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Nica-lovin’: Simpson, D. Ward, Merle-Jones and Co. Blow Up in Central Am

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

A solid Central American swell lived up to it’s hype and more this weekend, unleashing a heavy dose of beasts and barrels upon the magical coastline of Nicaragua. With some of the world’s best on hand for the classic swell, photo magic was made by our friends at Nicaragua Surf Report. As always, NSR was in the right place at the right time to catch the action going down at one of the top waves in all of Central Am.

Brett Simpson, Dane Ward, Jesse Merle-Jones, and a slew of other top surfers were among those who were fortunate enough to be on hand for the heaving swell, with Merle-Jones once again pulling out of a “holy shit, there’s no way he’s coming out of this one” barrel unscathed. Chances are you’ll be seeing footage from this swell making it’s way to the mags over the coming months. However if you just can’t wait to get a glimpse of what went down, you can head over to NSR and suss out some of the shots captured by their top photographers Jairo Ramos and Roberto.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

The German Charge (Video)

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

marlon lipke

Here are just three of the lessons learned from time spent living in Nicaragua- Actually being able to flush toilet paper in a toilet is a privilege, endless offshore winds and Nica walk hand in hand to create some of the most enjoyable surfing in the world, and there is a new breed of German surfer who is as truly stoked and passionate as surfing as any I’ve ever come across.

Over the past several years, the evidence of the rapid growth seen by sufing in Europe has been everywhere from the numbers of Euro-based surf travelers all the way to the increased contingent of Euro’s on the ASP World Tour. That contingent will be even larger and more diverse in 2009 as Marlon Lipke currently finds himself in a solid position to become the first ever German on the WCT. Hovering around the ‘CT cut-off, Lipke came up big in Portugal by making the quarterfinals at the Estoril Coast Pro recently. By making the quarters, Marlon collected 1625 vital points and with a total of 11450 now sits in 9th on the WQS ratings with the two last big events in Hawaii to go. Being the first German to make the WCT isn’t exactly Barack Obama status on the barrier-breaking scale, but a surfer from a land-locked country joining the Top 44 is a pretty crazy notion and just goes to show how much surfing is catching on all over the world.

More than anything, the passion and dedication to surfing held by the majority of German-shredders I’ve met has simply been remarkable. Regardless of their skill level, they always seem to be the first and last in the water, pushing themselves and making the most out of every session. It’s a beautiful thing to see and we there is no doubt that, although he may end up being the first, Marlon Lipke will not be the last German surfer to make a little bit of noise in the surfing world.

Marlon Lipke shows us Germans really do rip

Posted in Surfing | 2 Comments »

When Bad Roads Happen to Good Waves

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

The fellas over at Nicaragua Surf Report recently posted a few shots that illustrate the benefits of surfing in under-developed countries. They call it the rainy season right now, and they’re not playing around. It rains…and rains….and rains…but even then, the waves keep coming. When the un-godly amount of water coming down is combined with roads barely suitable for donkeys and cattle, the result is this slice of perfection captured by N.S.R. A wave that at times in the dry season is filled to it’s capacity and then some…now completely empty. All you gotta do is find a way to make it there, which, if you scroll through any of the shots taken by N.S. R. in recent weeks, is much easier said than done.

Nicaragua Surf

Nicaragua Surf Report has been at it since 2004. Since then, they have been capturing at the very least a taste of the magic Nicaragua holds on a daily basis. Based out of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, N.S. R. started with the simple concept of taking a few shots with a basic digital camera and posting them online. It has since become a blossoming business that has been huge in propelling the local economy. What has struck me about N.S.R., more than anything, is their rapidly growing grassroots following of those who have experienced Nicaragua for themselves. If you have yet to see for yourself just what the Nica-hype is all about, take a few minutes and scroll through past N.S.R. reports. Nicaragua is really that good…

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5 with 5’s: The Future of Nicaragua Surfing

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Rex CalderonAt the ages of 15 and 17 respectively, Rex Calderon and Norwin Estrella appear to be just like any other ordinary teenagers. Their daily agendas are pretty simple: Go to school, surf, and rally around town chasing after the local betty’s. Little do they know, they represent what is a very bright future for surfing in Nicaragua.

