Red Bull No Contest, Mexico: A Surfer’s Guide To Scoring Like A Local In Southern Mexico
Inside Barra de la Cruz culture with Mateus Herdy and Rio Waida.
Welcome back to No Contest — Stab and Red Bull’s look into the food, culture and local customs of surfing’s richest international surf communities, and some of the best waves on the planet.
On this episode, the WSL is back in Mexico for the first time since the iconic 2006 Rip Curl Search event. While surfers are isolated in their Barra De La Cruz bubble, or at a former Club Med called Las Brisas, we’re getting a proper local’s tour of the surfer’s paradise known as Southern Mexico.
On this episode, Editor at Large and No Contest principal Host, Ashton Goggans, is joined by Stab favorite Mateus Herdy, as well as Rio Waida.
From Guerrero south to Chiapas, the Pacific coast of southern mainland Mexico is one of the most insanely surf-rich regions in the world.
Drag your finger the 150 or so miles from the thumping beachbreaks of Puerto Escondido south to the sand points of Salina Cruz, you’ll pass over anywhere between 30 and 60 world-class waves, depending on which local’s map you’re looking at.
Deadset in the middle is Huatulco, and just a 40-minute drive from their wonderfully quaint international airport, one of the world’s most mythical waves: Barra De La Cruz.
To this day, the 2006 event remains to many the most incredible World Tour event of all time, Believed to be discovered in the early 1990s by traveling Australian surfers, Barra De La Cruz played host to the 2006 Rip Curl Search Event, won by Andy Irons, in his iconic, extra-long, Mexican flag Rising Sun trunks.
The Rip Curl Search Mexico put Barra De La Cruz (and the points to the south) on the map as an international surf destination.
This year, 15 years after the first Barra event, the top surfers from all over Mexico were invited to compete for a slot into the main event, at the WSL Trials event a week before the world tour surfers arrived.
In this episode, we’ll meet two of Stab’s favorite Mexican progressive young chargers on the list, Oaxaca local Sebastian Williams, and Alan Cleland Junior, also known as Pasquales Al, as well as Dylan Southworth,
With Pasqualaes Al just getting the nod over Sebastian in the semi, he was headed to the final against a Mexican surf icon: Diego Cadena. Diego is a stylish Sayulita pro, waterman, and fishing guide, who came runner-up in the 2006 trials to the late, great Oscar Moncada.
On the women’s side, Mexican expat and Orange County local Shelby Detmers came out on top, against close friend and true Huatulco and Barra local, Regina Pioli. No hard feelings though, the next morning they woke to news they’d both get spots in the main event, and with the wildcards decided, the WSL worked with the Barra De la Cruz municipality to lock down the point for private warm-up sessions just for surfers in the main event.
We checked in just a few miles away in Huatulco proper at Posada Santa Clara, a family-owned and operated hotel and restaurant, and settled into a daily routine: a 5:30am wake up call, a fresh juice and acai with our new friend Mario Valderrama at Agave, and an hour hanging with the dozens of esteemed local guides and visiting surfers, discussing tides, swell directions, and which sandbars are working. Then, we’re in the van and looking for waves with William Pelos Pipe, our guide for this episode, a true local, and venerable cultural folk historian.
Mexico is a tricky place, even for the most seasoned traveler and a 4×4 vehicle. Since the early-2000s, most visitors have opted to forgo expensive rentals in favor of hiring local guides like Mario and William. This has helped build a vibrant local community of guides and camps who have helped visiting surfers score in Southern Mexico for two decades. Like seasoned boat captains in the Mentawais, guides are judged by their intel, experience, and ability to navigate each wave in Oaxaca’s unique protocols, municipality fees, and so on.
Want to hang in Huatulco, surf Barra, and maybe even score a sneaky little corner wedge on a secluded nude beach? Hire William or any of the other guides trusted by this man, Luis Santos Jimenes, of Toro Surf Trips. If you prefer the more remote, groomed sand points of Salina Cruz, most surfers will tell you to stay at camps like Punta Conejo or with David Ramirez at his dreamy waterfront outpost, Las Palmeras Surf Camp.
Non-surfers will know Huatulco for all-inclusives like Dreams, Secrets, and former club med, Las Brisas, a seriously plush, and ultra-convenient location for the WSL’s COVID bubble.
A big thanks to all the locals for making this project so special. There really isn’t anywhere like Oaxaca. Affordable, accessible, culturally rich, decidedly safe, wildly hospitable, and with more waves and setups than you could possibly score in one trip—come once and you’ll surely come back again and again. I know we will.
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