Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year to those who care

I went to Hanamanou yesterday and surfed and took some pics.

Let's start with my favorite one. The water was kind of cold, so I think we should really thank this surfer girl for not covering her beauty with some neoprene!

Jason Prior took two of his pets (a dog and a fish) for a walk on the rocks.

Here he is trying to get... barreled? It looks more like.. worked!

Flags... no matter what country the represent, I just can't stand them. For I look at them like as symbol of war.

Today my dad asked me on the phone how was my year. I said:"best year of my life!".
He said:"but you said that last year too!"
I said:"really? Ain't that great, dad?"

My 2007 QUOLI was 95%. Stay tuned for more detailed statistics...

Happy new year to all the animals on this planet, especially to the innocent ones who are about to face extinction because of human pollution.
Happy new year, polar bear with less ice where to live on!

Did you guys enjoy my blog in 2007? Ok, do me one favor in return. Read this article, please. And look at those satellite photos of the north pole.
And then ask yourself: was all the pollution you contributed to today really necessary?
Is any electric appliances on in your house that really needs to be on? How about those christmas lights?
Is using the drier every time you do your laundry really necessary?
Are all those cylinders of your truck/suv/car really necessary or could you live with a smaller engine?
Do you really need to introduce all those new plastic bags in the environment every time you go grocery shopping or could you maybe do the extreme sacrifice of buying a 1 dollar reusable bag and reuse it a thousand times?

Is there anyone out there who cares? Happy new year to them...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I had a blast today at Lowers.

The wind was the famous Maui's N2N (nuking to nothing). Thank God (a very particular god named Jeff Henderson), I had the best sail on the planet to handle those conditions: a 4.7 Superfreak.
It still goes in the lulls and it still generates enough power when I pump it (a 4.5 would not be quite enough). And you can still hang on it when it's blowing like stink (a 5.0 would be unconfortable).
I love my 4.7. It's the best sail I've ever had. Period.
Here it is in a photo at Hookipa a couple of months ago.

PS. Thanks to a reader that emailed me this link, I found out:
- that I'm not alone
- how to spell bah humbug.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

bah humbug

Not much to post really... I just wanted to do a post on Dec 25 and don't call it "Merry Christmas"!

Here's my take on Christmas: one of purest form of bullshit the human race has been able to come up with.
I'm not even going to get into the religious delirium of celebrating the birth of an man that allegedly died and resurrected three days later (!) a couple of thousands years ago...

But I'm about to rant against what Christmas is nowadays in the western world: an egotistic, selfish feast of eating and spending money on unnecessary (and most of the times polluting) presents.
How much did you spend on your presents?
Did you know that 2.8 billion people live on less than $2 a day?
Read a few facts here and here.
Don't believe in donating online? Well, wherever you live, if you're reading this (which means you have a computer or you can afford a connection in an internet cafe) I'm sure there's poorer people around.
Tip for the Mauians: you'll find a bunch of homeless people camping just outside Kanaha...

Check out this house in Makawao:

What an unnecessary waste of polluting electric power! I'm sure the owners of that house do that to please the kids of the neighborhood, but... do the kids of the neighborhood really need that?
I think these kids look like they are more in need... and not of presents, of food!!!

Oh well, I could go on forever, but I'll cut it short. Just don't expect me to say Merry Christmas if you meet me at the beach...

Not much to brag about on the wind/wave side. Yesterday it was a fun day at lowers with a NW ground swell that brought waves from chest to overhead high. Today the swell was pretty much gone and I sailed Kuau with some small waves and light, offshore and gusty wind. There should be another swell on the rise tonight, but with the NW buoy out of service it's hard to predict the exact arrival time. Actually, I just checked that the Surfline readings of the Waimea buoy show 2 feet, 16 seconds at 6pm.

Into the long range, this la Nina winter is starting to mildly piss me off. The next 7 days will continue to see strong, offshore and gusty winds. Not a single decent ground swell being generated.

Wait a moment... reality check. It's late December and I'm sailing in warm water under a sunny sky. Sorry, forgot I could be an Afghani refugee instead of a lucky bastard... stoked, no complains!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hookipa Dec 13

This was a really good day at Hookipa.

