Tuesday, January 29, 2008


A few weeks ago I read this Windsurfers to know post on James' blog, and one name immediately popped up in my mind.

He's a good friend of mine and a great guy overall. He's also my only gear supporter, which makes him particularly smart... ;-)
But, other than that, here are the reasons why I think Hot Sails Maui founder Jeff Henderson is a person that really gave a lot to windsurfing.

1. Kids rigs
If Darby/Drake/Schweitzer invented the sport, Jeff recently gave it a future, being the first one to come up with super light COMPLETE rigs for kids. Previous kids sails attempts didn't work because they were rigged on heavy adult masts and booms.
That was a huge shift in the sport, since now kids can start as young as 5! The new generation of young guns has to thank Jeff for his kid's rigs.

2. Sailing longboards
After the sport was invented, all the development in board shapes went towards speed and planing hulls. There was an unfortunate shift towards faster and more manouvrable shortboards that almost killed windsurfing, making 16 knots the lower limit of wind to have fun. Planing on a shortboard was such a newer and much more fun sensation that almost all of us got rid of the good old longboards. Consequently the number of worldwide windsurfers went radically down. Why? Because 16 knots don't blow as often as 4...

In 1998 Jeff was having a tandem surfboard shaped for him and his wife and he told the shaper to throw a mast box in the middle... why not? He so discovered how much fun was to wave sail in light wind on a board not shaped to go fast and plane, but to perform well on a wave. He started spreading the stoke through interviews on magazines and websites, and now, thanks to the return of Standup Paddle surfing, sailing longboards are starting to appear back on the beaches. Again, a huge contribution to the sport, since you now don't need 16 knots to have fun anymore... 4 will do it again!
And in this case he doesn't even have a personal interest, since his company doesn't make boards! He did it (and still does it) just for the sport's sake.

You guys have probably seen this video already, but I never get tired to watch it again...

3. Superfreak
About 6 years ago, he had another "re/de-volutionary" idea. Sails in dacron, like the good old days. He just used newer technologies and designs to control the amount of stretch under pressure and came out with a full dacron sail (and pvc window) called Superfreak, that finally had the need for comfort (typical of 90% of the windsurfers) as its main focus rather than the one for immediate/unfiltered power (typical of the 10% of pro/high performance windsurfers).
I personally know a few sailors that were about to quit windsurfing because of too stiff sails that transmit the power too directly and were "saved" by a Superfreak.
I know others that had already quit windsurfing for the same reason and got back into it just becuase they had a go on a Superfreak.

I always use the Alberto Tomba example to describe this. Back in the 90s, when I was young and stupid (hey, I can say "was" because now I'm 45...), I bought the same exact ski boots as our national ski hero. The boots were fantastic, super responsive, but hard as marble and I couldn't ski in them for more than an hour. So I had to buy a pair of softer, recreational ski oriented boots and they felt like slippers in comparison... I could ski six hours straight!

AND, you can order a Superfreak either in one of some 500 already available color schemes or you can design your own. That brings windsurfing back to the colorful image it used to have, doesn't it?
This is Thomas enjoying super cold conditions in Denmark on his electric black Freak. Meeean looking sail...

There's other things I could mention (for example this revolutionary boom design that greatly reduces arm fatigue) and I'm sure there's also others that I am not even aware of, but I'd like to finish this post, mentioning a skill of Jeff that probably not many know. And being italian, I take credit of being able to judge...
He cooks a mean pasta! Here he is (first one on the right) on the job in a recent party with some of his company staff/friends...

Jeff, thank you so much for all of the above!

PS. Better practice a little more before calling me back for that ping pong return match, though...

snow in Maui

No kidding!

This photo was taken this morning from Kula...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Katia Seadi

I was tempted to just post the photos of Kauli's 22 year old sister, without any comment.

1) I want to tell her muito obrigado to have let me take photos of her.

2) I want to add that her smile has the power of one of those perfumes that Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (if you haven't done it yet, read the Perfume book or watch the movie) was able to create: it just makes you fell good, relaxed, in peace with the world and willing to love just about everyone.

