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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

8.18.14 PM SESSION Reversal of Fortune at Panga Drops

The waves out front looked absolutely dismal out at Colorado so I decided to walk up the beach to see if anything was working.

I knew Panga Drops might be an option, but from this angle and this distance it looked less than stellar.  Eventually I decided to walk the ten minutes to Panga Drops to at least check it out.

As I was about five minutes from arriving, I saw a guy on a right absolutely killing it.  He was pushing hard on the wave and the wave was pushing back in kind.  He was linking turns and seemed like he was having a blast.  My pace quickened.

My first assessment of the wave, before we arrived in Nicaragua, was that it was like Sunzal in El Salvador but with a weaker shoulder.  They had a lot of similarities.  Both are deep water spots requiring a long paddle.  Both have the clunking cobblestones noise when you duckdive.  Both are located at the western end of a natural bay with an expanse of beachbreak, then a rivermouth, then unsurfable rockiness.

Panga Drops has some attractive differences.  Its bathymetry somehow magnifies the swell to easily triple the size of the waves, compared to the surf around it.  It has easily 20% of the crowd Sunzal has, thanks to its distance from population centers. The lefts there break and work, which means there are multiple takeoff spots to further diffuse the crowd. 

I decided to count how many times I paddled before I was in the perch zone.  Can you guess how many?  Remember I was paddling out on a 5'10" so that ups it a bit.  If you guessed bout tree-fiddy you would be correct.  It took exactly 350 paddle strokes to make it out there.

I saw someone paddling around who seemed to be wearing a rash guard with the exact same colors as a stone cold ripper at Colorado, but it turned out to be a grom who was super amped.  Most waves he would stand up on, he'd get blown out the back by the wind.

Since this was my first time surfing here, I didn't know what to expect.  When what appeared to be a left popped up, I eyed it suspiciously for signs of a horrible closeout, like what you'd see at Sunzal.  The signs weren't there and as the wave began to rise with me I popped up, super late but really excited. 

I descended and had SO much speed, I did a long drawn-out cutback.  I pumped a couple of times then decided to kick out.  My angle wasn't severe on the kick-out, but I caught some air and lost my footing, landing somewhat sideways on the deck of my board.

I paddled back out and caught a right, and I as I did a slash on its wide-open face with more speed than I was comfortable with, I made the mistake of letting too much wind under my nose, throwing me off-balance, and sending me off the back of my board.

The amped grom had a comment for me: "At least you got the cutback in!".

A lot of time elapsed between this wave and the next one I caught.  It was another right.  On this one I made sure my weight was over my board and bottom turned with tons of speed.  I found my target and when I went to hit it I either hit a chop or caught air because my board became airborne for less than a second  and then POW, into the drink I went.

I spent the next forty-five minutes on the inside trying to catch one in. I saw the lady who served our breakfast paddle out with a couple of her friends on longboards.  I couldn't seem to catch anything so I had to do the paddle of shame and walk back.

It's definitely the best session I've had on the trip yet, though I'm hoping Colorado does its thing soon...

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