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 KAYAK SURFING

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This same year, 1992, Mark Olson, told us that there was a World Surf Kayak competition in Santa Cruz, California, in the famous Steamers Lane. An immense point wave that is under a reef from where everything that is happening in the sea is seen – something precious and unique. Our group came to organize a World Rafting Championship on the Reventazón River, and we were left with the desire to continue organizing events related to the sport of our interest. We had the contacts, sponsors, and most of all the desire to do new and novel things in our country.

Not only did we go to the 1993 World Championship, in Santa Cruz, California – we went with a proposal to organize the next championship, in 1995, here in Costa Rica. Of course the response was not only unanimous acceptance, but applause and celebration by all the Kayak Surfing group present in that tournament, which at that time were only from the USA and the United Kingdom. This is the time in which surfers who attended that tournament always remind me of. I’ll tell you details later …This was a unique opportunity, for the world of Kayak Surfing, to grow and to involve the rest of the world in sports. At a competitive level, there were two powers: the Gringos, almost all Californians, and those from the United Kingdom. In the latter group: Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland and the Jersey Islands.

With the “Ticos” we already had 7 teams, 12 participants per team- we numbered 84 people for the tournament. In order to organize this World Cup, they put conditions on us. The most important and the really fun, was that we had to organize at least 4 championships in two years here in Costa Rica and go to participate in competition twice abroad. With these conditions they made sure that we got involved fully and that the organization was the best possible. With the store, I had to travel to the places where the surf action was, and I stayed connected with the world group. We were united.

 

I have to mention one of the relationships that helped the most in this process … LACSA! The sales manager for Los Angeles, California, was Rodolfo Dent- an intimate friend of mine and ¨compa¨ of life. If it had not been for Rudy, things would have gone differently. LACSA became the number 1 sponsor of the upcoming World Cup to be organized in Costa Rica. We traveled to almost all the destinations with the airline for free. We were on standby, but they almost always got us on flights, especially from Los Angeles and San Francisco. I could go to a tournament on Friday morning, and return on the Sunday flight at midnight. All this gave me a lot of personal exposure and helped me to understand and to learn from these tournaments and their organization.

 

As a side note, at that time – about 8 months before the World Cup here, I was surfing SIT ON TOPS … I had finished second and third in two or three tournaments in California, I had won 1 or 2, and with Mark Olson we were the terror of the waters. They introduced me as ¨The King of The Sit on Tops¨ . Once, we were in a final with two more dudes and missing 1 minute to finish the hit. We were alone on the point, because conditions were very rough and the other two dudes were already on the beach. We cast ROCK PAPER SCISSORS to decide who would take the next wave – I won, took the next wave and took the championship!

That was south of San Francisco, I believe in a place called Pacifica. The WORLDWIDE Surf Kayak dream was very much on track. I just had to do something to bring together the two powers of Kayak Surf here in Costa Rica: the Gringos and the greats of the United Kingdom.You can imagine the difficulty in resolving the two sets of rules in the world of oar sports: the English have always been stubborn.

 

I met with Rudy Dent from LACSA and I explained my plan. Next to Hotel FIESTA at that time, we programmed a weekend of surfing and water sports. It was called. THE PARTY OF THE WAVES. Organized by us and María Amalia Rebelo from the Fiesta – a GREAT EVENT: super fun, and full of activities. The Party of the Waves, was from August 28 to September 5, 2003, in Boca Barranca. All the foreigners came for LACSA, its official sponsor. Dan Crandal came from the United States for the the tournament- one of the best of the sport. Dennis Hudson also came, as organizer of the World Cup and the most important annual tournament of this sport to this day, The Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival.

 

Paul Mchuegh, Judge and connoisseur of the gringo rules, and some friendly gringos who were in the same group, came as well, but ended up being more fun than helpful! Mark Olson, Scott McGuiare and Scott Tilney, as well as Colleen, a girlfriend of Dan Crandal who was a specialist in taking scores during tournaments, taught us a lot. Very importantly, Mark invited TIM NIEMIER, owner and designer of the first ´Sit On Top´OCEAN KAYAKS.

 

From the United Kingdom came Malcolm Pearsy, manufacturer of kayaks and a consistently influential person in the sport. We were also accompanied by a select group of people from Central America, Víctor Gallo, Rolando Mayorga from Nicaragua, and Che Mariano Cash. After the Tournament, we rented two minivans and we went to meet, surf, drink and have fun, and talk rules for a week in Guanacaste. The base was TAMARINDO. It was a process of 3 people talking for hours to cover all the points of the rules in which there were differences between the US and UK. With these summaries, we decided that I  would be responsible during the next 3 months to REWRITE a new set of regulations. Basically what had changed was the technical specifications of the kayaks to reflect the new technologies being developed.

 

In just 12 months, we had already organized 3 practice tournaments. We already had more followers and the support among kayakers was increasing. We already had: Hotel Yield, El Fiesta Hotel, LACSA Sponsor Airline and one or another national and gringo sponsor, but nothing serious. With this we started to form the COSTA RICA TEAM. We started training on weekends and on weekdays when we could, and again with the support of LACSA- by March 1995, we brought a team to the Santa Cruz Festival, California. At the Kayak Surf festival in Santa Cruz, we were what for the first time in our country could be called a Costa Rica Team, or Team Costa Rica.

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To participate we went: Jency Cabrera, Laura Montenegro, Víctor Gallo, Rolando Mayorga, Mariano Cash and me. Accompanying were: Rodrigo de Bedeout, as representative and promoter of the Hotel Fiesta and Roberto de Bedeout.This trip was promotional for the tournament- they gave us a place standing and we did what we had to do taking turns. The truth is that Costa Rica did not have to promote it much, but it definitely helped us to be there. Once back in our country, we began to do the last things to finish the organization of what we called at the beginning, THE THIRD WORLD KAYAK SURF CHAMPIONSHIPS …​

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