Friday, September 30, 2011

A Beautiful Reunion

Stop number six on the IBA World Tour is going down here in Reunion Island. The Nissan Reunion Bodyboard Pro is currently on hold today. The trials went down yesterday and the top nine riders advance on to the Leader Board rounds which is to go down next on the live webcast. So for now, here's some images and quick summary of my first five days of my adventure.

In transit. The flight to get here was long but doable. The stop over in London's Heathrow airport was a wake up call on what to expect as far as airport prices are concerned. Just so you know, that'll be the last time I spend eight US dollars on a bottle of Stella beer.

Landing in paradise. Fabian picked me and Diego Cabrera up from the airport. We had an hour drive to the contest site. But with unreal beaches zooming by, we had to stop and enjoy some of the beauty that Reunion has to offer. So we pulled over and spent a couple hours on a hot black sand beach. The water was super clear and warm. I get the same feeling and vibe here as I do from the Big Island. I love it.

Here's a few photos for now. I'll get another update with details on what's in store for the next couple weeks. Enjoy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Big Balls. Fast Talker.

I've had the pleasure to meet, travel the world and understand Eddie Solomon. Eddie was one of those people that could've made a career as an auctioneer... easily. When he talked, you had to pay close attention or you'd miss his point. He talked fast and it was awesome be able to try to decipher his sentences when he was stoked. But his love for the ocean and bodyboarding in particular was the the reason how he touched so many.

I met Eddie, holy crap I don't remember when exactly we met but the point is, we met. My first trip to Indonesia included the likes of Ed Searfoss, Jeff Flindt, Brian Stokes, Ross McBride and Eddie Solomon. There was one day that'll stick in mind at Lakey Peak. 1996 was the year, I think. But it was maxing out at the Peak and only the left was makeable. As usaual, the crowds from the 2-3 foot days dissappeared. And it was Eddie that was the first one out there and the first one to charge the giant 10 foot reef low tide monsters. He made it look easy. The one thing he's known for is his big balls. Eddie was a charger. A bodyboard charger.

Last Friday, our bodyboarding compadre lost his battle to cancer. Chris 'Wonton' Taloa threw out the first call to give prayers to Eddie and on Saturday morning a handful of friends gathered at his homebreak, Salt Creek. Cameron Steele led with a prayer and wished his family the best. Everyone that gathered said a few words as well. It was very emotional with a few of us sheding some tears.

We all then continued to catch waves. Not for us but for Eddie. He will be missed by many.

The ES Memorial Paddle will be this Saturday September 24 at Creek at noon. I will see you there to give thanks for some cool times that Eddie has touched us with. I hate to be blunt here but I suggest bringing money in an envelope for his family. I'm sure they're up to their necks in bills. So anything that you can donate to the Solomon family I'm sure will be greatly appreciated. If you've already donated, dig a little deeper. Anything will help.

An emotional morning.

Cameron leading our prayers.

Wonton floats one for Eddie.

Robbie Crawford sets up the shot of Cameron.

RIP brotha.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Game On!

Now this is getting kinda crazy. Not only do I have one of the coolest jobs in the world... following the IBA World Tour as the web host commentator but now this!?

I was approached by the crew and they asked me if I wanted to be in the new and improved YouRiding Bodyboarding IV online video game. Hell yeah! But I wasn't going to be the character that you can choose. Instead, I'll be the dude teaching you how to play the new game. Just the fact that not only I get to see myself online in animation form but millions of other will be seeing my mug as well. Scary but cool. Scary cool.

I really don't' want this to sound like a selling pitch but damn... this game is pretty sick. The new version of YouRiding Bodyboarding is online now in beta form. I've been playing it for the past few days to get my skills up. Michael and the whole YouRiding posse have been good to me and are delivering what many bodyboarders have been asking for for years; a legit bodyboarding game. I'm stoked and I think you will be too once you get it dialed in. If you want to start playing now, you'll have to drop 34 euros. But you can wait to play for free in a couple months when the final version is released to the public. I suggest getting it now and be ahead of the game. But be sure to limit your time. You may end up with empty bags of potato chips on the table next to you until you realize that you've been playing for hours! You can still play the previous version HERE. But you'll want to play YouRiding Bodyboarding IV once you see the sick new graphics.

Side note: For those of you that have beat me in the Facebook version of YouRiding Battle, suck this! :)

Check out YouRiding Bodyboarding IV!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Not For Sale.

About a year and a half ago, I met Jun for the first time. It was in the Ehukai Beach Park parking lot on the North Shore. He was wearing these shades the time I met him. I was wearing my board bag, with board and fins packed inside.

