4th Annual Walter Caloca Surf Contest in San Miguel Day 1

On Saturday March 22, 2014  young surfers from Mexico and the U.S. gathered in San Miguel, Baja California to participate in the 4th Annual Walter Caloca Surf Contest. Organized by Alfredo Ramirez and United Athletes of the Pacific Ocean (UAPO) with the help of Zach Plopper and WILDCOAST/COSTASALVAJE, the event provided a forum for young surfers to rip 2-4′ waves and celebrate international friendships. Additionally, Day 1, included the SUP and bodyboard divisions.

It was a great day. Day 2 on March 23, is the open event. The photos here are all from Day 1.

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Daniel Dedina with San Miguel local and artist Jaime Noia.

Daniel Dedina with San Miguel local and artist Jaime Noia.

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Afredo Ramirez of UAPO with competitors. The best part of this contest is bringing together surfers from Mexico and the U.S.

Afredo Ramirez of UAPO with competitors. The best part of this contest is bringing together surfers from Mexico and the U.S.

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Girls contestants.

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Daniel Dedina, Jack Stewart and Cameron Bartz from IB.

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Jack Stewart and Cameron Bartz await their final heat.

Jack Stewart and Cameron Bartz await their final heat.

Cameron Bartz.

Cameron Bartz.

Lance Mann

Lance Mann

Paul Stewart.

Paul Stewart.

Daniel Dedina

Daniel Dedina

Dakotah Hooker

Dakotah Hooker

Josh Johnson

Josh Johnson

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Dakotah Hooker.

Dakotah Hooker.

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Paul Stewart.

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Javi Meza

Javi Meza

Daniel Dedina

Daniel Dedina

SUP finalists.

SUP finalists.

Grom finalists.

Grom finalists.

Girls finalists.

Girls finalists.

Bodyboard finalists.

Bodyboard finalists.

Junior finalists.

Junior finalists.

Cameron Bartz, Paul Steward, Lance Mann and Daniel Dedina.

Cameron Bartz, Paul Steward, Lance Mann and Daniel Dedina. It is great to see so many young surfers surfing and making friends south of the border. It is great for them to travel and make lots of friends up and down the coast. That is the true spirit of surfing.

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Kristy Murphy’s Endless Summer

Two of my favorite people to hang at the beach and surf with are Kristy Murphy and Cat Slatinskly of Siren Surf Adventures. Both are super positive, smart, great surfers with great attitudes–and pioneers in women’s surfing and women-owned surf business. Here’s my interview with Kristy who was the 2005 Women’s World Longboard Champ. Cat grew up in my hometown of Imperial Beach.

Kristy Murphy, the 2005 Women’s World Longboard Champion talks about women’s professional surfing and running Siren Surf Adventures, an international surf, Stand Up Paddle (SUP) and yoga tour and retreat company.

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Serge Dedina: When and where did you start surfing?

Kristy Murphy: I started surfing in my hometown of Jupiter, FL in 1999, around my senior year in college. As a kid, I grew up bodyboarding, fishing and free diving with my family. My brother surfed all the time and I was always temped to try. My best friend’s dad was a big surfer in the 70s in Jupiter, and had just bought a new Donald Takayama Model T. We thought it was the coolest and would try to use it every chance we got! My first wave on a longboard I was up and riding.

Dedina: Were there any particular women surfer role models for you when you were into surfing.

Murphy: I loved watching Mary Bagalso (who is now a good friend and continues to inspire me), Julie Whitegon, Cori Schumacher, Ashley Lloyd, Kassia Meador, Julie Cox, Desiree Desoto and Frida Zamba. Thanks to guys like Joel Tudor, by the time I started getting really involved in surfing, the longboarding movement was happening and starting to regain popularity again. It was also right when women’s longboarding was staring to take off as well. I was always drawn to longboarding, ever since that first ride on a longboard, I knew I wanted to noseride.

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Me with Kristy and friends last year in Saladita (Kristy second from left).

Dedina: How did you get into competitive surfing?

Murphy: I first began locally in West Palm Beach, with the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA). I met another Jupiter local girl Jenni Flanigan, and we would go to all the local events together every weekend. It was a blast meeting people, surfing together and creating lasting friendships. After winning the ESA Championship Women’s longboard division in 2000, I decided I wanted to go out and give it a try on the West Coast. Jenni and I decided to take a trip together to California one summer and try to do some of the professional events out there.

