Monday, October 29, 2007

The trash vortex

I love these posts with a lot of stuff...

The trash vortex is an area the size of Texas in the North Pacific in which an estimated 6 kilos of plastic for every kilo of natural plankton, along with other slow degrading garbage swirls slowly around like a clock, choked with dead fish, marine mammals, and birds who get snared.
Wonna know more? Read this.
You're a lazy bastard and don't want to click on that link? Here's a quote for you:
Many seabirds and their chicks have been found dead, their stomachs filled with medium sized plastic items such as bottle tops, lighters and balloons. A turtle found dead in Hawaii had over a thousand pieces of plastic in its stomach and intestines. It has been estimated that over a million sea-birds and one hundred thousand marine mammals and sea turtles are killed each year by ingestion of plastics or entanglement.
Don't believe it? Watch this.
Wonna do something about it? Stop buying plastic if you can. Start reusing it. PLEASE!

The other day I taught a guy how to surf. It was probably the most touching lesson I ever gave. Because the guy had only one arm.
He lost one arm in a farming accident when he was two years old, and that helped, in the sense that he was used to do everything with only one hand.
I told him about Bethany Hamilton and how she still rips after she lost her arm. Check her out, she's amazing!

But Bethany knew how to surf before... that guy didn't!
I gave him a 12 footer to make everything as "easy" as possible. On land we figured a technique for standing up. In the water we figured how to paddle straight. And then it was time for him to go for his first wave. I pushed him down a wave and... he stood up half way and fell off the side... which is the average outcome of the first attempt anyway.
He paddled back out. I pushed him on another wave and there he went... he stood up and rode it all the way in.
I couldn't stop a tear...
After two hours he was able to:
- catch waves by himself
- switch to an 11 footer
- turn the board and ride the wave going to the side
All of the above is way above the average outcome of a first surf lesson of a two armed student...
Wife and three kids, vice-president of don't know what kind of company... that's a hell of a guy! Not a whiner, that's for sure...

I, instead, am about to whine about my poor, two-arms surfing performance. Last thursday I surfed a spot that gets the the NE windswell.

It was head high, fun and with 3-4 people out... too bad that I horribly sucked. I don't know any other sport that requires so much continuity to stay at the same level. It's unbelievable what a couple of weeks without paddling (bloody windsurfing all the times, not even couch potatoing!!) can do...

The two guys who had their gear confiscated at Hookipa, had to pay a fine of $80 each to got their stuff back. They've been told that the maximum penalty for infringing a rule like that, can be up to $1000 and 30 days in jail.

I'm not crazy about halloween parties, but when Friday I received a text message saying:"tonight orange party at my house", I thought if I had anything orange to wear... mmm, not really... wait a moment! I do have something orange! My old 4.7 Superfreak!

It's the sail of my one and only action photo on a magazine (other than Windnews, of course). Even though it's old and beat up I never wanted to get rid of it... and now I know why!
Here's the photos of another party I went to Saturday.

Clearly I didn't buy any of the pieces of my costume... all reused stuff. Please do the same if you're going to a costume party. Our stupid costumes are not worth the life of an animal...

If you still believe what they told you about 9/11, here's a couple of movies you can watch for free on the internet:
Loose change
I haven't seen the second one yet... I don't think I need that...

All right, and after all this shit somebody has to clean up...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Excellent windsurfing conditions

Huge amount of stuff to post and very little time... same old story.

Let's start with the report of the last two days... phenomenal windsurfing conditions made for two five stars days in a row!

Tuesday 10 23 was mast high at Hookipa and all the pros out. I wasn't there but Makani has some videos on his website.
I, instead, had two killer sessions at lower Kanaha where the waves were the usual mix of sizes from shoulder to almost logo high.

