Behind the Cover with Nico Manos

A few days ago I called Nico Manos and asked him to tell the story behind the cover shot of the Spring issue. Here's some of what the Lawrencetown local had to say:

"That day started out just like the previous three days of Hurricane Igor—up at 4 a.m., on the 'net, looking at wind, swell direction, size, tide and weather and doing what you can so that you and your crew don't spend ten hours circumnavigating the province to find the spot. The swell was good enough that day that we probably would've had fun at a hundred different points, but we ended up heading to one of my favourite lefts. It needs a bit of swell, but it's well worth the risk of checking it, even if you only get it one out of every ten times. The wave barrels across a rock ledge for about 50 feet, then the ledge drops off and passes the shoulder over to a 500-foot cobblestone point that's good for carves, roundos, you name it.

Before we'd even parked it was obvious that it was on. There were a couple of bombs in the morning. Skeeter got a good one and Raph got a big one. I got a bunch of straighties that sent me into the rocks, and I ended the morning with a lip just absolutely crushing me. I actually subluxed both of my shoulders.

The cover shot was from the afternoon session. I was contemplating not even paddling out, because my shoulder was really sore and the drop is hard enough when you're 100%. But I'm glad I did. I got a few really good waves and this was one of them. It just happened to drain right past Jer and his camera. I remember being stoked that a few of the American pros who were paddling back out saw it—including Slater's former coach and mentor Matt Kechele. I'm still a bit of a grom in that sense, and I get all excited when people see me get a good barrel. Jer gave me a sneak preview on the paddle back out through his water housing, but I didn't see the shot again until the magazine showed up at my house yesterday. It was a pretty good surprise."

Posted: March 30, 2011 at 07:19 PM
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Dean Petty in Slide Magazine

Now that it's officially spring, those small days at the points with a 3/2 and bare feet suddenly don't seem so far away. It's going to be feeling like the shot above in not too long—our friend Dean Petty from Nova Scotia, as shot by Zak Bush and printed in the pages of Slide Magazine.

Thanks to If Only Surf Shop for the link.

Posted: March 25, 2011 at 02:35 PM
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Sitka Raises Money for Japan

Canadian surf and skate brand Sitka will be donating part of their proceeds from shop sales this weekend to Red Cross relief efforts in Japan. Here's the news release from Sitka's Mel Greene:

Sitka will donate 10% of all of their shop sales this weekend to Red Cross’s relief efforts in Japan. Sitka has two flagship stores in Canada, both of which will be participating. The shop in Vancouver is located at 1864 West 4th Ave., and the shop in Victoria is located at 538 Yates St. Both stores will also have a donation jar for those who would just like to stop by and give what they can, and Sitka will also accept donations made via PayPal to

Sitka’s Auckland shop, located at 6 Osborne St. in Newmarket, will give 10% of their sales this weekend to the relief efforts in Christchurch. They will also have a donation jar for those who would just like to donate.

Thank you in advance to everyone who is able to help.

Posted: March 17, 2011 at 06:29 PM
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The Story of Smiley's Demise

Who doesn’t love a good jalopy story? Halifax-based surfer, tree planter and ‘soon-to-be scholastically certified journalist’ Geoff Bird sent us this tale of the Chevy Astro that carried him from Canada to Costa Rica. Thanks for the words, Geoff.

They warned us. Literally anyone who had even the slightest knowledge of the route told us it was impossible. But the three of us felt we knew better. ‘They don’t know Smiley,’ we would say to one another, almost as if to convince ourselves that we were indeed wiser.

It was true; they didn’t know Smiley. She was a mighty machine with a throaty growl, an underdog with the will and determination of a pit bull who—until that point—had conquered all that lay before her. She was a ’91 Chevy Astro with B.C. plates, all the way down in sunny Costa Rica.
And we—collectively—were not very smart.
My brother, Alastair, our good friend Mike and myself were living a Northerner’s surfing dream: knocking around Central America in an old jalopy in search of peeling waves and sandy beaches. We’d surfed legendary waves in Pasquales, Puerto Escondido, El Sunzal, Playa Madaras, Nosara and many others in between, and had plans to hit more spots before our return to B.C. for three months of slave-like labour planting trees.

Bought for $600 from a bakery deliveryman in Kelowna, Smiley was, as they say, a riddle wrapped in an enigma. She still had winter tires, which had miraculously lasted for thousands of kilometres, down through the west coast of the U.S., through Mexico and across every country in Central America.

The van only had two seats, both in the front. The third passenger, or however many extras that happened to tag along, were relegated to the handmade bench made of cedar lifted from a lumberyard in Revelstoke.
A previous owner moved the horn from the steering wheel and transformed it into a curious little light switch on the dashboard.
We’d been through countless military and police checkpoints, forded rivers, had joyrides on the beach and had travelled over hundreds of kilometres of molar-releasing, 
hip-dislocating, pothole-filled dirt roads.

