Thursday, January 18, 2007

I was not going to give it to the fish...

I had quite a day today.

I should start with my morning adventure, but I'm afraid that too many words would scare some of the windsurfers that check this blog (windsurfers notoriously don't like reading...), so I'll start with the photos of Hookipa first.
It has been amazingly windy to be winter time, but it's at least a week that the wind blows really offshore and gusty. Tough times for everybody out there. Never seen so many pros missing their jibes...

Let's start from the picture of the day.
It's Francisco Porcella in his interpretation of one of the most famous italian songs.
Volare, oh oh...

The sailor of the day was this guy on a Naish. Since I don't know who he is I'm gonna call him 'guy on a Naish'. Here he's showing a remarkable table top.

18 more windsurfing photos here.

Allright, time for the story telling.
As mentioned earlier, the wind was super gusty. Just like yesterday, I chose to challenge Hookipa with the 4.5 and the 87l board that would give me enough flotation to make it over the waves. The difference with yesterday, was that once in a while a mast high set would come through.
With an impeccable timing (even Josh Stone congratulated with me about that later on the beach), in my first reach out of course I ended up in the middle of the impact zone when the 11.45am mast high set arrived. I should have checked the timetable first...
Anyway, the wind was almost nil and the only thing I could do was try to bury my sail as deep as I could and take the waves on the head. Common practice at Hookipa.
Too bad my mast foot broke and I was left boardless with the sail in my hands.
It was my brand new 4.5 Superfreak! I was not going to give it to the fish...
I swam towards the shore and eventually made it in through the rocks.
Now, just look at this photo of Graham Ezzy (taken later in the day) and try to imagine how fun that must have been ...

The board of course was completely gone with the wind.
It was my 87l board! I was not going to give it to the fish...
I dropped the sail on the beach, jumped in my car (still in the wetsuit), drove to Mama's fish house and looked over the cliff with my binoculars. And I saw it. The wind was pushing it offshore, but the waves were keeping it inside the reef. I jumped in the car again, quickly picked up a surfboard at home (good thing I live in Kuau) and drove to the Kuau launching point, represented in this photo taken yesterday at sunset.

The difference with the photo is that when I jumped in the water with my surfboard to paddle for my board it was blowing thirty knots...
I paddled downwind for 5 minutes. I couldn't see it. I paddled 5 more minutes. It was a mind game.
"There's no way I'm gonna find it... but miracles happen!"
I paddled more.

And then I saw it.

And that vision made me happy, very happy.
But nothing compared to what I felt, when I finally reached the board, sat on my surfboard and lifted my trophy in the air yelling with all I had in my lungs...
In the middle of the freaking ocean, what I moment I had!

I had to paddle twenty more minutes (holding the nose of my windsurf board with my downwind foot) to reach the beach of Paia bay. I dropped both boards on the beach, hitchiked back to my car in Kuau, grabbed my slippers from the beach, drove back to Paia to get the boards, drove back to Hookipa to get the sail.
Not a single scratch on my body, not even on my equipment.
The fact that I succeeded in what seemed to be a mission impossible gave me a high of adrenaline rush that lasted all day.

In fact, later in the afternoon I went back in the water at Kanaha for the sunset sesh. The waves were mostly waiste to chest high, with some occasional head high sets. I sailed quite inspired and I was full of energy... definitely still on that rush.
The last half hour of light, it was me and Andres and he put on a show of backloops, forwards and aerials.
Hermano, if you did that to be mentioned on this blog... it worked!

Now it's almost 10 pm, the rush is gone and I'm realizing that I'm a little beat up.
I'll go to sleep with a smile on my face...


Anonymous said...

Inspirational story GP, good to hear you found your board, but most importantly you saved the Superfreak! HARDCORE!
Just on that, boards being lost in big surf etc, how many do you reckon would get lost over the course of a season, month, week etc?


cammar said...

Uh, that's a question for the lifeguards at Hookipa...

Breaking the mast foot is prolly the worse thing that can happen in big surf.
So far, this winter, I know that John lost his rig (caught the board at Kuau, just like me) and Neil lost everything. There might be 1 or 10 or 100 more...
I'm just stoked that I didn't lose anything!

