When Surf Trips Go Awry
What is it they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men?
We’d always wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands, and with Kilty leading a yoga retreat there, we figured that was a perfect opportunity to combo the trip into a surf adventure. I’d tried out that CJ Sprout log with the Thunderbolt Technology a few times at Bowls, and figured it would a good traveler since it is so lightweight and strong, so I was stoked when Dave decided to send it with us.
When we heard that our resident yoga teacher and Hawaiian South Shore journalist Kilty Inafuku and Matt Rott were heading to the Galapagos Islands on a surf trip, we figured we’d send along a 10’0″ CJ Nelson Sprout for them to test in the local waves. But as it turns out, things didn’t end up going as planned! We’ll let Matt tell the story in his own words.
The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador in general are right on the equator, so while they pick up both north and south swells, most of the waves are pretty small since the swells have to travel so far to get there. So we figured a traditional log would be perfect. Imagine our surprise when we showed up to the best forecast the Galapagos Islands have seen in years—nonstop swell in the head-high+ range for 10 days straight. After hauling the 10’0″ halfway across the world, it didn’t look like we were going to have a chance to ride it!
We ended up surfing a lefthand point the first two days of our trip—overhead rippable walls that were fun on our fish and shortboard, but way too big for leash-less, single-fin log. But that’s when things started to go really haywire. After our second surf session we were hanging out at a local restaurant eating ceviche and watching the sea lions wandering all over town, my middle finger started to hurt. I didn’t think much of it, but it got worse and worse, and by that night I could barely sleep. The next morning I was sure I’d broken my hand—it hurt worse than any broken bone I’d ever had (and I’ve had a lot), and I couldn’t move my middle finger at all. No surfing, no mountain biking, no rock climbing—I was in one of the world’s most exotic locations and couldn’t do much more than walk around and ice my hand.
The next day I visited a local doctor to see what he thought. Due to the fact that I hadn’t suffered any impact or trauma to the hand, he didn’t think it was broken. Instead, he diagnosed stenosing tenosynovitis, which is basically a repetitive motion injury that can become chronic and eventually lead to trigger finger.
Fast-forward a few days to Houston Airport, where had a layover on our way home. I was dragging our oversized board bag (full of boards we didn’t end up using) through the airport, and noticed that my hand was now swollen up like a ballon and starting to get an angry shade of red. I sent a picture to a doctor friend, and she told me to go straight to the ER as soon as our last flight landed.
At the ER, the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. It didn’t seem like typical trigger finger symptoms, but I also hadn’t suffered any puncture wounds or bites/stings that I noticed, so infection didn’t seem likely either. But since the hand was so swollen and red, they figured the safest thing would be to put me on antibiotics, just in case there was an infection in there. Otherwise, there was a chance I could develop a compartmental infection (which could result in an amputated finger) or go septic (which could kill me!)
Less than three hours after taking the first dose of antibiotics, the swelling had gone down by 90%. The next day I was able to rock climb, mountain bike, and surf, and three days later I’m 100% recovered, even though I still have seven more days of antibiotics to take. Despite the fact there was no diagnosable reason for the injury, it appeared that I had infectious tenosynovitis, rather than the stenosing type!
The moral of the story? You never know what you are going to pick up when you are traveling overseas, so be flexible in your plans, always have travel insurance, and get in to see a doctor as soon as you notice something wrong. And drop into HSS to check out the CJ Nelson Sprout. I reckon it would go pretty good on the right waves!
Exploring the Galapagos Islands
with Oahu Yoga Teacher, Kilty Inafuku
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most protected ecosystems on the planet. Only 3 percent of the area is accessible without permits—and this basically covers the two major towns and the various privately owned ranches where locals live. The other 97 percent of the islands’ area are heavily regulated, and accessible only with permits—which are held by only a few tour operators. In other words, the Galapagos Islands are not the easiest place in the world to do self-directed, independent adventuring.
Of course, none of that matters when you are shacked up in a luxurious, off-the-grid eco resort, with homemade, farm-to-table food, giant tortoises wandering around the 50-acre yard, customized yoga classes morning and evening, and all-day tours with the best naturalists in the islands.
Hawaiian South Shore’s resident yoga expert, Kilty Inafuku, just got back from leading a five-star yoga retreat based on the island of Santa Cruz, where 10 lucky yogis (including five from Oahu) got to tune up their asana practices and explore the Enchanted Islands. Their hosts were Roberta and Reina Plaza, who moved to the Galapagos Islands 25 years ago and have dedicated themselves to building and operating a fully sustainable ranch/coffee plantation/retreat center. But it was Kilty and her yoga classes that were at the heart of the retreat. Each day, she’d center the guests with a guided meditation and asana practice, and each evening, she’d wind them down with a mellow yin practice.
