If you’ve not heard of Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) you’ve been living under a rock. As the Canadian season is estentially 4-5 months, at one point or another most of the Canadian riders have spent at least a winter at CWC. It is a home away from home, an oasis to those who just want to ride. You’ll meet fellow wakeboarders from all over the world, and get to spend 13 hours a day enjoying the sun and wakeboarding.
While we’ve all either experienced or added it to our bucket list, there is a a lot of knowledge and insider tricks that can make your trip/stay a little more enjoyable and stress free. Local Ontario boy and Windmill Lake Manager, Kirby Kostuk and friends are just made the journey for the first time. Over the next month, Kirby will be sharing his first hand experiences, and giving tips and tricks to making sure you have the best stay possible.
Twenty-five hours, three planes, and a quick bus ride later you will find yourself on the other side of the world. A few minutes later, you’re handed the keys to your temporary home situated in a paradise many dream of. Welcome to Camsur Watersports Complex, aka, CWC.
Rewind back to September 2015: Jake Liley, Alex Nelles, and myself crammed into a small bus along with a handful of our best friends. We all decided to make the trip to Surf Expo a little more fun by making it a road trip so we could hit up all the wake parks on the way from London, Ontario to Orlando, Florida. On a messy night out after the Humanoid launch party, the idea of travelling to the Philippines to ride and experience CWC was sparked. What started as a fun and wishful idea soon became a reality and a pretty big commitment once we sat down to #bookit.
We left Toronto Pearson International Airport at 10:55pm, followed by a brief stop in Vancouver and a four hour layover in Manila that seemed to last forever. Finally, we landed on the tarmac in Naga and were welcomed by an overly excited Filipno man holding a branded CWC sign. Upon arriving at CWC, we were granted the keys to our small wood cabin and a wrist band to ride our hearts out for 31 days. A little tip to anyone booking CWC; any stay over 30 days will buy you a trip to the Naga City immigration office to extend your passport to the following month – a task we haven’t tackled just yet.
As soon as we unloaded our bags into our cabins we had to get our boards out and ride. Once you set eyes on the compound and slowly take it all in, you get this overwhelming excitement that makes you want to ride immediately. Despite our fighting efforts against the jet lag, our first official day at CWC started with a 5:00am wake up. The time change is so gnarly – 12 hours ahead of home. I opened our rough plank cabin door to find Jake and Alex on the beach catching the sunrise. Watching the sun emerge from behind Mount Isarog is a sight to be seen, and made the early wake up worth it. We were greeted by a guy by the name of Boom, and within a few minutes of chatting, we found out he was a fellow Canadian. He would be the first of many friendly people we meet on the way. After eating corn flakes topped with fresh mango, a few coffees, and 150 PHP later (roughly $3 CAD) we were ready to start a full day of lapping. A huge tip a few friends shared with me before coming here was to bring sunscreen. We’re really the only people who use it here, so it is very expensive to buy once you’re here. For me, summers at home usually involve a one-time burn that turns into a good base tan. But here, it is totally different, which I found out the hard way. Since you can ride no vest, I decided to do a leisure lap at the end of the day and got a wicked burn. Go to Costco and grab the 6 pack of Coppertone, you’ll thank me later.
Your initial lap is when it sets in. It is seriously nostalgic; you look down at your feet to find yourself gliding through a sea of blue kool-aid, and when you look up, you see every feature you could possibly want to hit coming toward you. Pure joy washes over you and your only fear is of waking up from this perfect dream… But you never do. We rode for the whole morning and thought it would be best to go adventure around town for the afternoon. The best mode of transportation is a scooter, and it’s definitely one of the most popular. One of the first things you’ll notice on the bus ride from the airport is that everyone and their grandma rips around on a scooter. You can rent scooters right from CWC, they all are decked out in stickers from previous renters and I’m pretty sure the one I have is literally the personal one of someone who works here. For the month it cost us 6000PHP (roughly $140 CAD) and worth every penny.
We toured down into Pili, which is about 15 minutes away. The driving is a hectic outside of CWC, but after a quick driving lesson and run down of the rules of the road from our fellow Canadian friend Yan Lecomte, we set off to see what the local community was all about. Pili is a small village, but seemed to have close to the population of Toronto living in it. The town is booming with life, with trucks driving around with speakers in the back blasting Filipino covers of Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber songs. Little shanty shacks piled one after another line the streets with the latest knock off vans shoes selling for next to nothing, food vendors selling full fish bodies and deep-fried hard boiled eggs, and people asking to take your picture gives you the gist of the experience. After a long couple hours walking around Pili, we headed on back to CWC to session the drop pool with our buddy Yan, grab some dinner, and call it a day. Twenty-four hours done.
Day number two arrived with another 5:00 am wake up. I’m not sure if my body is just really excited to get up and go riding, or if it’s have a super hard time adjusting to the time change. But either way, we were up and at it. Make sure to bring a good backpack, it’s way easier to pack everything you need for the day and spend it hanging at the cable lapping, verses going back and forth to the cabin. The vibe here is really unlike anything else I could have imagined. Everyone is super nice, no one is here to show boat, and every single person will help you land whatever trick you want to do. James (instructor here) is on the dock 24/7 and even if you don’t want to, he is constantly pushing you to do a different trick or hit a rail a different way. This is super helpful because going to a new park can be a stressful thing trying to figure out all the cuts to the rails and skipping out on rails you’re unsure of. This is not the case here, and it’s super rewarding to take part in an atmosphere that is based around progression rather than skill. While James does his thing, Chris (CWC photographer) is always hanging out somewhere grabbing the most creative angles of everyone riding. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up on the CWC instagram account (@cwcwakepark). Welp, this brings us to the end of the first 48. There’s still so much adventure left here to do between waterfall trips, surfing, and whatever else we can get our hands on coming soon. Stay tuned.