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Winter travels to Punta San Carlos, Mexico

Wavesailing in Baja had been on my bucket list since reading about Jason Polakow slaying all comers in the a PWA event at this remote location in 1999. During the 1980’s and 1990’s the exact location of Punta San Carlos (PSC) had been a very well-kept secret amongst southern Californian wavesailors. Disguised photos, and misleading names such as Point Centerino, ensured that only ‘friends of friends’ had PSC to themselves. The founder of SoloSports, Kevin Trejo has been running trips to the area since 1987 and created his multi-sport ‘surf’ camp after securing a lease to the land.

I flew in from San Diego which gave me an extra 2 days sailing which was worth the extra $300US. If you choose this option, make sure that your passport is handy is you land in Tijuana or Esanada to clear customs before the final leg into PSC. One client did manage to lose his passport during his stay and had to walk across the border to get home. Our pilot did a ‘surf-check’ by flying a few meters above a long stretch of beach on the trip down. A new NW swell would be hitting PSC on our arrival.

We landed safely next to the camp and the wind was just coming up. Kevin greeted myself, Bob and Flavio and quickly dispensed with the camp tour. “Here’s your tent, don’t drink the water – there’s a full cooler over there and don’t leave your sail out in the sun!” My two airline passengers and I were keen to hit the water and promptly grabbed the wrong sized gear in order to spend next hour being humbled in the Baja break. The first day everyone learns the hard way! I only changed sails three times starting with a 5.0, moving to 4.2 and ending up on a 3.7. Yep, it was pretty strong that first day but 30 knots was unusual. I should have picked one sail, erring on the smaller side for the predominantly cross off DTL conditions and stuck with it as the wind grades up and down all afternoon. Day two was much more successful.

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The next two weeks followed a pretty relaxed regime. I would roll out of my tent around 7am or so and grab coffee. I would then have chat to the few other clients before breakfast; Doug from Pensilvania, Roberto from Norway or Bob from San Francisco. Emerita would cook breakfast and then I would see what the conditions were going to do for the day. If the swell was up I would SUP, if not I would take a bike out to the trails in the desert or just relax on the lounge catching up on some reading. I did sail one morning as the wind came up early and another morning was taken up with a trek up to the top of the mesa. The day would end usually chilling at the bar with a few Baja Fogs (Corona with Tequila and lime) watching the last sailors or kiters rip up the point waves in the late afternoon. Reliving the best moments of the day, talking technique or just hanging out was a great way to cool down for dinner. Each night was a different Mexican dish, freshly made and plenty of calories to replace what had been burned during the day. My favourite meal was the green peppers stuffed with lobster, another night was freshly cooked crab.

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Ok, so what were the conditions like? The waves out the front were very much like ‘Gerroa’. Not too fast and breaking down the line. Even though the wave had a long wall ahead of you, it held up for ages, encouraging a more vertical attack on the lip and then cutting back into the face to set up for another bottom turn/top turn combo. On occasion, the wave would section up and you could punch a little aerial or feel-good smack into the face. Anything over head high had a fair bit of punch and the lip would ‘throw’. But generally, the break was pretty crumbly and harmless encouraging you to perfect technique and timing. The Point wave was similar rolling in over the kelp bed forming up a genuine ‘A’ frame as it swelled around the headland into the Chilli bowl. Again, plenty of time to get yourself set for a bottom turn/top turn. Larger sets would get full as they passed the point before jacking up in the Chilli Bowl. If you kept your speed up you could keep ahead of the break. However, anything headhigh would bend towards you with a lip lining up begging to be hit. On occasion I could get half a dozen top to bottom combos and end up way down into the Chilli bowl about 200 metres away. Most of the time the wind was on the light side, planning later in the day but the key focus is wave riding. I would usually rig a 5.0 or 4.7 and take a big quad around 95litres to get out and maximise control on the wave face. My favourite set up was an 84 litre Quad with a 4.7 even though the wind was 12-17/18knots I was perfectly comfortable. SoloSports has about 50 sails ready to go and over 100 boards from a 72litre quad up to 110litres. There are twinzers, single fins and freestyle waves as well to pick from. At its busiest there were 5 sailors and 5 kiters on the water with plenty of room for everyone.

When the wind did not blow and the surf was up SoloSpports has a range of big SUP’s to use. There are a couple of 9’6” but I monopolised a nice 8’6” that was absolute joy to use in the glassy conditions. I must have supped about 50% of the time I was there because the conditions were that good. The MTB trails are would class and stretch for miles. It was easy to spend an hour or two out in the desert exploring. The runs down through the arroyos, back to the coast, are smooth and nicely packed with sweeping turns, dips and the occasional jump. The “Badlands” trail is a natural eroded river bed that seems like riding through a mini-canyon, with drop-offs and jumps just like a skate park. This trail leads into the Rattlesnake trail, then Maggies’, the Lost Trial and Lions’ Den and then nothing except an itinerant geologist camp.

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It was expensive but the price is ALL inclusive. Three cooked meals a day, help-yourself snack cupboard, all drinks and the best gear you could ever hope to use are all laid on. Remember that everything has to be brought in across the desert, via a 60 mile dirt track from Highway 1. So even though it is (glamour) camping you realise that without considerable logistics and the support of the local Mexican community there would be no fresh water, food or gas.
I will be going back. Highly recommended!

Cheers,
Ossie Tim

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