Thursday, January 28, 2010

Miguel Plaza

Miguel Plaza was kind enough to furnish me with some more photos which follow the entry a few days back.

Paul Strauch and Miguel Plaza Yokohama's 1965. Yokohama is in the Makaha area and Miguel describes it as a pipeline wave. Miguel spent time in the area having been hosted by Buffalo Keaulana. In turn Buffalo visited Peru in the early 1960's.

Paul Strauch is a legend in the world of surfing he was a  sponsored surfer and member of  The Dukes Surf team along with Fred Hemmings, Butch Van Artsdalen and Joey Cabell. He was the inventor of the Cheater Five and was practicing yoga and other health related routines at a time when most Peruvian surfers believed in Pisco Sours for lunch.

The Duke's surf team basedonpromoting surfing as a pastime.

Paul Strauch with his left leg strecthed out in front. The Cheater Five!

"I am tha one with the white t-shirt taking the drop and in the inside is Jock Sutherland (switching stance...he is a goofy foot)" Sunset beach where Miguel stayed and still visits. Jock Sutherland is top brass in the Surfing Hall of Fame. Rory Russell who along with Gerry Lopez were the guys who first nailed pipe described Jock in the following way:
"To this day I’ve never, ever seen Jock fall off a surfboard. Ladders yes, roofs yes, balconies yes. But never a surfboard. "


4000 years ago Peruvians were riding Caballitos de Totora, you still can in Huanchaco just north of Trujillo. You can even buy your own for about 45 dollars (life span 3 months). Miguel is a proud Peruvian and describes this as his favourite picture.

Boys will be boys, someone else looking for a buzz. Paddling one in at Pico Alto!

Miguel at Punta Rocas recently where he had formerly attended the World Championships in the 1960's.

Picture taken at the Outrigger Canoe Club (Honolulu) on Miguel's  60th birthday party with friends :(left to right) Joey Cabel,Fred Hemmings,Randy Rarick,Ricardo Pomar,Miguel and Ricky Grigg and in the front Rajan Watamull and Clyde Aikau. May 4th 2005

The 2009 Pico Alto Invitational for the Billabong XXL, this photo was taken with The finalists. As Miguel was the first to ride it at size, it must have been a special moment for him.

From Left to right :Greg Long (winner and also winner of Eddy Aikau 2010),Peter Mel,Mark Healey,Carlos Burle,peruvians Velarde and Swayne. And of course Miguel.

One of Velarde's waves this year at Pico Alto.

Many Thanks to Miguel.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Surf trip Peru.

Bermejo, this photo doesn't do it justice for me. This place is the beauty and the beast, its all for you. The beast is, its in the middle of nowhere, camping is probably the best option ain't pretty. Still some great waves were had and its probably good and empty right now.

Bermejo: Everyone was kind of trying to figure out the quickest yet safest way to get out. Abo was last to be convinced.

Huanchaco wasn't doing it on this trip but its still a good place to get some nice food, see people and look at vegetation. There was a moment in a bar  with the now thirty something crew,  all the travellers wearing their jim jams sat on the floor with Jenga were I started to think....I'm getting on a bit.

Abo and myself being the culture vultures that we are decided that in 10 days and 3000 Km's we should see at least one of the 5000 ruins we would pass. Chan Chan is World Heritage but somehow we couldn't find it till we off roaded it, Golden Balls didn't want to overload himself with cultural clutter and went for a surf. Great renovations under way,a bit late for the Chimu but very impressive all round.

It's hard to be in Chicama and not look at the waves.

Hotel Suenos, last building before the point, great people. They have a boat for the line up and even though I strongly disapprove of waves for the wealthy, I succumbed. This was made even worse by the fact that I lectured the others who didn't take the boat. Still 4 quid for 2 hours, I think that was mates rates as we were staying there.

And again!

Peru gets a lot of south swell  year round but drops off over the summer. Still we had waves all day every day, everywhere we went was going off, not always world class perfect but plenty good enough. When the south swell died, the next day the north swell and the shits kicked in.

Last one I promise, Chicama from the back.

Longest left hand point in the world.

A long way to go.

Golden Balls and I had scored all time Pacasmayo in Feb 09 and though it wasn't that good this time, I had a couple of tubes and some really nice Caldo de Gallina, so happy days.

Lobitos was a disappointment this time. Jose Antonio was full (you owe me photos if you're reading this), the banks or swell weren't right, we all had the squits and the crowd and their manners were off. Still the pier looked kinda fun, until GB bounced the base of his arse on the sand bar and couldn't move to well ever after.

We weren't to keen on surfing Cabo Blanco, or Peruvian Pipe, some great waves but heavy.

Cabo Blanco


C.B, Home to Hemmingway for a while and site of the largest Marlin ever caught (over 700 pounds), the place is very small but full of class.

These two shots are of Javier Swayne on the same wave (yes he made the tube), he's Peru's top surfer, having been the highest placed South American at the Pico Alto Billabong XXXL this year, he won the WQS event at El Gringo in Chile (a super heavy wave) and got a wild card for the WCT event in France. He went on some bombs and just got so deep I kept writing him off. A class act.

Golden Balls airing them.

The Karma catch up club, still owe the guy some Soles.

Abo and GB looking very happy about not driving the statutory 400 KM's on this particular day at Organos, which we needed another week at.