Wednesday 10 24 there was a Hot Sails Maui photoshoot at Hookipa. Very tricky conditions with waves still logo+ and wind extremely gusty and light on the inside. I sucked, but I'm sure that Diony and Andres got some killer shots. I'm just glad I didn't go on the rocks, didn't break anything and didn't get hurt... I actually had a couple of good rides too... so definitely fun.
Nothing compared to the sunset sesh at Lowers, though. After sailing Hookipa, Kanaha is so easy that it makes you feel like Robby Naish... and that's all it counts!

Here is a sequence of photos I took between the two sessions. It starts with a goiter by Diony.

Btw, the goiter is my favorite move to watch from the downwind channel at Ho'o... Here's what happens. Usually, when you're done with your ride, you jibe and you slowly slog out in super light wind. Here you have the time to watch the others. Sometimes they can be really close. I remember once the impact of the spray from a top turn by Josh Stone almost made me lose control of my sail... so cool! I told him to please provide me with some soap next time...
Anyway, this sequence will explain what I'm talking about.

Right after his goiter ride, Diony had the opportunity to watch Taka smack a lip...

...then Robby get some air...

...and right after that Robby again about to wipe out right on Taka's gear... look at that fin, sketchy uh? Now, how cool do you think it was for Diony to watch all this from so close? As long as he doesn't get involved in the massacre, of course...

Let's talk for a moment about Diony's sail... I mean I don't even particularly like that one (a bit too noisy for my personal taste), but do you see how much cooler it looks than anything else out there?! Here, vote you favorite sail look in this poll:

Couple of more main page shots. Here's Nat Gill with a huge aerial. No, it's not that your screen went black and white... it's the sail that is like that.

Kevin Pritchard was probably the last pro still traveling. Now that he's back too, we can officially say that all the pros are back on the island after the PWA contests in Europe. Welcome back to all of them... honestly, I didn't miss them at all... it was a lot less crowded!!

A few more shots in this slide.

Not many photos, because I mostly took videos. Here is the outcome. A bit shaky, but you know... the head rest wasn't particularly steady... ;-)

This one, instead, is a single wave ride at Lanes on Sunday afternoon. Sharon took it, thanks a lot. I left it without a soundtrack because I like the contrast between the absolute peace and silence that I was experiencing and the noise of civilization. Try to put yourself in my shorts and imagine how nice it was...

Here, this photo should help...

Hookipa was slightly more crowded.

Today the French and Japanese guys who had their gear confiscated by the DLNR police at Hookipa will discuss their case in the court. I will keep you posted.

Last but not least. Yesterday I saw the 11th hour. I enjoyed it a lot.
I just posted a few comments about it in this thread of my forum.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Houston, the stoke level is rising!

Check out this video that Glenn just received by the videographer and posted on the 08 HSM website.

I don't quite like a couple of things in it:
1) I don't remember if I put it wrong or it slid down, but I had the boom extreeeemely low for most of the session. I wanted to stop and fix it, but the waves kept coming and there was nobody in the water, so I kept going... I didn't think it would look so bad in the video...
2) it was the first time on the Starboard 12.2 on the steep waves at Hookipa... I wish I had the board knowledge that I have now...

...whatever! I'm stoked!

To thank Glenn, here is a photo of him in a killer jibe on the wave... quite some spray there!

The tension is down at Hookipa and the windsurfers seem to have had quite some epic conditions last Thursday and Friday.
Here's a young one rigging a 4.7

I don't have any action photos, because I was scoring some waves at Kanaha myself.
Here's a little three days mini report.

Thursday 10-18: waves of all sizes at Lowers from chest to almost logo high or should I say dolphin high? ;-)
I had two sessions with the 5.0 and loved both. Not too crowded, plenty 5-6 turns rides... a five starts day. Got some footage from an interesting new mounting point... one day I may even find the time to edit it!

Friday 10-19: the waves were a bit smaller and Lowers didn't look as good as the day before (too windy and choppy). I drove to Hookipa around four and got in the water with the 4.7 just when the wind decided to go superlight and offshore. Caught a big glassy one (Levi was almost on it on the outside, but he couldn't quite catch it, so I could sneak it from him and that felt kind of cool...), too bad I had no wind at all on it and I could only ride the face down the line without doing any turn... After that, I had to go in, because my arms were just going numb.

Saturday 10-20: new pulse of the swell, waves from head to almost mast high at Lowers, light wind good enough for slogging with a 5.5 and my custom SOS (which I guess is somewhere around 75-78l). Caught a huge number of waves, most of which going upwind and jumping on back side of the sail... I learned that on the longboard (as you can see from the video) and now I'm trying it on a 7.10... what a blast! So much fun... I sailed 2.5 hours from 11 to 1.30. Then at 2 I was in front of a TV watching the italian soccer game Roma-Napoli (the latter being the team of my home town). 4-4 the incredible result of a game with some serious emotions. Here's the goals.
Right after that I went back to the beach (I had left board and sail there, just in case...). No more sailing, but a fun Standup session with whatever energies I had left.
This morning (Sunday) it must have been epic surfing conditions with no wind at all, but my old body told me to stay in bed and rest... Good idea. Feeling better now, let's see what's gonna happen in the afternoon.

First though, I got to post this...
Last week I had a few kitchen visits by some kind of banana eating rodent. I bought a trap that would catch the invader without killing it and here's the result. Such a cute little one!!!

He probably had the worse couple of hours of his life in that cage, also because I called Monica (the girl next door) to check him out and she came with her cat...
The poor little mouse freaked out and was going to die of a heart attack if I didn't kick them (Monica and the cat) out...
I brought him to Baldwin beach and released him in the grass. He looked happy to run free again...

PS. For some reasons, I can't see the video with IE (it stops after 1 second... I can see all the other videos, though), but I can with Firefox. I even uninstalled and reinstalled the quicktime player. Does anybody have the same problem? Does anybody know how to fix it?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The saddest day at Hookipa

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?

Three things:
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...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lots of stuff

Let's start from the photo of my second new "seared sashimi" (that's how Jeff calls them) Superfreaks. Ladies and gentlmen, here's my 5.0.

Even though they don't stand out like orange, yellow or red sail, I love blue freaks...
Check out this one that my friend Domenico has. He designed it a warm night last year in Paia together with a bunch of friends after a bbq and a few beers... and there it is, ripping warms waves somewhere on the planet...

Jeff liked the second one so much that he put it on the Superfreak 2008 home page.

Talking about waves around the world, here's a link to a video of a beautiful right in a place where they speak Spanish... thanks Andre for the contribution.

And still talking about waves (or lack of thereof) around the world, the last day of the PWA wave contest in the island of Tiree (Scotland) has finally seen some action. Not enough to have an event winner, but enough to have a PWA world title winner...
For the second time, brasilian Kauli Seadi can say to be the best on the waves.
Read the whole story on the PWA site.
Congrats to Kauli, but what a shame that such a title was not assigned in Maui, the Mecca of wave sailing...

Talking about which, I want to brag about my yesterday (Saturday) sesh.
The wind was light and slightly onshore all day. At Hookipa there were only surfers, so I went out at my backyard spot around 1pm. 5.5 and floaty board were enough for planing most of the time and some slogging...
Caught a bunch, had some fun, but nothing too exciting... then all of a sudden I saw sailors upwind at Hookipa... what to do? De-rig and go there or slowly slog upwind? I opted for the latter and it took me more than forty minutes to get there. But it was worth it. Way bigger and better waves.
Unfortunately, shortly after I got there the wind dropped even more and the surfers claimed the application of the 10 men rule and kicked us out.
But before that I had a couple of really good ones and that's all I needed.

Plus, since I launched downwind (that's when the upwind slogging payed back), instead of going in like all the others had to do, I just kept sailing at Lanes... I had a blast! I kept saying:"ok, I'm getting tired, I'll catch just one more"... but they kept coming! Beautiful glassy chest to over head high waves... how can one leave?