Rex and Norwin represent what is the exploding next generation of surfers from a country where surfing is still very much in it’s adolescence. The first time I saw Rex in the water he was finishing up his destruction of a wave with one the smoothest, styled-out, and elevated aerial 360’s I had ever seen. Rex, the current no. 1 ranked Junior in all of Central America, possesses the tools and natural ability to one day become a truly great surfer. He’s been picked up by Quiksilver and a few other smaller sponsors who are aiding Rex to reach his unlimited potential.

Norwin is intriguing as a surfer for the simple fact that at 17 of age, he has only been surfing for 3 years. Yet in 3 short years he has developed into an extremely talented surfer, most recently placing second behind Rex in a contest held at nearby Popoyo. The ultra-consistent, high-quality surf in Nicaragua is providing this generation of young surfers with limitless opportunities to develop their skills. With this, we have much to look forward to as these and the rest of the young up and coming Nica-rippers are tirelessly setting themselves up for big things to come.

Rex and Norwin were kind enough to sit a Sunday session out and participate in a 5 with 5’s. Knowing the passion they have for surfing every second they possibly can, we thank them for this and look forward to watching them, and the rest of this countries next generation of surfers progress towards greatness.

5ones: How old were you guys when you started surfing, and what was it that got you started?

Rex Calderon: I started surfing when I was right around 9 yrs. old. My Uncles Rocky and Cello were always surfing and when I saw them going it made me interested in trying it out. They gave me my first board and I’ve been surfing ever since.

Norwin Estrella: I was 14 when I started. Pretty much all of my cousins and friends were already doing it and were having fun so I decided I wanted to try it.

5ones: What surfers out there inspire you guys?

Rex: For me it’s Andy Irons and Cory Lopez. I guess for competitions I would say Kelly Slater. As far as just aerials and free-surfing I would definitely say Julian Wilson (ear-to-ear smile on his face when mentioning Julian).

Norwin: Andy, Cory, and Freddy Patacchia. We (he and Rex) always surf together and watch movies together so we all like a lot of the same surfers.

5ones: As far as your surfing goes, what are you guys really working on right now and practicing?

Rex: When I first saw the rodeo flip Jamie O’Brien has been throwing I wanted to try it. I’m practicing that a lot right now. I’ve only landed it once though so I’m hoping to get better and throw them consistently.

Norwin: Just throwing a lot of different airs. I love throwing airs and being above the wave so I’m trying to practice as many different airs as I can.

5ones: It’s pretty obvious the area you guys have grown-up in is growing and seeing more visiting surfers than ever before, how do you guys feel about having so many people in the water now?

Rex: I’m cool with it, you know. We have so many waves here and a lot of secret spots so when it does get too crowded we just head over there and it’s no big deal. I don’t really mind it too much.

Norwin: I guess sometimes it really makes it hard because there really are so many people here now, especially at the main breaks like Maderas. When you have so many people it makes it hard to surf and really enjoy it. But like Rex said, we have our secret spots so we can just go there when it gets too crowded.

5ones: What are you guys jamming out to when getting ready to head out for a session?

Rex: Damian Marley, Welcome to Jamroc

Norwin: Easy… System of a Down!

Posted in Surfing | 4 Comments »

Surf Journalism: How Much is Too Much?

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Empty Surf LineupAs I’ve gone about my “on assignment” coverage of the enchanting country that is Nicaragua and the rapidly progressing surf community found here, I’ve been faced with a dilemma that many others throughout the industry encounter when sharing the good news of surfing from various areas around the world. For those who cover surfing, whether it be through writing, photography, film-making, or any other type of media, there is an all too common and ever-present issue we face each time we give love to the places we visit: How much is too much? And where do we draw the line in hopes of preserving the unique ambiance and pristine environment found at many of the relatively unknown breaks held throughout the world?