Dedina: In 2005 you became the Women’s World Longboard Champion. Did winning the world championship create career opportunities for you?

Murphy: Obviously when you are competing at anything the goal is try to be number one. And after four days of surfing well and keeping it all together in 2005 I did it! It was awesome. I had dreamed of being a “pro” surfer and this was my breakthrough. I figured the sponsorships would come rolling in and I would be paid to surf.  It was funny; although longboarding became more and more popular, that did not mean more opportunities for the surfers. Actually just the opposite happened.

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Kristy cheering on a client in Mexico. Photo: Cat

No new sponsors came knocking on my door. However, with my new title in hand, I did not give up and went out looking for sponsors and ending up working out some relationships, most importantly Costa Del Mar sunglasses whom I still work with today. Also, my surfboard sponsor, Siren Surfboards, has always supported me since the beginning to today and Kialoa Paddles for stand up paddling.

I was bummed that I did not get the overwhelming sponsorship support I thought I would after winning the World [Championship]. I was inspired to go out and keep surfing by doing it on my own. I worked at surf camps between competitions and eventually, after enough experience, opened my own surf camp/tour business, Siren Surf Adventures. My championship title has been important to my business, as it has given me credibility in the surf world and with all our clients.

Dedina: What do you think of the new school of women pro surfers?

Murphy: They are so talented. The progress that has been made from only a few years ago is amazing. The women are surfing more progressively and beautifully at the same time. It is awesome to watch! I wish surfing would be more based on talent, when it has the tendency to be based on looks.

Dedina: You and Cat Slatinsky have a solid business with Siren Surf Adventures and what seems to be an “Endless Summer” lifestyle with women’s surfing, yoga and SUP retreats to Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Who is attracted to your retreats?

Murphy: Mostly adventurous, fun, outdoorsy type ladies who are ready to try something new, plus gals who have been surfing a while, but cannot seem to get to the next level. They are all looking to experience surfing in an authentic, fun, safe atmosphere and meet new surf buddies. Our retreats are a unique VIP surf experience. Our group numbers are small (3-4 clients in each group) and Cat and I combined have over 20 years experience in surf coaching. We find that the ladies who come to our camp really want to learn or get better.

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Kristy helping a client in Mexico. Photo: Cat

Dedina: And what is a typical Siren Surf Adventures surf retreat like?

Murphy: Most days are like this: You wake up in a beautiful, relaxing, beachfront setting. We prepare coffee, teas, fruits and yogurt in the morning while excitedly chatting about the days surf session. We usually do land lessons and visualization before we paddle out, and by land lessons we don’t mean only working on the pop-up. We find it easier to work on turning methods on land before we enter the water. Then it is just surf, surf, and surf until we are hungry. Then into town for the best local flavors. In the afternoons we usually offer a yoga session, some flat water SUPing or napping and relaxing. It is a super mellow environment and we always want our guests to feel like it is their time to do what they want. Basically our daily retreat schedules have been molded from our personal experiences as professional surfers in surf travel. Surf, eat, sleep, stretch, and then surf some more!

Dedina: What is the key to getting more women in surfing and sustaining their interest in the sport?

Murphy: Programs like ours help to safely introduce women to the surf. Surfing can be so intimidating, especially when you go at it alone. To be able to experience it with people you trust and respect that you can learn heaps from as well, is priceless.

Dedina: One of the reasons I’ve been so impressed with your work is because it goes beyond surfing into community building and making sure your business has a positive impact on communities and the coastal environment. What are some of the ways you and Cat give back?

Murphy: One of the great pleasures that is a benefit of our constant travelling is having a chance to meet new people all over the world. We learn a lot from them and we try to teach them about what we know as well–and that’s surfing. We do a Dia de los Niños, in Mexico, where we teach all the kids in the area how to surf. Lourdes at La Saladita, helps us heaps with that day. We’ve also had a great partnership with WILDCOAST as well as other organizations like Azulita, The Humane Society, and Women for Whales. It’s not even something we think about doing. We enjoy it and do it for the love of our natural world.