The biggest amount of damage is made by the rocks, though. Even though sometimes you get out of them without a scratch, the most common result of being a rockstar is to break something.

And let's not forget the impact zone. If a big wave catches you the wrong way, any component of your rig is at serious risk. Skinny masts are mandatory at Hookipa.

Ben said...

I'm glad that you made it back safely and your gear is fine! good for you.
your story made me cringe along with that shot of Graham on the rocks. I can't imagine how you guys get out in the surf when the wind is so fickle.
anyway, glad you made it.


Ben said...

I'm glad that you made it back safely and your gear is fine! good for you.
your story made me cringe along with that shot of Graham on the rocks. I can't imagine how you guys get out in the surf when the wind is so fickle.
anyway, glad you made it.


Alberto said...

Well done Camma, I think you were a bit lucky too, but how is the saying... "fortune helps the brave"!

Yeah, it's so truthful how surving and succeeding in such a situation gives to you an amazing charge!
Some years ago I experienced a 2 hours swimming to get back to the shore with my equipment... it was hard but it gives to me real power even now, thinking about it.

Ehi, you missed that Windsurfers like to read ALL about windsurfing-related stuff!! So no excuses for not writing on this blog! :-)

from Italy!

Nelisblog said...

You lucky Bas*$^%&* ;-)
What a day you had! I love your reports from the island there. Lucky you all gear is back with you.
Are you going to chech and double check everything now with your baseplate and diabolo?

Lim said...

Its your GREAT attitude towards this whole episode that is impressive and... INSPIRATIONAL !!

Robin said...

First of all, great pics from Hookipa! That Porcella shot a mad! And Graham Ezzy on a Quattro, hm don't think I had seen that before.

Since our North Sea conditions can be pretty gnarly I always advice wave novices to pay top dollar for their components (uni-joint, mast extension mas and baseplate). Chinook double bolt baseplate, u.s. system (not that silly europin) connection and RDM mast are the call here. This, and a regular check of your material, at least lowers the changes of breakage. Then again, anything can break.
Incredible story G.P. , good that you got your board back (and survived yourself). What is it with that board, it appears that it doesn't want to be with you?

Anonymous said...

Cammar, what a story. I loved it, especially the ending. Your blog is great reading. All I can do now is read about windsurfing , as winter has taken hold here in Mass.
When I come to Maui this summer, two things I have to do .
I'm going to demo a SF sail, and look for you at Kanaha..


Anonymous said...

Hi GP;
thanks for the comments, most of the time, I enjoy your writing as much as the pics!
Two comments:
1) I think that the "guy on a naish" is Phillipe Meot, the first (and only) chilean pro windsurfer. He rides for Naish and Quatro but unfortunately has a rather low profile. Also, as it shows in your pic, his style would now be described as "old school".
2) I enjoyed your pic about that great hawaian king from the 1800s: He was a avid surfer, and also a liberal and progresive ruler. For example, his was the first monarchy to recognize the indepence and freedom of Argentina from the Spanish empire.
Enough history here for a windsurf blog...

cammar said...

Allright, thanks everybody for the comments. Here's a few mixed replies.

I love riding waves in very light wind. The face of the wave is smooth and it's a bit more like surfing. But sometimes, you got to pay like I did...

The more self rescues in the ocean you have, the more calm and confident you'll be next time. For example, I derigged my sail so many times in the water now that it's almost like a common routine. Still a bitch! But at least, I'm calm... and that helps!

I didn't really check the tendon of my mast foot. But I knew it was a Chinook with two safety lines and that was safe enough for me... Both safety lines did not break. But they both ripped off the plastic top holes were they were supposed to be anchored. Sorry, but that Chinook stuff sucks. I brought everything back at the shop trying to have a full warranty exchange, I should have taken a photo of it...
Next, I'm going to try an alluminum one with a spectra safety line. I wonder if there's even a stainless steel tell one (I'll take the little extra weight). But I'm afraid that there's not much that will resist under so much weight...

