Lisbeth Vindas Diaz, National Champion and Jacobeña, Celebrates 20 Years of Surfing, Part 1 July 27 2015

It has already been an incredible year for Lisbeth Vindas Diaz. This month the well known surfer from Playa Jacó turned thirty five and already has another National Title under her belt for Open Mujeres and a gold medal as part of Costa Rica's  National Select Team (La Sele) at the ISA Mundial World Surf Games in Nicaragua. 

I met Lisbeth about eighteen years ago. She had already been surfing two years, often surfing with my younger sister Colleen Hanley (Prior) who lived in Playa Jacó at the time with my Mom. Always impressed by her surfing style, especially in the big waves, it's great to see how far Lisbeth has come in her surfing career . She recently took some time to talk a little bit about her passion, life growing up in Jacó and how it feels to be one of Costa Rica's first pioneers of women's surfing. This is Part One of our interview. As Lisbeth answered all the questions in English, it is being published as told. 

Tell a little about growing up in Jacó and when you started to surf. There weren't many other girls surfing or competing in Costa Rica at that time. What motivated you?

I grew up on the beach, my family is all from Jacó. My Grandpa was the first one to live here in Jacó and he even surfed!

I started on a boogeyboard twenty years ago; this is my twenty year anniversary. Your sister actually told me "what are you doing, why don't you get a surfboard?" and a couple days later I borrowed one of those big, classic, thick boards from Diego. I caught my first few waves and fell in love with it. I thought "this is what I want to do. I want to be a professional and surf all over the world." There were only a few girl surfers back then. We had to look for girls just to make the finals in the beginning, but after a few years there were more girls. I would go to highschool, study and surf.

Playa Jacó is your "home break." What do you want to say about this break? 

I surfed my first waves in Jacó, then right away started catching rides to Hermosa every time I could. I love Jacó, it's a beach break and very easy for people to learn. You can find a lot of different waves around here and that's what I love. I love this place because it's my home and where alll my family is. I surf all the breaks here, I like to try all the different types of waves. 

Photo: Nadine Rosenburg

What are some other breaks you like to surf in Costa Rica?

Playa Escondida, La Isla, Damas, Quepos, Pavones for sure.... Playa Negra, The Caribbean side... oh there are so many places. 

What are some breaks outside of Costa Rica that you have surfed? 

Outside of Costa Rica, it depends if we arrive there in swells. Fiji for sure has some of the most amazing, perfect waves. Mentawai Islands, Hawaii, Central America, Panama, El Salvador... so many good places. One of myfavorites was the Mentawaiis and some good barrells in Fiji. 

How does it feel to have played a huge role in Costa Rica's growth in women's surfing and to be a part of Costa Rica's international success in the sport?  

I'm very proud to be one of the first surfers in Jacó. I am seeing the results of everything I've worked for. It's not something I deserve, it's something I've earned. I worked for it and I'm still here working hard and still have a lot of passion. I want to do really good things for the sport. I hope this sport keeps growing and we get more world champions. :) 

Don't miss Part 2 to be published tomorrow and find out what Lisbeth has to say about balancing being a wife and Mom with her passion for surf, her friendships with Leilani McGonagle and Paola Rodriguez, and what she hopes to accomplish in the coming year.