Friday, December 2, 2011

Hello Maui, Goodbye Maui

Good Morning Maui! The view from my "upcountry" room...

I’m on a two week work/fun trip. This adventure was initiated by a work thing on the Big Island Hawaii. So naturally I had to work in a few days to Maui beforehand for some fun. Then it’s a few days on the Big Island/Kailua-Kona for work/fun. Then after Kona, I’m off to California for a few more days of work, then back home. I haven’t been apart from my kids this long and I already miss them just a day or two into the trip. Luckily, my beautiful bride is joining me in Kona for a portion of the trip.

The fun part started in Maui. I managed to arrive just as a stormy windy swell was hitting the island with periods of rain. My first day wasn’t so great. I know…I was on Maui, how bad can it be? Well, you’re right, it wasn’t that bad considering where I was. But I did manage to scrape my foot on coral when SUP surfing on small waves on the less windy south side of the island. That required a trip to the pharmacy and some self first aid with hydrogen peroxide and waterproof bandages. Then I had equipment failure on my first windsurfing run out at Kanaha in the afternoon, giving me a nice long swim back in. I couldn’t go back out since I needed to swap some gear which I didn’t have with me. So I basically missed a whole day from the get go. With my tail between my legs, I stopped at Hookipa to check out the action and take some pics. It wasn’t your classic Hookipa conditions you see in the mags. It was stormy angry ocean onshore head to mast high conditions Hookipa. Matt Pritchard chronicles it here. He also ran into some issues! I saw and talked to Matt when he came off the water with that ripped sail.

Maui south side SUP'ing small waves

Kanaha 1st day

Hookipa 1st Day - onshore conditions

Day 2 was much better although the forecast was pretty intimidating . Gusty 25-30 mph wind and 13 ft surf was expected, closing out Hookipa and creating over mast high conditions at Kanaha. Jaws was supposed to be breaking but I don't know if it ever did and if anyone surfed/windsurfed it. I did a little bit of paddling in the morning in the harbor and got some great paddle technique tips from the man himself, Dave Kalama.

Then I hooked up with former windsurfing World Champ Matt Pritchard for a windsurfing lesson at Kanaha in the afternoon. Since it was so crowded and over mast high meaty waves at Kanaha (see pics here), we opted for a launch downwind of most of the windsurfers/kiters and found a fun chest to head high onshore wave break to play in. The outside reef at that spot was dumping probably well over mast and a half high so we would jibe before hitting that outside reef and ride the first reef waves back in. I’ve never been a real good jumper, so we worked on my jumps and onshore wave riding. This less crowded spot afforded Matt & I to get more 1:1 time on the water and he was able to stay close to me to yell instructions without worrying about staying out of everyone else’s way. I had a blast and it definitely made up for the misadventures the day before. Matt wore a GoPro helmetcam and captured the session. I'll be sifting through that footage within a few weeks and might post something with it.

Even though Hookipa was supposed to be closed out on this day, Graham Ezzy managed to make hay with it all by himself in huge messy conditions. Check it out here (pics) and here (video), and here (Graham's review). I saw him out there as I was driving by.

Check out these pictures of the same day...these are from the Hookipa Overlook parking lot just upwind of Hookipa Beach.

I sailed the Tabou DaCurve Quad 91 board and Gaastra sails. This was my first time on a quad fin board. I’m first and foremost a slalom/bump & jump windsurfer used to bigger and floatier boards with limited time and experience in the waves, so take these comments for what it’s worth. The quad fin board took some getting used to. At first, I didn’t like it because I couldn’t get powered up and going and I thought maybe a quad just wasn’t an early planer (which it actually isn’t really). Thanks to Matt, I found the problem was I needed less outhaul and we lowered the boom height a bit. That got me powered up and going. Then the board was fun. So when you think you have a problem with a board, don’t forget to make some other adjustments and that might solve the problem. When slightly underpowered, I had a heck of a time staying upwind, but powered up, it got me upwind just fine. It was an easy jumper, a fun board to jibe, and turned easily on the waves. But it does require wind and I needed to be powered up to make the board work for me. I’m sure that proper form in the waves would make it work better as well. Even in the lulls, I was able to stay balanced and shlog just fine on the 91 liters under me.

Matt recently posted an interesting piece about quad fin boards and predicts single fins might soon make a comeback. For the slalom/bump & jump conditions I mainly sail in back home, I think I’m still a single fin guy. But if you do a lot of wavesailing, you owe it to yourself to at least try a quad fin board so you know how it works for you. I think it really takes an experienced wavesailor that already knows how to make nice top turns and cutbacks to make a quad fin work the way it’s supposed to.

I stopped by Sprecklesville and snapped some shots.

