What a crazy day this was!
On the one hand we had absolute Guatemalan perfection; 6ft waves, clean as a whistle and only 5 guys out (and we were 3 of them!). As good as surfing gets in this country.
On the flip-side, we lost a fin, had a board smashed to bits on the jetty and most of all, one of the group took a big knock to the head resulting in a trip to the hospital (he's ok!).
It all started 10 days prior to the trip when the big purple blob of a storm was tracking south of Australia / New Zealand and was about to move into the Central American swell window. When this happens we know that great waves are coming in 7-10 days.
This storm was no different.
The forecast was absolutely amazing; 6.5ft of swell at 19 seconds (and it was on an upward trend) and good tides (iztapa is best when low in the morning). Very light winds forecast too. This is going to be good!
We had a small group of 4 for this trip (myself included):
- 1 Englishman (Kinder)
- 1 American (Charlie)
- A Guatemalan Drone filmer (Jorge)
A 4am departure from Antigua and we were away.
It's only 75 minutes to Iztapa so we were parked and ready for the river crossing at Iztapa by 5.15am, just as the sun was coming up.
5.30am and there it is....
Sheet glass conditions, nobody out, clean swell lines and what looks like 4-6ft conditions.
Kinder and I waxed up - Charlie was going to join us in half an hour - and out we went. In the water by 5.45am, lovely!
Kinder and I got out the back easily enough and were ready to go. The only 2 out.
A beautiful set popped up, well overhead and looking very tasty (I definitely under called the waves from the beach, these are all 6 footers).
I called Kinder into it and off he went. Drop, bottom turn, pull in to barrel, smashed to pieces... Good morning Kinder!
The next one in the set was mine. Perhaps a touch bigger. I swung and went and immediately realised that choosing my short board (my step-up was on the beach as my back-up) was a bad choice. Into the wave, beyond late drop, I'm now on my feet, free-falling, hit the flats, annihilated!
Jesus! I just got my ass handed to me!
I paddled in to change boards as I felt this could be repeated many more times if I stayed on my 5'10.
From the beach the waves were really starting to pump.
With the swell having a 19 second period, there was a real thickness to the swell and the waves were really fast moving.
Without a doubt, a step-up board was needed rather than a normal shorty.
Charlie and I paddled out together (I was now on my trusty 6'3) whilst Kinder took his pick of the waves out the back.
We were now joined by a few local boys we know and the "crowd" had grown to 5 in total (of which we were 3 of them).
We now entered a period where we started to get some really good ones. The tide was filling in, the conditions were still glassy and the sets were coming through every 5 minutes. Plenty of waves for everyone and boy were they good!
Charlie at this point was emerging as the surfer of the day taking off deep and charging down the line.
Ok, this is going to be a day to remember. We've all had a bunch of A-grade waves, the wind is still glass, the sets are consistent, the sun is out and the vibes are great.
This bliss was short-lived however...
Over the next 30 minutes, carnage ensued...
Firstly, Kinder somehow knocked one of his fins out sending him in to fix that situation (he paddled back out later with only 2 fins in place - good luck with that!).
My leash broke sending my beloved 6'3 smashing into the small jetty and putting 5 big dings in it. Another change of board (back to the 5'10 and my third paddle out).
And then worst of all, Kinder (doing really well on some great waves despite having 2 fins)) got absolutely destroyed during a duck-dive gone wrong.
Caught inside on a big one, he went under as the lip exploded on/in front of him.
Underwater he somehow lost control of his board and it whacked him in the face.
Emerging to the surface, he was missing the cap of his tooth and had a nice big gash across his forehead.
This naturally put an end to the surf (despite the fact it was still absolutely pumping) and we hurried back to Antigua to get Kinder some medical attention.
Fortunately I have excellent medical and dental contacts in Antigua and we had Kinder all stitched up, medicated and resting within a few hours. Kinder made some comment about his self medication of tequila shots mixed with pain killers being a real party starter.
The next day we got his tooth fixed and he was (almost) as good as new.
Things like this are an unfortunate part of surfing perfect barrelling waves and we all have to pay the piper from time to time. Today was Kinder's day and I must say, he took it like a champ.
So, all in all, a day to remember for many reasons.
Kinder recovered fine (he covers the experience of the incident extensively in his personal blog) and we went on to surf again a week later in El Salvador
My board was fixed and lives to fight another day.
And the day itself, well the classic waves we surfed live on here in the drone video that Jorge put together.
- Michael Dunlevy - 06 July, 2016