Pretty much any traveling surfer in the western hemisphere worth his salt has been to Pascuales, Mexico. It doesn't have the name of Puerto Escodido and the town of Tecoman is no Sayulita. You wouldn't find a spa or a raging discotheque. It was where the winter journeymen and ex-pats posted up for powerful surf.
While most professional surfers have been through there, it's never gotten the cache of a tour stop. The past 15 years it has reared its head as a tow-in spot, but it is still the domain of the paddler and the one who can duckdive 194 times and still have energy to find a barrel.
Don't think Tamarindo or Komune Beach Resort. Think black sand sucking up the face of heavy barrels and lesser-known chargers ducking under thatch roofs from the midday sun since long before surf camps in Nicaragua.
That's kind of what made the Pawa Tube Fest a specialty event -- a cross section of the surfers who live one step outside the focus of the surf world, taking part in a brand new-format contest to see who can fill those heaving tubes off Mainland Mex.
The Pawa Tube Fest was just that -- an invitation to those who are committed to living in the green room (dark green) to shoot for their top 10 highest scoring barrel rides over the course of several days and several rounds run by a budding Mexico-based surf company.
Just look at the cast of characters last week. You had seasoned Mexican professionals, a host of Floridians who have made a living out of heavy Latin American waves, a couple of Brazilian mad men most of the world has never heard of, Southern Californian personalities, Euro thrashers, Aussie former World Tour heavies, Hawaiian chargers of several generations, noted Big Wave World Tour regulars, ex-pat pit pirates, Santa Cruisers … and a professional skimboarder.
Massive sets started out the event with a nice south-southwest swell in which 17-year-old Mexican Marcos Hootman posted the highest score of the day for a behemoth right in sideshore conditions.
The ideal 6- to 8-foot surf for Round 2 was cut off by a wind squall.
"It's really difficult to forecast Pascuales," said contest director Carlos Hernandez. "This wave is under the influence of so many elements and factors that it becomes very hard to predict. We would like to thank the Magicseaweed team for their forecasting support. It has been really important for the event."
When Round 2 continued Saturday, it was the Portuguese man-o-water Nic Von Rupp who stole the show. He came alive with a nine-point wave and a 16.93 total.
"I just stuck to my plan and went for the good ones. That left was amazing. With conditions like that you could basically make it out of any barrel you wanted. It was pumping out there," he said, according to a press release.
In the next heat, Brazil's Diego Silva caught the best barrel of the whole event for a 9.5 and $100 to cover half his boardbag fees home.
Round 2 went right into a pair of semifinals. The first consisted of Von Rupp, Brian Conley, Nils Schweizer, Ale Moreda, Aritz Aramburu, and Devon Tresher. The second was stacked with Gabriel Villaran, Diego Silva, Nathan Hedge, Hootman, Brett Barley and Kyle Buthman.
The swell really turned on for the final as Villaran made quick work of two barreling waves for a 7.83 and 7.0. Silva found a left for 8.83 and then a perfect peak was split with Hedge going right for 7.3 and Von Rupp squeezing out of the left for an 8.33. As the heat waned, Von Rupp picked off a final tube for an 8.03 and the event was his.
These type of specialty events in stellar waves with talented surfers that seem to be just off surfing's main radar are always interesting, and when you throw in kegging barrels, well, you just can't lose.