August 24, 2009

Surf Nicaragua, Paddle Cherry Creek, Burn the Man

Part 1.

The past two months here in the States have been a whirl wind of adventure. Having finished a stint up in northern California it was time to spread my wings a little more and break out of the Californian eddy.

My first stop was Nicaragua in central America. Situated to the north of Costa Rica, Nicaragua offers fantastic weather and surf along it's western coastline. My destination was a sweet little town on the south-west coast called San Juan Del Sur.

Look Mum, no hands!

I've got my flippy floppies, I'm on a BOAT!

I was lucky enough to spend a week here and surfed everyday. I stayed in a cool little hostel called Casa Felis (happy house) and meet a bunch of like minded surf folk from all over the globe.

We hired a boat and crew (for US$20) and headed down the coast in search of good fishing and even better surf. We found both. Less than 24hours in the country and here I was, sitting out the back of with five others, 3-4ft sets and off shore winds...

Between sets, boards-eye view

Hmmm, strap-on Nica style

My week in San Juan Del Sur flew by all to quickly. The days filled with surfing and bludgeoning the locals with my appalling Spanish. The nights were filled with alcohol fueled adventures with random 'best friends' found along the way. Kiwi's, Ozzies and Irish are a brutal combo.

happy chappy's post fish n surf

Life is good! Sunset Playa Maderas after yet another sweet sweet surf

All too quickly my time down on the coast was over. My next stop was two nights in the beautiful town of Granada situated on the shoreline of Lago de Nicaragua. I happened to run into a fellow kiwi there meaning I was finally able to talk normally after 3months away from home... Granada is a sweet little town. Lots to do and see during the day and night. I was here that I saw my first real life Spanish dancing. Wow! Those men (and women) can move. All the Nica men and women filled the dance floor while all us westerns cowered with dropped jaws in the corner. Talk about impressive.

Due to a longer stay in Cali this season, I was around for the infamous Cherry Creek race on the Tuolumne River. I teamed up with long time friend and Cherry Creek super local, Joe Bousquin. We headed down a few days before the race to try and get a few laps under our belts before race day. This was a little more necessary for me as I hadn't paddled the run in a few years whereas Joe had more than 150 laps down the run.

We meet friends Terra and Corey down there as well for the first few laps while Joe was nice enough to show us his well polished race lines.

Joe Bousquin aka. Broseph cleaning out 'unknown soldier'
image: Ian Buckley

The thing about Cherry Creek is that the water shuts off at 11am so you start early and finish early. This leaves you a lot of time to kill in the afternoons.... so, like any elite athletes we spent the afternoon re hydrating with well hopped 'sports' drinks.

Come race day I felt good having done the run the run a few times and felt sufficiently hydrated from the previous afternoon/ evening.

The race is about 8km(?) long and is class 4 and 5 (hard and harder). The long boaters headed off first at two minute intervals followed by the regular (creek) boaters category.

The really cool thing about this race is it's pretty much unofficial. No entry fees, no paperwork, nothing. You know the risks when you enter and its up to you to stay out of trouble.

The other really cool thing about this race is you're paddling hard whitewater by yourself. No back up or safety here (well mostly, a few of the big rapids had safety team.... thank you!). This is something that you never do as a paddler. Paddling alone on hard isn't usually a good idea. Because of this the race feels pure. Just you, the river and the clock...

Racing lines with Racing stripes. The Mystic treating me well
image: Ian Buckley

My schooling with Joe meant that I knew most of the lines most of the time and had a pretty clean run down the course. There were a few moments when I paddled into a rapid thinking 'where the f^&% am I' and the creativity took over. 40mins and 35 seconds had me making the final move through 'leap of faith'. Sweet as!

My 40mins of fun and sweet lines was enough to put me into first place in the creek boat section. Not bad for a morning of paddling with my mates... well sort of. All that was left was to roll the dice and run Lumsden Falls and head back to the river side camp for a proper hydration session courtesy of Kern River Brewing company.

Charlie Centre aka Captain Kirk, 1st place long boats and over all champ!
image: Ian Buckley

kayak party bush style
image: Ian Buckley

Umm, a play boy bunny, mexican wrestler and an 80's cop walk into a national park....
image: Ian Buckley

Big thanks to Keith and Tim for putting the event on and big up's to Eric and Rebecca for their continued support of the event.