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Down Under in Nosara
An Interview with Pro Surfer, Serena Brooke

by Spencer Klein
Courtesy of Experience Nosara

It's a thick, grey rainy season day under the big rancho at Casa Tucan. The stormy sky has a few early patrons lining the bar, and there's a buzz about the restaurant. Serena Brooke, one of the most notable figures in the history of women's surfing is in town, and she's in the process of ordering a plate of fish tacos with fresh pico de gallo. The whole scene is like a microcosm of modern day Costa Rica. Professional surfers, yogafied thirty-somethings learning to surf, the ping of a few lunchtime Imperials, and a lush, green landscape to back it all up. I sit down with Serena, and her team from Surf Stronger — a surf-centric fitness outfitter putting on a performance camp with Safari Surf School from June 19th until the 26th — and we talk about the blown out surf, the periodic cracks of lightning, and chasing the last big south up and down the Guanacaste coast. And then we talk some more, Serena's accent and laid back vibe clearly indicative of an Australian upbringing and a lifetime dedicated to surfing.

VON
Is this your first time in Nosara?

SB
Yeah, first time in Costa Rica. I've always wanted to get down here. I've done El Salvador and Nicaragua, but never made it down here, so when they said Costa Rica I was like yeah awesome. I love it. I got in the first of June so I've spent the last few weeks traveling around everywhere. It's been really good. I was surprised with the variety of waves – there's a lot to check out.

 
Serena Brooke watches the waves before she starts surfing at Guiones Beach in Nosara.

VON
That's a good bit of free time to surf. Are you still competing professionally?

SB
I'm just doing selected events right now. I finished competing full time at the end of 2009. That was after 14 years, quite a long time.

VON
What's your take on women's surfing right now?

SB
It's just gone to a whole new level. There's a really good new film out right now called Leave A Message. All the girls are really pushing each other, competing or otherwise. It's like the whole sport of surfing has taken on this acrobatic element, like skateboarding or snowboarding, you're in the air half the time.

VON
And that's probably where a program like Surf Stronger becomes important?

SB & SS
Totally. Injury prevention, being in better shape, things that allow you to surf longer and surf more. That's kind of our goal. For those people who can only surf once or twice a week, or maybe only make it to a surf camp once a year, we try to help keep them on top for those times when they do go. And for the pros and more advanced surfers – they're putting their bodies through more than they ever were before.

 
Serena Brooke stretches before she starts surfing at Guiones Beach in Nosara.

VON
Can you describe the program you guys are putting on?

SB & Surf Stronger 
It's mostly surfing really, and then the classes are complimenting that time in the water. When we're back on land we're working on balance training, core fitness, additional paddle training, flexibility, and then we're constantly tying it all back together with surfing.  

VON
Are the guys here at Safari helping you out with lessons.

SB
Yeah, they're taking people out and giving them instruction. And then there's the option for people to surf with me and we have a look at some of the things they are hoping to work on.

VON
Serena, where's homebase for you right now?

SB
Coolangatta, on the Gold Coast. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast, about two and a half hours north, but I've been down on the Gold Coast for about 12 years now. So for me, I'm surfing Snapper and Kirra everyday, and maybe there's over a hundred guys out, so paddle fitness and staying in shape when you're jostling 10 guys for a wave -- they're really important.


On Saturday, June 25th, 2011, Serena Brooke does Indo Board Squading exercise with Scott Adams from SurfStronger during a week-long workshop she gives at Safari Surf School. The purpose of this specific exercise is to help the athlete with core strength by putting him/her on an unstable surface while adding an extra challenge with the elastic piece that Brooke holds on to.

 

VON
How about in Nosara, where we see a lot of people learning to surf?

SB
Definitely. The conditioning beforehand is going to make a big difference. I remember for me, when I was learning to surf, just doing the burpees (this must be Australian for push-ups) and pop ups over and over. It made such a difference when I was finally in the water. Old habits die hard, so it's so good to really work on these things early, and build your strength up.

VON
So now that you're not exactly a beginner anymore, give us an idea of where you surfed on the bigger day early this week.  

 

SB
Well we surfed a beachbreak north of here. It was big out there. We took some beatings. Laughs. There were double ups and square barrels. We kind of saw one in-betweener come in and said, alright let's go get a few of those. But then once we got out there we kind of said, woah, these are bit heavy on the head.  We kind of saw right away why we surfing alone. Laughs.

VON
Are you traveling year round right now?

SB
Not year round. A lot more time at home, but I'm doing a good bit of traveling.  I don't have a family yet, so I'm still trying to make the most of being selfish. Laughs. But really just doing a lot with Bud Light right now. They're my primary sponsor, so I've been helping out with a lot of specialty events and that kind of stuff.  

VON
Any last words for Nosara?

SB
Yeah, I've really just liked the town, and Costa Rica. It's got a really great vibe with all the yoga studios, and good spots to eat. The local Ticos and the expats have all been so nice. The whole healthy feel of the town has been super. It's not so much about the night clubs as it is about the surfing, the yoga, the pilates, and that kind of stuff. You look around and everyone seems pretty healthy and relaxed.  It would be a cool place to live. What more do you need than those things and a fun wave, and the beach, and massages right around the corner. It's got a lot to offer, and it's just neat because it's all right here. You don't have to go too far to get it. Yeah, so thanks to Tim and Tyler (from Safari Surf School) for being hosts. It's been a great stay in town.

 

 

More Surf News

Costa Rican Surfers Perform Well and Represent Their Country in the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games in Panama

The annual ISA World Surfing Games Presented by Billabong took place down in Panama from June 25th – July 3rd Eight Costa Rican surfers traveled down there to represent their country and send a message to the world…Costa Rica has legit surfing talent!

Guiones Surf Tournament and Final CNS contest in Playa Hermosa
"Nosareños give strong showings"

• A recap of the contest results and where the locals stand in the national rankings

Last month was a busy one for the local Nosareño surfers, with two contests in back to back weekends. The first one was held here in Guiones on June 4th, and was the first Copa Anual Guiones Surf Contest.

Don Redondo Part 17

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