While sitting down to write a recent article on Playa Colorado, I had not even made it half-way through the first paragraph before one of the very special locals here, as well as a newfound great friend of 5ones, peeped over my shoulder and proceeded to give me a verbal-lashing after absorbing the opening lines. “No!” Allan scolded, “don’t write about that! then even more people will come and where are we going to surf then?” He had a point. I explained to him that I had actually wrestled with this issue for quite some time. Not just with that particular story either, but with all of the coverage we would be doing while having the privilege of visiting this magical land. I did my best to share my point of view that, as far as Playa Colorado in particular goes, the word has been out on this wave for quite some time. This is evidenced by the large number of surfers, both locals and visitors, found at this wave on any given day. He seemed to somewhat understand where I was coming from, or was at least making a concerted effort to do so.

As we continued our conversation we both realized that his concern, as well as the concern of so many others here, is with a much bigger picture and an all too common scenario. He agreed that Colorados was a cat that had already been let out of it’s bag. And with that agreement, he truly opened my eyes to his legitimate concern. It was not that long ago that Playa Colorado used to be a world-class wave that was for the most part secluded from the rest of the world. Now, in large part due to the coverage given to it and surrounding breaks via the world wide web, it is fairly well-known throughout the surfing community and a common target of those who make surf travel a regular part of their lives. In fact, my first venture to Playa Colorado was shared with 40 or so other surfers. That was about 35 more than I had anticipated sharing that session with. I was now beginning to empathize with my dear friend’s plight. If we, or any other publications, share the stories of lesser-known breaks with the rest of the world, will they end up sharing the same fate as Playa Colorado?

This issue comes with a double-edged sword. You see, as is very common with many of the locals here, the way Allan makes his living and supports his family has become dependent upon steadily increasing flow of visitors who have set out to experience the Nicaragua they have been reading about for so long. Through surf transportation, surf lessons, and other surf-related business he does quite well, especially given the overall state of the economy here. Take those same visitors that are overcrowding those once secluded waves away and you take away a lot of the means by which people here make their ends meet.

So where do we draw the line when covering foreign lands and sharing the majesty of these far away places? I guess for each publication it will differ. At 5ones, we try to look at a story from all angles before deciding to go with it or not. While the desire to share the stories of the unimaginable and unknown waves here is always present, it’s crucial that we do what we can to preserve the pristine nature of much of the Nicaragua coastline. Hopefully we don’t ever go too far or reveal too much out of respect to those who truly call Nicaragua home. If we do, we can damn sure count on the friends of 5’s to tug on our ear and let us know.

Posted in Surfing | 5 Comments »

Nicaragua: Not Just For Surfers Anymore

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Caleb Nica Skate PicWith the Kings of Leon emitting fresh vibes into the thick Nicaraguan air and cameras clicking away at a chattered pace, the long-awaited inaugural drop into what will undoubtedly be a huge step of progression for the local skate scene, the Nica Skate Pit, was recently realized in front of family, friends, and many special guests.

The Skateboarding-hombre here at 5ones, my good friend Ruben ‘Studdard’ Najera, wrote a stellar article on the impact this is sure to have on the Nica-skate scene, as well as the limitless potential this project and the minds behind it hold. This was followed up with an unreal 5 with 5’s featuring the one and only Nica Skate Pit Kids themselves.

For myself, having had the privilege to be among the invited guests and be in attendance, it was an event that went even beyond just the skateboarding. While my purpose for being in Nicaragua is to cover the booming surf scene, the unveiling of the Nica Skate Pit held much more meaning than I had ever imagined it would.

The Local Effect
As Ruben and the Nica Skate Pit crew mentioned in the 5 with 5’s, the typical skate style here is a “cross of raw hard-core urban skating, and aggressive surf influenced fluidity.” This obviously has to do with their surroundings and lack of ramps and parks in the area. When some of the local-shredders arrived on the scene, it was clear that they were apprehensive and unsure of the ramp upon first sight. This was new for them and while it took them a few minutes to get going, by the end of the session they had adapted and new possibilities were opening up for them every time they dropped in. The Nica Skate Pit will do wonders for opening doors and allowing the opportunity for local skaters to progress.

