23.09.2020

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

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Puerto Plata

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is the home of many amazing waves, a lot of them unknown and
unridden. With the warm crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, it’s a paradise and still off the map in terms of surf destinations.

I’ve been living here for the past year in a small town called Cabarete, famous for windsurfing and kitesurfing due to the trade winds. I’ve spent my time getting to know the island and the people that reside here. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many countries and experience a diverse range of cultures, and I can safely say there is something very special about this place. The people are warm, caring and happy, even if they have very little, and it very quickly feels like home with a community that genuinely looks out for one another. Selflessness is second nature to the people here.

Local surfers always talked about the epic swells that hurricane season brings in September, so I
wanted to stay here to see what it was all about, I was due to go back to my home country of
England to shoot a wedding but due to Covid plans were changed and I stayed here... and I’m
thankful for it.
After a long wait and an unusual year spent quarantined, escaping for early morning surfs to avoid the police, mother nature brought us the greatest gift of all.


September the 23rd, 2020.

I got a message at 5am from Pro surfer Manuel Selman, saying "Puerto Plata, it’s going to be all time".
I got my camera equipment and he picked me up, we drove 45 minutes to Puerto Plata. It was still dark when we arrived but the sound from the ocean was haunting.
As the light revealed the monstrous peak pealing as big, clean and perfect as anyone has ever seen, we realised today could be the day to make history in the Dominican Republic.
Manuel phoned a few local surfers who liked surfing big waves, Andres Flores and Cameron
Dietrich.

I saw these waves breaking out back and I knew it was big, but with no point of reference its
always hard to know how big.. the idea of swimming with my camera scared me but I also knew that I couldn’t watch such beautiful walls of perfection go undocumented as it was lining up to be the biggest swell ever surfed in the Dominican Republic. We didn’t have the necessary safety precautions despite our best efforts, but we were faced with temptation that was too difficult to turn our backs on, and with a lot of experience amongst us, we felt confident.
We headed out to the lineup, and watched the first set roll in.


19.7808° N, 70.6871° W

Puerto Plata, is the third-largest city in the Dominican Republic’s Atlantic north coast.


[Manuel Selman paddling over the top]


[Cameron Dietrich committing to the first set of the morning]

Cameron Dietrich is a life-long watersports professional with an academic background in Marine Sciences.
With over 30 years experience living in the Caribbean & Hawaii, Cam has explored over 90 countries travelling the world tour to find the best places to ride.


The longer I sat out there, the more captivated I became with these waves rolling in. For some reason I felt very calm, I knew at some point I would take one on the head but I was truly amazed at what I was seeing, and the beauty and power of it overcame any feelings of fear, I simply felt blessed.
The next surfer to go was Andres Flores, Andres has spent many years following big swells and surfing big waves, he paddled out on a beastly old gun, heavy and a 10’4, he was loving it.
[Image below]


[Andres Flores]


[Andres Flores]


[Cameron Dietrich]


[Manuel Selman]


[Andres Flores]


After four hours in the water and a few sets on the head, I swam in with the help of Andres Flores as I battled against the current.

We were greeted on the shore by all the surfers from Cabarete as they continued to watch in awe of the beauty breaking 1km out off the shore of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.


For anyone who ever wondered, we do get waves here, and although it may not be as consistent as other famous surf locations, there are uncrowded world class waves to be surfed, in a beautifully diverse country, filled with lovely people.


[Manuel Selman]

I spoke with Manuel Selman about what he’s been up to in his first year out of surf competition in 15 years, and about the Puerto Plata Swell.

“It’s been a very interesting year, we had a good run of swells over the winter which kept my form going into the coming season, but then early March the pandemic hit. All competitions were cancelled and we were quarantined, it was the first time in 15 years. Now is my favourite time of year, with the hurricane swells coming in consistently, September is always the magic month for good waves. We saw the swell coming from Teddy, and it looked like it was going to be a good one. We got a crew together last minute, had our life vests and photographers, headed to Puerto Plata because I know its the wave the holds the most size here, it always delivers on big swells. We went at 5am to tackle the big right hander, so yeah, it was pretty fun.
The first day was big, faces of 30-35 feet, I borrowed an 8’8 from a friend who came up from Santo Domingo, and he then came out with my 7’4 and we switched in the water. I couldn’t really take the set waves on my board so I had to sit a little inside and take those waves. Luckily for me I didn’t get any sets on the head! I had some clean fun ones but I definitely need to order a big board and be 100% prepared with my own equipment next time. Andres Flores and Cameron Dietrich murdered it out there, charging, it was pretty cool. We were all looking out for each other, we had no jetskis, no boats and its a long paddle out, approximately 1km. We also had George [@georgeswims] out there with his camera, floating around with his housing, so mad respect to the photographer, and yeah, we’re just going to keep looking for big surf in the Dominican Republic."
-Manuel Selman

[Manuel’s story "My isolation" coming soon..]


Article written and shot by George Harper
Edited by Jenna Remer
@georgeswims
@jennaremer

https://www.georgeswims.com/

"My isolation"

Manuel Selman

Manuel Selman, a pro surfer from Chile, who is living in the Dominican Republic, tells us how he has spent his year in quarantine with no competitions.
This is the first year he has had out of competition in 15 years, he tells us about how he’s kept himself busy.

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