SOCAL Windsurfing Blog
SOCAL Windsurfing Experiences    by Austin Morris

PSC Wave Camp - part 1

I had made the trip myself five times over four years about sixteen years before. That was before Kevin Trejo had set up the Campo. In those days, one had to bring everything. It was a true expedition that required some serious planning and preparation. Punta San Carlos (PSC) can be a very inhospitable place for camping. The wind sometimes blows continuously for several days and there is relatively no shelter from it. One had to be pretty hard core even to last a week. But the rewards were worth it. The place is legendary. It is like a giant skate park designed specifically for “down the line” (DTL) wave riding. The wave is gentle and forgiving and is the perfect place to develop and refine the art of front side wave riding. From a DTL technique improvement perspective, I equate one week of sailing in PSC with five weeks in Maui, and three months in California. On an hourly basis, there is no other venue better for learning, improving, and refining DTL wave riding technique. It’s just that consistent.

Now with the Solosports Adventure Holidays camp, much of the hardship has been removed. So after three years of sailing (following my seven year absence) and generally no noticeable improvement, it was time to seek some professional help. By this time the guys at Solosports had the camp really far along, and three time world champion Matt Pritchard with KMAC had several clinics under their belt. I heard some positive remarks through the rumor mill about the clinic so I was ready to give it a try.

I decided to go “first class” and splurge on the full “Fly In” package. I had done the drive several times and was dying to get the aerial tour of the pristine Baja coastline.

Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Solosports arranges the guests into small groups in advance of the trip. Each group is assigned to a plane and pilot who greeted us at Brown Field in San Diego just across the boarder from Mexico. We were allowed to bring a standard sized soft carry on bag with a harness, wetsuit, towel, and small items. The rest was placed into a van with food, gear, water, fuel, and other supplies that drove down and arrived in camp a few hours after sunset.

The planes and guests have to legally enter Mexico. That means one stop either right across the boarder in Tijuana, or Ensenada to clear customs. A tourist card is required and purchased at the airport. The price went up twice with my last two trips so I’m not sure what they charge now. The cards are good for six months. The total travel time including the stop usually takes about two and a half hours. It can take longer if fog affects any of the planned landing areas.

 

PSC Wave Camp part 2

I left off with the “Fly In” option from San Diego. Under normal weather conditions the flight gets in a little after noon, just in time to claim a tent, grab a sandwich, and change into a wetsuit for an afternoon session. Matt Pritchard and KMAC were there to greet all of us right out of the planes. Rodney got me set up with gear right away. The sails are all partially rigged just waiting for booms so no time is wasted. You just pick a pair of booms with your desired harness length and grab a sail from the rack. So it’s good to know your harness length beforehand. If not, Matt has a proven method for getting them right.

The first session is just an opportunity for Matt and KMAC to observe everyone and take notes. They have you write down your personal goals you wish to accomplish at the camp before instruction begins. The legendary windsurfing professional photographer and VP of Marketing for SAH, Clark Merritt is on hand to document your progress. At this point it is worth mentioning that Clark and KMAC have a thing for pyrotechnic displays. If you wish to upgrade your entertainment experience, be sure and bring a seat harness to the wave camp! Just be sure you also bring a waist harness as well if you intend to complete the clinic.  After your first session it’s time to hit the Cantina for a cold beer, Neil’s awesome Marg, or the signature Baja Fog. You can also enjoy a hot shower before dinner. You get one per day so use it wisely. While the dinner is being prepared, they bring out appetizers to hold you over.

PSC Wave Camp part 3

After the first afternoon of unstructured free sailing while being quietly observed by our instructors Matt and KMAC, we socialized around the cantina while dinner was prepared. It was fun to meet participants from several countries as well as people from both coasts of North America. The next several days of the week fell into a routine like this: Get up at sunrise and surf, lounge, MTB, or stretch before breakfast, eat a hot breakfast, and gather at 10:00 AM for instruction. By noon, the wind would start to pick up and everyone was dying to get on the water to try out the techniques they had just heard about. Typically, Matt and KMAC would notice that the students attention would begin to shift to the water, and release the class. That’s when the rigging frenzy would ensue, like a bunch of unleashed sharks chummed by the growing white caps. If the wind hadn’t made much of a showing, a short MTB ride would suffice to get rid of the pent up energy for some, while others took a nap or sunbathed. By afternoon, everyone was on the water. Matt and KMAC took turns sailing and videotaping while Clark took photos from his prized cliff locations. It was pretty obvious after the first official day of instruction, that nothing was going to go unnoticed and undocumented. The second night, or first night after an instruction day, we were summoned to the great room to view the evidence on the TV screen. Clark went through his “Mordida” (bribe) photos while Matt and KMAC commented. This was followed by the video with more commentary from our instructors.

Wow. I had no idea how bad I looked! The waves at PSC are so consistent, I “felt” as though I was ripping like a pro when actually I was further grooming bad habits. I now realized how much work I had ahead of me. More importantly, I was dying to get started getting rid of my bad techniques and replacing them with good ones as soon as possible. The flame had now been re-lit! I now had an entire list of things to change that would keep me busy for the rest of my sailing life. We went through this every night and learned from each others success and mistakes. I could not have gleaned this in ten more years of sailing by myself. The feedback from the photos and video don’t lie. Now combine that with expert interpretation of the last detail. On our last night, Matt and KMAC gave us a break and let us watch a movie instead. Just as we were getting settled into a movie, all hell broke loose outside! Hey, where did Clark go?

PSC Wave Camp part 4

I left off with our last night at the camp. Everyone’s sailing had noticeably improved from the first afternoon of free sailing before the instruction started and Matt had rewarded us with a “movie” night. We were just starting the movie when BANG, a fireworks show started up at the edge of the camp. We all came out to watch Clark’s pyrotechnic display. He really gets into it! I think this is when the “seat harness” sacrifice was made. KMAC marinated the harness, and then Clark almost sacrificed KMAC along with the harness when he ignited it. Whoa. Those things do burn. Maybe use a little less fuel next time! Clark then presented the victim guest with a proper Dakine waist harness for being such a good sport. His grip on the seat harness had been loosened from five days of shame and a few extra Baja Fogs earlier in the evening. The only thing left was the spreader bar, which is now proudly mounted on a plaque with a photograph in the Cantina.

 

 
Check out SoloSports Adventure Holidays at Punta San Carlos, Baja  www.solosports.net  949-289-7779