Nica Rhythm

ALONG THE SOUTHERN COAST OF NICARAGUA, it’s the wind that beckons traveling surfers. Like clockwork, as Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua warm under the morning sun, an offshore breeze rises to a crescendo, sculpting sandbar peaks and holding shallow slabs wide open.

 

It’s those crisp offshores that initially lured Tyler Warren and Ellis Ericson to the Central American playground, where they recently chased waves and field tested some of their latest self-shaped surfcraft. They found a bounty of wind-groomed breaks and got to work dismantling them on twin fins, single-fin tube shooters, edge boards, and other eclectic fare.

 

But, as Warren and Ericson discovered, there’s more to Nicaragua than the relentlessly good waves. From the bubbling magma at the Masaya volcano, to the colonial cathedrals in the country’s old capitol of León, to the 126-year-old Flor de Caña rum distillery in Chichigalpa, there’s no shortage of ways to kill time between swells and sample the local flavor.

While twin fins aren’t usually associated with high-flying maneuvers, Ericson has his own ideas about how to best use the design: “With twinnies, you keep so much drive just before you release from the lip because you don’t have any drag from a center fin. The water’s just sheering off so fast, and it gives you this nice, poppy feeling when you’re going for airs.”

Flor de Cana

The moment of anticipation that only an offshore day at a Nicaraguan beachbreak can provide. Ericson, wishing he could slow the clock.

Flor de Cana

With scorching midday temps and high humidity, the beach at Playa Chancletas feels like somewhere out of a fever dream. Ericson, glad he brought his own shade.

Flor de Cana

Early Spanish explorers called the Masaya volcano “The Gate to Hell,” which probably has something to do with the giant, percolating pool of magma that sits inside, easily visible from the rim. “You can’t come up here without a car,” our guide explained. “Because you might need to get out of here quickly.”

Flor de Cana

In between swells, Warren and Ericson took a tour of the 126-year-old Flor de Caña distillery, which included a pit stop in the underground tasting room. Ericson, scoping out the legs. Conclusion? Yep, it’s the good stuff.

Flor de Cana

From a 7’0” single-fin tube shooter to a 5’4” cut from a kneeboard template, the whole spectrum of unorthodox designs found their way into Nicaraguan waters with Warren and Ericson.

Flor de Cana

Nicaragua’s stiff offshores can make even the fastest-looking wedges stay open just long enough to escape. Ericson, angling for his exit.

Flor de Cana

Warren spends much of his time in the shaping bay, blending tried-and-true concepts with some experimental flair. “Right now I’m trying to keep classic lines and classic feelings, but with modern elements so you can still get radical.”

Flor de Cana

The northern breaks of Nicaragua have less favorable wind conditions on average, but tend to suck up more swell. On occasion, however, you can find the best of both worlds. Warren, having his northern-Nicaraguan cake and eating it too.

Flor de Cana

Playa Chancletas—better known by its apt-nickname, The Boom—packs plenty of punch for those seeking heavy sand-bottom barrels. Warren, sneaking under the guillotine on his round-nosed thruster.

Flor de Cana

With the baking heat along Nicaragua’s southern coast, evenings are prime time for extended sessions. Warren, surfed out in the twilight.

Flor de Cana

There are certainly worse ways to wait out a flat spell than sipping 29-year-old rum.

Flor de Cana

After a week in Nicaragua, the days bleed into one another until it all seems like blur of jungle roads and windswept barrels. Warren and Ericson, enjoying the pace.

Flor de Cana

Crystal clear water, a kiss of offshore winds, and an overhead set wave with your name on it. Warren, exactly where every surfer wants to be.

Flor de Cana

Ericson, using every last inch of his stringerless 6’0” to trim through a Colorados tube. “People think that this board is epoxy because it doesn’t have a stringer, but it’s actually regular polyurethane,” says Ericson. “I like the way the flex feels. You can kind of load up on your bottom turns and it gives you a nice projection.”

Flor de Cana

Luck plays a big part in surfing Nicaragua’s thumping beachbreaks. Nothing beats being in the perfect spot when the wave of the day comes through, and nothing stings like watching said wave go by unridden.

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Under the intense Nicaraguan sun, the shade of an A-frame tube is about as much a respite as you can hope for. Ericson and Warren, ready to get a watery roof over their heads.

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On this particular morning, Ericson did battle with The Boom at it’s most chaotic; shifty closeouts, rogue sets, and sandbars that were practically exposed as sets drew water out of the trough. Good times, in other words.

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If a design ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “This board is pretty much a ’70s downrailer gun,” says Warren. “It’s just meant for getting in early and bottom turning and pulling into the tube. It’s very Lopez-inspired.”

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Ellis Ericson, testing out a fresh stick in heavy Colorados. “Any wave with power really helps you figure out what a board is all about, especially if it’s clean,” Ericson explains. “When the wave is giving you that speed, you get a kind of instant feedback and you know if you’ve got a good board or not.”