Terry Simms Travel Tales

Posted on May 12, 2015 by Nancy Opitz

Chapter 1: Santa Teresa 

"Luxury Surf Trunk Founder Rescues Three Trunkless Men!"


Personal Account by Terry Simms

I was hired for a surf trip by a great friend and client from Greece, Dimitri.
 We went through the normal Pre-Op planning and surf forecasting. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, was the strategic surf strike location, and the 8-bedroom, luxury Casa Capitan was the setting, sitting just 100-feet behind the high tide line, the infinity pool pouring over the edge, looking at waves through the pandanus trees.

On that fateful morning, I was alone, waiting for my clients to wake from their wine induced slumber.
I walked past the royal palms and sat on the bamboo bench swing.
I watched the waves – at first it looked clean and big but closed out, not so good.
 After 10 minutes of observing, though, I saw a really good wave, then another one a few minutes later. But then a giant set came in and washed over all the bobbing heads in the lineup, massive riptides erupting immediately after. I lost my stoke and went inside for another cup of Delicious Britt coffee.

But back to the yard I went, this time ready to surf, with my board, hat, rash guard, wax, and sunscreen. 
I had been there three days already, and each time I’d paddled out at Santa Teresa I was slammed by at least 5-10 waves in a row; but for some reason, this particular morning went flat as a pancake as I paddled out, and I made it outside the impact zone with dry hair (or, what’s left of my hair). Sitting up, I realized, ‘Wow, dry hair, great looking waves, sunny, warm, and I have my first solo session, free of clients, one hour of power!’

That moment lasted less than a minute before I heard screaming and yelling from far away. I scanned the outside, looking for something wrong. Maybe a fight, maybe someone stepped on a stingray, or got hit by a loose surfboard.
I didn’t see anything and was about to catch my first, nice looking wave, … then I heard this faint yelling for help again, less volume and more distressful.
 Then I spotted three men a quarter-mile beyond the surf zone. The bobbing man who was closest was screaming for someone to save them.

At that moment, I was feeling something deep inside – part fear, part anger, part excitement.
Without really thinking, I had to react. I scanned the lineup. Other surfers saw the men in trouble, but no one was moving, like they were stuck or something. I got mad, angry that it had to be me to make the first move. I yelled at the crowd of 30 or so surfers: “Come help, you kooks!!”

I put my head down and started paddle racing toward them. It took me a solid half-hour to reach the first guy. He was in a total panic, exhausted, and frantically trying to climb onto my 6’10” board. 
I looked behind and saw two other surfers following me, about 100 yards behind. I guess my angered words got to somebody.
I stopped at the first bearded man and calmed him down; I told him he was going to be fine and that the guys behind me would help get him back to the beach. He begged me to stay and not leave him to drown. I told him I had to go help his friends further out. He we crying, so I waited for the first surfer to arrive.

Getting to the second guy, he was better than the first guy but could barely keep afloat.
I waited with him until the second surfer arrived. He smiled at me as I paddled another 200 yards out to help the third and final guy.

Again, the third guy was crying and about to drown. All three were about 30 years old.
 I jumped off my board, took him in my arms, and heaved his naked body onto my board. NAKED!!

“What the hell?!” I asked. He told me how he and his two friends just went for a swim in waist-deep water when this giant series of waves broke right on top of them. He perfectly described the closeout set I saw from the beach.

“But how did you lose your shorts?” He said all three had their trunks ripped right off them from being washed around by the 6-foot set they took on the head, or on their butts, if you will.

(Surely, these three were not wearing proper KADU boardshorts!)

He almost laughed when he recounted the story, but then he looked me straight in the eyes and asked about his friends. I showed him where they were and said they were going to be fine. 
Forty-five minutes of swimming behind his naked ass later, pushing him toward shore with everything I had just to get him out of the rip, then another 20 minutes of moving toward the safety of the sand, I was exhausted.

Another surfer came over and helped for the last 50 yards. A set came and I just pushed the naked man right into the jaws of a 6-foot pounding riptide wave full of chop and brown water. 
He managed to hold on through the drop and explosion of giant soup. 
He stood up, feet on the sand, naked as a jaybird, happy as one human could be. He saw his friends and ran over to them.
Three naked men hugging on the beach looks fairly strange from afar, but I got it.
The third hairy naked bearded man ran back over to me and tried to give me a big hug, but I turned sideways to avoid the hairy impact. He was grateful, with tears in his eyes, as he said “Thank You!!” a hundred times.

Now, after a month, I have decided to share this tale with you. I had so many mixed feelings that day – anger for missing a good freesurf session, exhilaration for saving these men, bitterness while scraping pubic hairs out of my surfboard wax, and thankfulness that everyone was alive. I now feel something indescribable, something that makes me proud to be Surfer, to be human, to be who I always wanted to be. What could be more meaningful than to help another person in need?

That was Easter Sunday, and what occurred is a blessing for me and for the three men.
Again, every single event in our lives has meaning. Every day brings more chances to do something good and selfless. That is my goal…



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