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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

11.23.2011 Playa Larga, Bocas del Toro, Panamá: Last Sesh of the Trip

On this day, we were joined by DJ Struntz, a senior staff photographer for Surfing magazine; Joaquin, a Argentinean vacationer; and, with us as always, Daf.

Rather than deal with the long boat ride from the Red Frog docks, we opted to paddle from the beach to the boat, which saved us a half-hour in the boat. We made it out without incident and headed east towards Playa Larga. It was amazing how much more quickly we got there with our new plan.

The waves were bigger and heavier than our previous two sessions at this spot, nearly a week prior. We anchored pretty far out to compensate for this, but well west of the mysto reef, which would warn us when a set was coming by breaking, then quickly foaming out.

Seeing as to how this would be my last boat sesh for a while, I wanted to be the first one out. In my haste, while tossing the Sharp Eye (same one I surfed on my second sesh here) overboard, I didn't check to see if the leash was clear. It was pinned under other boards, so the board went flying out but then rubber-banded back. Luckily, it stayed over the rail of the boat and the board and boat didn't collide.

After a little ribbing from the guys, I dove in to the beautiful Caribbean water, grabbed the board, and paddled towards the waves. Once there, I paddled for the lefts in front of the dead tree lineup marker, but they weren't working right. I went back to my sweet, sweet rights and within fifteen minutes, found my first ride.

I pig-dog-tucked into the barrel and it quickly decimated me. I gently glanced off the bottom and got back on my board.

I watched as Daf, still paddling in from the boat, was in the perfect spot for a set wave and hooted him into it. That was definitely a sick one, but from my vantage point, I would never see the post-takeoff wave.

About twenty minutes later, I caught a nice, really lined-up right. Rather than stalling and trying to get barreled, I stoop up straight and dropped in. I banked off the bottom and hit the top of the wave, coming down and gaining a little speed. I repeated my actions, though not quite as powerfully this time, then kicked out next to DJ, who told me, "Nice ride".

I was having trouble catching waves on this session. The waves would be there, but I would paddle and pull back because of the too-racy or utter-closeout nature of my chances.

Finally, I caught a good-sized right late and crab-grabbed into the barrel. As I was dropping, my leading hand was in the wall but I realized that I was going to need all of my speed so I tucked it back, parallel to my trunk.

Within fifteen seconds of my coming up, I heard from DJ (regarding my crab-grab), "I can't say I've ever seen that before, but it seems to be working for him". I said to him, "Keep it between us, bro".

The wind came up hard and I was over it. Joaquin and I paddled towards the boat and got in, followed ten minutes later by DJ and Daf. We started back west towards Red Frog Beach and it was a brutal ride in the panga. I elected to stand and use both arms to stabilize myself by grabbing on to the overhead supports for the shade. No one in our crew got seasick, despite the back-and-forth tumult. We dumped out somewhat far off Red Frog Beach and I kept my hand to my sunglasses so as not to lose them in the water. My sunscreen floated up from my boardshort pocket and, wanting to get out of the way as quickly as possible, I stuck it in my mouth end-first and paddled in.

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