Our 2XS Team Rider Alex McKirgan tells us all about his recent trip to Baja
I flew down to Punta San Carlos this year to practice and compete in the International Windsurfing Tour Baja Desert Showdown. Having had 2 weeks of warmup sailing in Maui, I felt ready to get back to down-the-line conditions and work on more aggressive turns and aerials.
In the first week, we had a range of conditions. The first few days were light with chest to head high waves where I was using the 2018 Goya Custom Thruster 99 and 4.7 Ezzy Taka 4. It was good to get out and practice in the lighter winds as there were 3 Japanese teenagers in the Youth Bracket who were almost able to plane in 10 knots of wind using 4.5s and 3.7s. As the week went on, both the wind and the waves increased significantly as a new south swell delivered mast high waves down at the Point. All the professionals had turned up the week before the contest and were putting on a show. Standout riders were Antoine Martin for his massive backdoor aerials and goiters just metres off the rocks, Boujmaa Guilloul for his incredible flow and Kevin Pritchard for his top to bottom riding. I managed to get out to the point during the swell and it was a great learning experience. Normally the wave breaks at the Point, then turns into a shoulder (called the racetrack) and then reforms into the next bay (called the Chili Bowl). When conditions are smaller, you can catch the wave at the Point, run down the shoulder and then make 2-3 turns in the Chilli Bowl before kicking out. However, the direction of the swell meant that the wave was breaking further out, meaning you had to either ride the Point and kick out on the racetrack or commit to the whole wave and ride it all the way into the rocky beach in the Chilli Bowl. I managed to catch a few set waves using the 2018 Goya Custom Quad 84 and Ezzy Taka 4 4.7. The kit really excelled in these conditions and allowed me to make aggressive rail to rail turns. After committing to a Chili Bowl wave and having to be rescued from an arroyo, I went back up to the beach break in front of Solosports Camp and sailed up there. The rest of the week was windy with head to overhead waves. At this point I felt ready for the contest.
Unfortunately, the forecast for the contest did not look anything like the conditions we had the previous week. They managed to run the pro men and women on the first day whilst the conditions were decent. In the pro men, Antoine Martin impressed the judges the most with his one-handed aerials and perfect goiters. It was a great example of how modern wave riding is not just about surfing the wave the best, but whether you can pull of tricks too in critical parts of the wave. The wind and waves then took a break for 2 days which gave me time to rethink my strategy for Youth and Amateurs. My first heat was in the Youth category, where it was light wind and inconsistent sets. This favoured the lighter sailors in my heat who were using 3.7s and even a 48 ltr board! I came away with 3rdin the first of 2 heats. After speaking with the Head Judge, I realised I needed to stay more in the critical section of the wave, rather then taking off on the shoulder and pinching up wind to reach the pocket. In my first Amateur heat, the wind was stronger and the waves were more consistent. The heats were held up at Solosports Camp. The key to success at this spot is to catch a wave on the outside break (called the Bombora) and try and connect it all the way into the camp. I was fortunate enough in my heat to catch two set waves and pull off a couple of aerials. This allowed me to advance through to the Semi Finals where I was up against Baja Veterans Andrew Cunningham, RobertTorkildsen (commonly known as Rubbertoe) and Japanese teenager Atsuki Ikoma who had won the first youth heat. I was lucky enough again to find two good set waves and ride them all the way in, which put me in tied first with Andrew to advance to the Amateur Final.
Finals day brought very challenging conditions. With little to no swell at the Point or at Solosports, the contest was held in the Chilli Bowl. In my Youth heat, waves were chest high and I was on a 4.7 Ezzy Taka 4 and 84 Ltr Goya Quad. I was able to stay in the critical section on my two best waves and threw in some one-handed top turns and aerials. I came first which put me in 2ndoverall. My Amateur Final provided similar conditions. I was up against Andrew from my Semi-Final, Hayata Ishii from Japan (whose older brother Takara is competing on the PWA) and Tom Ben-Eliyahu from Canada. Despite having the set of the day happen just prior to the heat, set waves were hard to come by. Despite my best efforts, Tom’s aggressive riding and excellent wave selection gave him a well-earned victory, with me finishing in 2nd, Andrew in 3rdand Hayata in 4th.
After the Amateur Final, the pro men put on a show at the Point. The Final was between, Federico Morisio , Morgan Noireaux, Boujmaa and Antoine Martin. Despite the rest of the men riding very well, they were unable to compete with Antoine who was riding harder and pulling off unmatched manoeuvres (one handed aerials, goiters and air takas). The final result was Antoine in 1st, Federico in 2nd, Bouj in 3rdand Morgan in 4th.
Overall, it was another epic trip down to Baja and I am very happy with my results.