Smiley had some serious cojones.
So when we were told that the next leg of our route was impassable without a four-wheel drive vehicle, we said, “They don’t know Smiley.”

We had spent a week 
camping beachside in a little town at the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast. Much of the country has been tracked-out by American retirees and youthful backpackers from across the globe. But Playa San Miguel is still a little jewel tucked away from the busy tourist scene.
We would surf in the morning, spearfish during the day, then surf again in the evening.
But the three of us were getting restless, and eager to move on to the next, potentially even more idyllic beach.
Our destination was south to Mal Pais, past a stretch of dirt road notorious in Costa Rica. It’s only drivable in the dry season; during the rainy season the dirt road is scarred with deep ruts and its three river crossings become too deep for any vehicle to pass.

But Smiley had forded many rivers before. No biggie, right?
We asked a resident American expat surfer in San Miguel about the route.
“Man, it’s like driving on the surface of the moon. You won’t make it.”
Again, he didn’t know Smiley.
So we headed on, leaving our beautiful beachside lives behind, heading down what turned out to be the bumpiest, most rut-filled road I’ve ever seen.
After an hour of bone-jarring travel, we came upon a tour group that was checking out the countryside on ATVs, an apt choice given the road 
The mostly female group was hanging out at a fork in the road.
“Which way to Mal Pais?” I said.
They pointed us in the right direction and waved as Smiley shuddered down the dusty road.
A couple minutes later, the group whizzed by, leaving us in their dust.
We soon caught up. They had just made the first river crossing and were waiting for the rest of their group to turn up.  
A collective grin spread across three male faces in the van. We would put on a show to impress the ladies in the crowd.
“Punch it!” yelled my brother.
And so I slammed on the accelerator and Smiley lunged ahead, plowing headfirst into the river, causing a tsunami of river water to crash over the hood of the van.
We spent the next 24 hours camped out by the river. Smiley had nearly made it through—water was barely lapping against her back tires—before the engine gave out.  
All that time gave us the opportunity to watch local drivers take the proper route through the river (only about shin deep), avoiding the deepest parts, and more importantly approach it at the proper speed (crawl, not charge).
Eventually a farmer gave us a tow to the nearest dusty farming village where we spent the next three days watching an overweight man unsuccessfully strip Smiley down to try to dry out the engine.
We ditched Smiley as payment to the mechanic and hitched a ride to Mal Pais in a proper,
four-wheel drive truck.
The surfing in Mal Pais when we arrived was average; we were forced to sleep in a campground frequented by thieves and the good spear-fishing spots were far away. We should have stayed put in San Miguel.
The last leg from the site of Smiley’s demise to Mal Pais was without doubt the worst stretch of dirt yet with cavernous potholes and longer, deeper river crossings. But we all agreed that Smiley would have made it.
People had underestimated her all along, but they’d judged the three guys who drove her just right.

Alastair, Mike, Jeff and Smiley.

Mid-afternoon snack.

Adventure evenings.


...and after.

Posted: March 5, 2011 at 03:31 PM
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SANS Surf Jam in Halifax

Last Friday the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia held a fundraiser for the Canadian Surf Film Festival at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax. Joel Rudolph from SANS sent this report, along with a few photos from the night by Adam Cornick.

"It was a slog through rain, slush and snow Friday night as the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia hosted a fundraiser for the Canadian Surf Film Festival and launched their new membership strategy at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax. With the anticipation of waves arriving Saturday, the surf community showed up in numbers for an evening of music courtesy of Maddison Avenue, the Jay Smith Band, and Matthew Pickup & The Movement.
As part of the first annual Canadian Surf Film Festival last fall, SANS sponsored a short film contest and screening. Over the course of the weekend, 2,500 people took in the screenings, an art show, and a closing bash headlined by local soul-surfer-musician, Matt Mays.
As part of SANS’ new strategy, a formalized membership program was developed, introducing annual memberships that will cost $20. Members will receive discounts on SANS contests & events, a t-shirt, and a subscription to the new quarterly newsletter."

For more about SANS, visit or follow at

For more about the Canadian Surf Film Festival, visit

For more photos by Adam Cornick, visit

Graham Bondt, SANS president Justin Huston and Dean Petty.

SANS T's waiting for new members.

Keith Maddison and Jess Flynn.

Matthew Pickup and The Movement.

The Jay Smith Band.

Maddison Avenue holding it down at the Seahorse.

Posted: February 28, 2011 at 01:54 PM
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