The last swell that deserved such a name hit in the afternoon last Thursday.
I hit it with perfect timing, going out at Hookipa from noon to 2 with not many people out.
Then it started to get a bit too big for my tastes (as usual, light wind on the inside) and I sat on the bluff to capture a few moments for you lucky bastards.

Three main page derservers, let's start with Levi.

How would you rank the level of difficulty of such a tweaked aerial off the lip? Pretty high, uh?
I don't know if he got a magic board or what, but the man is sailing like I've never seen him before. In particular, that day I saw him doing the most radical move I've ever witnessed... and sitting on that hill I watched a lot of crazy stuff!
Let's see if I can describe it.

Imagine a tubular wave. An imaginary cylinder of water. And imagine a windsurfer inside the cylinder that goes all the way around the perimeter of the cylinder. That's pretty close to what he did.
The wave was mast high and the lip started to form a heavy barrel in front of him.
He bottom turned, went straight at the already falling heavy lip, destroyed it with the bottom of his board facing up (towards the sky) and continued the rotation for the fastest wave 360 you can imagine. He landed in full speed and carved another bottom turn right away... like if he was in a cylinder!
And I saw all this while sailing out 50 yards downwind of him... unreal.

Here he's doing an upwind Taka (or whatever that's called). Piece of cake compared to what I just described.

And here's an ordinary (for him) one hand aerial.

Then we got uncle Robby in the late phase of a pushloop.

And Robby again doing one of those jibes on the wave that he keeps riding backwinding... I love that move and I tried it a few times.
You know... I didn't do too bad... actually very close to making it a couple of times. I might even be able to do it one day! That day I'm going to be (particularly) happy, because I think it's really cool. Sorry, let me rephrase it... I FEEL it's really cool.

And this is a french guy, who always comes in winter vacation and he's a smiler who respects the priority... as such, I like him. Even if I don't know his name.
That's a big wave.

More photos in this slide.

The day after the waves were smaller and after that it has been pretty much just windswell. Kind of fun, actually. For three days it has been head to logo at Hookipa with not too many people out... but nothing particularly clean or organized.
Today it was a lot smaller (at most head high) and this week is going to be pretty much the same... pretty bad for being winter.
Fortunately there's light at the end of the tunnel, since everybodys' favorite metereologist Pat Caldwell just posted that
models show the jet track returning to a more seasonal position of about 40°N latitude with a mostly zonal pattern. This should lead to a series of moderate to near high episodes from NW to NNW starting 12/23 with arrival spaced about 3 days apart. A well above average number of days of trades is expected relative to most years for the last half of December.

Sounds like wave sailing to me... awwright!

PS. Check out the new Hot Sails Maui blog!
Tom just posted a report from last Friday's speed challenge at Maalaea...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Superferry rally #1

Today was the first of the planned protests against the superferry.

For the first time in my life (in Italy we don't really have such a civil way of protesting), at age 44, I was on a sidewalk with a sign in my hands.
It was cool, I met a lot of nice people and it felt good to be out there trying to do something to change things. At least, that's what I thought at the beginning...

Here's a couple of photos.

Ex Kuau Mart owner Liona had her hands full... She's one of the most fun people I know and even though I love her daughters too (who took over the shop) I greatly miss her behind the counter.

More photos on this page (I can be spotted in the second photo from the top).
A second, bigger rally will be held this Saturday at 9am.

And now, a couple of thoughts.

The MAIN reason that made me go there was the new rule that you can't surf/paddle a canoe when the super ferry is in the harbor.
Not that I'm happy with the other problems that I believe will arise... more traffic, more drugs, more criminality. But those are problems related to every kind of development.
Every time I drive to Kihei, for example, there's new homes. And none of them look like it's going to be part of an affordable homes program...
As a result, there will be more cars on the island and more wealthy inhabitants that can afford to pay high rents/mortgages. And more poor people will become even poorer and eventually homeless. The only option for them will be criminality and part of that is making/selling drugs.
So it's the whole development that should be stopped, not only the super ferry.

But the development is driven by money, which is the only thing that rules this country (and many others). Who can stop the development?

Nobody. Nobody can. This is not Butan.

