Behind the Scenes…

“Some people do not understand the allure of Stand up Paddling; it’s much harder than regular surfing, and at the Mexican Pipeline, it’s borderline insane….”

I have been surfing in Puerto Escondido for over 20 years.  I first made the journey from South Carolina so that I could learn to surf big waves at the Mexican Pipeline.  Instantly, I felt right at home in the waves, in the town and with the people I met there.

My longtime friend, Puerto local Angel Salinas, does a lot of good for the community there.  Angel owns Central Surf, the first surf shop in town and he started hosting surf events many years ago.  Now he puts on invitation only contests for stand-out surfers.  I was stoked when he started his SUP contest three years ago, and I was on the invite list.  Angel may be the first guy who was doing stand up paddling in Mexico.

Even with the difficulty of traveling with big, ten foot surfboards, I always cannot wait to get there to see my friends and the giant waves.  It’s not about winning a contest; it’s a meeting of the tribe!

Some people do not understand the allure of Stand up Paddling; it’s much harder than regular surfing, and at the Mexican Pipeline, it’s borderline insane….

Boards just break here!

Chasing 12 to 15 foot waves on a ten foot paddleboard feels like hunting mountains of moving water.  You see the waves coming from way out at sea, then you race to meet them just as they are standing up, looking their meanest.   You dig in with your paddle against the hard off-shore wind as you teeter on the top of the beast, then free-fall into the tube.

Stuffing yourself, a paddle and a ten foot board into the tube is no easy feat.  The bigger the wave, the better.  You either get a 10 point ride, or, chunks of broken board and paddles as the wave detonates over you.

All of the contestants of last week’s Central Surf Pro caught epic waves and got their turn at hideous wipeouts.  The joy of surfing the event with old friends and new is what it is all about.  Showing the spectators and surfers what we can do in the waves on our stand up paddleboards felt really good.

Stand up surfing and paddling is sweeping the world.  It is a fantastic way to experience any water, lakes, rivers and ocean.  Water is water and SUP gives you access like nothing else.  We don’t go anywhere without our paddleboards.

Even though I just turned forty, this year I’ve been more active than ever.  I celebrated my big birthday by surfing Pipeline in Hawaii, then in May I paddled 225 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  This summer I paddled uninhabited islands in South Carolina.  I am in the best shape of my life.A lot of people start to physically decline when they hit their forties and fifties.  I plan to be active well into my 100’s.  Besides paddleboarding and surfing, to stay in shape I eat healthy, organic foods and have a full, daily regimen of premium MegaFood whole food vitamin supplements.  I want to continue to live the life of my dreams, charging big waves and having adventures.

Painting with the locals of Playa Zicatela

With age, I feel wiser and I can see the impact of actions from my distant past.  For over 20 years, I’ve been going down to Puerto and have painted surfboards for the local kids.

It’s not easy for locals to earn money down there, and so the kids’ surfboards are always old and damaged.  The only new boards you see on the beach are those of travelers from out of town.

A little Uni Posca paint pen painting on an old board makes it look new again, and that does magic for the morale of kids in a small Mexican town.

I’ve watched people grow up here, and some of the guys, now grown up, tell me that when they were a kid and I painted their boards, it left them feeling pure joy.  Now, they give me waves and they run the place.  They are my friends.  It’s more than just art; it’s giving each other your time.

This year I sat in the grass with my Uni Posca paint pens and painted surfboards while a crowd surrounded me.  We all spent time together, kids, parents, contestants, lifeguards and tourists.  We made something out of nothing.  It was the place to be, there in the grass.  The energy of joy everywhere.

Those young kids got to see how simple life can be.  Plus I just earned another ten years in the Puerto line up!

We are all a part of each other’s stories now.

Life is Good – Drew

For details on the contest (I got third place!):  go to CentralSurf.tv and Surfline.

Special Thanks to:

MegaFood – I’ve never felt healthier.  I am strong and fit, giving me the confidence to do anything!  And, their sponsorship enabled me to be there for the contest.

Hinano Tahiti – For my great clothes, the legend board shorts are awesome.  And, their contribution to my travel to Puerto also allowed me to be there.

Ron House and Riviera Paddle Surf – Mike Muir of Riviera Paddlesurf made sure I had new boards to compete with.  They rode amazing.

Kialoa Paddles – Only the best will do in these waves.

Keen – My Keen Waimea toe guard flip flops rule – no more stubbed toes!

Ocean & Earth – My leash never broke, thanks to the world’s strongest leash. 

Hoven Vision – Boy I needed good shades the sun is always bright in Mexico!

Drew in Puerto - Photo by Saul Vasquez

Surfboards just break here….”

Today was the first day of the Central Surf Pro Stand Up Paddle Surf Contest in Puerto Escondido, Zicatela Beach.

The contest is scheduled to run from 7 a.m. to noon every day.

The waves were about 6 feet and glassy – the swell is expected to pick up tomorrow and Sunday, so we should be getting some giant tubes, which is what I live for.

Scott Chandler, California big wave charger and shaper, got a perfect 10 in today’s heat, and one of the best barrels I’ve ever seen!

Puerto Beauty Photo by Angel Salinas

 

Boards just break here...

Puerto Escondido is living up to it’s reputation with big tubes and snapping boards and paddles in half.

Surfboards just break here….

It’s so hot  and humid, it’s unbelievable.  By 11:30 a.m. you’re melting, and unless you’re out surfing, you have to go indoors to escape the oven.

After the contest I had a great breakfast with Carlos from Acapulco, popped a MegaFood supplement, then went back out for another surf.

There’ll be another update tomorrow.  I got some great photos and will post them all later.

Contest begins again at 7 a.m. – praying for big surf.

To see photos and live action of the contest, go to http://centralsurf.tv/ in the morning Sat & Sun.

