To plug or not to plug…Surfer’s Ear explained.

Hey Sentinels!

Summer’s finally here and it’s time to hit the beach or your local pool!

This week I would like to share a story with you that also tells of a condition that most people who spend considerable time in the water may very easily acquire. One is more common than the other, but if left untreated, both can seriously undermine water activities for the long term.

I’m referring to Swimmers Ear, and its more insidious cousin, Surfer’s Ear.

In the following article, I am going share with you my first experience with Swimmer’s Ear and how I was able to cure it. I am also including a brief explanation by Dr. Michael O’ Leary, from the Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California, and EddieP (no last name) a surfer who tells his actual experience with Surfer’s Ear.

These videos will show you how you get both, what they are, and how to prevent and treat both conditions once you acquire them. I hope you find them useful and informative.

Let’s dive right in!

Remembering an old friend…

The Mexican Pipeline. Zicatela Beach. Puerto Escondido.

In our culture, this legendary beach break located in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, has become one of the best and heaviest beach breaks in the world.

I’ve had the fortune of experiencing the power of this break first hand in four past visits to Puerto. And I vividly remember the first time I went out.

My high school friends and I arranged a 10-day stay. It was an experience, to say the least. And I recall that the day when I finally set foot on Playa Zicatela.

It really wasn’t that big out.

Mexpipe looked very makeable that day, even fun. The sun was out and the deep green sets just kept coming, barreling into hollow bliss. I remember hearing the sound of pressure made by the foam-spit rushing out of some larger sets. After making my very inexperienced analysis of the break (I was only 16 at the time), I entered the water and began to make my way to the take-off zone.

This took nearly all my energy but I finally made it.

On my way, I had been lucky avoiding some of the larger sets, and that was a relief. Seeing your first cavernous barrel this close is something you never forget.

Now past the impact zone, I waited for my wave. A few other surfers were out too, mostly the local crew, sprinkled with a few ex-pat surfers, and one wide-eyed 16-year-old kid, about to enter the big leagues.

I looked back at the beach. I had traveled sideways at least 20 meters from where I had started. WTF??

A moment of reckoning…

One of the locals, I remember, suddenly began paddling, fast and effortless, away from me. I turned around and the biggest set I had ever seen was closing in on us all. Everyone started paddling furiously toward it. We all made it, including me, but only just.

The explosion behind me was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was massive.

And for a moment I was more scared than I had ever been before.

I realized I was completely in over my head. I paddled for a long time, climbing sets that could’ve been The One…who knows. All I knew for the next 30 minutes is that I wanted to get on a wave that would take me out and in the process, not kill me.

Fortunately, all the paddling I did helped settle my nerves. I recall getting into the rhythm of the incoming sets and the lulls that followed. Confidence returned, however slowly, and I actually began enjoying myself. I even began looking for a good wave to ride.

And as if on queue, a nice set, not as big as the others I had been avoiding, began closing in on us. I positioned myself perfectly and began paddling with all the energy I had left.

And then it happened.

I was riding the wave, facing the bottom section directly in front of me. It may have been too big of a wave, but to me, it felt huge. It sounds cliché, but it really did happen so fast. Before I knew it, I had made successfully down the face of the wave.

All instincts at the highest level ever, I think, were there, at that moment, and this led to the bottom-turn of a lifetime, allowing me to place myself and my board right in the sweet spot of the wave, the lip slowly forming into a barrel that ended up being the most exciting and scariest of my life.

The wave closed out.

And for a moment I was deep in a crystal chamber. Everything from there went in slow-motion camera from then on. Again, so cliché, but so true! The chandelier collapsed and I was swallowed up by the wave.

Into the dark…

The impact and turbulence were beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

My surf leash ripped violently away from my right foot. All I thought at that instant is “Oh shit…my board!”.

The energy at Zicatela beach is hard to describe. It’s deceptive. Probably why so many people get seriously hurt or worse. I  felt it now,  in every bone of my body. I slammed against the sand bottom (not much comfort…it’s like concrete mixed with sandpaper).

I now understood what other surfers meant when they said that wiping out in a large wave is like being inside a washing machine.

You are as far away from control as you can possibly be. Nature is now in control. You take the backseat on this one. If you fight it, you have a good chance of not making it out alive.

In the ensuing chaos and darkness, I recalled vaguely what I had read in some surfing magazine. Keep loose. Don’t fight it. When you touch bottom, push up as if your life depends on it. I did just that. And moments later, which seemed way, way too long, I resurfaced, breathing and filling my starved lungs with precious, beautiful air.

The whole experience sort of looked like this (but not this big…NEVER this big!):

As I regained my senses on the surface, all I recall was giving thanks that I had not being pounded by another wave again. As I swam back to the beach, I recall seeing my board, or at least the front end of it, floating about who knows how many meters in front of me.

The board had been cleanly snapped in two.

The rear of the board was later found, a few hundred yards down the beach.

Humbled…and wiser.

Rattled and exhausted, I finally reached the beach, sitting down on the sand, not caring about my broken board, which now lay useless, a few feet away from me, floating in and out of the water, as much, much smaller waves washed it in and out of the water. I sat there, breathing heavily, trying to catch my breath, with my head between my knees.

So this is what gnarly meant.

After a while I stood up, collecting my broken prize. I felt woozy and a sloshing sound in my left ear began to bother me. I tried getting it out but it was useless. Not giving it much thought, I made my way back to my hotel, sure it would get better with some rest.

As the afternoon progressed, the discomfort continued. I tried a couple of home remedies to get the water out of my ear. Nothing worked. Finally, I decided to ask one of the local crew how I could get rid of the water in my ear.

He mentioned something about Surfer’s Ear, but that it that wasn’t probably what I had since that condition is more frequent when surfing in cold water. No, what I had was Swimmer’s Ear. And that he had fixed that by blowing hot air into the ear with a hairdryer.

Thanking him, I went back to the hotel and asked for a hair dryer to the receptionist. I recall she looked at me funny. Remember I was only 16 at the time. But she eventually gave me the dryer.

I proceeded to my room and did what the local told me to do. A few minutes later, I no longer felt the ocean inside my ear.

It was amazing! Problem solved.

Swimmer’s Ear and Surfer’s Ear, cold and warm waters…

However, Surfers Ear was something that I had learned was much more serious and I was more grateful than ever for the warm waters of Mexico.

If you plan to spend a lot of your time in the water during this summer season, give yourself a few minutes to learn a bit about Swimmer’s Ear or, better yet, Surfer’s Ear. The later could very well ruin your summer fun.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to prevent this from happening.

Below’s a video from Dr. Michael O’Leary, from the Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, who explains very clearly the difference between Swimmer’s Ear and Surfer’s Ear, and how to treat both.

Following Dr. Oleary’s explanation, you will find another video by Eddie, one of many surfers who has suffered from Surfer’s Ear and his journey to cure his condition. Please note that Eddie will share a couple of images from his experience which you may find a bit disturbing. But it’s all for the greater good. Here are both videos:

Earplugs everyone! Earplugs!! That’s the ticket. Check this article by There’s a couple of earplug reviews at the end of the article for you to check out.

Here are some of the better-known earplug brands:

Westone DefendEar
Tyr Silicone Molded Earplugs
Zoggs Aqua Plugs 

There is no reason why earplugs should be shunned or dismissed. Whatever your activity in the water, the fact remains that earplugs are the surest way to guarantee your ears’ health in the water during this summer and many other summers to come.

It’s all about prevention, as Dr. O’Leary and Eddie have recommended in their videos.

Be a responsible swimmer or surfer.

Take care of your body, especially your ears, over this summer season.

If you have found this post useful, please share your comments below. Also, if you know someone who could benefit from this information, please share it with him or her.

Thank you for reading!

Next week I will be talking a bit about nutrition and inflammation. Why we get it and what kind of food we should be eating to prevent this from happening.

Gotta look good at the beach! See you then!

4 resourcefulness examples to live by.

Hey Sentinels!

A long time ago, I watched a movie about a South-African boxer trying to make it into the international circuit. That alone could certainly stand as a very meritable goal. However, the fact that he was white and his trainer was black, and that they both pursued their dream during the height of apartheid in South Africa makes their story even more remarkable.

A true testament to courage, grit, determination, and resourcefulness.

For what is resourcefulness if not going beyond your natural skills and making the most of the resources you currently have at your disposal.

Listen to nature…

I don’t like boxing. Never have.

But I have enormous respect for anyone who decides to pursue the sport professionally. I am especially drawn to the creativity of some boxers to pull their limited resources together, in the majority of times, from very humble beginnings to mega-stardom, by not letting themselves be beaten down by lack of resources. This is one of four resourcefulness examples to live by.

Back to the movie.