And what about the impact on the environment and the whales?
Well, we don't even know for sure how bad the ferry will be for them. Honestly it pisses me off more the fact that plastic bags are still not banned and every single day thousands and thousands of new plastic bags are introduced in the environment. And not by an easy to blame big corporation... they are introduced by us. Or better, by the 99% of us who don't care enough to use a reusable bag when going shopping.

So, it's ok to protest (even though probably useless, seen the amount of money already invested in the project and the strong support of the state government), but let's start doing something ourself.

PS. I got some good shots today at Hoo. Stay tuned for a more "conventional" windsurfing post...

Monday, December 10, 2007

A bit of Laird

Yet another good day of surfing Monday morning.

I surfed Lanes for an hour sitting very deep and dropped in quite a few bombs... fun.
Once done, I sat on the bluff and took a few videos of Laird on his standup paddle board.

For some reasons, I'm having trouble visualizing the videos (as well as the slides)on IE. They work with Firefox. Please let me know if it happens to you too. Just in case, here's the url of the Laird video.

In the afternoon a light trade picked up and I sailed lower Kanaha. First with my new 10 footer SUP (love it, but the quad fins don't work for sailing... got to plug a box for a fin in the middle) and then on my floaty custom SOS when the wind picked up a notch more.
5.5, sometimes slogging, sometimes planing... waves up to head high... very, very fun conditions. I love these conditions: sometimes I go upwind and ride the wave goofy stance backwinding, sometimes I go downwind, but still mostly on the face of the wave, more like surfing rather than windsurfing.
Two hours and a half before I got really tired and hungry.
Derigged everything, ate lunch, went to do a few errands, stopped by Kanaha Kai, drank a beer with Tom (who kindly fixed my 4.7), checked out all the new Starboard (longboards and shortboards) that they just received.
"Hey Juan, that Evo 90 looks pretty good doesn't it?"
"It's in the rental fleet... you can try if you want!"

I just cannot say no to an opportunity of trying a new board... so, after two intense sessions and a beer, at 4.30 I was back in the water for another really fun sesh.
I liked the board, it turns really good to be that floaty, you just have to adapt your style and don't try to do super snappy turns like if you were on a smaller board...
Wonna try it? Rent it a Kanaha Kai. They have a bunch of Kombat and Tabou too...

What else... forecast.
What I wrote yesterday is unfortunately confirmed. The wind is going to be nuclear towards the end of the week... I really hate that, because not only wavesailing sucks (way too choppy), but also you can't even surf at sunrise when it's like that!
Mmm... maybe I'll go to Hana and surf the windswell at Koki beach... it's going to be pretty damn big.
Lastly, let's not forget that, as Pat Caldwell says, "long range estimates are subject to bodacious rebundling". Gotta love it... nice one Pat!

PS. The first sign of the new NW swell at the NW buoy were recorded at 1am of Tuesday. That means that in Maui it won't show up until very late in the afternoon... let's say at sunset time.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

beautiful waves...

Sunny and glassy sunday morning surf.

Having a surfer paddling out right on your way is not the best thing in surfing, but it's part of the game and most of the times you can get around him/her... but how about five of them?! Where is she gonna go?

The trade winds are about to come back. After a couple of moderate NW swells on Tuesday and Thursday, it actually looks like it's going to be summer kind of weather with a strong high pressure ruling the north Pacific and strong/gusty easterly wind and mostly windswell for a while... SUCKS!

Friday, December 07, 2007

the most amazing rainbow

"What a huge pile of shit..."
That's what I thought about my last post when I saw the waves on the north shore...

Messy and confused? Yeah right! Check the waves in the harbor...

Well, the harbor has a narrow entrance that acts like a point break, filtering the energy... Only the highest energy can make it through (or bend around a point).
But what really made the waves superclean was the offshore wind.
All surfers know what huge influence the wind has on the waves. A switch from 5 knots offshore to 5 knots onshore can make the conditions shift from paradise to junk. And viceversa.

Seen the beautiful waves, I jumped in the toilet (as Meesh defined it) and tried to catch a few with a 6.6... Man, do I suck on a shortboard or what?!
Unsatisfied by the sesh, I went home to get my sailing longboard. Lanes and Hookipa looked incredible. Big and clean thanks to the offshore wind again. Picked up the cell phone.

