Update 1 to this post. If you haven't read it yet, read the post below and then come back up here.
I just received this email from a friend. I replaced the name of our common friend with XYZ. Here's the text:
hi giampaolo i dont know if you saw it, I didnt but he told me. XYZ went to talk to the lifeguard ,the red neck /red hair one about a surfer in the middle of 50 windurfers. making it short the lifeguard told him "get the fuck out of my tower, fucking haole" and a bunch of "fuck and more fuck" and almost punched him but the other lifeguard stopped him.
XYZ doesn't know if he should make a police report about the aggression. if i was him, tomorrow i would be calling my lawer planing a lawsuit.
because of this week events(two lifeguard running over a windsurfer in sprecks, confiscating equipment at hookipa and now XYZ) i think it's time to start fighting back.
if you see XYZ tell him what you think whatever it is.
thank you !!!
Not having seen the fact, I can't guarantee it's exactly true. But I know XYZ and I know the lifeguard... it's highly possible! So, not even after 24 hours I proposed it, I already realized that my system wouldn't work.
What I forgot is that NONE of the lifeguards at Hookipa is a windsurfer. Instead ALL of them are hard core surfers. They probably wouldn't be too objective in evaluating the conditions...
I know nothing about the two lifeguards running over a windsurfers in Sprecks.
For sure, the heat is up. And this atmosphere of guerrilla disgusts me... just like the ignorance and the racism shown by somebody (red hair... clearly not 100% hawaiian himself!) calling somebody else fucking haole just because he had a foreign accent. I've been called like that many times too. I'm sick of the stupidity of the human beings...
----end of update 1 -----------------------------------------------------------
----start of original post -----------------------------------------------------
Tuesday 10 16 2007 was a very sad day for the sport of windsurfing.
Two windsurfers, one tourist from Japan and another from France, were fined by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) police, had their equipment confiscated and were given a date to show up in court.
Ah, forgot to mention... this happened in Maui at Hookipa (which, by the way, in hawaiian language means hospitality...!), the world windsurfing Mecca... at least till now!
This photo (sorry if it's dark... wrong settings) shows the DLNR police writing the ticket to the Japanese guy.
Ok, take a moment to absorb the shock and if you feel like learning some facts and my opinion, just keep reading...
Let's start with some history.
For thousands of years, turtles and other marine creatures have shared the water at Hookipa. I don't know how peacefully, but for sure without the need of regulation of any sort.
Then one day a few hundreds years ago, the ancient hawaiians invented the sport of surfing.
Windsurfing was invented a lot later and the first windsurfer was patented by Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer in 1968.
After that, Mike Waltze was the first one to launch a windsurfer at Hookipa in 1980.
Since then, thanks to the combination of big waves and strong winds, Hookipa has become the most known windsurfing spot in the world.
For years surfers and windsurfers have coexisted, not without some friction, but definitely without too much drama either.
Pretty much, what happened in the past was this.
If there were waves, there were surfers. From dawn to around noon, the surfers could surf in all the three breaks of the bay: Pavillion (the most upwind one), Middles and The point. Then, around noon, one of the three possible following things would happen:
1) if it was a non sailable day (no wind or too light): the surfers would keep surfing all day everywhere
2) if a strong wind picked up: most of the surfers would came out of the water spontaneously, because the condition deteriorated and the windsurfers would go out sailing. Eventually a few leftover surfers (the ones without really nothing better to do...) would move upwind to Middles (going left) and Pavillions.
3) if a light but sailable wind picked up: the windsurfers would go out sailing and as a consequence all the surfers were pushed up to Middles-left and Pavillions.
When the wind would die (usually between 4 and 6) the surfers would have all the breaks for themselves again.
Even though some surfers (for example the ones who for whatever reasons couldn't surf in the morning) weren't too happy, the system seemed to work and, IMO, it was actually also quite fair, because both surfers and windsurfers had a share of the time. No wind for the surfers and wind for the windsurfer... makes sense to me.
What's changed in the last few years?
A) every year there's more surfers and windsurfers on Maui. It's inevitable. This place is magnificent and people (me included) moves here from all over the continental US and the world. It belongs to all the human beings (it actually belongs to the turtles way more the to the humans...) regardless of where they're from, when they got here and if they were born here. Well, you know what I think about countries, borders, flags and shit like that...