I recall a thought that the boxer’s coach, an old and wise mentor, shared with his protege shortly before dying. It’s not textually accurate but it went something like this:

“…whenever you have doubts in your life, look to nature for the answers”.

It may not mean or resonate with most people. I get it. But then again, Sentinels are not like most people, right?

The message, in my case, did have a profound impact on my life.

It helped me gain clarity, allowing me to face some of life’s inevitable adverse situations with grace and humility. I was also lucky to realize this while living in one of the most naturally abundant places in Mexico: Riviera Maya. This beautiful stretch of sea, mangrove, and jungle had all the necessary elements for finding my answers.

It’s not my fault…it’s never my fault!

If you have been reading my posts for sometime time (thank you!), you probably know that lately, I have been facing emotional and economic challenges which have left me a bit perplexed and overwhelmed.

So, I did the predictable thing: I complained, pointing the finger at external reasons causing my misfortune, my excuses falling squarely on the lack of resources not available to me. You know the ones: got no money, no time for a second job, to late to go back to school, blaming them millennials for the audacity to think and do things differently…blah, blah, blah.

The internal discussion was harmful, to say the least. It also got very confusing, very fast. Overwhelm was getting the better of me. I felt I was slowly choking in doubts and fears. And then I remembered the message from the boxing coach, so long ago:

“… whenever you have doubts in your life, look to nature for the answers”.

I remember I spent the rest of the afternoon at a local beach, trying hard to listen to nature, letting her offer her wisdom.  And then, just as I was about to head back to my car, I had my answer. It happened so suddenly and with such clarity.

The ocean was calm, as it always is during May, I think it was, at the Riviera Maya. Waves lapped on the white-sand beaches of Puerto Morelos. I watched for a while as the waves came in and then receded.

And the then it came to me.

Like waves coming in and then receding,  external resources can just as easily swallow you up in a misguided sense of glory.

It’s not to say that it’s all bad. On the contrary. External resources are great and they do have a place in one’s personal journey, but here’s the thing: they are finite. They can provide a certain sense of security for a while.

But once depleted, resources can toss you out onto dry land leaving with you with nothing to show for.

It’s finally making sense!

Standing there, I now understood that, in the larger scheme of things, those resources were ephemeral and short-lived. Their tides depending on the comings and goings of circumstances and events.

I realized that they could also be great facilitators of excuses as to why we are not doing what we need to do to accomplish our goals and dreams.

I pondered further, recalling briefly my best friend’s son when he began to walk. As he was learning to walk, he would fall down over and over again, on his own. His natural persistence would eventually lead to the next stage of growth which was walking.

To his misfortune, he reached a time in his life that both my best friend and his wife began fostering a lack of self-responsibility and ownership to real-life situations.

Without realizing it, they began dismantling his natural resourcefulness, slowly taking away qualities like creativity, confidence, troubleshooting, self-esteem, pride and independent thinking.

And as if the universe wanted me to understand all of this in terms which I could better comprehend, it wisely sent me, as it often does,  a very clear and loud sign.

It came to me while driving home and listening to Tony Robbins (God bless him!) during one of his acclaimed Business Mastery conferences. To his electrified audience Tony said:

“Success is not about your resources. It’s about how resourceful you are with what you have”.

A-HA! moment anyone?

Coming out of a slumber…finally!

When you surround yourself with environments that encourage you to plan, strategize, prioritize, set goals, search for resources and track your development, you are on the fast track to learning resourcefulness.

These six skills are the building blocks which give us the ability to find and use available resources to achieve goals.

And that is exactly what happened to me.

Deciding to create Surfsentinel finally woke me from a deep slumber. And for the past 10 months, I have read, listened to, and engaged as much as my budget has allowed with thinkers and legitimate influencers in both the PD and long-form content marketing space, literally re-programming my mental and emotional hard-disk.

I have committed to feeding my mind with practical positivity as well as improving my mindset and productivity habits.

The only trouble was that my subconscious mind had been so full of crap for so long, I had to accept the fact that reprogramming it would take me at least as long, if not more, than all the time I had spent wasting away in the emotional and intellectual basement of my life.

So, are cognitive skills enough for being a resourceful person?

Outdoor activities for adults like going to Mars...
Elon Musk

I wondered and began researching biographical books about legendary entrepreneurs, people with an uncanny sense of resourcefulness such as Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Elon Musk. My research also included personalities from our surf culture, individuals who broke ground in the surfing world by applying to a great extent the six building blocks mentioned above (more about that in a moment).

I found out that to be resourceful, you must have the ability to process information emotionally as well as intellectually.

I also discovered that resourceful people are not only better at reaching their goals but also handle stress better.

So what makes resourcefulness such a priced skill to have?

I believe it has to do a lot with how you focus and invest that focal power.

In other words, people focus more on their limitations instead of taking advantage of their resources.

Follow their lead…

Going back to our tribe, take Taylor Knox, for instance.

Taylor Knox

At age 15, Taylor suffered a devastating back injury while skateboarding. Doctors found a damaged lumbar vertebra. Anybody who has experienced serious back injuries knows how painful and debilitating an injury of this sort can be.

Doctors told Taylor that surgery would be necessary for his recovery, but that probabilities to get back to surfing were minimal.

Knox underwent a very intensive rehabilitation which lasted six months, his body in a full body cast.

During this difficult period, Taylor decided to dig deep into his internal resources, visualizing from the hardship of his recovery the way he would surf again once back in the ocean he loved so much.

Incredibly, only months after returning to the water, Knox left the middle competition behind and returned to the top ranks of the NSSA Open Season.

In the end, his hard work, determination, and relentless pursuit to improve his surfing earned him an opportunity in the international spotlight. I

n February 1998, Knox would gain worldwide notoriety by dropping into a 52 – foot monster wave at Todos Santos during the Reef Big-Wave World Championships.

He became an overnight sensation and an international hero.

His blue-collar approach to surfing has also earned him the respect and admiration from his peers, recognizing him as the surfer’s surfer of the actual WSL. No mean feat.

A second great example of how a person can use personal judgment and intuition along with any available resources to achieve a goal that would otherwise prove to be impossible is Jay Moriarty.

Jay Moriarty

Jay became a surfing luminary at the early age of 15 when he became the youngest surfer ever to ride giant Mavericks.

Two years before that fateful day, Jay began a journey that would test his strength and stamina as well as stretch his spiritual and mental fortitude to the very limit.

Along with his mentor, Rick “Frosty” Hesson, Jay underwent a two-year training program designed by Hesson which included visualization, swim hundreds of miles, and paddling hundreds of hours in open ocean.

Hesson also included writing essays on various topics related to desire, visualization, mindset, etc. Moriarty also ran, rode his bike, sailed, fished and played volleyball.

Tragically, Jay left us too early, passing away during training while free diving in the Maldives. His legacy remains as an inspiration to all.


Bethany Hamilton

Last but certainly not least is Bethany Hamilton.

If anybody had a reason to hang their hat of excuses not to accomplish their dreams, it should have been Bethany.

Losing an arm to a 14-foot tiger shark is a life-changing event, the trauma, and sequels of such an event leaving deep, permanent scars on anyone.

Going back in the water would be the last thing anyone would ever imagine of doing.

Bethany is not such an individual.

After her harrowing experience,  losing 60 approximately 60 percent of her arm, she underwent several surgeries. Once stabilized, Bethany was released after a few days.  Bethany saw this incident as a unique opportunity to thrive, taking her apparent tragedy and turning it around completely in her favor. She became laser-focused on getting back in the water as soon as possible.

Facing her challenging condition, Bethany had to re-think her entire life strategy. Her resourcefulness came from the necessity to discard some old rules for the sake of experiencing something new and much more significant.

In my opinion, it is also quite possible that, among other things, she eventually arrived at the following conclusion:

The ability to determine and shape her future would also contribute to her lifelong happiness and success.

Bethany was determined to keep on surfing, so much so, in fact,  that shortly after her release, she won the Explor Women’s division at the 2005 NSSA National Championships. In 2007, undaunted, she began her career in the pro circuit.

That same year she released Heart of a Soul Surfer, a documentary which told her story before, during and after the shark attack. The documentary would be made into a movie later on called Soul Surfer, released in 2011.

Her achievements went well beyond professional surfing, also encouraging a healthy lifestyle and sharing her story through conferences and non-profit organizations like Friends of Bethany.

As social media became better known, Bethany also participated in several platforms, allowing her to acquire a very large following, yours truly included!

She has authored books like Body and Soul: A Girls Guide to a Fit, Fun and Fabulous Life, published in 2014. Additionally, she was also involved in another documentary, Surfs Like a Girl.

Back in the water, she won first place at the Surf n Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro event in March 2014. Her most recent accomplishment was giving birth to her baby boy, Tobias on June 1, 2015.