"Hey Jeff, I predict epic longboard sailing conditions at kanaha... shall we go?"
"I wish, but I got my daugther and two other kids to take care of... next time."
"Shoots, the park at Kanaha is closed (flooded) and after 4pm the lifeguards will be gone and nobody will be out... let me drive there anyway and see how it looks..."

I looked terrific and the wind looked probably strong enough for shortboard sailing.
Picked up the cell phone again.

"Hey Glenn, come check Kanaha, I think it might be epic"
"Really? I'm almost done working, I'll be there in 10 minutes."

We got in the water at 4.45 with floaty shortboards and 5.0s.
Completely alone.
The waves were coming in all sizes. Shoulder, head, overhead, logo... you pick what you want.
5 or 6 good waves each and then around 5.30 we decided to get back in so that we didn't have to swim in the super murky waters (the river at kite beach had been pumping tons of mud). But before that, we saw the most amazing rainbow.
Unreally bright and sharp with a second lighter outside ring and something like a tornado made of bright white light right in the middle all the way down to the ocean.
Never seen anything like that.

One of the best sessions ever.

Those incredibly smooth waves were out there and nobody was enjoying them. We put our few fiberglass pieces together and without engines, with the only help of the wind, we were able to get there and ride them.

Hoyle Schweitzer and Jim Drake, a big thank goes to you from the very deep of my heart.
Windsurfing. What a bloody fantastic sport!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Rainy weather continues in Maui.

It rained hard all day yesterday and it looks like more of the same today.
Here's a satellite pics that shows the front. It passed quickly over Kauai (where it's now sunny) and Oahu, but it got stuck over Maui and the Big Island...

As a consequence the wind is still blowing Kona and I might be missing out on some extreme wavesailing at Kanaha... Northwest of the front, in fact, the winds have been blowing strong from the north over an almost stationary fetch for quite a while and that created some huge surf again. The NW reported a reading of 28.5 feet at 15 seconds from the north yesterday. That's the biggest I've ever seen.
The surf won't be clean though. The short distance from the source, will mean that also the energy at lower periods (that usually dissipates when the swell come from the more remote NW storms south of the Kuril islands) will make it to our shores and the breakers will be rough, confused and with dangerous currents.

Anyway, that 28.5 is the Significant wave height and is calculated as the average of the highest one-third of all of the wave heights during the 20-minute sampling period.
Mmm... what does that mean?
Let's have a look at this other chart that shows how the energy is distributed throughout the different periods.

Even though it looks like about 80% of the energy is concentrated around 13-15 seconds, there's also a 20% of it around 10 seconds. And that means two things:
- that 28.5 is not all related to the 15 seconds waves
- it will be confused breakers
Not clear yet?

Let's have a look at this chart from Surfline that shows the real height of the swell at the different periods.

The black thin line shows the reading of the buoy as available on the NOAA page.
The red line is the 15 seconds component. It went over 20 (but not 28.5) in the afternoon of Wednesday and it's still hanging in there at around 20... those waves will be massive on the reefs. The bigger the period the more the amplification factor.
Based exclusively on my experience, these waves can generate 30 footers at Lowers, 40 footers at the outer reef at uppers and at Hookipa, 60-70 footers at Jaws.
But what about the green line? That's the component of the swell at 10 seconds and it's about 10-15 feet!!! Now, that's going to make a huge mess out there with confused breakers, strong currents and rouge waves (when the peaks of a big 15 second wave and a big 10 seconds wave will coincide upon breaking on the reef).

Of course the webcams would help (they're all down today... must be the storm...). And unfortunately also the Waimea buoy seems to have stopped working... it probably took too much pounding! It may be months before they can fix it...
But see how many things you can deduct already?

Right, still nothing compared to all the other variables.
Again, the wind is blowind Kona in Maui and that will clean up the surf a lot on the north shore.
The NW buoy is NW of Kauai and the fetch was oriented north to south that means that that swell can miss Maui to the west big time.
In other words, it's good (and fun) to try to predict the weather, but sometimes you just got to go to the beach... and since it looks like it's temporarely clearing, I may well do that.

