PUERTO VIEJO, Limón – CeazarCampos, the self-proclaimed surf doctor,has spent most of his life making surfboards.His shop in Puerto Viejo is fullyequipped to heal the pain inflicted uponthe boards of countless tourists and residentsin this quiet beachfront community.Although unable to manipulate the drawstringson his swim trunks, evident by theway they nonchalantly hang perilouslyclose to succumbing to gravity, he is arespected craftsman and artist possessinginnate ability when wielding a planer,sander or airbrush.Getting a small glimpse into thisman’s life can be as unpredictable as theswells that roll in from across theCaribbean thumping into the reef thatfronts the tiny town and shooting skywardin excess of 20 feet.In fact, availability for interviews orappointments to fix a broken fin or acracked rail is completely conditional onthese very waves and the day’s surfreport.“It’s a good thing there are no waves,otherwise this interview wouldn’t havehappened. Good waves mean no work,”Campos said.In a matter of minutes it becomesquite obvious that this is a man with priorities,character and loyalty to his passion.A man who believes surfing is theapex of life.“If I couldn’t surf, I’d rather not evenlive,” he said, in a matter-of-fact way thatrequired no contemplation.OWNER and proprietor of Sea CzarSurfboards, Campos has taken raw materialsand with meticulous care turnedthese resources into hundreds of boardsthat can be seen slicing through swells allover the world.“I got my first board when I was sixor seven and it didn’t take long to ding itup, so I had to learn how to fix it. Sincethat first board, I repaired all my boardsand then other people’s too,” Campossaid.Making boards for surfers of all levels,Campos chooses to create outside thebox, often manufacturing boards thatappear as genetic mutations from thestock shape people have become accustomedto using. Having spent so muchtime in the water and riding a board, heunderstands the natural physics of theocean and will at times choose to compromisecustomary form for extremefunction.“I like making boards that have morenose and are very narrow. People laughedat me and my new designs, but the fact isthe less board touching the water thefaster you can go. Like a bullet throughthe water, it’s all about speed,” he said.And speed is part of the equationwhen a big swell rolls in and hits the oldcoral reef in front of his house, throwingup titanic waves that barrel over leaving abig enough section to drive a bus through.Having a sleek board underfoot couldprovide the difference, allowing a personthe speed to shoot through a tunnel thatmight collapse at any moment resultingin a rider being tossed around in the“washing machine” like a rag doll, crashingface first into a jagged bed of coral.WHEN making a board, Campos tailorsit not only to the desires of the personwho will be riding it, but also to the waveit will be used on, carving thicker rails forbigger heavier waves and thinner rails forfast hollow waves. He doesn’t have setdimensions or set proportions, choosingto simply eyeball the specs from experienceand knowing how the board shouldbe, making no two boards exactly alike.Campos credits his stable livelihoodto a man named Kurt Van Dyke, owner ofHotel Puerto Viejo. Van Dyke, who hasowned the hotel for the past 18 years, recognizedCampos’ talents.Needing a board fixed resulted in amakeshift workshop being set up in theparking lot and Campos getting to work.After that board, he fixed another and inno time at all business boomed and a largermore elaborate workspace was set upin the building next door, which is wherehe still works his magic.“I had a bunch of boards that werebeat up pretty bad. I had Caezar fix them,and he’s been fixing boards here since,”Van Dyke said.LAST year, Van Dyke requested aboard that would stand out in a lineup andbe something people would recognize forboth appearance and performance. He requested an all-wood board, which Camposnow considers his most prized accomplishmentand his finest creation.“I love wood boards because they arenatural, they come from the jungle and therearen’t that many around,” Campos said.“Wood is beautiful to look at and it was popularduring the 1960s and then gave way totechnology.”Technology isn’t considered by allsurfers to be a good thing. Thanks tomachines, a board that would take Campos acouple of days to make can be produced 100times over in one day.“When a machine makes hundreds ofthe same board, something gets lost. Itbecomes commercial and is no longer specialand individualized,” he said.CAMPOS was born in Santa Catalina,Brazil, and left in 1983. He exited theBrazilian army and with $10 in his pocketheaded north with his ultimate destinationbeing Hawaii to ride the best and biggestwaves on the planet. To make it, he stopped atsurf spots along the coast and fixed boards.Although he had not much of a plan, heknew things would work out.“I knew that anytime I needed money Icould always head straight for the beach tofix a few boards and make a few bucks,” hesaid.Eventually, he made it all the way up toOregon, where he met a man named CortGion who taught him the art of glassing andairbrushing. He worked for just more than ayear and then finally made the jump acrossthe Pacific to the little chain of islands thatrepresented destiny and fulfillment.He made it to Hawaii, lived there forthree years and during this time challengedand survived the largest and most unforgivingwaves on the planet.A dream realized, he headed toCalifornia where he started a surf shop inCarlsbad, starting his own line of boardscalled Fly Boards and later Super FlyBoards.Having successfully completed a surfodyssey that spanned thousands and thousandsof miles, Campos now rests andenjoys each day as it comes, simply ridingthe wave of life.For the last two years he has been a residentof Puerto Viejo after spending sixyears just down the road at Salsa Brava,home of the 40-foot wave.A THROWBACK to the days beforecommercialism and marketing controlledthe destiny of surf, Campos epitomizes thesurfer who risks life and limb not for theawards, or the sponsorships or even thewomen … well, maybe the women.Campos surfs because he is surfing, andwith a beaming smile and whimsical lookCampos sums up the sport before it was asport: “Surf is love, it is you and the nature,it is spiritual, it is a lifestyle. Surf has cometo stay.”Campos can be found in his workshopjust across the street from the Puerto ViejoHotel. The best way to contact him is to simplygo to the gate in front, yell as loud as youcan to be heard over the power sander andwait for Campos to welcome you into hisshop and his life.He can also be reached by phone at 750-0620 or e-mail Seaczarsurf@yahoo.com.
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