The Art of Dominating the Waves

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español

Have you ever been to the sea and seen people surfing? They make it seem so easy. In reality, it’s a sport that goes beyond simply gliding along the waves on a board. It’s about precision, strength, and a calm mind and steady breathing.

At The Voice of Guanacaste we observed a surf class in order to learn about this sport.

Maria del Mar Alfaro was the instructor in charge. She has more than 15 years of experience among the waves and currently leads Bodhi del Mar surf camp in Nosara, Guanacaste.

This zone, according to Alfaro, is chosen by schools and surfers for its flat ground (it doesn’t have holes or steep drop-offs) and for having calm tides (in the case of Guiones). The way that waves break on the beach isn’t rough, which makes it ideal for beginners.

Malin and Anne Nicholas (mother and daughter) were students on this occasion. A long-sleeved shirt and sunblock was all they needed. The academy takes care of the equipment (the boards.)

The instructions are given on land and the the first thing they discussed was safety.

“Surfing is for everyone,” Maria del Mar tells us. It’s easy for some people because they play other sports, but the most important thing is to have the desire to learn.”

The type of board you chose depends on your experience level, the waves and the maneuverspirouettes we want to do. But for now all we have to know are the names of some of its elements, such as the keels, which are the fins on the back part of the board, and that they will help us give direction to our movements.

One, Two, And Stand Up!

Still in the stand, the next step was to learn to paddle. With arms on each side of the board and curved hands, you’re ready. In the sea, a good paddling technique will help us advance quickly and catch good waves. Up until now, everything was easy.  

But we still hadn’t learn the key to surfing: Standing up. The movement to do this must be done all at once.

You push yourself upwards (as if trying to jump) while extending your arms and bending your knees. Look straight forward and keep your balance! We have to practice several times in order to get it right.

You have to put half your strength in the left foot and half in the right, and always stay in the middle of the board,” sais Maria del Mar as she admits it can be complicated.

Catching Waves

Now comes the fun part. During the lessons we surf in the shallowest part, where you can get on and off the board easily.

At this point, you have to control your breathing so you don’t get flustered and be able to stay in the water for a while.

You have to remember everything. First you must remember to paddle, then control your position on the board (always staying in the middle of it) and standing up. The exercise comes when you are in motion, gliding along and increasing speed as the water carries you. It’s not easy, but it is gratifying.

An alliance with waves 

Maria del Mar entered the world of surfing after joining her two passions: the sea and swimming.

It all started in 2003 when she opened Del Mar Surf Camp in Playa Hermosa in the central Pacific region of our country. Back then, the project was exclusively “by women, for women.”

That’s the way it was for more than eight years, until she decided to expand her classes to men as well, the majority of them children and husbands or boyfriends of the women who wanted to join the world of surfing.

“Women came to take classes and they left with more confidence. They left saying, ‘yes I could.’That, for me, was the most important part,” the instructor says with a tone of satisfaction in her voice.

She operated three surf camps in the country after opening a headquarters for the school in Santa Teresa, Puntarenas and another one in Nosara, which was the same one that, years later, would fuse with the Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort and give rise to Bodhi del Mar.

Today, this alliance allows her to offer packages that combine surf lessons with yoga or pilates.

With this, we realize that Guiones isn’t just one of the options preferred by tourists who are experienced want to experiment, but also for those who know very little to nothing about the sport.