First, some colorful windsurfing photos. This is a little sequence on a beautiful wave at Hookipa. Thanks to Kris Mills.

Not radical at all, but rather relaxed... being an old fart, I'm pretty happy about it!
Here's instead how much more aggressively Diony hits the breaking lip to get some air.

Monday, December 03, 2007

rainy day, good time for a post

I had a lot of old photos on the card, here's a selection.

This is Kanaha on Nov 22. Beautiful day.

As you can see it can get big at lowers too...

This is Lanes at noon on Friday, 24 hours before the big swell and the Kona hit. Completely flat and calm. Amazing how quickly the ocean can change its mood...

This is my new 10.2 SUP board made by Mark Raaphorst of Ding King. As soon as I brought it home, I borrowed Ulli's router and... here we go.
This is the third mast track I plug into a board that originally didn't have one. I just love my experimental self...

This is Lanes again, yesterday Sunday Dec 2nd. It was windy in the morning for more Kona sailing action (Kanaha was delightful), but around 2 the rain killed the wind. This surfer doesn't seem too sorry about that...

This is the point at Hookipa instead.

Today a huge NNW swell hit.

The waimea buoy reading at 5.11pm was the following:

date---------time---feet---period---dir---water temp (Celsius)
You don't see 22 feet often... not even in winter in Hawaii! At 15 seconds of period those waves can be amplified up to three times on certain reefs (I'm sure Jaws was pretty freaking big). In fact, Hookipa was the biggest I think I ever saw it. Not pretty. Messy, mean, all white water... not even worth a photo, because the waves were breaking so much outside that you almost couldn't see them! It was just a huge wall of white water for hundreds of yards...

Not many places where to surf when the surf is so big. One, for sure, is the harbor.

Here's a few shots that I took while pondering how many chances I had to catch waves with 30+ excellent surfers out...

Here's a sequence of a guy who drops in a bomb, snaps a turn and gets completely shacked...

Thanks to that guy, I figured I standed no chances to catch anything at all and decided to go surf Paia bay, where I caught three horrible waves for what I think was my shittiest surf session ever. Murky water, messy waves, logs and branches floating around and rain.
Still... what was the water temperature at the buoy?
Here's what I said when two different friends from the UK told me today in two different moments:"what a shitty weather, it looks like home!"
"Yeah right, it may look like home, but it feels a bit warmer doesn't it?"
"Oh yes, I guess you're right..."

I have a huge appreciation towards my life and this wonderful place.
Shittiest surf sesh ever? Still better than soooo many other things I could have done today... like being stuck in the traffic in Rome... work all day in front of a computer... breath the poisons of the polluted air of a city... no thanks. I'll take Paia bay a million times...

Saturday, December 01, 2007


As forecasted both the big NW swell and the Kona wind arrived.

Lanes went off and the hill got populated with tens of photographers... the internet will be soon flooded with photos and videos.
I wasn't there, but Sharon was. Here's my selection of her best photos.
She's going to do her own, so please go check her blog too... you may even run into the toilet paper genie!

Sorry, I have no time nor energy to add any caption... I'm totally wasted and need to go to sleep soon.
It was quite a day for me, in fact. Two hours of surfing in the morning and three of sailing (and some swimming to get back in after having broken a fin). Both sessions at Kanaha.
Sailing was so good that after I got back in to replace the fin, I thought to put the helmet cam in action.
Unfortunately, one of the most disappointing outcomes ever. I must have fucked up the sequence of start and stop (it was a while I didn't use it) and at the end there were only three usable (shitty) clips.
I'm a bit bummed for you guys, 'cause I thought I had some good stuff...
Oh well, I can't share it, but at least I experienced it...
And it should be big waves and more kona for a while, so maybe I'll try again.
In the meantime, enjoy (good luck with that!) the lamest video ever.

PS. Fantastic concert by John Cruz last saturday night at the McCoy theater. I may well be done with concerts anywhere else than the McCoy... the acoustic is just too much better!
Damn, there's Ziggy marley playing on Dec 9th at the amphitheater: that means outside, with a hell lot of people (mostly drunk/stoned) and bad acoustic... now, what do I do?