Rob Barber and the Bodyboard Depot have been running Bodyboard Holidays for around 15 years, and now take their coaching vacations all over the world, seeking out perfect destinations for Booger’s of all levels to improve their riding. For many years I have seen the trips advertised, but as a Bodyboarder with over 25 years of sliding about on my belly under my belt, I wasn’t convinced that a coaching holiday was exactly what I needed, and wondered how much I would actual get out of the trip.
Early last year I finally bit the bullet and decided to join Rob and his team on a trip to Nicaragua for January 2015 and was keen to see if they could teach this old dog any new tricks! As it turned out there were many adjustments that I needed to make to my style and riding and I have returned totally stoked after making many new friends, scoring some amazing waves and having had a fantastic holiday.
From the moment the decision was made to join the adventure to Nicaragua, the whole holiday was easy. The booking process is extremely straight forward and I was encouraged by Rob to set up a payment plan to make a regular payment towards the trip over the space of a year. This in itself immediately removed any stress and I was safe in the knowledge that by September 2014, my trip would be fully paid up and then I could concentrate on picking up the equipment I would need for a warm water trip.
As the holiday drew closer, regular emails were sent from the Depot, ranging from general news updates, a detailed break down of the type of things we would need in a remote part of Nicaragua, the Bodyboarding kit we would need for the 28ºc water and a set of coaching videos to give us something to think about before arriving. Even when we arrived at the airport in Managua, the coach driver was waiting outside arrivals with a welcome board with our names on. It really was that easy.
I opted to spend two weeks with the team, visiting both the North and South region and the accommodation selected by Rob is first class at both resorts. Both camps were a stones throw from the beach and at night we could hear the waves breaking on the nearby shore as we lay in our air conditioned rooms. The camps were clean, well equipped, the staff were friendly and helpful, the food was delicious and the rum and beer were plentiful. The highlight meal was most certainly the Nicaraguan steak, cooked on the biggest barbecue I’ve ever seen, that melted in the mouth and had a depth of flavour that we just don’t get in steak sourced in the UK.
The first week was spent in the South, where papagayos winds stream from the Caribbean, across Lake Nicaragua and create constant offshore conditions, and absolutely perfect waves. For the opening week we were blessed with waves in the 2-3ft range, and this suited the whole group, which consisted of riders of all standards. Others on the trip had travelled from Australia, America, Wales, Devon, Kent and Sussex, with a range of experience from some just starting their Bodyboarding journey, some that had a few years under their belts and then the veteran of the trip – me!
From the outset it was made perfectly clear, that we weren’t in any kind of a prison camp and there were no set routines or “must attend” sessions throughout the week, if you fancied sitting out of a session or needed a lie in, it wasn’t a problem. We were on holiday after all! At the South camp, we were mentored and helped by Jorrin Massingham, a multi talented watersport instructor and lifeguard and the 11 times Irish Bodyboard Champion, Martin Kelly. Both of these guys are very professional, extremely helpful, focused, talented and also a lot of fun.
To help improve our riding, Martin and Jorrin took it in turns to join us in the water and paddled amongst us, passing on tips and advice as well as demonstrating tricks and manoeuvres, whilst the other filmed the session from the beach. Each session was later watched and analysed as a group and the instructors pointed out slight errors and suggested ways to improve our riding, before we paddled back out to put it all into practice. The video analysis is invaluable and although it is sometimes cringeworthy as you watch yourself flop a roll or dig a rail, it really helps you to understand where you are going wrong and how you can improve your Bodyboarding.
The second week we moved to the Northern camp, where we met up with Rob and Callum Morse, who welcomed us and made sure we were all comfy and well catered for. Callum is one of the UK’s leading water photographers and as well as being on hand to offer Bodyboarding coaching, was also there to shoot our sessions from the beach and in the water, and to give us the chance to have a picture of ourselves, worthy of a magazine cover.
As well as scoring some great waves in the North, there was also the opportunity to take a boat ride into El Salvador and the chance to score waves in another country. There was also an excursion into the City of Leon, and the option to immerse oneself in the culture of Nicaragua. Away from the water, the highlight for many was the trip to Cerro Negro, the newest volcano in Central America and the chance to try out volcano boarding! This involved basically sitting on a sheet of ply and sledging down the dusty slopes of the volcano!
So, what did I gain from the trip? As well as making a bunch of new friends, having a fantastic time and memories that will last lifetime, I also picked up some tips that have already changed my Bodyboarding for the better. From simple adjustments, such as moving my “rail” hand a couple of inches forward to more significant ones, such as concentrating more on positioning myself in the top 1/3 of the wave, the improvement in my riding is noticeable and I will take this advice forward.
If you are a Bodyboarder looking for a trip with like minded people, where you know you will surf warm, quality waves and during the downtime, be able to relax in comfort and plush surroundings, then Rob Barber’s Bodyboard Holidays are exactly what you need. As well as trips to Nicaragua, Bodyboard Holidays also offer the opportunity to visit many other destinations that are perfectly geared to Bodyboarding such as Ireland, Morocco, Costa Rica and Indo. To see full details on all of the Bodyboard Holidays and to find out more about Rob and his team and coaching weekends in the UK, take a look at the official Bodyboard Holidays page here.
If you have experienced one of these Bodyboard Holidays for yourself, feel free to share your experiences with us below – if you haven’t – What are you waiting for?