My 3rd day was a little different. It was windy on the north shore in the morning but you’re not supposed to windsurf until 11am. There wasn’t a south swell running on the south side of the island so I couldn’t SUP surf in the morning. So I waited it out at Kanaha and was ready to go at 11am with my rig. I can tell you firsthand that it can get gusty on Maui. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s a good thing I’m used to gusty conditions because I sailed Kanaha in up and down gusty conditions just like windsurfing at the lake. The swell was a bit smaller than the day before but still dumping logo high at Lowers and mast high at Uppers. It was still crowded so I pretty much hit the smaller waves breaking just upwind of Lowers. GP thought it was a mediocre day. I finally ripped a couple holes in my Maui rookie baby hands and called it a day, then drove up to Hookipa to check out the late afternoon action.

Kanaha 3rd day - Mon Nov 28th

It seems all the pros were on island because I saw a ton of them at Hookipa when I arrived after windsurfing at Kanaha. It appeared to be an almost ideal Hookipa day with big sets coming through. I saw Levi Siver (just missed his performance, it appeared he had just come off the water), David & Graham Ezzy, Victor Fernandez, Mark Angulo, Bernd Roediger, Ricardo Campello, Manu Boevet…and I’m sure there were a few other pros and Hookipa locals who I didn’t immediately recognize. I got a chance to meet and speak to David Ezzy while we watched Graham rip it up. He shared some local knowledge about the island, and we talked about Hatteras and the differences in sailing on Maui and back on the east coast. I also met Bernd Roediger and his dad Norm and Mark Angulo while Mark was showing off a brand new board he had just shaped and trying out for the first time...63 liters! Everyone was very nice and easy to talk to. When they found out I was from NC, they were very interested in Cape Hatteras. The Roedigers are already planning for the 2012 AWT event and can’t wait to get some blue crabs and sweet tea (they used to live in Hilton Head, SC). I have to mention another person who was an absolute standout while I was watching the action at Hookipa – Morgan Noireaux - 17 years old and was absolutely ripping it up. He won the AWT Youth Championship this year. Watch out for this kid, you’ll be seeing much more of him.

You never know who else you’ll run into on Maui. I met and spoke to Keith Taboul at the Quatro/Goya shop on my 1st day – very nice guy. He showed me his board shaping room, we talked about his board shaping business and talked about Hatteras. He looks forward to getting there at next year’s AWT event. Windsurfing and hanging out with Matt Pritchard was awesome. Paddling and talking with Dave Kalama was a treat unto itself. I met and spoke to Maui blogger Giampaolo Cammarotaat Kanaha as he was rigging up for his 11am Kanaha session before work. I also saw Peter Thommen (formerly F2 board shaper and now Thommen Boards) at Kanaha and saw a couple of other familiar faces from the magazines and blogs.

And finally – I had a nice visit with Sam Bittner - American Windsurfing Tour (AWT) organizer. She is already well underway with the 2012 AWT plans. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – windsurfing is lucky to have her. She is revitalizing the big wavesailing events across North America and bringing growth and visibility back into the sport. Support the AWT in 2012!

I mostly ate in Paia – Milagros, Flatbread Pizza, Paia Fish Market, & Anthony’s were very good. Also ate at “Colleens” in Haiku and “Baked on Maui” next to The Cannery, which both were also very good.


I want to thank Matt Pritchard for getting me hooked up with advanced lessons, rental gear, rental truck, and a room. I had met Matt at his wavesailing clinic in Punta San Carlos so it was a no brainer for me to contact him about my Maui trip. Everything was top notch and windsurfing with him was a big highlight. I stayed at his brother’s place, located in “upcountry” Maui, which has a nice separate 1 bedroom rental suite. It was very comfortable and had an awesome ocean view. Contact Matt if you want him to help you with your Maui vacation.

My Ride

I didn't know Tabou made a SUP board. This is the 9'2" surfboard. I could tell it was a very fun and turny board even on the small waves I was on. I would love to get it on larger waves. It also has a mast insert.

All in all, it was a short but fun 3 ½ day trip to Maui. It was on to Kona – I’ll post later about the Big Island of Hawaii.


Rob said...

Hey Mac, awesome write-up and photos. Even with a tough start, it sounds like you got around and had a lot of fun. Looking forward to seeing some of Matt's footage. See you soon.

Catapulting Aaron said...

Sounds like you had some fun days. Maui may be paradise for windsurfing, but it's still a grab-bag like anywhere else....

rdm said...

Man you and Rob have had some big time adventures this year! So was that a wardrobe malfunction or a broken downhaul or what?

I wish you would have had more time too. My first quad experience was on the '11 DC quad and pretty much the same initial thoughts, at least riding in the sound. The '12 DC quad can run three fins or maybe even single. It would have been nice to see what you thought of that option. Also the pocket would have been great to compare to.

Excellent story telling Mac but I can't wait for you to fill in more details over a couple IPAs. After we shred some waves.

George Markopoulos said...

OK, I’m sufficiently stoked now, and missing maui so bad, I need to be medicated

Boardrider58 said...

Epic trip. Thanks for sharing.