Big Surf for Costa Rica

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
June 27, 2016

Today’s journal is going to be session notes from the last 3 sessions.  We just experienced what might have been the biggest swell that I’ve seen hit Costa Rica in the last decade.  A big swell for our coast is 5 or 6 feet at over 15 seconds.  We’ll get one or two swells per year with a solid 18 sec period, but normally we’ll see that only on the build and the swell will fill in at 15 or 16 seconds.

Last week was a different animal.  The frontrunners slammed into our coast Thursday at 4 feet at 22 and 23 seconds and the swell held Friday at 7 feet at 19-20.  Swell energy is exponential.  Here’s the best guide I’ve found to understanding swell period.

I like bigger surf, but that’s relative – Florida grown and ten years in Costa Rica.  I love surf up to 10 ft. faces, double-overhead depending on the break, but the reality is that our beaches don’t hold our biggest swells.

For this past swell Oscar and I did some exploring.

During the Progression Project Origins trip we surfed a left reef break that few folks surf.  It’s a scary wave because of a boneyard that sits 10 feet from the takeoff spot.  If you get lost in the lineup, you can literally run right into a dry rock on your bottom turn.  I don’t like surfing there much, but on this past swell it was the only spot holding.  It actually ended up being less consequential than on smaller swells as the waves were so big it was pushing the break out off the boneyard.

Here’s a pic of Oscar at Oscar’s Reef (Named after Oscar Mon who’s the only person crazy enough to enjoy surfing there)


Some notes on surfing bigger waves –

  • The surfing actually felt slower.  The waves are bigger and moving faster, but you have more time to position and more room for error.  Almost feels like surfing in slow motion as I’m used to surfing smaller, punchier beach breaks.
  • I didn’t realize how fast I was going until I would go to turn.  Burying the rail on the Infinity backside was incredibly difficult.  I had to use the slingshot technique and sit way back on my tail.
  • It is much easier to surf that wave on a SUP than on a shortboard.  We were surfing with a few shorboarders, quite good surfers, but getting in on the shortboard was very difficult, as was being in the right spot.




Progression Journal


  • Jonathan

    Good point about the surf feeling slower and having the time to position yourself although the mistake costs are greater…

    Do you think a gunner style board would have helped with riding the waves?

    • Erik -- PaddleWoo

      Definitely. I actually picked up an 8.0 for bigger days. That blog is coming today.

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