Dedina: So what is next? Are there new retreat locations on the horizon?

Murphy: In the future, we are going to have a few special retreat trips, but for now we are enjoying the locations and adventures we have. We feel so blessed to be able to work doing something we truly love.

Kristy on the nose. Photo: Cat

Kristy on the nose. Photo: Cat

Paddling from Trestles to Tijuana

Last day of the paddle at the Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado.

One of the most important tools for evaluating the state of our coast, is to carry out a transect from top to bottom. Two San Diego County coastal advocates and surfers, Shannon Switzer and Kristian Anders Gustavson, recently organized and led a seven day padding expedition from Trestles to Tijuana to get a better sense of the challenges we face in protecting our greatest natural resource.

Shannon, 28, is a National Geographic Young Explorer and 2012 Freshwater Hero.

Shannon Switzer

Kristian, 27, is the Director of Research & Explorations for Below the Surface, was named one of Outside Magazine’s Chief Inspiration Officers for 2012 and ‘Hero of the Heartland’ from the American Red Cross.

I caught up with them last week as they finished their paddle in Imperial Beach just north of the new Tijuana River Mouth Marine Protected Area.

Kristian on a break after 40 miles.

Serge: You recently paddled from Trestles to the U.S.-Mexico border. What was the purpose of the paddle?

Kristian Anders Gustavson: This paddle was the first annual event to celebrate the anniversary of Below to Surface, which was founded in the summer of 2008. Trestles to TJ was meant to draw attention to the impact of riverine water pollution on the coastline, and is the official launch of the Riverview Mobile App which is part of Below the Surface’s Riverview Project, or “Google’s Streetview for Rivers.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked closely with Below the Surface to develop the Riverview Mobile App, particularly to include information about the health of waterways for spurring grassroots stewardship of our rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

Shannon Switzer: I envisioned this paddle as an up close and personal way to see our coast in one connected piece, rather than in snippets, which is how I usually view it. I wanted to show the San Diego community that this connectivity means all of our actions, both on land and at sea, have a direct impact on the coastline and motivate people to do their part in caring for the beaches we all love and enjoy.

Serge: What were your favorite parts of the paddle and coastline?

Paddling on the sixth day offshore from Coronado. Photo: Eddie Kisfaludy/Oceans Aloft

Shannon and Kristian: Paddling along Camp Pendleton was a treat. So was paddling Sunset Cliffs, through the kelp forests just offshore, and coming around Point Loma to see downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bridge along the horizon. That was pretty epic.

Serge: Why was it necessary to highlight the conditions of our coast above and below surface?

Shannon and Kristian: Everything in the environment is linked together, and an action like dumping old household cleaning supplies down the drain at home can have a negative impact on both people and wildlife in the ocean. Because of our unique location on the coast, we have a responsibility to be aware of these connections and to modify our behavior accordingly.

Serge: How many people participated in the Paddle at the start, how many finished and what were the unique challenges that you faced logistically and paddle wise?

Shannon and Kristian: The first day we began with about 15 paddlers, by the end of the week we had about eight. This was because we started on the weekend, when more people were available, and then continued through the work week. Also, our first day was our longest at 20 miles, which I think weeded out a few paddlers. Logistically it was tricky getting all the boards and paddlers together in the right place each day.

15 paddlers from a variety of organizations including Below the Surface, the SUP Spot, the Mission Continues, National Geographic Young Explorers, the Eco Warrior Project, SUP Core, Expedition 1000, Red I Nation, Namaste SUP and endurance athlete Ryan Levinson came coming together for this inaugural event.

Serge: Were any parts of the coastline distressing in terms of pollution and or other human impacts?

Shannon and Kristian: We were happily surprised with the condition of our coastline. The most heartbreaking thing to me was all of the trash in the water. Every hundred yards or so we would find plastic shopping bags, water bottles, balloons, etc. It is frustrating to see something that is so easily prevented. The only specific stretch of coastline that was distressing was at the sewage outfall near Point Loma.

Serge: What were some of the wildlife species that your team spotted. Were you surprised to see so many animals off of our coast?