I took three photos of her. Here they are all of them . And if I had taken thirty instead, I'd probably post them all too... Is she lovely or what?

Well, now I have to post some photos of her brother too, otherwise he'll get jelous...

Today's sesh was a hell lot of fun for me. After a day of rainy, squally, cold, gusty conditions (that'll be yesterday, Wednesday), today it was sunny, unusually steady, perfect 4.7 wind. Mostly windswell, with some leftover ground swell sets in the head high range.

I sailed something like three hours and sat to take photos only around 4.30. So I don't have many good ones. Here's a (blurred) goiter.

The light was really good, though. This is Glenn.

The forecast is for strengthening trades and increasing windswell.
Whatevas... as long as there's some kind of waves, I'm happy!

Actually, this is the weather map of Friday morning.

It shows a nice, close fetch NE of the islands. That'll send a full of energy NE swell on Sunday. NE is an unusual swell direction for Maui. There's a couple surf spot that will work great and pretty much all windsurfing reefs will work ok too, since there'll be no shade from other islands and the right waves will peel nicely for down the line wave riding.
I anticipate "on the rocks" condition at Hookipa... so, I'd better sail somewhere else!

The storm on the right, instead, will send a NW swell on Tuesday. But, as the red arrow shows, it is modeled to move north, hence limiting the size and duration of the swell.
The 7 days model shows no more noticeable swell producing storms and a strong high pressure right north of Hawaii that will continue to generate unusually strong and consistent trade winds.

Monday, January 21, 2008

a sunny sunday at Hookipa

Two windsurfers dominating the scene (from my point of view) last Sunday at Hoo.
The new and the old school: Kauli Seadi and Robby Naish.

Different styles, lines, moves. Both absolutely lovely to watch... I really enjoyed my photo shooting session.

Here's Kauli with a goiter.

Here's Robby with a push loop (that looks like a huge goiter on port tack instead...).

How's that as a windsurfer? And I don't even know her? Da hell is wrong with me?!?!
Pascal, name (and phone number) please!

Kauli was on a NP first. Then he saw Robby in the water and switched to his old Naish... Maybe he still has a few days on the contract and was afraid to get busted?!?
Here he is again, demolishing a lip. Too bad for that sail in front... oh well, at least it's a Fire!

Robby's aerials are not too shabby either. What I like in this (overexposed) photo is the smile of my friend Pato (on the Ezzy) that knew that Robby was on the wave in front of him and was totally expecting to see him blast through the lip... he doesn't look disappointed, does he? (click on the photo to see better)
Trust me, even if you've lived in Maui for a long time, it's still a great pleasure to be right in the middle of this kind of action.

As promised, here's a photo of Kauli's beautiful sister. I know... you can't see her incredible eyes and smile, because she is shooting his brother. But I have a feeling that somebody will enjoy this photo anyway...
Ahhhh, brazilian girls...

Not done with the aerials yet. Here's Pascal... sweet, brah!

And here's Jason Prior with a brand new move. Gotta work on the landing.

Plenty more photos (Robby was in jumping mood) in this slide show.

And now I apologize for spoiling such a remarkable display of windsurfing and beauties, but I promised to publish a photo of me wearing a maui addicted t-shirt.
Not sure that'll help the sales, though...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

good start of the year

I'm loving this January so far.

Thank god that horrible la Nina trend of strong, gusty, offshore wind and no clean winter NW swell took a break and we had some really, really good and clean surfing or longboard sailing days. Looks like next week should be windier though...

Yes, I'm a windsurfer that doesn't like strong wind... guess why? The answer is so easy that the first reader that leaves a comment with the correct answer won't win anything...

Anyway, have a look at this last NW swell that hit yesterday. There were around 6 people at Hoo. Here they are pretty much all.
This is Michi Schweigher.

Here's Kauli with NP sail, but still on a Quatro board.

Here's Keith Taboul on a 09 Goya prototype sail.

French canadian Nick's aerial kick out.

