobody else for miles.  We built a little beach shack with driftwood and palm frawns.  It was a special day.

Otis surfing the boogie
And here we have my son Otis showing us how its done standing up and surfing on the boogie board.  He and Happy are surfing more and more these days…

We all had an awesome time on the surf trip.  Even when we go on vacation we end up hanging on the beach every day.  Costa Rica is rad and has the most amazing beaches, its hard to stay away from them :)

Zephyr biodiesel trailer
I finally broke down and bought that trailer that was sitting in front of Cafe Cafe this past week.  We are using it to collect waste vegetable oil from local restaurants.  Did you know that all of WRSC’s vans run on recycled vegetable oil, otherwise known as biodiesel?  Yes, I know I need to put this on our website and make stickers that go on the vans proudly declaring this fact and sell it as a big advertising eco opportunity thing blah blah blah, I just haven’t gotten around to it.  Its more important to be doing it than talking about it.  At least you’re reading this and now you know, so you can feel good eating those nachos as big as your ass and knowing that your ass might be sitting in a van being powered by those same nachos. Pretty cool huh?

using beer kegs to move the boat
And did you know that recycled beer kegs are perfect for beaching your boat?  I suggest drinking the beer before using the kegs to move the boat, but wait until you’re not drunk anymore or it could be dangerous.

  1. Tommy the Lammy says:

    “this van is fueled by nachos as big as my ass”

  2. Candy Walsh says:

    Hey, that boat looks familiar!!!

  3. Hey Joe, that’s pretty exciting stuff with the bamboo. A while back i did some research into advanced composites, and this was one article that was very informative. There was another research paper written by a german scientist who studied the effects of applied heat schedule and pressure (through vacuum bagging) and time to ultimately break down the cellulose by application of heat, and tyhe void is then replaced by the epoxy. thus, the strength of the bamboo/epoxy composite is achieved from fusion rather than creating a laminate of the two materials. At least this is what i gathered from the readings.

    Anyway, good luck to you. Here’s the link to gary young’s bamboo surfboards: http://www.bamboosurfboardshawaii.com/composites.html

  4. [...] Stand-up paddleboarding has become somewhat of a proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room that is surfing. Regardless of what side of the line it falls, nearly everyone has an opinion on where and how the SUP should be used and enjoyed. And for a variety of reasons, opinions that are formed about this relatively new way of riding water seem to be strong and backed with passion. [...]