Shannon and Kristian: We saw heaps of wildlife: seals, sea lions, porpoises, bottle nose dolphins, a shark or two, garibaldi, tons of jellyfish, marine birds. We weren’t surprised by the number of species we encountered, because we see a lot of this marine life while surfing, but it’s always a thrill when wildlife pays a visit. The average visitor or tourist may be surprised to see how truly wild it is off San Diego’s shores.

At the finish in Imperial Beach at the Tijuana Rivermouth Marine Protected Area.

Serge: From the vantage point just offshore, does it seem to make the problems that we face coast-wise less challenging or more challenging?

Shannon and Kristian: Seeing the immensity of the coastline from offshore on a little board definitely puts things into perspective. It didn’t make coastal problems seem more or less challenging, but rather confirmed the need to continue moving forward with policies and personal practices that will benefit our coast and the San Diego community too.

Waterman’s Endurance Challenge: URT Swim-Paddle-Fin

Israel starts the paddle portion.

 

Yesterday, my son Israel and I participated in the first ever Waterman’s Endurance Challenge: URT Swim-Paddle-Fin race at Center Beach in Coronado.

City of Huntington Beach Lifeguard Nick Sullivan rounds the final buoy on the paddle portion of the event.

“The Waterman’s Endurance Challenge: The URT Swim, Paddle, Fin competition featured three consecutive open-water events, conducted in the standard triathlon fashion, with the start, transition area, and finish all occurring at Center Beach,” said James Kehaya of North American Athletics who organized the event in partnership with URT.

Men’s finalists from left to right: Serge Dedina (me)-4th, Ryan Pingree-3rd, Israel Dedina-2nd, Nick Sullivan 1st.

“The competition was designed to test traditional waterman skills, through a competitive endurance event.Event gifts and prizes were provided by URT, Emerald City, James&Joseph, Suunto, Ocean Minded and T3.The event began with a 500 meter swim, followed by a 3000 meter open water paddle (SUP or Prone), and finished with a 1000 meter open water swim with fins.”

Women’s finalists: Carrie Lingo (3rd), Carter Graves-2nd; and Gracie Van der Byl 1st. Gracie put on a great performance and passed me in the final leg of the swim, but I caught a set wave on the way in and passed her. She is fast!!

“Challenging conditions and great athletes were the hallmarks of the first ever Swim, Paddle, Fin,” said Kehaya. “The building surf, wind, and chop challenged even the most seasoned watermen and women.  Congrats to everyone who came out to challenge the course, and battle it out in tough weather.”

It was a tough but fun race and another great event hosted by Ian Urtnowski and Dougie Mann of the URT clothing company.

The URT Team won the relay. They killed it!!!

“The contest was split into 2 divisions; open and relay, ” said Ian Urtnowski of URT. ” The Open division was defined by one contestant completing all the legs, while the Relay division assigned one person to each leg of the race.”

It was good to see longtime friends in the race including the Mann brothers, the legendary Kiwi and Adam Wraight. My son Israel came in second behind City of Huntington Ocean Lifeguard Nick Sullivan who proved that you had to be a fast paddler and swimmer to place in the event. Ryan Pingree came in third.

Coronado Beach LIfeguard team came in second.

Gracie Van der Byl put in impressive performance placing first in the women’s division, followed by Carter Graves and Carrie Lingo.

Team URT came in first in the relay division followed by the Coronado Lifeguards. The Imperial Beach Lifeguard team placed third.

Imperial Beach Lifeguard team placed third.

“The URT SPF was a pilot contest of more Watermen Endurance Triathlon Events to come,” said Ian Urtnowski of URT. “So to keep your ear to the ground go to www.urturt.com or www.northamericanatletics.com for more details and pictures. ”

Mens Results:
  • 1st: (0:37:51) – Sullivan, Nick
  • 2nd: (0:40:02) – Dedina, Israel
  • 3rd: (0:42:33) – Pingree, Ryan
Womens Results:
  • 1st: (0:44:09) – Van der Byl, Gracie
  • 2nd: (0:46:27) – Graves, Carter
  • 3rd: (1:07:29) – Lingo, Carrie

Team Relay

  • 1st:  0:37:06- Team URT
  • 2nd 0:40:38 – Coronado Beach Lifeguards
  • 3rd 0:46:11  – Imperial Beach Lifeguards

Israel Dedina heading out for the last leg, a 1K swim with fins.