In between yoga classes, it was non-stop exploration. The group visited four different islands, each of which featured different species of exotic birds, marine iguanas, and giant tortoises. Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution in the Galapagos Islands, and it’s easy to see why. The Archipelago’s 21 islands are all close enough to be sailed between easily, but far enough apart that species were sequestered and able to evolve separately over the millennia. By the time Darwin arrived, there were numerous varieties of finches and mockingbirds on the different islands, both of which were integral to his discovery of evolution. Likewise, 15 different giant tortoise species were present in the islands, with some differing even from the highlands to lowlands of the same island. On Santa Cruz, the lowland tortoise has to reach higher up trees and plants to get food, so they have evolved higher shells that allow them more flexibility with their necks. Meanwhile, the highland tortoises have plentiful grass and plants on the ground to eat, so they don’t need the high-necked shell, which is why they have evolved a lower shell, which offers more protection from predators.
Some of the most colorful inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands are the Blue-Footed Boobies. In addition to their funny names, these birds feature bright blue feet, which they use to dance and attract mates. The local Frigate is also quite bright and colorful. The male has a large, inflatable, bright red neck that takes 30 minutes to inflate, and which it uses to attract females.
There is plentiful sea life in the water as well, as the yogis discovered while snorkeling. Sea turtles, fish, and sharks abound, but it’s the species that live at the water’s edge that are the most interesting. Marine iguanas are found only in the Galapagos Islands, and can grow quite large. They march around the beaches looking for food, then swim out through the shorebreak whenever they feel like cooling down. Meanwhile, thousands of sea lions lounge on beaches, rocks, harbor jetties, streets, cars, boats, and even benches at restaurants. Because these animals are all protected in the Galapagos Ecological Park, they don’t fear humans, and are an ubiquitous part of life in the Galapagos. Most of the locals are so used to them that they don’t even pay attention, except to chase the sea lions out from under their cars when they need to drive somewhere.
Located just off the coast of Ecuador (which governs the islands), the Galapagos Islands are only slightly cooler than Hawaii, both on land and in the water. There are waves to surf, mountains to climb, and animals to see—and of course, yoga to keep you limber! Crime is virtually nonexistent, the people are as friendly as they come, and the country even uses the US dollar as its currency (after the local currency collapsed around the year 2000). In other words, there aren’t many places that are easier to visit—especially when your friendly yoga teacher has planned out all of your activities for you!
Now back on Oahu for some summertime waves, Kilty is already looking forward to her next yoga retreat in October. This one will be held in Dordogne, France, smack in the middle of wine country. The retreat will be a benefit for the Susan G. Komen foundation, which helps fund breast cancer research. If you are interested in joining Kilty for a week of yoga in the heart of France, visit www.kiltyyoga.com/france-retreat.html. Or, if a South American adventure is more your style, then you might want to wait until March when Kilty will be taking a lucky group to Patagonia (www.kiltyyoga.com/patagonia- retreat.html)! Until then, she’ll see you in class, and we’ll see you in the water!
SEAL Breathing Techniques
to Help You Surf and Live Better
Most yogis and professional athletes know that breath is the foundation of your performance. Every movement we do is fueled by the burning of calories, which requires an aerobic process that requires oxygen. But when we are under stress—the very times that we need energy the most—we often forget to breathe properly. And many of us never breathe properly at all. We do shallow breaths from our chests, emptying and filling the tops of our lungs, but never actually breath with our diaphragms, which allows us to access the entire volume of our lungs.
Another way that surfers are going green is with our clothes. From t-shirts and sweaters to bikinis and boardshorts, we are finding environmentally friendly ways to make textiles from organic or recycled fabrics, thereby minimizing our impact on the earth. One of the newest fabrics is being used by Vissla to make boardshorts out of coconut fibers! Cocotex takes the unused organic waste from coconuts and turns it into a carbon fabric that dries quickly and is resistant to odors. This Cocotex is then combined with recycled “Repreve” polyester yarns to create high-performance boardshorts that are good for your skin, your surfing, and your surroundings.
Navy Seals are trained to breathe properly when they are under duress, and we can learn a lot from them. As surfers, we are athletes (even though we often don’t think of ourselves that way) who perform in a stressful, foreign environment that is largely out of our control.
By learning to breathe properly during exertion, while resting between waves, and when we are in scary situations (such as when huge waves are about to land on our heads), we can fuel our bodies to more efficiently deal with the situation. The first step is tuning into diaphragmatic breathing. Sit on a chair and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. As you inhale, you should feel your stomach extend outward first, and then feel your chest expand. If you only feel your chest expanding but not your belly, then you are not breathing from your diaphragm, and you are only accessing around half of what your lungs are capable of. Practice breathing from your diaphragm until your lungs feel full (typically for a count of four), then open your shoulders to the sky and allow your chest to expand for another count of four. By this time, your lungs should be fully utilized and full of oxygen-rich air.