Bethany is the truest example of never accepting your limitations and seeing every problem, difficulty, resistance, hurdle, and roadblock as an opportunity to grow and thrive.

Final thoughts…

We have all faced adverse situations in our lives at one point or another. When push comes to shove, life makes us discover what really works.

Like Bethany Hamilton, we try new ways to make things work when they don’t go our way.

Greatness at its most inspiring arrives when we come face-to-face with enormous odds. And resourcefulness is one of the cornerstones for achieving mastery in life.

Do you know anyone who has shown the abilities of a resourceful individual? What are the traits you think you could make your own to help you become more resourceful?

Please share your thoughts inside the comment box below. I answer all comments and I value your opinions very much

Thank you for reading! If you know someone who could benefit from this information, please share it with them. Thanks again!

Nail Art and Ocean Conservancy? You go girl!!

Ladies, ladies, ladies…this one’s for you!!

Ever thought of all the materials that go into making nail art? Never gave a second thought about this (as I rightly should!). HOWEVER…the video below is pretty awesome. I have a renewed sense of respect and appreciation for nail artists.

Even though Catherine Cronal is a novice (I have a hard time believing that!), it is pretty clear she is very skilled at her craft. She is also an advocate for finding ways to help the environment while doing her incredible art.

Below she shows how to make some amazing nail art while explaining ways on how to do do what she loves, sharing her views on environment and ocean conservancy. She also questions herself regarding best ways to recycle and dispose of nail polish, glitter, and plastic nails, which is just as well. Every bit helps!


World Oceans Day was celebrated last Friday, June 8th. I thought this would be a good way to salute the amazing efforts being made by environmental heroes such as Sylvia Earle, Vandana Shiva, Isatou Ceesayand Sian Sykes.

To my fellow  Surfsentinel gents around the world, no worries!

Next week I will continue posting more manly articles for your viewing pleasure…but hey, my lady Sentinels also kick butt…so no surprises if you find similar articles in the future. You have been warned!

Happy Oceans Day 2018 everyone!

How to stay in the flow: Speed, Power and Compression – A Case Study.

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach…minus one.

A bit over a month ago, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach was celebrated in Victoria, Australia. Legendary Bell’s Beach was visited by the WSL’s surfing elite. Jordy Smith, Gabriel Medina and John John Florence, among many other luminaries, brought the stoked-filled crowds to their feet on repeated occasions.

How to stay in the flow: feel v.s. technique.

The competition was fierce and full of incredible grit and talent. In the end, Brazilian Italo Ferreira was crowned champion of this, the second of eleven stops that make up the 2018 WSL Men’s Championship Tour.

And though the crowds warmly greeted and rooted for their favorite competitors, there was an inevitable, unspoken feeling of quiet disappointment when, heat after heat, surfers went all out against each other, but this time without the presence and formidable skill of one of  surfing’s all-time legends and eleven-time world champion: Kelly Slater.

And this feeling is only natural.

Kelly has forever revolutionized the world of competitive surfing.

Kelly SlaterIn my humble opinion, Kelly lives in the same star-studded firmament as other world sports phenoms like Ronaldo, Federer, and Brady. His accomplishments in the CT remain a historical milestone in the sport of surfing:  11 World Titles, 55 career victories, as well as being the youngest and oldest World Champion in men’s history.

And did I mention he is also an accomplished big-wave charger? Slater is as comfortable competing in 12 ft. Trestles as he is competing in monstrous Peahi or Teahupo, riding waves in excess of 35 feet, with a unique style and uncommon aplomb.

He is not of this earth folks!

What he does with massive bombers never ceases to amaze me. But it’s what he does on smaller waves, demanding greater finesse and “feel” of the wave, that is really special.

Like golf or tennis, when done right, a swing or serve can seem, at least to the unpracticed eye, as a fairly simple and effortless movement.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s this apparent simplicity of mechanics through mastery of complex motion which often propels talented athletes to a whole new level of performance.  It’s the key to how to stay “in the flow”.

And Kelly is one of the undisputed masters.

But first, let’s talk basics…

I have always been intrigued by how professional surfers keep their power and speed going through sections of the wave. They make it look so effortless and seamless. As I researched a bit more on this topic, I discovered that there are three essential aspects all professional surfers agree on for achieving ultimate riding mastery:

  • Speed
  • Power
  • Flow.

Back home, I have watched local surfers in Cancun for some time now.

Even though there are a couple of good spots, there’s not much of a culture here. Now, it’s not to say that my compadres don’t try!  (just being out in the water, in less than ideal conditions, is merit enough). But the sad truth is that their surfing falls very short of these three basic elements.

I’m quite sure that if they spent some time reading and researching a bit on how speed, power, and flow really work, they’d be even more stoked. Some of them could even take their surfing to the next level.

Check out the following video. See if you can notice anything in particular:

Our unsuspecting “victims” are having a blast, for sure, even if they are doing it all wrong. Chances are they are not even aware of the three fundamental mistakes which are holding them back for better performance, growth and enjoyment:

  • Stop and starting
  • Flailing arms
  • Squatting

Also, look at their posture. They seem to be more concerned with how they look on the wave, rather than focusing on the wave. The wave is the real star here, not the other way around.

It’s like they think surfing is about them and not the wave.  That’s what surfing is…it’s about riding a wave.

To achieve this level of sensibility and “feel” takes diligent practice and dogged determination. You have to work hard to acquire the proper muscle memory and technique. Eventually, when you do it enough times, your mind and body will arrive to a complete understanding of this.

Clayton Nienaber Surf CoachAccording to Clayton Nienaber, world-class surfer, surf coach and surfboard shaper, surfing must be done with a “hell of a lot of more feeling”. He adds:

“People use their bodies too much. You have to “read ” the sections. The waves tell when and how to do a turn. It’s like peeling an onion: you peel one layer, and then you find another layer beneath. There you may discover something beautiful and grand…and then you peel another layer and this time, maybe your discovery may not be as significant, but it will still be incredibly valuable”.

Of the three most hampering and wrong ways to surf (mentioned above), surfing flat is very possibly the hardest to beat. And that’s because we all think that going all out on the face of the wave is the way to speed and power.

It’s not.

Mastering the bottom-turn is the surest ticket to speed, power and flow.

the bottom turn: power, speed, flow.And yes, I can hear some of you saying: “Oh, I know that dude! Been doing it for ages…what else can you tell me that I don’t already know!”. Well, this may surprise even seasoned surfers and newbies alike. They should both stop for a moment and give some consideration to the following advice.

See, just like in life, the devil is indeed in the details.

So hang around a bit, especially since this information comes from two of surfing’s greatest: Taylor Knox and Kelly Slater.

Speed, power, and flow…nailing the bottom-turn every time.

Taylor explains it like this:

“If you put your board on rail and you feel yourself leaning and driving through the turn, you’re going to get speed out of the bottom turn. Most people surf flat, stepping on the tail of the board, getting a direction change, but this sacrifices a lot of speed”.

He goes on, listing the 5 essential techniques that must be learned and mastered by anyone who really wants to take their surfing to the next level:

  1. Surf on rail.
  2. Lean into the turn.
  3. Twist on turns (top turns) and hold for longer
  4.  Surf top-to-bottom.
  5. “Feel” your way through the bottom turn.

Our coach, Clayton Nienaber, goes deeper into the concept of leaning into a bottom turn, addressing two things you MUST do with your board:

  1. Hold off the bottom turn.
  2. Release off the top turn.

By the way, for those of you who are newcomers to surfing and are a bit unsure about the different parts that make up a surfboard, here’s a pic from that can help clear this up a bit:

Nienaber continues to add:

“Note that when you hold the bottom-turn or release at the top-turn, you experience two very different “feelings” on the wave, even though both rails are the same on either side of the board. You have the same design which does two different things.

The following analogy applies:

Imagine you are riding a bike you lean into the curve. If you don’t lean and only turn while steering the wheel, you’ll fall over the handlebars. Likewise, when taking a curve slowly, you have to sit up straight, turn the handlebars and the bike will turn.

In surfing, when you take off and you go down the face of the wave and you create speed from the wave, you have to lean on the bottom turn. The rails are round and they are designed to roll same as the bike’s tires are designed to roll. You engage the rail, allowing the board to turn smoother, longer and better. When you roll, you get weightless.

This allows your board to accelerate through the water.

Also, by rolling into the rail your bottom curve is submerged into the water. Because it’s curving your bottom curve, it actually turns you up to the top of the wave. You are leaning in the direction of the wave you want to go to. This will result in your board turning in that direction.

When you become weightless, it is easier for the board to get sucked up the wave face, towards the top of the wave.

A bike turn relates to what the bottom-turn should feel like. The top-turn is a simple twist (like tennis or golf), where the twist determines the power you will gain, as you go down the face of the wave again”.

