Neil heading off to Panama
When Neil Cameron was told he’d been selected for the World Masters Surf Titles in Panama in September his first reaction was ‘Where’s Panama?’
After the 56-year-old Byron Bay surfer and real estate agent discovered it was a 13-hour flight to Los Angeles, followed by a seven-hour flight to Panama City, and then a six-hour drive to Santa Catalina, he wasn’t sure he would go.
“I usually go surfing to Bali every year, but I thought that this was really an opportunity of a lifetime, so my wife Janice and I decided we would go,” Neil said.
Neil received the call about his selection from Surfing Australia about three weeks ago.
He will surf in the over 50s-division and will be the sole Australian surfer in that age group.
Neil won selection in the Australian team after he won last year’s over 50s Australia titles at Port Macquarie.
“The call really came out of left field,” Neil said.
“I didn’t expect it, but it’s a real honour to be able to represent Byron Bay and Australia.”
Neil said Santa Catalina was a reef break with a consistent right-hand wave.
“It’s going to be hot and humid and the surf can get up to 12 feet,” he said.
“Besides the reef there are several other hazards including yellow fever, malaria and crocodiles.”
Santa Catalina is a remote village of only 200 people, surrounded by jungle with basic accommodation.
Neil has been in training for the titles surfing for up to four hours every day, going to the gym and playing four games of touch football a week.
“Surfing is my life and it’s been good to me,” he said. “It’s bought me some fantastic travel opportunities.”
Neil said that surfing Indonesian reef-break waves for the past 20 years would be good grounding for this surf trip.
“I’m very excited about the world titles and as long as the waves don’t get to 12 feet, I reckon I can do OK,” he said.