I saw him walking towards me as and I thought to myself, "I want those sunglasses." I reverted to my bartering skills that I've mastered in the hoods of IB. "Hello, my name is Manny. Can I buy those sunglasses off you?" "Hello. I'm Jun. No. Sorry. Not for sale," Jun said. So I offered everything off my back; board bag, board, and fins. "No. Not for sale," he repeated. We stood there as I kept upping the ante and nothing. "Not for sale." He went on his way and I thought about those shades for about another couple days then that was it. Until....

I saw Jun on the first day of the IBA Sintra Portugal Pro. "Manny, I have a gift for you." I was stoked. I always love gifts. My mom always said, "accept gifts from people that offer. If you don't, you are being disrespectful. But always remember the person that gave you the gift and how it felt." I love it. Okay, so Jun comes back and does this (see photo). Are you freakin' kidding me? After a year and a half, Jun remembered! I was expecting a I Love Japan sticker or something. But the shades?! In honor of my mother, I happily excepted. Now, as Sir Isaac Newton once said, "for every action, there's an opposite and equal reaction." I want to make sure I hook up Jun with a gift that will mean something to him. I think I know what it is. Stay tuned for his reaction as I meet him in Reunion Island in a couple weeks.

Respect. Thank you Jun.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Barrel Blend

Earlier this year, I headed home to shoot a solid swell. I knew the boys would be pulling into some kegs so it was game on. Needless to say, I got a bunch of solid shots of all the crew getting shacked out of their minds.
But there was one shot that will go down in wine history. Yes... wine. Kyle Knox is a local ripper that married into a wine family and is currently working as a wine distributor. Kyle knows his wine. The cool part all of this, is Kyle gets to have his mug on a label of a wine bottle.

Okay, back to the photo session. Not only do we get the shot, but the fact that he's on a surfboard that was dipped in red wine just makes it that much more epic. Now check this out! The 2008 wine red blend to come out of the Hill Family Estate Winery from Napa Valley has my shot of Kyle on the label! F#cking awesome! Not only that, I actually got a photo credit on the back label!

I asked Kyle where people can pick up "The Barrel Blend" and he said Costco and some local markets should still have some in stock. But he said, as of today, that the Costco in Carlsbad should be stocked. If you pick one up, take a photo and send it over to: And yes, it's delicious. Can I say delicious to describe a wine flavor?

Kyle slotted on his wine board.

My case of wine is not going to last long in this house.

Score. Photographer: Manny Vargas.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eye to Eye

Where the heck to I start?! It's been awhile since my last post, I know. This week, I'm going to post one story a day from my adventures. I hope you enjoy 'em. First... croc island in Mexico!

About 27 minutes south of Puerto Escondido there's an island in the mangroves right on the beach. It's a tourist destination for one reason... crocodiles. The Snakes and Ladders crew guys got wind of this while we were there shooting the live broadcast of the Zicatela Pro. After the event, we packed up the Suburban and headed south.

The goal of the trip, capture footage of the crocodiles and have me talk about the crocs, the island and try to get a close as possible to one of these beasts. Yeah, I was cool with everything. No problem. On the way down, I prepared my right arm with protection (duct taped water bottle to forearm). I understood if the croc wanted to chomp on my body parts and have a feast, there was nothing I could do. But for me, the arm protector was for my state of mind.

After a paddle through the waters of the mangroves, we landed on the island. A short walk to the other side and boom, we were at our destination. Alberto, our private guide, called out to the water and within seconds two beady eyes ascended from the murky shallows. That's as far as the croc would come. Alberto and I took off and returned with a bag full of chicken parts.

That's when the croc scurried up out of the water to snack on some fresh poultry that Alberto was tossing out to him. I was allowed to be by his side. We were about three feet from the croc! That's when I was shitting bricks! I felt a deep hollowness come over me. That's when reality hit me. If this croc wanted to attack and eat me... my arm protector would not stop his massive jaw from taking anything she wanted. Alberto handed me some chicken and I got as close as possible and was hoping I would drag her out of the water a little more. Oh man! Keep in mind, I'm on the other side of a four foot barrier!

I had the Manny Cam on my helmet rolling. The Snakes and Ladders crew are documenting the entire IBA World Tour so I'm not sure if I'm allowed to release this raw clip to the world. I have a handful of clips but I'm only going to release one. FYI, we all escaped on touched. The S&L crew will have a full length feature at the end of year. Make sure you get your hands on this one way or another because I assure you, it's going to be absolutely insane!

Okay, onto the one clip that that may or may not end up in the documentary. Check it: