Elliot Dudley in Costa Rica
This is my 8th visit to Costa Rica, my first being back in 2002. Aged 17 I skipped school for two weeks to go on a surf trip with my old man and a group of longboarders from the UK.
We started in Nosara and worked our way up the coast, spending the last few days at Ollie's point. Back then getting round was much more difficult and the convoluted journey from San Jose took upwards of 7 hours. Now you can fly direct to Liberia from London and be in the ocean within 3 hours of landing.
With convenience comes crowds and since my last trip to Nosara in 2010 the town has gone through a subtle but all the while considerable change; the many million dollar houses are surprisingly well hidden amongst the jungle landscape. The crowds in the ocean are harder to disguise yet the mellow vibe of Nosara remains, with a predominantly intermediate and beginner demographic. Numbers are bolstered by those that flock to Nosara to practise yoga.
Working a 9-5, one has to think much more carefully about where to go on a surf trip. The risk/reward calculation is weighted far more heavily to guaranteed good weather and waves (we sometimes get the latter in Wales but this past winter has been a VERY cold one!).
Whilst lacking world class reef breaks I have never been on a trip to Costa Rica where I have not had a rideable clean wave at least once a day. This time we scored better than average waves with nothing under waist to chest high and occasional well overhead conditions, the power and quality of which I have never seen on this stretch of the Nicoya Peninsula.
It was also a baptism of fire for my girlfriend, being her first tropical surf trip and only having surfed for just 18 months. Watching her improve in each session made me extremely grateful for the family surf trips I was fortunate enough to go on as a grom; it certainly benefitted my surfing more than I ever imagined.
Morning/evening sessions (Playa Guiones - 9'8" Bing Surfboards 'Elevator' Model)
This yellow Elevator is one of those 'magic' boards. I had a few Elevator off Matt prior to picking this one up in December 2015. My previous boards had been stock dimensions and when I first held this board I could tell immediately it was special. Thinner, slightly more pulled in and just sleeker!
For a couple of years prior to this I had been riding Silver Spoons, one of the best noseriders I have had the pleasure of riding, but I felt my surfing was becoming stale. I would just stand on the nose, cutback and do the same again. Not a bad thing I hasten to add, but not in the spirit of Phil Edwards or Nat Young and their equally iconic drop knee turns. This Elevator reawakened my desire to want to jam turns and still be able to noseride when necessary.
I feel like I can put this board anywhere I want on a wave. Luckily I now have a back up board (a beautiful light blue resin tint with wedge stringer) and this was the yellow Elevator's return from semi retirement.
I surf like crap in the mornings, frustrating when greeted with perfect offshore conditions every day. Surfing feels laborious and expressionless and I sit for long periods staring out to sea. By the evening I feel so much looser and more glued to my board. The inevitability of the sun setting gives added impetus to squeeze every last drop out of each wave.
Evening sessions (Playa Guiones, Nosara) - 7'4" Bing Surfboards 'Australian Foil'
I picked up this board from Bing in December 2016 and since then it has been a staple in my travel quiver. It's such a versatile board that can be ridden in anything from 2-8ft but it feels most at home in head high waves that have big open faces.
High tide at Guiones is perfect on the Aussie Foil as you can get in early and set your line, but also move around the lineup with ease when the peaks shift. For a single fin, it holds its line where other boards would bounce and leave you face planting as you spin out (we've all done it!). My favourite thing about it is that it's just long enough to do a drop knee cuttie on.
Morning barrel session (Secret Spot) - 5'6" Bing Surfboards 'Sunfish'
Prior to picking up the Sunfish in April 2016 I had ridden most of Bing's Shortboard models, including the Dharma (1 and 2.0), the Spork, the Swee' Pea, the Puck and the Jelly Bean. I had talked to Matt a lot (much to his annoyance I suspect!) about my love for the Rich Pavel Speed Dialler. I had owned a few of them and it was my go-to shortboard in most conditions over 2 foot.
The Sunfish was the Bing I had been waiting for; relishing waves from waist high to double overhead. Unlike many 'retro' keel fin fishes that seem to go fast in a straight line but do nothing else, the Sunfish works on a rail, frontside or backside.
I had been to this spot on my other trips to Nosara and it had never been crowded. At the same time it had never been much more than a heavy close out either. This day was somehow different, thanks it would seem to a combination of a big SSW swell and a smaller NW swell. As an added bonus there was only one other guy out, startling when compared with the other local beaches.
Having surfed Puerto Escondido a number of times as well as Pascuales, the waves had all the grunt of your archetypal Central American beachbreak. I was slightly concerned that a 5'6" twin fin was not the tool for the job, but it ended up being the session of the trip. 3 hours flew by and I left the water stoked if not a little rag dolled with my sinuses full of salt water.