Once you master diaphragmatic breathing, it is time to learn our first breathing exercise tactical breathing. Navy Seals use this to calm themselves down during stressful situations when the fight-or-flight response is trying to kick in. Place your hands on your stomach and chest and slowly engage in diaphragmatic breathing, inhaling for a count of four. Once your lungs are completely filled, hold your breath for a second, then begin a slow exhale for eight seconds (depending on your lung capacity, you may want to inhale for more than four seconds and exhale for longer than eight seconds. The important thing is to ensure that your exhale is twice as long as your inhale). This slow, controlled breathing will help to settle you down and help you deal with stress. You can use this technique when you are scared in the ocean, when you are stressed at work, or when you are stuck in traffic and getting angry and frustrated.
The second breathing technique the Navy Seals use is called box breathing. This goes beyond calming you down and helps to sharpen your focus and reaction time. You will engage in the same diaphragmatic breathing, but your inhale, breath hold, exhale, and empty breath hold will all be the same length. Start with four seconds, and then progress to longer if your lungs can handle it. Breath in for four seconds, ensuring that you start your inhale with your diaphragm and then progress to your chest and upper lungs. Then hold your breath for four seconds, followed by a four-second exhale. Finally, hold your breath again with empty lungs for four seconds before starting the next cycle.
Throughout both of these breathing exercises, the important thing is to settle into a comfortable rhythm. You don’t want to be clamping down or forcing. Instead, your breath should be laying the foundation for relaxation and focus. Remember, you can go weeks without food and days without water, but you can only last a few minutes without oxygen. Many people think of food as the fuel our bodies use to power themselves, but food can’t be burned without oxygen. Learn to breathe properly, and everything else you do will benefit!
Member of the Month: Q and A with Nina
When and why did you initially get into surfing?
I got into surfing when I was 22; I was a late bloomer. I always had friends who surfed, I would tag along at the beach and just swim, body surf, but oddly never wanted to surf. One day, we headed to Queens and it was just lines of rolling sets coming in—-clean 3-4 foot clear, blue waves washing upon the hot shores at Waikiki and I told my friend I’ll go! I started learning at Queens/Canoes and learned surf etiquette pretty quickly, hahahaha. Soon, I stopped tagging along friends and surfed solo, borrowed my dad’s board (thanks Dad, sorry for dinging it), and
Did you have a time period you laid off from surfing? If so, when and why did you start back up?
I only laid off surfing for 3 years in my life thus far. It was the three years I was pregnant and gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. I started back up because it was natural to do so. Like waking up and making coffee, it’s just on my mind one way or another, just like second nature.
What is your favorite thing about surfing?
Surfing alone is uplifting and makes me feel happy alone. But as you surf, you start meeting like-minded surfers and not so like-minded surfers, you share moments and grow with each surf session. You form bonds with people, the ocean, uncles, groms, kooks, hahaha, and see each other progress and fun moments. You start to have a sense of belonging with the wave and lifestyle/culture you create and play apart with other surfers, share and grow. Oh, and it’s fun.
Where is your favorite place to eat after surfing? What is your favorite item on the menu?
Soooo many! But Saigons in Kaimuki is pretty standard.
What other hobbies do you have besides surfing?
What type of work do you do?
Tell us about the Straw Hat Wetsuit you purchased from us?
I received my first Straw Hat as a gift, and it served me WELL. I’ve tried other wetsuits and they either breakdown or just aren’t warm enough, if they are warm enough, they often compensate my paddling power. Straw Hat kept me warm in winter waves on Oahu and still provided maneuverability with paddling. Felt lightweight and smooth in skin. Aesthetic wise, it made me look good, hahaha. I felt like an X-men heroine. Lastly, they have an excellent guarantee for the wetsuit, questions were always addressed when I had them.
Do you have any additional comments?
Thanks Hawaiian South Shore for asking my input!
a Healthier Sunscreen Option
As people become more and more aware of how the things that we consume affect us, the organic food movement has become more than just a fad—it is a mainstream movement. Meanwhile, our increasing environmental awareness has led to Hawaii creating laws that require sunscreen sold in the state to be reef-safe. But it isn’t just reefs that need to be protected from the toxins found in many sunscreens. Just as the foods that we consume directly impact our health, the products that we put on our skin are also absorbed into the body and have an effect on us—so, it is just as important for our bodies that our sunscreen be safe for consumption
Ten years ago, an East Coast surfer by the name of Chris Birchby was studying art design and packaging in school while still spending as much time in the water as possible. When both of his parents were diagnosed with melanoma, Chris became aware of how important non-toxic protection from the sun is. Both parents ended up going into remission, but after their health was restored, Chris decided that he needed to do something to help other people prevent the scare that his family had gone through. He set out to develop a sunscreen that was as safe for the human body as it was effective in blocking cancer-causing rays from the sun.
Chris was a professional poker player and had saved his winnings from the various tournaments he’d played in. He took that money and invested it into making an environmentally friendly, non-toxic sunscreen called COOLA. It uses recycled materials and solar power in their production, making it as good for the earth as they are for the body.
Coola is distributed in countries around the world, and will soon join our stock of sustainable, responsible suncare products here at Hawaiian South Shore. Good for the ocean, good for your skin, and keeps you in the water all day—you can’t beat that!