“It’s essential you understand that when coming up the face of the wave, you are burning off speed.

When you twist, you use gravity to ride back down the wave, very much like a skateboarder going down a ramp. Going down, the skater gains speed again for his next move.

I can’t stress enough moving away from the following bad habits as soon as you are able to:

  • Flat surfing.
  • Flailing arms.
  • Hopping
  • Bouncing

Not only will these practices make you lose speed always, you will also burn through your energy a lot faster, feeling exhausted very quickly. Getting into the “flow” will remain nearly impossible to accomplish”.

Compression, twisting, leaning…

And so we come to Kelly Slater’s take on the bottom-tun. His exploits and accolades as an active advocate of the sport have advanced the sport of surfing well into the future. So pay close attention.

Experts love Kelly’s surfing because of what he does in the bottom-turn…

  • He takes off, nose straight to the beach.
  • Kelly then leans gently on the rail.
  • The board then rockets to the top of the wave.
  • He twists naturally, gaining tremendous explosive power, racing down the face of the wave.

But what immediately follows is equally amazing…

  • Kelly comes out of the power zone of the wave (bottom of the wave) looking up at the lip.
  • When he hits it, he’s looking back down at the power zone, riding it and getting speed from it again.

And on, and on it goes, almost never losing speed and power, always flowing smoothly and in harmony with the wave.

“Most people look down the line and see the shoulder and try forced turns half-way down the shoulder…this kills your speed”. Kelly also says that gunning down the line doesn’t work for him, preferring top-to-bottom, rail-to-rail surfing.

Again, like Knox and Nienaber, Kelly mentions the bad habits we should all try to stay away from:

“…squatting during the bottom-turn. Don’t do it. Squatting won’t give you speed or acceleration. It hinders your movement. You become flat footed and this leads to twisting in the bottom-turn which causes the surfboard to drift and slide out”.

Kelly goes on to add that, much like track athletes competing in the 100-meter dash, the movement during the bottom turn should feel similar to the lunge the track athlete makes at the crack of the gun.

“This compression through the lunge gives you much more acceleration, and it enables you to lean into the turn. If there is no space below you, you are never going to find speed. And remember, no matter how you are turning, the wave always determines your approach”.

So why do the majority of surfers end up not doing right?

Coach Nienaber explains:

“Most surfers run away from the power zone instead of actually being in it. They don’t realize that they can surf closer to the foamball than they think. The fact is that being closer to the foamball gives you more freedom. As mentioned before, surfing is about what your body is doing at the bottom and the top of the wave. “Feel” and “Flow” stem from this knowledge. And gaining awareness of this remains one of the biggest challenges surfers have to face”.

So there you have it! A quick primer of speed, power and flow (and compression) from three of the world’s best surfing athletes. Wherever you are, I hope you can put these sage tips and advice to practice.

Remember, it’s not about you. You are not the star. The wave is.

  1. “Read” the sections.
  2. Surf rail-to-rail, top-to-bottom.
  3. Lean into the rail and lunge for greater speed up the face of the wave.
  4. Twist.
  5. Repeat.

And always be learning awareness.


The resources of this article come directly from an interview done to coach Neinaber by Mike Balter (Surf Mastery Podcast) a bit over a year ago. Even though it has been a while since coach Nienaber has been on the podcast, his insights and profound knowledge on surfing, speed, power,  compression, and flow remain as relevant now as they were a year ago. 

For a more in-depth look at coach Nienaber’s professional surfing life and one very incredible step-by-step video of Kelly Slater’s uncanny surfing ability, please go to the podcast. Look for episode 025: CLAYTON NIENABER – Surf Coach, Shaper, Shredder. 

Also, if you have found this article useful, please share it with your friends or anyone you think may benefit from this information.

As always, thank you very much for reading. Talk soon!










Three SUP paddle board activities you have got to try!

Landlocked but inspired…

Hey Sentinels!

Greetings again from beautiful, land-locked San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, in Mexico!

So here I remain still and to be honest, I’m loving it!

Even though the nearest beach is well over 1,000 kilometers away on either side, my time here, away from the water, has provided the motivation and inspiration I needed to become even more involved in any and all action water sports activities that come my way.

If you have been reading some of my posts lately, you probably have noticed a pattern developing. My articles have recently centered around self-development skills and big wave riding and how, when put together, can create deep impactful transformation.

But it is by no means the only way.

SUP paddle boarding…for real!

I’m an advocate of big wave riding because I simply freakin’ love it! And I hope you have come to learn and love a bit about it too.

However, SUP boarding is also catching on as one of the most transformational water sports activities in the world. And though there are many ways you can practice this fun sport, following are the three most popular SUP paddle board activities for you to try:

  • SUP Surfing
  • SUP Yoga
  • SUP Trekking

SUP surfing is pretty self-explanatory and the link here should give you plenty of history and interesting facts about its origins and variations.

SUP Yoga, well, suffice to say that Yoga on its own is an incredibly challenging and meditational experience, which also can result in amazing physical benefits: flexibility, balance and lean, strong muscles when practiced regularly. Now, practice all that on a moving surfboard and you get the idea why so many yoga enthusiasts are making this their go-to class over other Yoga styles.

I have no ocean where I live.

I also have no patience or interest in doing Eagle or Downward-Facing Dog on land, much less on a wobbly surfboard.

Would I try it sometime down the line? Maybe. For now, though, if I were to give SUP boarding a try, it would be for exploring lakes and river ways…

And that’s where Sian Sykes comes in.

If you have never heard of Sian (pronounced “Shan”), it’s ok. I had never heard of her or her incredible journey until about a week ago. I was looking for inspiration for my next article. So far, most of my articles have been about surfing. But lately, I had ignored ocean conservancy,  a medular topic of Surfsentinel.

It’s a bit embarrassing, really, since my tagline announces my site as “Surfsentinel is an advocate for ocean conservancy”. It sort of looks cool there, but the truth is I’ve only published a couple of articles about ocean conservancy: this very one and another article about plastic waste. Pretty lame production, right? I know.

Until now.

As I began to do my research for my last post on single-use disposable plastics, I came uppon Sian’s SUP board adventure. It caught my imagination so definitively, I shared her epic journey on Twitter the very moment I finished reading about it.

Right, so here it is.

Sian Skyes is from Anglesey, Wales. She is professional SUP boarding instructor. She owns a business ( teaching others how to get about on the boards and offering water safaris around the island. She is also a conservationist campaigner.

Committing to Mother Earth…

Sian decided to circumnavigate Wales through its long and winding river systems and canals, alone, using only her outdoors expertise and SUP board as a means of transport. The route she took was along the Welsh border. She eventually ended up on the Severn Estuary, where she followed the coast, finally reaching her home, back in Anglesey.

This expedition was a 1000 km journey around wales, and it took two months. That alone could stand as an incredible adventure.

But here is the really amazing part:

Along the way, Sian collected single-use disposable plastic to dispose of when she arrived in towns along the riverside, sharing her story with the inhabitants, promoting plastic waste reduction and environmental awareness.

Now THAT is having absolute clarity and commitment to one’s mission.

Her historical navigation was completely weather dependent. And all along, her mission remained unshaken: pick up as much plastic as possible and bring marine litter reduction and environmental awareness to anyone who would listen.

When asked during a BBC interview as to what she finds so magical about Stand Up Paddleboarding, this is what she expressed enthusiastically:

“You have a bird’s-eye view. You see jellyfish float past you, fish leaping out of the water, porpoise darting about, birds flying overhead and inquisitive seals can come up to you”

“It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with nature, and to go on a journey and explore areas you would never see on foot.”

But it’s not all about the natural beauty. She goes on to add:

“I see a lot of marine litter washed up on our beaches. It is a massive problem – and we need to make a change”.

“I’m going to highlight that on my trip, from showing from inland out to the sea – plastic pollution.”

To further raise awareness about single-use plastic disposal, Sian also used non-disposable plastic herself. Her food and nutrition needs were another challenge she had to face since she is vegan. Her menu consisted mainly of quinoa and dehydrated vegetables.

As if that was not enough, Sian will also had to deal with the following tricky spots along the way:

  • Tidal races along the Welsh coastline.
  • Busy shipping channels, harbors.
  • The second fastest flow in the world.
  • Wild camping.
  • Being totally self-reliant.
…sugar and spice and everything nice.

It blows my mind every time whenever women’s strength and resilience are put into question by clodding misogynists.

Sian Sykes is one of many women who is setting the record straight.

Her commitment, courage, and passion for our planet’s health, both in and out of the water, is undeniable and universal.

Sian’s views on marine and environmental conservancy are inspirational and, hopefully, far-reaching. Her actions truly speak louder than words.

Has anyone inspired you lately to take environmental action of any kind? How about recycling, composting, single-use plastic disposal?