All these people wanting to either surf or windsurf started creating some safety issues, also because of some irresponsible windsurfers' behaviors (like backlooping in a pack of surfers and landing right in the middle of them, for example...).
Purely as an example (I'm not blaming him!), and to give a little color to this article, let's take this backloop of Glenn on Sunday the 14th.
Honestly, as a surfer I wouldn't like to be in the proximity of that...
B) three years ago, somebody (not sure if the County or the State) decided to put a lifeguard station at Hookipa.
C) not too many months ago (sorry, can't remember exactly how many), a safety rule was made by the State of Hawaii DLNR.
Here's the sign describing this rule.
And here's a closeup of the three zones. Read it like this:
Zone A: Pavillions
Zone B: Middles
Zone C: The point
The rule itself is quite clear. But... is it fair?
Lately, specially during the last week, the rule has been often broken.
The waves weren't big enough to wavesail or surf anywhere else in the island. The wind wasn't strong enough to make the surfers spontaneously leave.
So, with a lot of tension in the water (surfers yelling at windsurfers, lifeguards whistling on the beach without being heard...) somebody decided to call the DLNR police, who showed up one day and randomly picked two windsurfers caught coming out of the water with more than ten surfers out, hence infringing the rule.
Here's the japanese guy again, putting his gear in the police's truck.
The really sad part is that, as said before, these happened to be two tourists, both of them sailing at Hookipa for their first time (!), who probably didn't know anything about the rule.
Now, can you imagine? Maybe those guys dreamed all their life to go windsurfing in Maui and when finally their dream became true, they almost got arrested in their board shorts!!!
I am sooo sorry for these guys. If they caught me or any other Hookipa regular it would have been more fair at least...
Here is a short video taken that morning (or should I say that mourning?).
First, it shows Josh Stone discussing with one of the DLNR official and then shortly Dave Ezzy with one of the lifeguards trying to understand where the borders of the zones are. It's not a journalistic document of much relevance, but it shows how even the super-duper old time Hookipa windsurfers can't really believe what's happening...
And now, my take.
As I said before, more and more people come to Maui to either surf or windsurf. I can totally foresee a very near future in which there will ALWAYS be at least ten surfers in the water, no matter what the conditions are. Trust me, if there's a hundred or more people surfing at 7am, there will be at least ten who will choose to surf crappy, windy but uncrowded waves later on in the day.
And that, according to the actual rule, will be the end of windsurfing at Hookipa. This will be a major damage for the economy of the island itself (in terms of tourists and all related businesses) and for the windsurfing industry, most of which is based in Maui and has in Hookipa its main R&D lab.
I think there is the need of a rule (to ensure the safety of everybody), but the actual one isn't fair. Here's how I would do it.
First, no windsurfing before 11am. Kanaha has a no windsurfing rule before 11am rule. It works! Why not apply it in Hookipa too? Sure, there's not much windsurfing happening before 11am anyway, but it will give the surfers a sure time frame in which to go surf without having to deal with windsurfers... It will have a psicological effect and it will show fairness in the time sharing of the place... 6 to 11 is 5 hours!
After 11, there will still be the need for a rule, but it needs to be more conditions related rather than crowd related. Let's put a wind meter at the point and set a minimum threshold of wind speed for windsurfing. I got no idea what the threshold should be, but this can be easily determined and adjusted by a few days of experimenting.
At that point, somebody needs to take charge of setting a clearly visible sign (a big flag will do it) to let everybody know if and when it's sailable or not. Honestly, the lifeguards at Hookipa are not particularly busy, since 99% of the ocean users are expert surfers and windsurfers... they should be the ones that decide (based on the windmeter reading) when to put the sign up or down.
They should also use horns to signal a change in the flag status to call the windsurfers out or move the surfers upwind.
I'm sure that such a rule will still make some people unhappy (specially in those days in which the wind keeps going up and down) but it's clear that it's impossible to make everybody happy...
Well, at least this is my idea. Got a better one? Post it as a comment or even better post it in this thread that I just opened on my forum, so that the discussion can keep going even after this post will not be at the top of this blog anymore...
If a windsurfing magazine wishes to purchase the rights of this article (of any future ones), please email me by clicking on the "email me to advertise on this site" link on the top right of this page.
Talking about which, and also because a photo of it was requested by some users of the forum and I just got to post it somewhere, here's a photo of the latest Hot Sails Maui harness. I just got one and I love it...