Life is Good!  Drew

One of two things happen when you see monstrous, huge waves that you’re about to surf  for the first time; you either look at it like “there’s no way in hell I’m going out there” or you look at it with joy, because you’ve been waiting for this moment all your life.

The first time I surfed Puerto Escondido I was just a kid out of high school.  I saved up as much money as I needed just to get there.  I left the states with just one surfboard, a pair of board shorts and $50 in my pocket.  Being from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, all I wanted to do was charge BIG waves.

Local Myrtle Beach shaper Gary Wilson had shaped me the only big-wave surfboard probably ever made in Myrtle Beach at the time.  It was an 8’6″ gun and it ended up being one of my favorite boards of all time.

When I arrived Puerto, I remember flying right over the beach and seeing the biggest waves I’d ever seen in my life.

One of two things happen when you see monstrous, huge waves that you’re about to surf for the first time; you either look at it like “there’s no way in hell I’m going out there” or you look at it with joy, because you’ve been waiting for this moment all your life.

Needless to say, twenty years later I’m still surfing Puerto and loving it!

Fountain of Youth!

The downside:  it’s always a pain dragging surfboards all over the world.  So I pack as light as possible, taking only the bare essentials.

For this Puerto Trip, I’m taking:

  • MegaFood vitamins that keep me fit and energetic (at 40, I don’t want to miss a day of my vitamins)
  • Hinano Tahiti clothing, which I designed trunks and t-shirts for
  • 2 Ron House Paddle Surfboards by Riviera Paddle Surf:  a 9’1″ and a 10’6″
  • 2 Kialoa Paddles
  • 2 surfboards:  My 8’0″ Gerry Lopez pipe-gun (I’ve had a blast on this board) and my 5’10” Ron House Twin Fin (also a blast anywhere I take it)
  • Ocean & Earth Leashes
  • And my Keen flip flops (2 pairs)
  • Laptop:  Left behind

My new Tree of Life boardies

I’m very fortunate that I have sponsors that support what I’m doing.  This trip is made possible by the cool people at MegaFood and my good friends Teva and Aja at Hinano Tahiti.

It’s been a huge task just gathering all the equipment and supplies needed for this trip.  Dragging it all the way down to Mexico is nothing compared to surfing the giant tubes that await me!

The waves are supposed to be 8′ when I arrive.  Stay tuned for my next update.

Life is Good,  Drew

Loving my Puerto Tube! Photo (c) MoonWalkerPhotos.com

SUP allowed us to take off deeper and be at the bottom, waiting for the tube to throw over.  From there, it’s just trying to stuff a 10’ surfboard inside a big tube and hold on!

I’m really excited that I’m invited to compete in the Puerto Escondido Stand Up Paddle Surf contest in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.  Sponsors Hinano Tahiti and MegaFood are making the trip possible.

It’s often called “The Mexican Pipeline” because Puerto Escondido has some of the heaviest tubes in the world!

In 2008 I surfed in this event with waterman Chuck Patterson, Duane DeSoto and other great athletes.  At that time, none of us were even sure that you could stand up surf the waves at Puerto.

But on the height of the swell, just before the contest, all of the athletes pushed SUP to its limits and got giant barrels!

What’s great about SUP at a place like Puerto is that it allows you to sit really far out the back, and you can see the waves coming from a greater distance, allowing you to get in a better position earlier, hunting the waves from behind.

SUP allowed us to take off deeper and be at the bottom, waiting for the tube to throw over.  From there, it’s just trying to stuff a 10’ surfboard inside a big tube and hold on!

One of the crazy things about Puerto is that the waves are so big, just the paddle out takes a lot of strength and endurance.   Some don’t even make it out and end up on the beach, defeated.

I have to be in the best condition possible, so I’ve been preparing by paddling every day and getting my body in tip top shape.

Just like I did before SUPPING the challenging rapids of the Colorado River, I’m staying in shape on the inside, too. Maria makes healthy salads for me every night and we juice in the morning.  I take100% whole food vitamins by MegaFood and eat as much organic food as possible.

I feel privileged to be invited to compete again this year.  Riding big tubes is one of my specialties and I’m up to the challenge.

I hope the waves are huge this year!

Life is Good – Drew

Seth Warren enjoying the beauty of the Colorado River

When my good friend Seth Warren asked me to standup paddle gnarly rapids, 225 miles down the Colorado River, and live in the wild Grand Canyon country for 16 days, I wasn’t sure I should go.

But I knew it was a trip of a lifetime.
Not just anybody is allowed to do it – you have to put your name in for a “lottery” and some people wait years for their names to be pulled.
The river was running it’s highest in thirty years and the rapids were super crazy, and it was awesome!
We took some Go-Pro cameras with us and documented as much as we could.  Some of the footage was used in The Paint Shop TV show and you can watch it here:  (Please leave a comment if you like it)
Fred Swegles of the Orange County Register Newspaper wrote an article about the expedition, and you can read it here:  SURFER’S GRAND CANYON RUN AN ADVENTURE LIKE NO OTHER.
It’s also been written about in the January 2012 Issue of STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE – a 6 page spread of photos and story written by Seth Warren.
The March 2012 issue of STANDUP JOURNAL magazine also featured photos of the trip.

 

The Paint Shop Episode 6 “Life is Grand” Full Episode in HD from The Paint Shop on Vimeo.

The Paint Shop Episode 6 “Life is Grand” Full Episode in HD

In this episode, Drew goes stand up paddle boarding through the rapids of the Grand Canyon with his friend, award-winning filmmaker and adventurer, Seth Warren. After 16 days in the wilderness, he’s glad to be back in the studio working on a new painting featuring reptiles for local San Clemente shop “Reptiles Reptropolis”.