Can you think in ways you can impact your awareness towards marine life and ocean conservancy, perhaps not to the extent that Sian Sykes has demonstrated to the world, but maybe, on a smaller, more personal level?

What would that be?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. I would love to read your ideas and share them with other Sentinels around the world. We can always learn and share new ways to protect our fragile planet.

Thanks for reading and talk soon!







Plastic waste reduction…are we too late?

Abundance…but at what price?

High season is nearly over!

Cancun and the Riviera Maya go through this period every year and without fail (thankfully for all of us making a living here), tourists from all over the world come to visit our incredible beaches and vast vacation offer.

It’s a time of abundance and work. Unfortunately, it also comes at a price. Even though plastic waste reduction has lately become more relevant, we are still a long way from overcoming this terrible epidemic. Here’s what I mean…

A few days ago, I finally returned to the beach which my wife and I love very much. It is located 10 minutes from our home. It was our day off so we decided to go early with our dogs and later on for breakfast at a small local restaurant we like very much.

Having lived in the area for nearly 20 years now, we knew that with our walk, would come the notorious appearance of trash washed up on shore. This has just been so for the amount of time living here.

This season, however, was starkly different.

The number of plastic objects washed up on shore was more than we had ever found before.

Due to our current jobs, we don’t get out to the beach as much as we should. We normally take “stock” on just how much trash and refuse washes up on our beaches.

Having made inquiries to the local lifeguarding staff and the beach clean-up crew, they confirmed that the amount of trash washed up during this 2018 season was alarmingly high.

They even showed us what they had recollected that morning.

Among the plastic bottles and bags and other refuse in general, 2 rubber duckies and one ice hockey glove…seriously? The duckies we could understand (well, sort of)…but the ice hockey glove??

I decided to investigate a bit further as to how an ice hockey glove ended on our favorite beach.

And what I found out was shocking.

Hard facts to consider…

More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced around the world each year.

Only 10% of that is being recycled!

Billions of plastic bottles and trillions (that’s with a “t”) of plastic bags end up creating literal mountains of plastic waste found in our planet’s largest landfills.

According to a report from the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns, many of these bottles and bags (10 to 20 million tons, find their way into our world’s oceans.

More alarming facts…

50 billion plastic water bottles are produced in the US alone every year. If you were to stack these bottles end to end, they would stretch the distance from the earth to the moon more than 26 times or wrap around the earth more than 250 times!

And nothing seems to be slowing down this plastic binge.

The North Atlantic Gyre…one of five…

So how do 3.5 million tons of garbage (80% being plastic) end up floating lazily around our world’s oceans and where does it all end up eventually?

Have a look at this amazing GIF taken from the scientific website

Consider one of the locations of this natural occurrence: the Atlantic Ocean.

Shipping lanes traverse these vast waters and everything, from food to plastic bottles, wrappings, bags, and all kinds of refuse, fall into these waters.

Below you can see the main shipping lanes of our planet. Pay special attention to the Atlantic shipping lanes. It’s no wonder our oceans are chocking in plastic pollution!

Now imagine a large cargo ship losing its containers to a storm (not a frequent incident, thank Goodness, but it does happen).

All those items, including rubber duckies (and hockey gloves), are lost in the storm and eventually end up in the vast North Atlantic Gyre. That’s a bit on the extreme side. It is the day to day disposal of plastics and their by-products that is simply unsustainable any more!

There they may remain for years (some gyres complete a rotation every 6.5 years!) until they reach the outer bands of the gyre, where they are snatched by other oceanic currents and eventually end up washed up on many of our world’s beaches.

Such was the case with the refuse we were shown, having washed up somewhere from the deep Atlantic on to our local beach, 10 minutes away from our home.

Ravenous hunger for plastics results in graver consequences…

The unfortunate fact is that our endless hunger for plastics is not exclusive to our oceans. The extent of the damage we are causing goes well beyond that.

At the microscopic level, the use of cosmetics and cleaning products have also had an adverse effect. These products are made up of micro-plastics (tiny beads of plastic which are added to improve their abrasiveness). These micro-plastics end up being flushed down drains.

They are so small that modern sewage systems are unable to remove them from drain tubing. Instead, they flow out and end up in shallow waters, mostly on the surface, where they collect contaminants which affect the planktonic food chain.

According to another report from Worldwatch Institute (2015):

“Approximately 10 to 20 million tons (9.1 to 18.1 million metric tons [mt]) of plastic ends up in the oceans each year. A recent study conservatively estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing a total of 268,940 tons (243,978 mt) are currently floating in the world’s oceans. This plastic debris results in an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems, including financial losses to fisheries and tourism, as well as time spent cleaning beaches.”

And most recently, Kathleen Rogers, the Earth Day Network’s President has this to say about plastic pollution (2018):

“From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival”.

As if that were not enough, plastics threaten our ocean’s wildlife, such as seabirds, sea lions, whales, fish, and dolphins, through entanglement in plastic matter such as netting, ropes, and packaging materials.

Also, microparticles and microbes adhere to floating debris which can enter local ecosystems, damaging wildlife in non-native regions.

So what can we do?…really.

For starters, restrain the unnecessary use of plastic bags and increase our efforts at recyclingreally.

Easier said than done. I myself have tried to commit to a serious recycling effort, but have fallen short. After this article, however, I now realize that there is no turning back.

The numbers are staggering and it’s not getting better any time soon.

We must commit, in heart, mind, and soul, to reduce our plastic footprint and do all we can to acquire a recycling culture, not as a fad or trend, but as a lifestyle.

Do you have a recycling program where you live? More importantly, are you actively finding ways to be informed and aware of how to minimize the indiscriminate use of plastic products? What strategies have you put in place and are they working?


I hope you have found this article useful. It is so important that we become accountable and involved in protecting our planet, both in and out of the water, from plastic pollution.

What do you think? Are we still in time?

I’m an optimist.

We are gradually coming to terms with the consequences of our actions. It’s finally happening.

Better late than ever, I guess.

Please leave your comments below. I will be happy to follow up and share them with our Sentinel community around the world.

Thank you for reading and talk soon!

Nazare: how does it really work.

Its that time of the year again!

A few months have passed since our last sit-down at our favorite french coffee shop. Eduardo, or “Lalo” as I affectionately prefer to call him, is my best friend. And, like me, a big fan of anything that has to do with surfing and the WSL (the World Surf League).

I sit alone, half-way through my second chocolote caliente (yeah, I know, not very French). Lalo is off on a business trip to Chiapas. Last time I spoke with him was about two weeks ago. Said he was keeping busy and wouldn’s be back in time for coffee time. Shame. I miss our conversations. So I sit there and think about our last conversation in January when we last met to discuss anything and everything regarding our favorite sport…

It is the end of  January of 2018. The WSL is on a break and the XXL big wave riding tournament is THE topic now.

And why not.

Our discussion revolves around big wave chargers like Andrew Cotton, Mark Haley, Garett Macnamara and a few others. Their exploits riding the world’s largest waves always resulting in lively debates.

The winter storms are their playground.

Their time is now.

And even though we continue with our friendly discussion on who is the sickest, most extreme charger, Lalo and I agree on one indisputable truth: the heaviest big wave riding spot in the world continues to be Nazare, Portugal.

We both sit there, letting the name of the legendary break sink in our minds and imagination.

Nazare. Where, in winter of 2011, the world’s largest wave was ridden by big-wave riding legend Garett Macnamara. What a moment!

As Lalo reaches for his hot cup of Chiapas coffee, he hesitates for an instant.

“How does it work?” he asks, looking at the steaming cup of coffee.

His tone serious, almost reverent, taking me by surprise. He looks at me now, probing deeper.

“I mean, this place, Nazare…it’s unnatural…a freak of nature”. he says. Lalo sits back, folding his arms. Thinking.

“I’ve read about places like Ghost Tree, Todos Santos, Mavericks…but Nazare…Christ! How does a wave get to be that size? It’s insane! Is it the location? The storms that are out in the deep Atlantic? What is going on below water…”.

“Bathymetry” I add, trying hard not to sound like a nerdy know it all.

“Yeah, that’s it. Bathymetry. I wonder what’s the bathymetry of that place. What lurks beneath the water’s surface? And at what depth? Is it a reef? Rock? Sand?”.

I sit there, taking a sip of my chocolate caliente, giving pause to think about Lalo’s questions.

“Let me show you something which may help” I say finally.

Reaching for my mobile, I open the search engine and type “Grand Canyon”. Almost instantly, my query is answered with hundreds of images of Colorado’s mighty Grand Canyon. I pass my mobile to Lalo.

“That’s the Grand Canyon. What do you see almost in every image?”.