My board is just testing if I'm tough enough for her... ;-)

Unfortunately I was sitting quite high on the hill that day. If I was at the usual lower spot (Colin's father was taking a nap right there and I didn't want to disturb), the shot of Francisco would have looked even more rad, because he would have prolly ended up over the horizon line. He went really high.
Graham is riding Quatro for a few weeks now. "What brah, you getting paid now?", I asked him, with my usual unappropriateness...
"Nah", he answered...

Hey Paul, don't forget to send me an email to check my Paia/Haiku house and cars rentals. Also, Kanaha is my favorite winter sailing spot. It's NOT in summer... I pretty much don't sail at all in summer, unless there's a waiste high windswell at Hoo...
Oh, I do a lot of slalom sailing around 5pm at Kuau, when the wind finally goes down a bit and it's not that choppy anymore...

Marcos, I'll ask the guy on the Naish next time I see him... and thanks for the history lesson! I'll tell my argentinian friends (there's a huge colony here), they're gonna be impressed!

Hey, yesterday I had to fix a little car problem during the day and I ended up at 5pm at Hoo with my surfboard. There were waves, but if was cold. I mean, Maui cold. I happily chose not to go surf and to interrupt my 100% quoli (18 days out of 18). I like to have a high quoli, but I'm not slave of it... and I don't cheat!

Sharon said...

"prolly" is my new favorite word!

Ely from NYC said...

Hey Giampaolo,

Those pictures are great! The first one of Francisco is an incredible shot (McPork's son). And now I know why Graham wears a helmet, not a bad idea. I could have used one the last time I sailed too close to the rocks at Sugar Cove. I've never seen a skinny mast break in three places before!

Your story of losing and finding your board reminds me of an experience my friend Dustin had a few years ago. You might remember him from the Big Buggah store in Paia--now lives on the big island.

He had just bought a custom Richard Greene board from either Anders or JP and took it out for a sunset sesh in big waves and very little wind. It had become his favorite board and he treasured it dearly. On a big wave at the very end of the day he wiped out and had everything ripped out of his hands. The rig and board separated and all that washed up on the beach was Dustin and a wrecked rig. By the time he was able to get his flashlight to search for the board, it was nearly dark and his board was gone (sometimes that current is not such a good thing after all...). Realizing that he had to wait until morning to search for his new magic board, he had a rough night thinking about his disaster and feeling rather hopeless!

The next morning arrived and it was time to act! He drove up and down the coast looking in at every cove from Mama's to the harbor. Even with a decent pair of binoculars, his board was still floating out there somewhere, unable to be seen under the glare of the sun. Now it was time to pull a few favors....what he needed was a jet ski and a chopper! He headed out to the airport and persuaded one of his heli friends to take him up for a look-see. With only a few minutes of time granted to his favor, they took off for the search. On the last pass before giving up, he found his board halfway to Kahakuloa head (a few miles away!). After profusely thanking Mr. Heli pilot, he cashed in his second favor and jet skied out of the harbor to find his board. Finally, he was reunited, and the board was unscathed, in perfect shape.

As a footnote, one of our Long Island Windsurfer members, a Fireman from Brooklyn, was sailing in the inlet by Breezy Point. Caught in the outgoing current with a dying wind, he was unable to waterstart and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard but those bastards wouldn't take his kit out of the water! The ordeal made all the local newspapers and the evening news. Luckily, our friend Chip wrote his name and number on his gear. Two days later he got a call from some town in New Jersey, 16 miles away! And they had his board waiting for him.

Here's to more happy endings!


P.S.: I tried to post this a few days ago, but nothing happened when I tried to "publish".

cammar said...

Sharon, kewl! Got to thank Wardog for that...

Ely, those stories are quite impressive, thanks for sharing. Definitely, always have your number written on your boards!

I'm afraid the technical difficulties are due to the new version of the blogger I chose to use. I regretted big time, but I can't go back...

Ely from NYC said...

Not a problem, Giampaolo. I used Firefox this time and had no problems!


cammar said...

Damn, does that mean that Mac users without Firefox can't post comments?
Meesh, if you read this would you try to post a comment and let me know if it didn't work?

Anonymous said...

Glad your efforts resulted in your saving the 87. Makes for some interesting reading as I leave now to go rent Harley-Davidsons to tourists. Hele on, Mystery Bob