Show Up And Blow Up No More

Rip Curl's Performance Manager Matt Griggs takes 5 groms to {{{Baja}}} to show why more surfers are eating healthier, training more and surfing better

Full fledged stretching routines. Healthy diets. Mock heats and video analysis. The days of just getting in bed before midnight to surf a contest are long gone. Nowadays kids are resorting to the same program as the pros. They're beginning to think of themselves as professional athletes, something few surfers have done in the past. "This is mellow compared to most sports," explained Rip Curl team manager Dylan Slater. "Football players are weighing in after every snack and training 3 times a day. We're just trying to get them to look at themselves as athletes."

And in an effort to do that, Rip Curl brought in the pit boss, Matt Griggs. Griggsy spends his year following the ASP World Tour managing and training with Mick Fanning, Taylor Knox, Pancho Sullivan, Ricky Basnett and the rest of the Curl surfers on tour, keeping them dialed at all times. With a few days to spare before the Boost Mobile at Trestles, Griggsy came down and took Rip Curl cadet's Koa and Alex Smith, Kyle Ramey, Austin {{{Ford}}} Smith, and Adam Wickwire to northern Baja for boot camp.

The arrival to Gaviotas was unusual. Instead of walking into a bunch of groms pounding candy and booze, trolling for chicks and trouble, what I found was the exact opposite. They were all analyzing, wave for wave, the 2007 Quik Pro at Snapper while grinding brown rice, pan fried chicken breast, water and fruit––the kind of meal a personal trainer would give you. They simultaneously filled out performance evaluation sheets––a short questionnaire Griggsy's made to give him a feel for the personal goals and drive of each grom. Shortly after handing in their homework they were off to bed for the early morning rise and shine.

After a sunrise wake up and stretch session at the house with help from a workout ball, the boys devoured oatmeal and fruit while I scoured the 3 stories of the house for coffee, all to no avail. "Sugars, caffeine and all that are only going to make your highs high and your lows low," Griggsy said to me. I quickly realized a coffee buzz was out of the question.

We pulled up to 4-foot spitting beachbreak peaks that morning. Glassy, empty and barreling. A scramble ensued and the groms were on it within 10 minutes. We surfed for 2 hours thanks to Griggsy's good advice. "You want to surf a lot," he said. "But keep the sessions short, tight and inspired. You want to stay really motivated and psyched. Surfing for 6 hours straight is going to take a toll and you'll start surfing flat without even realizing it." After dragging the remaining groms out kicking and screaming we headed back to {{{review}}} the tape.

It was Koa Smith's wipeout that got the crowd going. A double overhead, top to bottom elevator shaft. He dove off and took every pound of power the wave had on his 75-pound frame. Demolished. After a thorough heckle, Griggsy slow-motioned the footage to show Koa why he put himself in the absolute worst place he could have been. "See how you let yourself get to the bottom?" he said with pointer in hand. "If you can try to muscle your may in and hold up at the top, you would have gotten shacked here." It's all learning. No doubt coupled with the memory of the wipeout, little Koa won't be making that mistake anytime soon.

As for everyone else it was a quick rest before heading out into the evening light for mock heats at the pointbreak out front. While this may not sounds like your blitzkrieg Mex trip, it no doubt gave these kids a good introduction into the other side of the sport. "I don't care if they go full bore into the program straight away, Griggsy said." "I just want to introduce them to it and show them the correct way to go about it. It's only going to help make them better surfers."