Lalo starts finger-sliding the images from left to right. “I see contours, ledges, cliffs, ravines, and a bunch of other stuff that geologists would probably call “eye-candy!”.

I laugh. Lalo’s sense of humor is one of his qualities which I most enjoy and look forward to in our conversations.

“Exactly!” I say, taking another sip of my chocolate caliente.

Lalo continues to explore the images. Again, making an effort not to sound academic, I continue on.

“The Grand Canyon is legendary for its vast abundance of geological “eye-candy”. Now, imagine all of that below water. Add enormous storms, sending huge swells over these enormous underwater formations and contours and…boom! You have the makings of Nazare. And as essential as all this is, it’s what’s happening below the water’s surface that is even more incredible. Lalo, it’s where the unseen magic happens…”.

So how does it work?

Giant waves are not that uncommon. Their size and mass depend directly on the size and power of the storm where they originate from. These are the waves that you typically watch in National Geographic documentaries, where large exploration ships come face to face with these monsters out in the middle of the Arctic Ocean or the deep Atlantic.

The dramatic images of one of these ships battling it out with nature’s fury never cease to amaze me. They often leave me wondering what the brave crews of these mighty vessels are going through, including the crewmember expressing his experience using very colorful language!

However, surfable waves of this scale are rare beasts indeed.

Many elements must first converge to create waves of monstrous proportions while still being rideable. Large storm systems are just one part of the mix. Location, bathymetry, and local winds are essential ingredients which also weigh heavily on the rest of the big-wave formula.


Let’s take these enormous storms and scale them down to more manageable terms.

Imagine you are standing in a regular pool. Now, you start “romping” in the pool, hitting the surface of the water repeatedly with your hands. Soon, its a frenzy of splashing and white water. As the frenzied surface of the water moves away from you, it acquires a more defined shape (concentric waves speeding away from you: the center of the storm). Eventually, the waves will reach the edge of the pool and disappear altogether.

Take that on a planetary scale, and you got the basic mechanics of how waves are formed. If waves don’t travel far enough from the storm (you), they will remain contorted and without any defined shape by chaotic conditions around them (splashing).


In one of my earlier posts, I explained a bit about bathymetry.

The ocean’s floors are anything but even. They are full of contours and, more often than not, these contours closely resemble those found on dry land. Ultimately, these underwater ravines, cliffs, and canyons are a critical component of a wave’s size and shape as it approaches the coastline.

I confess that, until recently, I was unaware of the importance of the contours found in the ocean’s floors, and the impact they have on large swells.

Now I understand that large, epic surf is heavily influenced by the bathymetry of each break…this is where it all happens.

Local Wind.

Four magical words that surfers around the world love to hear: light off-shore winds.

Wind, when it is generated locally, determines the quality of a wave. Giant waves get “combed” to perfection by good wind conditions.

If you have ever seen off-shore winds in action, you probably remember seeing the wave’s “mane”  being combed and groomed away from the crest. This is one of surfing’s most spectacular visual gifts.

When you are out in the water, in the receiving end, well…it’s hard to explain. The closest thing I can relate it to is being soaked by a drizzling, light rain… it’s pretty freaking amazing!

And so we come to the mother of all convergences. Those that have created Nazare’s legend and mystique.

Picture an eight-story-high building and you begin to comprehend the dimensions of such a wave. To date, Nazare remains unchallenged as the surf spot where the world’s largest wave ever was conquered.

What lies beneath…

What is truly remarkable about Nazare is that it is a sand bottom beach break. Unlike other legendary big-wave breaks around the world, where the bathymetry is made up of underwater reefs or points, and where swell energy is dependent on their respective contours, Nazare depends on unique underwater dynamics to make it work.

If it existed without these dynamics, the majority of the swells, especially large ones like the ones arriving at its shorelines every winter, would be hopeless close-outs.

But that’s not Nazare.

In fact, the dynamics which are at play here make this sand bottom beach break a stand-alone in the world of big-wave riding.

And the great facilitator for this extraordinary distinction is the Nazare Canyon, Europe’s longest submarine canyon.

It begins about half-a-mile out, at the continental shelf, at a depth of 50 meters and then plummeting down to the Iberian Abyssal Plain, to a depth of 5,000 meters, just off-shore.

The canyon’s bathymetry allows the creation of very large, powerful surf through drastic, rapid change in ocean depth, resulting in swell amplification. This is directly attributed to the canyon head:  the actual location where the canyon starts.

Check the image below from the GEBCO Gazetteer, an online index that compiles the names of underwater features.

The importance of the canyon head’s location cannot be overstated:

1. It focuses extra swells, especially on longer period swells, into the region.
2.It allows swells to greatly increase in size as they approach the coastline.

In other words, very large swells refract from deep water towards shallow water, where they transform into huge swells, packed with unparalleled oceanic energy. Welcome to Nazare.

To make things a bit more interesting…

Because it is a beach break, offshore shallow points weigh heavily on the creation of better waves with crossed-up breaks v.s. huge close-outs. This makes Nazare incredibly challenging and extraordinarily dangerous…especially when it’s big! I found a review by legendary forecaster and surfology expert, Sean Collins, on swell mechanics present in October 2011, during the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

Back to the future…

The coffee shop is busy, loud, and the people sitting on other tables around me go on with their own discussions.

I smile.

It’s so strange and strangely gratifying, talking about something that is so foreign, so different and so removed from the lives of the great majority of people here.

It is a privilege.

And it is also our little secret.

Sitting at my table in silent contemplation, I savor the moment. The allure and awe of Nazare is ours alone. And as I finish my last bit of chocolate caliente, I smile again because no one here understands this. Not really.

Which surf spot inspires you most? Lalo mentioned a few that still manage to stir our imaginations: Cortez Bank, Todos Santos, Ghost Tree. But there are others which are just as famous and awe-inspiring.

And hopefully, many more still remain to be found. It’s a big ocean out there.

What’s been the largest wave you have ever seen or experienced? Please share in the comment box below so other sentinels may read about your encounters and exploits! We would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading and talk soon!


Every moment counts…the awesome power of “Kairos”.

Opportune moments…Zak Noyle.

Hey sentinels!

Question for you: have you ever had a defining moment in your life? An instant, so powerful, so transformational, that it becomes a before-and-after moment, forever altering your journey?

Enter Hawaiian water photographer Zak Noyle.

Zak is considered one of the best extreme photographers in the world. He currently lives on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. From an early age, his father, Ric Noyle, also an experienced photographer, encouraged Zak to take up photography. By the time Zak was a freshman at Punahou School, he had already published his works in ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Transworld Surf. In 2015, at age 25, he was made senior staff photographer of Surfer Magazine and has been actively involved with the magazine since then.

Code Red…

In February of 2016, one of the largest swells to ever hit the North Shore of O’ahu arrived at Waimea Bay, just in time for The Eddie, one of surfing’s most emblematic and traditional big wave riding events in the world.

The Eddie, formerly known as the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, was an event which Zak had followed both in and out of the water for some time.

This morning, though, what he would experience would forever change his life, both as a photographer and as a skilled waterman.

As he made his way to the famous bay, reports on how big and massive the swell was getting began to show up in local radio stations. By the time he arrived at Waimea Bay, the waves were so enormous and powerful, local authorities had even considered postponing the event.

But everything was all set up, thousands having come from around the world to watch the event. With the assistance of wave runners, Zak was able to arrive quickly at the lineup.

But the behemoth closeouts forced him and his crew out to the shore on more than one occasion.

The arrival of Kairos…

He decided that the best way not to miss a moment of the event was to swim back to the lineup.

Zak would spend the next eight hours, without food or water, braving waves at times exceeding 50+ feet.

Following is an account I found in describing Zak’s experience on that harrowing day.

Zak experienced Kairos (pronounced “Kiros”): an ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, opportune moment. A particular moment when a drastic change takes place.

As Zak explains in his incredible account that day: everyone was saying that it was just too big to go out. He tried hard to remain in his “zone”; and in a moment of Kairos, he made a decision that would change his life forever.

As a result of his courageous decision, Zak was able to take some of the heaviest images ever taken during this legendary event.

Kairos in your life…

Now, in your life, your Kairos moment doesn’t have to be as dramatic or dangerous as Zak’s experience.

Kairos is a very personal affair, and how and when it arrives in our lives is very different for each of us. In fact, you may even experience a few Kairos moments in your life. This is not unheard of.

In my personal journey, I’ve had two such moments: creating my first website and posts, and, another much more personal moment: the passing away of my father.

These particular moments created drastic changes in my life.

Creating my first website,, was of particular professional and personal relevance. It got me hooked on blogging and made me an avid learner and creator of digital marketing content.

It was transformational since I finally knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life:

  • Putting my writing skills to good use.
  • Writing about a subject I am passionate about.
  • Sharing this journey with my audience.
  • Publish the best content possible.
  • Help my audience in any way I can to make their lives happier, balanced and more meaningful.