The Crossover Effect
While watching Rex Calderon, the no. 1 ranked surfer in Central America, take his skills to the ramp I thought a lot about the lack of opportunity here in Nicaragua for athletes to crossover into other board-sports. Skateboarding will provide the chance for the immensely talented surfers here to expand their game and try things they have yet to think of. Kelly Slater has mentioned many times the inspiration he received from watching Tony Hawk perform. While Rex and the rest of the Nica-rippers will still spend most of their days in the water, the hours at the Nica Skate Pit will serve as an ideal location to enhance their already epic set of skills. Any time there is the opportunity to cross-over, inspiration and progression is abound.

The Educational Effect
“It’s pretty sick, team work was a big part of it. Having a common goal and realizing it was awesome.” 15 yr. old Lyndsey Tennant (Nica Skate Pit Kid).

“A number of things were impressive with this project. The planning of the project and seeing it through, working toward a common goal, the team effort and communication aspect…” Kevin Tennant (Lyndsey’s Father)

How many of us would love to have a skate pit in our backyard? Kevin and Lori Tennant were kind enough to open up for their land for this project, but mostly because of the educational value they saw in the planning, realizing, and maintaining of a project and website of this sort. Throughout the process up to this point, and moving forward from here on out, there is so much to be learned from all who have participated and will participate in the future. This, along with all the other love coming from the Nica Skate Pit, is why this project will be one for the action sports community to keep their eyes on for the years to come.

Click here to check out all the pictures from the event.

Posted in Skateboarding | No Comments »

The Nica Skate Pit

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Caleb Nica Skate PicWe all know Nicaragua is known for its surf, but were you aware that they have a gnarly skate scene as well?

On August 9th, 2008 it was the grand opening of the Nica Skate Pit’s mini half pipe. This mini half pipe will be the foundation towards a possible full on skatepark surrounding it in the future. The Nica Skate Pit crew consists of (Caleb, Lindsey, and Brent) three fellow skateboarders with hearts of gold. They run the Nica Skate Pit and together built this ramp.

Their website, www.nicaskatepit.com, which is already up is now being updated on a daily basis. On their site you’ll be able to find profiles of local skateboarders, photo recaps of daily sessions, and a forum in which all skateboarders can connect and organize future skate sessions together. With the website they have hopes of catching the attention of organizations and companies for financial support or other help to assist in the continued blooming of the Nica Skate scene. So all you companies or sponsors out there, jump on this opportunity! These rad individuals need your help. You would be amazed at how one ramp will inspire kids to start skateboarding in areas where they’ve never even seen skateboarding before.

Brent Nica Skate Pit

Once the word gets out in Nicaragua that a sessionable ramp has been set up for all to skate, the sky will be the limit. You can count on the Nica Skate Pit being a a local success and beyond.

These guys are doing great things over there and I hope many of you become inspired to do the same no matter where you’re located.

Posted in Skateboarding | 1 Comment »

Nica-Wonder: Playa Colorado

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Playa Colorado in NicaraguaIf you were to sit down and list the attributes possessed by any of the world’s top beach breaks, you would quickly realize that Playa Colorado in Nicaragua has all that you could possibly think of and then some. Consistent swell year round….check! Incessant off shore winds…check! A sandbar set up perfectly to provide shacks on nearly every wave….check! Warm water, towering green mountains in the background, short paddle to the line-up….check, check, check. In other words, Playa Colorado is a place that you’ve dreamed of many many times and is everything you could possibly want from a beach break.

When I made my first trip to Playa Colorado, I was lucky enough to have the crew from San Juan Del Sur Surf & Sport show me the way via boat. Pulling out of the harbor nestled within San Juan Del Sur Bay and making the trek north is how most go about making their way there. The Nicaragua coastline is unreal when seeing it from the oceans point of view. You can drive to Colorados (as it’s known by the locals) if you need to, however I highly recommend going by sea as the journey there is nearly as spectacular as the beach itself.

