Paying it Forward: Carla Gallardo of ACOS Surfing Costa Rica January 17 2016 1 Comment

Nine years ago, at the age of twenty five, Carla Gallardo found herself praying for a different life. She talks about it candidly; softspoken and petite, Carla has an intensity you can feel when talking with her, she gives you her total attention.

"Estaba buscando algo y no sabia que era; I was looking for something and I didn't know what it was. I didn't love myself, I had low self-esteem," Carla explains.She was caught up in the "party lifestyle."

 "I went to a private school in San Jose with very priviledged peers. I never really felt like I fit in. After high school, I turned to a way of life that would eventually leave me feeling empty inside."

 "I was always mad, angry," she says. "I wanted to turn those feeling into good will, to change my way of thinking. I wanted to be clean, happy, cheerful."

She began a different lifestyle, one that included travel, surf and a move out of the city. It would take two years for the changes to take root and produce results Carla couldn't have imagined.  Through faith, a renewed love for surfing, and positive decisions Carla has risen to become a driving force behind  ACOS Surfing (the Costa Rican Association of Surf), an organization that seeks to give back to the communities it serves, while promoting professional surfing and inspiring young surfers.

We chatted recently at Bowies Point Restaurant, overlooking a well known break in Playa Hermosa where surfers and beachgoers enjoy the waves, "la vista" y "buena vibra"/good vibe.  

 PVBG:    Where are you from originally?

 Carla:     Tibas, San Jose. But I have lived near Playa Guacalillo for the past seven years with Victor. (Victor Arce, her partner of thirteen years.)

 PVBG:     How long have you been surfing?

 Carla:      I started surfing when I was twenty years old, but not consistently. I would surf Jaco and Hermosa; Victor and I would travel to different places, Tamarindo, Playa Potrero.

 PVBG:    Home Break?

 Carla:     Playa Guacalillo.

 PVBG:    Favorites international surfers that inspire you?

 Carla:      I admire Mick Fanning very much and Carissa Moore.

 PVBG:     What inspired you to pursue certification to become a surf contest judge?

 Carla:      I wanted and needed to know more about surfing. It has completely changed my surfing.

 PVBG:     What is the most difficult challenge of being a judge?

 Carla:      To overcome the barrier between being a judge and being a friend to surfers; it's called ethics.

 PVBG:     If you could surf anywhere in the world, where would that be?

Carla:     (smiling) Indonesia!

Torneo Campeonato Infantil 2015 at Pavones

 This past year ACOS Surfing teamed up with ALAS (The Latin American Surf Association) to be part of the Professional Latin Tour of 2015. They also started the Pro Surfing Tour 2015, with the second annual Ola Grande contest at the well known Roca Loca, a crazy right point break located between the beaches of Playa Jaco and Playa Hermosa. The second professional contest was the Billabong Fest, held in Playa Jaco in front of Morgan's Cove , which included a concert on the beach. The third and final contest of 2015 will actually be held in Isla Uvita in the Caribe on the 27th and 28th of February.

The Pro Tour series offers cash prizes to winners and draws an elite field of surfers. This year's 2016 Pro Tour will officially start in April or May with the Big Wave (Ola Grande) contest at Roca Loca; it will be the third annual and is a great venue for some spectacular wave riding.

Jason Torres at last year's Torneo Ola Grande at Roca Loca/Photo Kook World Productions

  ACOS also finished up their Campeonato Infantil series in 2015, a series of contests at various surf breaks throughout Costa Rica. This series is for kids up to and inluding 16 years of age. The last contest was held in Playa Jaco; competitors paid their inscription fee but were invited to a free Christmas party where they received gifts. On December 22, ACOS ended the year with a party for 65 kids from the neighborhoods of Bajamar, Cuarros and Guacalillo. The 2016 Kids Tour will start around the time the National Surf Circuit (CNS) ends, to avoid scheduling interference.

 Carla's passion is a driving force behind the success of ACOS Surfing, alongside her partner of thirteen years, Victor Arce.  It is an association with roots originally dating back to 1978. They rely on sponsors to keep going forward with their goals and to be able to give back not only to surfers but to the communities.

Carla Gallardo with partner Victor Arce

To find out more about the schedule for 2016 you can check the website at  

 Contact Carla directly with any questions or to find out about sponsorship opportunities at She will be glad to hear from you!

Thanks for your time and sharing a part of your "historia" with us! We wish both you and ACOS Surfing much success in 2016 and look forward to seeing you!! :) 

 Carla in front of Bowies Point Restaurant, Playa Hermosa, CR.

Photos courtesy of Carla Gallardo and Taylar Marie/Kook World Productions.