Surfing Fitness

Photo: Jeff Wallis

It used to be easy.

I could surf twice a day on my shortboard and never tire.

My lower back didn’t hurt, and I was skinny.

I started surfing at the age of 13. In my hometown of Imperial Beach, the surfers I hung out with either played baseball and/or football, ran cross-country, and competed on the swim team. I swam and ran cross-country.

During the 13-years I worked as an ocean lifeguard in San Diego County, I stayed in shape working with the UCSD master’s swim team (the legendary noon mid-80’s noon workout) and trained for and competed in triathlons with my lifeguard/surfer colleagues.

My fitness role models were San Diego surfer-lifeguards turned Ironmen, Mark Allen and Scott Tinley.

After 34 years of surfing, things have changed.

My boards are thicker and wider.

After a long and strenuous surf session, my lower back hurts.

At 6’4” and 210 pounds, it is just harder for me to surf my 6’6” than it was when I was 18, weighed 170 pounds, and rode a 6’0”.

The key to surfing well into middle age and senior citizen status isn’t just an innate talent for surfing and catching waves that only most gifted surfers have (although of course that helps).

Over the past few years due to the examples of Mick Fanning, Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater, Gerry Lopez, Joel Parkinson, and the incredible staying power of Taylor Knox, fitness for surfers is now in vogue.

The key to surfing as long as you can is staying fit.

And not half-hearted fitness, but active exercise that works your core, builds your strength, and prolongs your endurance, so that surfing is fun and you can get the most out of your sessions.

The more you can cross-train and combine strength, core and aerobic activities, the better you’ll be prepared for the epic swells the Pacific Ocean throws our way.

Here is a list of the best activities to keep you fit and in top-shape for surfing. I recommend combining a good aerobic activity (e.g. swimming and SUP) and a core/flexibility activity such as free weights and or yoga. Obviously in San Diego we have many more options including running, kayaking, kitesurfing, and bicycling.

Swimming: It seems so basic, but few surfers, with the exception of ocean lifeguards seem to understand how helpful swimming is for surfing. You work your entire body and the same muscle groups as those used in paddling. I swim with a master’s group 3-4 times a week and it an essential part of my training. Join a local Master’s program if you can.

Yoga: My good friend and veteran surfer big-wave surfer Richard Abrams, told me once after a yoga class, “I wish I had started yoga when I was 15.” There is probably nothing better for maintaining and improving flexibility than yoga. My WiLDCOAST team does an hour-long surf-yoga twice a week during our lunch break. Our class is filled with surfers who’ve figured out that yoga is the key to longevity in the water.

Free diving in Bahia de los Angeles, Baja.

Stand-up-Paddle: There is a reason why so many surfers are now active on SUPs. It is a great workout, lots of fun, and arguably one of the best activities for building core strength and aerobic capacity. My buddy Mark “Kiwi” Fields, races SUPs and besides surfing, can be found in spin and weight classes at our local gym when he is not paddlling around in the ocean.

Bodysurfing. This is about one of the best workouts possible. With a good pair of fins you’ll be pushing yourself to the max, in addition to getting some of the best barrels of your life.

Weight-training: As we age our muscles atrophy and require weight training to maintain our strength, balance and build a defense against injury and stress. Squats are arguably the single best exercise for surfing that you can do. After reading surf scribe Daniel Duane’s manifesto about free weights last year, I joined the local gym and started lifting. Over a year later, my surfing has improved, and more importantly, my back is hurting less after multiple sessions during a swell.

According to Duane, “Muscle withers away if you’re not constantly building it, and muscle withers faster as a man ages. Fading muscle mass gives way to fat gain, stiff joints, stumbling-old-man balance, and a serious drop-off in weekend fun, not to mention self-esteem. But if you fight back right, it can all go the other way. And this means getting strong. The bottom line is that not only can lifting weights do as much for your heart health as cardio workouts, but it also provides you with a lean-muscle coat of armor against life’s inevitable blows.”

So join the gym, jump in the pool, find a yoga class, or like Laird just attach a rope to a giant log and pull it down the beach. Whatever you do, the only way to continue surfing, is to stay as active outside and in the water as much as possible.

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