In regards to my father’s passing, suffice to say that I learned that life is to be lived and enjoyed in the present. His integrity and work ethic will continue to be my daily source of inspiration for years to come.

Have you experienced Kairos? When and where did these moments of drastic change happen to you? What did you learn from them? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. I read all comments and will gladly answer, share and discuss this fascinating subject with you.

Thank you for reading. Un abrazo!

Learning from failure is never easy, but it is often necessary.

Hi Sentinels!

This week I’m sharing something a bit different with you.

If you’ll indulge me just this once, I would like to give you a behind the scenes look at my progress regarding Surfsentinel, strictly from a marketing point of view. I will return to posting great action water sports vids, pictures as well as valuable content for you as of next week. Here we go…

It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure. Learning from failure, however, has given me the self-analysis and clarity I needed to persevere on this journey. Lessons have been learned and implemented so you and other Sentinels around the world may continue to find Surfsentinel not only entertaining but relevant and informative. (You’ll notice that I often mention the WA. This is short for Wealthy Affiliate, an online digital marketing academy where I have been learning the all about digital and affiliate marketing. They have a terrific community, always willing to lend a hand to get met unstuck. And that’s been quite often!)

The curtains pull back…

So I’m glad to say that I’m back on track (again!) and this time it’s been so much better than the last couple of times.

Beyond the fact that my absence at WA on both occasions was for personal reasons which unfortunately demanded my attention, the other reason why it was so challenging to get back on the horse again was simply that I became distracted with many other “shiny objects” out there.

At the forefront was the sudden urgency of building my email list (and EVERYTHING that is involved in this activity).

So off I went, researching on how to start my email list.

And it’s embarrassing to admit. Even though I knew that there was probably excellent information regarding this topic here at the WA, I just got dazzled by other offers out there that, in the end, led me nowhere. Now, let me clarify that it was not my virtual mentors’ fault, or the email service providers’ fault (a.k.a. MailChimp or ConvertKit). No, they are exempt from any wrongdoing.

The fault fell squarely on my shoulders.

You see, I wanted to run before learning to walk. Sounds trite, I know. But in my case, it’s been a real eye-opener.

Take a look below and you’ll see what I mean:

I mean, C’mon! Really?? In four months 472 visits…and to add insult to injury, I subscribed with ConvertKit where I am currently paying a monthly fee to have access to their emailing services…with laughable traffic…Sheesh!!What was I thinking!?! (No complaints to CK. They have awesome resources and it’s my go-to source for learning how to build my email list from scratch…when I eventually get around to it).

Pretty sad numbers right? I know.

Conclusions and actions…

BUT…it was a huge wake-up call for me (however delayed). Whatever I had been doing so far was simply not working. I decided to take a long hard look at my website’s traffic progress ( I came to a very humbling conclusion: it sucked.

It was rough. I grudgingly realized that all the time and effort I had invested in the past nine months had resulted in extremely scant results. This realization forced me to come to terms with two things:

1. I needed to go back to basics.

Back to the foundational source of successful blogs and websites: Content. But not just any kind of content. I would now have to pour all my writing and intellectual endeavors into creating (and you may want to take note of this) VALUE-FIRST CONTENT. So crucial to understand this.

See, before launching yourself into “shiny objects” like social media engagement and building your brand through Facebook Ads, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Twitter, Pinterest, (and learning to drive traffic effectively to your site, down your funnel, to eventually achieve conversions), you must first offer your readers value-first content.

I revised my posts and pages, some of them going as far back as June of 2017. I cringed when I re-read some of them. Talk about fluff! During this time, I learned a concept that is becoming more and more common among content creators: re-purposing. Taking old material, adding new images, content, links, etc. and re-launching the same article, making it easier and more attractive to read, and most importantly, with much improved and targeted value.

This is where I am currently at in my website.

And it’s a lot of work.

But in the end, I’m confident it will be well worth it.

2. Acceptance.

I needed to accept that when I first started this journey, my digital marketing and entrepreneurial skills were located somewhere beyond the basement level.

Also, that my personal learning curve has been quite steep. Not like Mount Everest steep, but more like Kilimanjaro steep.

Daunting. Uncertain. At times scary. But still reachable and without the need of an oxygen tank.

“Steady as she goes Mr. Zulu…”

One step at a time, folks! Again, trite, I know. But so true. You cannot expect to build your “tribe” of raving fans if you do not offer them valuable content first. And to do this, we must do something completely inconceivable to many: we must first help our readers.

Consistently. And selflessly.

Good examples of this, especially for you ladies and gents who are newbies here at the WA community:

Kyle’s first 10 lessons here at the WA, Ray Edwards’s blog at, Vishen Lakhiani’s website at, Michael Hyatt’s site at, and Pat Flynn from

Pay particular attention to how all of these respected and established marketers and communicators first offer TONS of valuable content before pitching their products. They are true masters of their craft and you can learn a lot from them.

Additionally, if you wish to subscribe to their email listing, you’ll get an invaluable lesson on the proper way to nurture an audience.

But be aware. As previously mentioned, they also offer a LOT of great content and you may find yourself easily distracted by all the awesome “shiny objects” they offer! (no affiliate earnings for me here…just good ol’ information for you).

Here are their links again:

Ray Edwards:

Vishen Lakhiani:

Michael Hyatt:

Pat Flynn:

When you reach a wall and you simply cannot go through it, do not despair. Always know that there is help available if you know where to ask:

At the WA.

At the above links.

Also look for online resources:

Youtube and Pinterest have awesome “How To” guides.

Quora and Answer The Public are also pretty amazing for any questions or queries you may have.

A final thought…

Anthony Robbins, one of my all-time favorite life-coaches and motivational speakers, once asked a member of his audience (Al Gore) why he thought he had failed at reaching the US presidency. Mr. Gore’s answer was “…due lack of resources”. To which Tony replied to him: “No Mr. Gore, it wasn’t because of lack of resources. It was because of you not being resourceful”. You can imagine the audience’s reaction.

It’s not exactly the same quote, but it’s pretty close.

The message is clear, though.

Don’t focus on the resources not available to you. Focus all your efforts and attention on being resourceful with the abilities, skills, and gifts you have been given to acquire those resources.

Thanks for reading. I hope you liked this article and you found it useful. If you know someone who may also benefit from this content, please share it with him or her.

Thanks again and talk soon!

5 essential ingredients for spiritual wellness.

Walking through the threshold and searching for answers…

Hey Sentinels…

The passing of someone very close to me has opened a few existential doors that had been naturally shut until recently. Opening these doors and actually going through the threshold has prompted me to reflect more deeply on the importance and foundational impact that spirituality and emotional well being can have in our lives.

Questions like:

  • How do we anchor our souls when the waves of life threaten to undo us?
  • When the dark clouds of depression continue to hover?
  • When the next step in life unsettlingly unclear?

These are difficult questions that the logical side of our brain finds especially challenging. This is where meditation and spirituality become invaluable allies which can offer solace and some semblance of understanding where rational thought cannot.

I believe that where meditation and spirituality are concerned, in particular, the later, there exist 5 essential ingredients that can lead to spiritual wellness. When practiced diligently and without any prejudices, your spiritual well-being and fortitude can be greatly enhanced in and out of the water, in business, in relationships and life in general.

Practice to practice…

My site here at Surfsentinel began as a referential guide for better safety practices for watermen and women alike.

If you have been reading some of my more recent posts, that objective has gone through some substantial changes. The website has acquired a deeper, more meaningful quest for value-first content, with a strong focus on self-development strategies through the practice of action water sports, mostly surfing and other extreme board sports.

This journey has also allowed me to recognize the undeniable power of having a right mindset, and how it can have a  positive impact on our lives.

But having the right mindset, mastering your thoughts and emotions, and effectively putting these strategies into practice is easier said than done. Like all things in life that really matter, making them actionable takes dedication, commitment self-discipline, and practice. Lots of practice…here’s a great example of what I mean: (you can enjoy the whole video from last year’s Quick Silver Pro France semifinals (heat 2) between Gabriel Medina v.s. John John Florence, but the amazing stuff begins at 04:30 and again at 08:50).

Very similar to a recipe, these strategies are the ingredients. And like Gabe and John John demonstrate above, they can also be learned.

However, for the recipe to work, each individual is responsible for how to best apply the recipe’s ingredients.

A consideration on the topics ahead…

Before I go on, I wish to offer my apologies in advance for any sensibilities which I may be hurt during the next topic. My only intention is to offer provocative, thoughtful insights which may help you arrive to your own conclusions

That been said, it is now time to go deeper and find out what these “ingredients” are, and how they can help you improve your personal and professional life.

