I recently made the annual pilgrimage to San Carlos on the Pacific
side of Baja, Mexico over the week before Memorial Day. For those
of you unfamiliar with this place, it's pretty much a rugged, remote
section of the Baja Coast with great wind and surf. It's about 5
hours from the US border, plus another two down a rutted, washed
out dirt road that rattles your fillings out and never seems to
end. For die-hard wave sailing, however, it's a paradise.
There are really two distinct sailing spots in San Carlos, separated
by a point. The south side of the point has a nice reef that makes
even big surf peel off in slow, gentle, mushy rights that you can
ride a long way down the beach (I've heard rumors that pro Rich
Meyers rode one wave all the way south to the fish camp about a
mile down). Trouble is, if the wind is really offshore there is a
big wind hole right in the impact zone, which is often ***
people and equipment. Launching is also sort of a headache (especially
at low tide) since you have to walk out 100 yards or so to get past
the rocks. No nice sandy beach.
The other spot on the north side of the point is a little easier
to launch and doesn't usually have as much of a wind hole. The surf
usually isn't as nice, but there is an interesting break further
offshore that everyone calls the Bambura(sp?) (pronounced bomb-BOOR-ah).
It's not that wide, but peaks up into these great steep ramps that
make for major air if you're so inclined.
I got to San Carlos on Tuesday morning and met up with friends who
had come down on Saturday. Apparently, Saturday was a hellacious,
survival sailing day with surf over mast-high and people getting
spanked on 3.5's. Sunday and Monday were a bit tamer but made for
ideal sailing with mast-high waves and solid 4.0 weather. Of course,
the wind died off when I arrived, and Tuesday allowed me to use my
first new sail ever (5.0 Neil Pryde twin cam wave/slalom) in
half-mast-high surf. Probably a good thing for me, since I hadn't
really sailed since the previous Memorial Day trip to San Carlos.
Wednesday turned out to be another epic day, with the surf picking
up again to mast-high proportions, and solids 4.0 weather. We spent
about half the day up at the Bambura which actually had decent
waves inside. Not much of a crowd, as almost everyone had left.
Thursday the wind backed off a bit, but it was still solid 4.5
weather and the surf held up. Most of the time, the three of us
were the only people on the water. Unfortunately it was also a day
to sacrifice equipment to the wind gods. I got caught inside after
getting closed out on a wave, and somehow the plate that the mast
base screws into pulled out of the mast track, separating the rig
from the board. I was able to float the rig in, but the board got
stuck in a rip tide and combined with the side- offshore wind it
got blown out to sea. We tried looking for it, but couldn't get
far enough down the coast to the most likely place it would've
ended up. So, if you find an old 8'10" Windsport San Diego wave
board the next time you're in the area, I'd appreciate you dropping
it by on your way back over the border. :-)
By the time Friday rolled around we were ready to head home. The
wind was very light all morning and a sizeable crowd had rolled in
overnight. I didn't feel much like slogging through the impact zone
on my 9'2" Seatrend. The wind wasn't so bad outside, but I saw two
broken masts from people getting hammered in the impact zone. You
just couldn't get out unless you got a gust and lucky timing to
make it past the sets.
Last year my lesson was not to be overpowered when wave sailing -
this year I learned/confirmed that the most hazardous wave sailing
days are those with no wind in the lineup. I just hope that the
next road trip will be a bit easier on the equipment...
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