Pulling up to Colorados, I quickly realized why this is one of the premier breaks and frequently chosen surf destinations in Nicaragua. The shape of the wave is almost as perfect as it gets and the fact that it breaks so close to shore makes it a smooth place to watch near flawless waves break one after another while in between sessions.

Although the wave looks very inviting, if not respected it will be more than happy to teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget. Playa Colorado is a wave with an attitude and there is no shortage of boards and leashes that fall victim to it’s unexpected ferocity on any given day. Chances are, if you’re going after it hard enough, you’ll come home with sand in very unexpected places as a result of Colorados’ aptness for roughing up it’s visitors.

While it’s heavy lip will deliver a beating or two, pulling into to pit and having that same burly lip heave overhead at Playa Colorado is something special. It is then at that moment that you understand why Colorados is revered by local and visitors alike as one of the premier waves not only in Nicaragua, but in all of Central America. Playa Colorado is truly a classic break.

Posted in Surfing | 7 Comments »

Playa Maderas: A Classic Wave in it’s Adolesence

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Playa Maderas NicaraguaAs the comforts of San Juan Del Sur are left behind and the cobblestone roads become muddy, bumpy, 4WD-worthy paths, the feeling that you are on your way for to a secluded and unknown wave for the first time slowly creeps over you. Anticipation, nerves, curiosity… It’s a comparable feeling to when you went in for that first smooch with the cutie you had your eyes laid on back in your grom years. The local residents whose simple, yet effective homes line the way throw friendly gestures in the air and their adopted pet monkeys turn their heads with a curious eye. The natural beauty of the Nicaraguan landscape is captivating and almost mesmerizes you to the point that you forget you are on your way to surf what is an incredibly fun and highly consistent wave.

The trek out to Playa Maderas, located just north of S.J.D.S. is one that takes you back in time. The eventual arrival and first vision of the beach….well, not so much. And as was the case when I went in for that first cutie-smooch and hit the nose of my first crush instead of her lips….the sudden feeling of disappointment.

Playa Maderas in many ways is a microchosim of what happens to many amazing waves and beaches in Central America, and around the world for that matter, as their popularity grows and what is taken from these beautiful beaches far outweighs what is being given back. In many ways it is a classic wave who is only in its adolescence as a well-known break.


Posted in Surfing | 3 Comments »

5ones Nicaragua

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

nica surfIt could’ve been while witnessing our new friends, the unbelievably gracious locals, pulling in Mahi Mahi from the shores of one of the most breathtakingly beautiful beaches while using only a hand line. Or perhaps it was following a day of a seemingly endless session of 3-5 ft. surf aided by the undying offshore winds that this part of the country is blessed with (all the while being serenaded by the resident Howler Monkeys). In fact, in the short time that I have been here, there is an already limitless amount of moments that I could choose from to pinpoint the moment when Nicaragua officially opened up her arms and welcomed us.

For an indefinite period of time the 5ones Surf section will be produced from the vibrant city of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. Needless to say, the 5ones team couldn’t be more excited about this new venture. The city of San Juan Del Sur is truly the ultimate surfers melting pot. On any given day you will run into people from Brazil, Argentina, Hawaii, Italy, France, Peru, Australia and so many others….All who have come experience the perfect Nica surf, most of which is aided by the infinite offshores. Speaking with surfers from all over the world brings a truly unique perspective on not only the sport of surfing, but also the issues that matter most to the surfing community.

We will be taking the perspectives of all who speak the universal language of surf and combining them with the 5ones take in hopes of bringing an even more distinct and fresh look into what it is that makes a surfers world go round. As always we welcome feedback, commentary, shared knowledge, and for those who are willing and able, a visit to us here in Nicaragua to experience some of what she has to offer.

Posted in Surfing | 4 Comments »

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