Wisdom from the past remains relevant today…

Buddha once said:

“Overcome your uncertainties and free yourself from dwelling on sorrow. When you delight in existence, you will awaken, and become a guide to those in need, revealing the path to many”.



Do me a favor. Read this quote again carefully. As you continue reading this post, reflect on its profound meaning. See how your conclusions complement the list below.

It’s quite possible that you may be using some of these “ingredients” already. If that’s the case, celebrate it and share what you have learned with others.  The more they are shared, the more powerful they become, and the better the results.

The 5 ingredients of spiritual wellness…

1. We stop.

Easy enough, right? No, not really.

As recreational or professional watermen and women, we pride ourselves on our independence, breaking away from the mainstream…moving away from conventional notions.

We became committed at understanding and protecting our oceans,  for our own safety as much as for our enjoyment. But most importantly for that of others.

But let’s face it.

Even with our best intentions in mind, the reality is that the vast majority of our tribe also falls victim to the proverbial hamster wheel (and as bad as it may be for us, it’s much worse for your average 9 to 5 company”collaborator”, wouldn’t you agree?).

And so, before we know it, we are all caught in an endless cycle of financial, family and career commitments.

Now, let’s try this again. We stop…oh no! We can’t stop! We must keep going…gotta pay those bills, need to get that promotion, have to save for that college fund, and on and on it goes.

For many of us, stopping and getting off the hamster wheel is nearly impossible.

Or is it?

We are all creatures of habit. We are especially prone to acquiring bad habits and “hamster wheeling” is pretty much at the top of the list.

We need to work hard to earn that paycheck to take care of the bills. And if that runs us to the ground, so be it.

But the truth is…

Granted, your circumstances may be less than adequate and, often times, beyond your control. Natural disasters, terminal illness, the death of a loved one. These are all situations you can’t control.  However, what we can control is how we react towards these situations.

And do you know what happens when you exert control over how you react to adverse circumstances?

You stop the hamster wheel!

You are back in control.

And then…you can get off.

Go ahead, take in the sights! You’ve earned it!

2. We become still.

We are energy.We are present. Aware. We must learn to quiet our minds.

You can still your mind through meditation, quiet reflection, exercise, yoga, or even by taking a serene walk through your favorite park (or beach!).

Throw a stone in a pond. It will make a big splash. The pond will be filled with movement, concentric circles radiating from the source of the impact…chaos, in a micro scale, but chaos nonetheless. Eventually, if you do not throw another stone, the pond will eventually become quiet and still again.

That is what we need to achieve with our mind and spirit (a.k.a. life energy, vibration or whatever you prefer to call it). By learning to become still we open the gateway to spiritual wellness.

3. We pray.

I believe in a higher power.

And I know that discussing this subject will probably touch a nerve or two on more than one of you out there. I promise to tread lightly.

Prayer can be expressed in many ways and it is intimately personal. It is also a foundational ingredient that many of us have decided to ignore. Many of us even feel uncomfortable talking about it. I am Catholic. I believe in God. And I also believe in the power of prayer.

HOWEVER…I do not believe or follow the Catholic church as an institution. Even though there are very good, noble teachings, which have enormous moral and ethical merit, there are also very confusing, outdated ones which no longer apply to our current world. And please don’t get me started on the church’s self-proclaimed practice of “piety” and “humility”. Just have a look at the opulence and excessive luxury of the Vatican and you will understand what I am talking about.

But one thing remains true for many of us who believe on some sort of higher power, and who also believe that there exists someone or something “out there” that looks after us and is responsible for the universal order of things.

And that one truth is the power of prayer.

Like the communication that has existed between men and women since the beginning of their existence, and which has been essential for their millenary evolution, communication with a higher power holds just as fundamentally true.

As mentioned before, prayer can be expressed in many ways: a solemn, austere conversation done in a church or temple, or  an intimate chat with an old friend (God, Source, Yahwe, Universal Consciousness, etc.) while enjoying the last few minutes of a beautiful sunset, who in the end, will always be willing to listen and offer you unconditional help and advice.

You just have to ask…and then listen.

4. We ask for help.

Why is it so difficult to ask for help when we so desperately need it?

Is it perhaps pride? Or maybe inadequacy?

Maybe it is that we are ashamed. We think we are not worthy enough to receive help. We shy away from asking for help because we feel vulnerable from the critique of others.  It could also be that we may think that we are just not capable enough. That we are weak.


But consider the above quote from Buda. Take a moment to ponder about the meaning behind each sentence. It is as profound as it is beautiful:

“…When you delight in existence, you will awaken, and become a guide to those in need, revealing the path to many”.

I am an advocate of the global awakening. It is happening in our world. It is taking place right now. And it is as real as the words I am writing to you in this post. As an example, here are some beliefs that are beginning to take root in this awakening:

1. The growing belief that there are indestructible unifying bonds between us, between other species and our world.

2. Contrary to divisive propaganda, these bonds exist so we may experience them.

3. Unification of mankind can heal our world.

4. The belief that we are all products of our world.

5. The belief that life on our planet is in mortal danger.

6. The belief that we still have the capacity to join together and make things better.

So why haven’t we seen more of this awakening?

Well, think of it this way. We have all been in a deep slumber. Sort of the sleep that I’m sure you have seen on some of those science fiction movies like “Alien”, “Avatar” or more recently, “Passengers”. Yes, folks, geek alert just ahead! In these movies, the characters generally wake up from a very long sleep, I mean, really long. Like months, or even years long. When they wake up, it’s never pretty. It’s almost like they are being born again. And then they go through a very slow waking and recovery process.

That’s what I think that is happening to all of us now. We have been sleeping for a very, very long time, and we are finally coming out of that deep slumber.

Some of us are handling the waking process better than others.

Some are simply not handling it well at all.

And then there are others that carry some form of monster inside them that make things very uncomfortable for the rest of us. I think it is a fair analogy, don’t you?

5. We trust.

Have you ever manifested your wishes or desires to the “Man Upstairs”? A.K.A. God, Source, etc.

How’s that working out for you?

Well, believe it or not, there is documented, scientific proof that this skill really does exist and, like everything, to get better at it, you need to learn how to do it properly and then practice it over and over again.

Eventually, you will get better at manifesting your desires.

I have been witness to its undeniable power. I have also been studying this for some time and, in the beginning, I admit that I pretty much sucked at it!

But through seriously learning and immersing myself in the subject (and keeping an open mind), I was finally able to improve my manifesting ability.

I am going to present to you a bit of what I learned and what has worked for me.I am very excited to share this knowledge with you, right here, right now:

When you request something from the universe, make your request simple. Do not concern yourself with the end result.

That’s it. The premise is that just like when you use your GPS in your car, where you input your destination into the computer, the GPS will calculate all the data and variables, taking care of the rest of the details so it may get you there in the fastest, safest way possible.

Trust your GPS. It will take you to wherever you want to go. As long as you follow the directions, IT will take care of the rest for you.

The analogy is totally applicable when requesting and then trusting the Universe, God, Source, etc. to take care of the details for you. You will arrive at your destination (what you asked for) in the safest, fastest, most expedient way universally possible. Just trust IT and stop concerning yourself with the end result.

Does this all work? In my personal experience, I can tell you that, yes, it does work.

But again, just like everything, it requires a commitment to learning and implementing the right techniques and strategies, while keeping an open mind (sometimes this becomes a bit of a stretch for many of us).

Can you really get anything you wish for? The answer is…

But here’s the catch.

You have to take inspired positive action.

When I first started learning about conscious creation, prayer and law of attraction, I had trouble reconciling with  one very misguiding premise: “You can have anything in this world simply by asking!”.And one thing that the authors and teachers who I followed at the time would seldom ever mention was that you have to show up and take positive action!

Things don’t just happen by themselves…

The universe delivers only when you get involved with concrete, inspired and positive action. If you are sitting around waiting for deliverance without taking action, however powerfully you manifest, your wishes and desires will never materialize.

Also, and this is crucial for you to understand, the universe will deliver ONLY when you are ready to receive. Not before.

So be patient.

Work on improving your thoughts, emotions, and mindset. Embrace and learn from your fears. Live life to the fullest.

I assure you the universe will deliver and make good on your request.

 Final thoughts…

Thanks for reading and staying with me this far!

Before I go, I would kindly request that you give consideration to the following questions:

Have you ever asked for something that you wanted with very badly, and, shortly after it was delivered to you?

Did you do this consciously or was it just a moment of desire? Perhaps desperation?

Were your prayers, your requests, answered?

What does wellness mean to you?

Do you have a different recipe for regaining control and finding your center again?

Please share your experiences in the comment box below. I read all comments and reply to them accordingly.

I hope you found this article useful and if you think it may help someone you know, please share it with them.

Thanks again!