One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting Costa Verde, International School. This school had a very different approach and vibe from other elementary schools I have visited. Costa Verde target goal is to not only help each child excel in academics, but to place a huge focus on acquiring fluency in a second language and to teach a profound understanding of a "green" approach to living. Costa Verde's entire curriculum centers on ecology and respect for the environment. Chalk boards were filled with the children's hand written personal sayings like, "You need to clean the earth as good as you clean your body." The kids were so excited to see meet each professional surfer. Surf Ambassadors, James Pribram and Chuck Patterson, played a series of games in celebration of Earth Day that required them to run around the playground with buckets of water on their heads and get completely drenched. Hawaiians Ekolu Kalama and Ikaika Kawai brought a bit of Hawaiian culture the to classes by playing the eukele and teaching the kids about the Hawaiian culture. The kid's sweet voices and laughter echoed thoughout the school. It was definitely a day I'll never forget.
I have visited Sayulita several times in the past, but this trip definitely left a warm fuzzy feeling in my body. I have a small grin on my face as I type this blog in my office. I did manage to score some fun surf, help raise some money for the community and meet some amazingly talented people that will be lifelong friends forever. But honestly, I think it was the unbelievably sweet smiles on the children's faces as the waved goodbye that makes my heart melt.
First off, a big thank you to everyone who made the inaugural Punta Sayulita Longboard & Stand-Up Paddle Classic on April 17th and 18th an incredibly fun and successful event that was not only a blast for the thousands of folks who came out for it but, best of all, helped the local community and coastal ecosystem. It was the first of what's sure to become a major annual event and is already known around Sayulita as "the Classic".
Kevin Roberts, a principal with event organizer Punta Sayulita, was thrilled. "This year's Classic was blessed by good waves and a great community vibe that surrounded the weekend event," he said. "Moreover, with the support of the competitors, sponsors, volunteers and spectators, the Classic was able to raise a total of US$9,000 for the local chapter of The Reef Check Foundation and the Punta Sayulita Foundation."
In addition to the remarkable natural beauty of Sayulita, our Honorary Classic Ambassadors made the weekend particularly special, including surfing legends James "Eco Warrior" Pribram, Carlos "Coco" Nogales and local hero, Mexico's National Longboard Champion, Patricio "Ticho" Gonzalez. They were joined by Mexico's most recognizable celebrity couple, Andrea Legarreta and Erick Rubin, the Nayarit Secretary of Tourism, Edwin Hernandez, and the Mayor of the Bay of Banderas, Hector Paniagua.
And then there were the amazing competitions themselves, which featured an international field of professional and amateur surfers competing in longboard and stand-up paddle ("SUP") surf contests, along with open ocean SUP distance races.
The festivities began on Saturday morning, with an hour-long blessing ceremony performed by an indigenous Huichol Indian group, captivating spectators and competitors alike, and making way for the great waves in every riveting competition that followed.
In a tightly contested Men's SUP surf contest featuring SUP legends Chuck Patterson of Dana Point, CA, Ekolu Kalama of Molokai, Hawaii, and Sayulita resident, Ryan Helm, a relative newcomer to SUP surf competitions—26-year old Ikaika Kawai of Maui, Hawaii—took the SUP title, with Helm capturing 2nd place and Patterson taking 3rd place. Kawai's win at the Classic qualified him to compete in the SUP World Tour Trials taking place in Biarritz, France next weekend. "I'm really excited, it was fun," says Kawai. "I've only been competing since last summer and this was my first contest with my new Focus™ gear, the 10’ Pro board and paddle."
Iron man Chuck Patterson took charge in the 10k Punta to Punta open ocean SUP distance race, placing first with a winning time of 1 hour and 20 minutes, with Ryan Helm taking 2nd and Dave Collins finishing 3rd place.
After two days of competition lasting late into Sunday afternoon, Sayulita resident and 3-time Mexican National Longboard champion, Patricio "Ticho" Gonzalez, edged out "Toes on The Nose" team rider, Darren Eudaly, of Laguna Beach, CA to take 1st Place in the Men's Longboard contest. Gonzalez pulled off an amazing and exhausting come-back win, working his way through the loser's bracket after losing in his first heat on Saturday morning.
On the women's side, professional Mary Osborne of Ventura, California took 1st place in the women's longboard contest, edging out 15-year old, up-and-coming longboarder Hallie Rohr of San Clemente, CA who nabbed 2nd place with Michelle Richards of Nova Scotia, CA in 3rd place. Hallie's teammate on the San Clemente High School Surf Team, 16-year old Emmy Merrill, held her own being the only woman competing against the men in the SUP contest and in the 10k SUP distance race. Merrill outlasted several men in the SUP race, placing 8th overall with a time of 1 hour and 35 minutes.
According to Honorary Ambassador James Pribram, "The Punta Sayulita Classic was a great example of an event that was predicated on the good old vibe in surfing know as the 'aloha spirit'. Today surfing for me isn't so much about riding a particular board or riding the biggest wave or competition for that matter. It's about the people who are joined at the hip for the love of the ocean. I admire those who give back to the very thing that has given them so much and the Punta Sayulita Longboard & SUP Classic was a perfect example of just that."
The Classic received significant interest from the media and was covered by both Fox Sports Mexico and Televisa Sports Network (TDN), as well as two independent television production companies, one of which is going to incorporate its coverage of the Classic into a tourism video promoting the Riviera Nayarit where Sayulita is located. Highlights from the Classic can be seen on these Mexican cable channels.
For full contest information, results and photographs visit www.puntasayulitasurfclassic.com or contact Jose Luis Caselin at U.S. Toll Free (866) 947-6017 or +52 (329) 291-3957. For more information about Punta Sayulita visit www.puntasayulita.com.
Thanks again to everyone who helped make our first Punta Sayulita Longboard & Stand-Up Paddle Classic such a fantastic success. Incorporating community and environmental stewardship are core principles of Punta Sayulita and hosting events like the Classic are a perfect way to bring it all together in one fun filled weekend. Punta Sayulita will announce shortly the dates for next year's Classic.
Here's to many more and, if you were unable to join us this time, we hope you can make next year's Classic and all the other great events happening at Punta Sayulita in the meantime!
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Sayulita, Nayarit 63732
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