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Youth Surf Competition: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The next generation of surfers

On Sunday afternoon the San Juan del Sur Youth weekend was approaching the grand finale of events – the Youth Surf Competition.  

We had some free time left until the competition started and I noticed things got a little quiet on the beach.  I thought that maybe the group was fatigued after all of the weekend activities, but when I took a closer look around at the young surfers I realized they were getting their game faces on.  After all, there were 4 brand new Firewire surfboards on the line.  To put things into perspective the value of one Firewire surfboard is equivalent to four months of the average Nicaraguan salary.

– Surrounded by women, but he’s focused on one thing…victory!

– Pre-contest board inspection to pass the time

The best waves of the day were forecasted to start around four o’clock so we tried to relax and wait for the show to begin.  Time seemed to drag in anticipation of the competition as the young athletes sat quietly gathering their thoughts.  

Finally it was time to go!  The contestants and coaches grabbed their boards and made their way to the water.

– Coach, Safety Coach & athlete head out into the waves

– Super Grom = Super Confident

Just minutes had passed between quiet reflection time and kids riding their first waves of the heat.  There was no lack of energy now.  There was hardly a time when there wasn’t at least one surfer up riding a wave.  

There were four heats in the competition:

  • Juniors (14-16 years old)
  • Groms (11-13 years old)
  • Super Groms (10 & under)
  • Girls (all ages)

All the kids saved their best rides of the day for the competition, but a few of them really stood out. The volunteers and competitors whistled and cheered from their places on the beach.  Some rides were so spectacular we just looked at each other in surprise and admiration and at times almost forgot to cheer.

– Coach & athlete celebrate a good session

Once all heats were complete the pressure switched to the judge’s table.  Cory and Kelly knew the significance of the Firewire boards to these kids. Kate from Chica Brava stands behind the judges with a look of trepidation on her face.

– The judges reviewing their scores

The young surfers paced back and forth trying to relieve some on their nervous energy. Looking at their faces you could tell, that for them, time was standing still.

– Trying to be patient

– Waiting and hoping

Just when it seemed like the winners would be announced the draw started for the raffle. There were a dozen prizes to distribute amongst the spectators. The grand prize went to one of the young surfers.  He won a beautiful Eberly board that was donated to help raise money for the weekend activities.  For this one surfer the wait was over, but there were other competitors still waiting patiently to see if they too, would walk away with a new surfboard of heir own.

– This is one happy surfer with his new Eberly surfboard

One by one the top four surfers for each heat were announced and we had another first for the Share the Stoke Foundation.  The first board that they gave to a girl internationally was here in San Juan del Sur.

– Mandy presenting the Firewire board to Virginia

I’m still not sure how it happened, but I had the honor of presenting the board for the Super Grom (10 years and under) category.  Gabriel was one happy 8 year old!

– Our 8 year old Super Grom winner Gabriel

Our Junior winners Norlan and Sebastian were equally as excited to receive their Firewire boards and were happy to pose for photos and do some interviews.

– The winners with some proud parents

– Interview with our Super Grom winner

The 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth weekend was a great event for everyone involved and I’m happy to report that the Share the Stoke team is already talking about next year’s event.

Please remember to vote for Share the Stoke Foundation on the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook.  The charities with the most votes are eligible to receive grants valued between $10 000 – $250 000.

Click HERE to watch the video.  Click HERE to vote.

I would like to give a big shout out to In Nica Now’s stand in photographer – Nicole Williams from Share the Stoke.  These last three posts would not have been possible without your amazing photos. Thanks pal!

Our talented Photographer/Surfer at Remanso Beach

Fishing, Swimming & Surfing in SJDS with Share the Stoke Foundation

In our previous post we mentioned that we needed your help.  After volunteering at a Share the Stoke event this past weekend, I witnesses first hand the difference that this foundation can make in kids lives and their community.

Share the Stoke Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to empowering at-risk youth through the sport of surfing) is one of 2500 charities that has been nominated to participate in the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook.  Up for grabs is $5 million in grants. Of the 2500 charities participating in the contest the 196 most voted for will receive grants ranging in value from $250,000 for first place down to $10,000 for 100 of the charities.

Cast your vote for
Share the Stoke Foundation
by clicking

If everyone flexes their social media muscle we’ll have an incredibly positive and exciting follow up post for you at at the end of September. Please take a few extra minutes to spread the word about this great organization via your Facebook account, email distribution lists at work and home, Tweet about it, share it on your blogs and Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Tumbler & Instagram accounts. 

– The Stoke Team on their way to Nicaragua

The 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend kicked off Saturday morning with a garbage clean up at San Juan Bay.  Only kids that took part in the beach clean-up were eligible to participate in the weekend festivities.  We had a great turn out and managed to collect over 260 pounds of garbage in only a couple of hours.  This event also gave us some time to start building a camaraderie between the kids and volunteers. 

– Some of the crew who took part in the garbage clean up

Later that afternoon Cory and I had the privilege of escorting a group of 18 kids out on a fishing boat. Almost half of the group had never even been on a boat before.  A few of the girls actually held onto each other and screamed when we went over some of the bigger rolling waves.  The trip was much more fun and exciting than we had envisioned.  Thank you Casa del Sur for putting your charter business on hold and taking us all out on your boat.

– Getting ready for our fishing trip

– Almost everyone took a turn as Captain

Sunday events took place at Playa Hermosa which just so happens to be where the TV show Survivor was filmed for two seasons.  Our day started with swimming lessons. It may seem odd that a group of kids that live so close to the water need swimming lessons, but the sad fact is that most Nicaraguans don’t actually know how to swim – which results in multiple drownings every year. 

Given the size of the waves the swimming lessons turned out to be more of a “How Not to Drown Class”. Fortunately it didn’t take long before the kids started to get comfortable in the water. Once that happened they had almost as much fun as the volunteers.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– A little bigger waves than we hoped for swim lessons

Playa Hermosa, SJDS

– “How Not to Drown” Class

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Susan connecting with a couple of local girls

Next up were beginner surf lessons for the kids that felt comfortable in the waves.  I noticed one of the girls that raised her hand indicating she didn’t know how to swim was taking surf lessons.  She actually ended up entered the competition and with the coaching and encouragement of the Stoke girls she caught her first wave.  It was hard to tell who was more excited – her or the Stoke girls – but in the end it was probably the Stoke girls.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Maria didn’t win the surf competition, but she did win a skateboard from the raffle

Many of the kids were new to surfing, but managed to get up and ride their first waves ever. Volunteers whistling and shouting words of encouragement. The morning had an emotional effect on many of the volunteers, adult surfers and onlookers alike.

Playa Hermosa,San Juan del Sur

– An emotional moment for the Stoke girls

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– So close…yet so far!

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Almost there…

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Great effort

The experienced youth surfers took time to warm up for the afternoon competition – or in some cases just goofed off.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Show off!

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Sharing a wave

Susan, Nicole and Michelle from Share the Stoke collected two suitcases full of school supplies to give out to all of the kids that were at the beach on Sunday.  The kids were super stoked! One of the volunteer teachers in town told me that she was just as happy to see the much needed supplies.

1st Annual SJDS Youth Weekend

– Susan trying to maintain a level of controlled chaos

1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend

– Happy recipients of school supplies

All that was left to do was prep the Firewire surfboards for the main event …. the Youth Surf Competition!

1st Annual SJDS Youth Weekend

– Putting the final touches on the prize boards

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