Organos reef.

Organos reef was perfect tubes before the wind is on it at 9am, who wants to get up at 6 am to take pictures! So this will have to do.

Organos tube, he made it.

Abo and I had a Hang five contest afternoon, this was made particulary hard by the fact the boards seemed to be made from cardboard and had never been waxed. Abo was in his element.

Abo emerged from the shade in the evening, I've never seen a redder guy. He arrived looking fresh if  not a bit stupid in Lima (we don't wear Barbers and Loafers anytime but especially not in summer) he left having sat in the back of an over laiden Suzuki Jimney having the same space as a kiddies seat, add in the vicious sun burn and the distance.......he was relieved to get back to city drudgery.

Where Abo wished he was sitting.

Peru is the most bio diverse country in the world, you would never guess this from driving up and down the coast which I guess falls into the "Sand/desert" environment with nothing else punctuating it, except may be a little agriculture here and there. Still there were colouful characters and memories for life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Miguel Plaza.

Having decided to put my energy into writing a Surfing Guide to Peru it only seemed reasonable to talk to the oldest surf club in Peru, The Waikiki Surf Club. The notion of paying 15 000 dollars to join a club on a busy road opposite a fairly average break by Peruvian standards was always going to be strange.

 The club itself I will have to leave for now, but Miguel Plaza was an honoury member I'm afraid I was unaware of his fame and feel much happier for having met his acquaintance

It was obvious from the first picture showing himself plunging down Pico Alto's face for the first time that Miguel was a man with history and responsibility for shaping a legacy for all peruvian tablista's. Peru was new to surfing when Miguel popped up in the 60's, with Carlos Dogny bringing back the first surfboard to Peru in 1940 (he would later take surfing to France too) and it was the likes of Miguel who took surfing from fun and cool for the wealthy and changed it to charging and being super healthy.

He's racked up in the region of 20 visits to Hawaii and holds a membership at the Duke's Outrigger Club in Waikiki, why wouldn't he, they were friends! His visits started on the south shore, but quickly developed to Makaha and the North Shore where he rented a house at Sunset with his then wife.

Miguel may have needed no prompting to talk about his involvement in surfing and is a very cheerful man but two subjects seemed to not sit well with him. The first was the military government's involvement in the plans of The Waikiki Surf  Club and the second was the drug scene in the 1960's and 1970's in Hawaii, I guess when you have counted people like Butch Van Artsdalen as your friends somethings aren't for public consumption.

Meanwhile back in Peru with his new found abilities and tutelage from the likes of  Duke Kahanamoku, George Downing, Fred Hemmings, Greg Noll, Paul Strauch and Ben Aipa, Miguel was the man setting the standard. "Surfing the long lefts at Kontiki on a clean 10 to 12 foot swell with just 3 or 4 friends" was how many a day was spent.. The Club actually bought the section of the beach between Punta Rocas and Punta Hermosa. He wanted more and although Pico Alto had been ridden, never at size, "The hollow waves of Hawaii, with waves rising up from deep were so exciting for us, Pico Alto has that." It wasn't long before board developments meant that Punta Rocas was being ridden too.

Miguel was a welcomed visitor all over the Hawaiin islands even if they did feed him dog at a luau on the then leper colony of Molokai. Noll, Aipa and Strauch made his boards and when they were gone he used to borrow Buffalo Keaulana's.....he was free to catch which ever waves he wanted and knew all the boys.

He obviously still loves the islands as he's always there. But he noticed changes, "the North Shore was thick with LSD and Marijuana through the 60's which only escalated in the 70's", the place was "heavy with drug dealers" as he adopted a facial expression that signalled it was time to move on. Soon though he recalls attitudes changed on the strip, "The Bronzed Aussies" arrived by 1975, Shaun Tomson, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, Townend, Rabbit and a few others had "Busted down the door." . Then the money and  fluorescent neoprene crept in. Miguel had his crew and his spots by then and free diving and paddling were always on the cards as well, he observed this neither approvingly or disapprovingly.

Together with his friends, they used to bring Straung, Hemming etc back to Peru. The Hawaiian guys were treated like royalty and dined on silver crockery served by the hired help. Miguel recalls how shocked the visitors were that the servants not only waxed and carried their boards but also fished them out of the pools at Punta Rocas when they lost them in the time before leashes. I can't think why?

My favourite yarn was of staying with the Aikau family at the Chinese Cemetery where Soloman Aikau (Eddie's dad) worked and lived. Listening to ukulele's and fat guys on stools having an extended family shin dig in amongst the dead.

 He attended the Surfing World Championships in Peru in 1965, Ocean beach, USA 1966 and 1968 in Puerta Rico. He's entertained Nat Young and  Rodney Sumptor (Go GB!!), he gets in when he can at Waikiki and is in and out before the wind gets on it, early. Looking at his peruvian interviewin the link further down, he seems to have one a lot of trophies all over.

 Miguel was a complete gentleman and I know that as a group we have some wonderfully brilliant people but it did make we wonder why the surfers at the top of the tree today aren't as humble, honest and engaging as Miguel.

 I'm in touch with Miguel over his photo collection including pictures by Leroy Grannis, but checkout his interview at  to see him scoring big Sunset with Jock Sutherland riding the wave in front and plenty more.