When my muscles started seriously cramping (wave sailing in light wind is very tirening, because you barely use the harness), I had to sail back in. My watch said 4pm.
I sat down on the beach unable to move a finger for a while, contemplating the gorgeous sunny day and chatting with the other sailors.
Another day of wave sailing in Maui. Another day in paradise.

To celebrate, later in the day I cooked a delicious dinner based on green beens in a tomato soup (Mom's recipe) with steamed yams on the side. But first, a little appetizer...

A friend found some pecorino romano cheese and some Falanghina (feudi San Gregorio!!!) white wine! And all of sudden, Maui is an even better place where to live... Have you guys ever tried cheese and pears?

"I'll leave now, this can't continue" (sorry, that's a quote from one of my favorite Porcupine Tree songs... btw, they just started a new world tour)... 'cause I got to get ready for my today's sesh. Here, I'll leave you with this sunset shot from last week (Tuesday).

No wait, I put just about everything in this post... but I feel there's something missing...
Oh yeah, we need an intelligent girl!
No kidding, she has a I.Q. of 156 and has been invited to join the Mensa, an association of people with high IQs.
So for once, I'm posting IQs and not T&As...

Monday, October 08, 2007

New freaks + sunday morning photoshoot

Lil' update to post this link to some incredibly beutiful photos of longboard sailing, standup and regular surfin from the crew of Luna from Indonesia. Read the whole story on their website, it's quite inspiring...


My new Superfreaks arrived!

I might have set a record putting one of them (the 5.5) in the water about 10 minutes after I picked it up...

Needless to say, I love it... but that's no surprise!

Hereafter, the result of a fun sunday morning photoshoot inspired by the work of a photographer called jan von holleben. Check him out...

This is the best table top I've done in a while...

Pedaling hard...

Relaxed standup paddling action...

Radical standup paddling action...

Commercial break: if you like one of this bags/backpacks, go to the Ocean 7 Sailing website and buy it!

Hanging five...

Hanging five on a really steep wave...

Stylish hanging ten...

Ladder, blog owner and a blue sky... can you hear me now?

Speaking italian...

Lil' forecast.
South swell on its way. Forerunner sets at sunset on Tuesday, peak on Wednesday. It was 4 feet, 15 sec. at the equator buoy... should be fun.
North swell on its way too. Should get here on Thursday. The storm was quite close to the islands, hence it shouldn't be particularly clean, but definitely some energy in it. Did I say a turn towards more wintery conditions? Instead, the latest 6 days weather map forecast shows the high pressure still solidly there... more wind... oh well, we'll keep happily sailing!!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Testing frenzy

Oh boy... I'm quite beat up!

The staff of Windsurfing magazine is in Maui testing a bunch of wave and freestyle/wave boards between 80 and 90 liters.
They asked me if I wanted to take part to the test and of course I accepted with enthusiasm... I love testing boards!

They have quite a good testing system, according to which each tester has to try each board at least three times and fill in a form after every single test.
When I started yesterday, there were 7 boards to try. Well, a few days will do it... I thought.

Today, every time I came out of the water to switch to another board, they were unwrapping a newly arrived board. When I left the beach around 4pm they had something like 16!!! That's scary many...
Let's see, if I want to ride them 30 minutes per test, that makes 30x16x3=1440 minutes, alias 24 hours. If I test 2.5 hours a day that'll be 9.6 days... man, that's a lot!

In this photo we have Dave (tester), Josh (managing editor), Cat (cute testeress) and Eddy (editor).

Lil forecast. The wind is supposed to get a little lighter next week (god, I hope so!), eventually very light around Thursday, when a north swell will hit and become pretty big during the weekend.
Overall, it looks to me like a turn towards more wintery conditions... I really hope so, I can't wait to surf some glassy ones! It feels like the wind has been blowing forever and my body needs a break from windsurfing...

PS. Don't even try to ask me feedbacks about the boards... they had me swear to keep my thoughts top secret!