Mark Angulo close up.

Jason Diffin.

More photos in this slide.

That was a really quick photo session... I wanted to go sail at Lowers... which I didn't 'cause the wind died, turned onshore (everybody left) and then died again leaving glassy head high waves to three of us. The sunset was unreal and I guess that Hookipa must have been bigger and really good too... But you can't beat three people out... But that's not what I wanted to say!

Where was I... oh yeah, that was a really quick photo session... When I went back to my car I saw Kauli parked a few cars next to mine and went to say hi (I hadn't seen him on the island yet this season).
"Hey Kauli, what's up!"
"Hey, what's up!"
"How you doing?"
"How you doing?"
"All good"
"All good"
"Kauli, is that your girlfriend in your truck?"
"No that's my sister"
"Your sister? I'll introduce myself real quick, if you don't mind..."

Oh .. My .. God ...
One of the prettiest girls I've ever seen...
Hopefully next time I see her I'll be able to articulate some words (my jaw pretty much dropped lifeless while I was shaking hands) and ask her if I can take a photo of her.

Just for you, guys... just for you...

Monday, January 14, 2008

weekly reports poll

Looks like the italian websites that usually publish my weekly reports are slacking on their jobs this year.

I'm still writing them for a bunch a friend in the email distribution list. Here is an example of last week's one. It's in italian, so have fun trying to understand it...

*** lunedi 7-1-08: onde piccole e niente vento... mi diverto al tramonto a fare standup surfing con Jeff davanti a casa sua (upper Kanaha)
* martedi 8-1-08: ancora niente vento e onde piccole... ma stanno arrivando! Ne approfitto per salire per la prima volta su uno starboard serenity, ma il vento non e' sufficiente neanche a quello.
**** mercoledì 9-1-08: arrivano le onde e sono davvero belle e glassy. La mattina vado a Kanaha e mi sembra ancora piccino. Indi per cui, torno a Hookipa e esco a Lanes col 9 piedi, dove rimedio solo mazzate. Onda troppo difficile/grossa/ripida/pesante per le mie limitate capacita'... Poi mi metto a fare qualche foto a Keith e Lalo. Ne allego una di Keith su una bomba almeno tre volte piu' grande di lui... Per fortuna al tramonto rimedio all'errore mattutino e mi sparo una bellissima session a lowers, dove in un'ora e mezza becco 18 onde. Tutte belle/facili/lunghe/divertenti.
**** giovedi 10-1-08: ancora lowers la mattina, sempre col 9 piedi. Glassy fino alle 11... uno sballo. Al tramonto, scelgo lo standup perche' non gliela faccio a remare sdraiato, ma la swell e' cresciuta un po' troppo e fa spesso close out anche a Kanaha.
***** venerdi 11-1-08: grandissime condizioni per il longboard sailing a Kanaha. Le sinistre sono liscissime, ne prendo una quantita' industriale e mi diverto... ma no assai.... di piu'!
***** sabato 12-1-08: vabbe', e allora ditelo... migliore giornata di sempre sulla tavola da standup surf col remo. Giornata galattica con sole, onde e niente vento. La mattina a lowers ci saranno duemila surfisti e grazie alla mobilita' che lo standup offre, pagaio fino al reef di fronte a kite beach, dove becco inesplorate destre e sinistre in assoluta solitudine. Poi dopo una pausa per il pranzo, rientro in acqua con una bellissima tavola 10.6 prestatami da un'amica e, sempre in piedi col remo, faccio il panico a lowers. In acqua, 5 surfisti (avendo surfato tutto il giorno, gli altri si sono ritirati esausti), tutti amici. Ho preso destre lunghissime fatte tutte hanging five on the nose. Ho preso sinistre piazzandoci dei top turn proprio nel mezzo della bowl. Insomma, mai surfato cosi bene con lo standup... davvero una giornata che ricordero'.
*** domenica 13-1-08: oggi, invece, come da previsioni, c'e' vento da nord e una nuova swell molto grossa e incasinata. In queste condizioni, il north shore e' off limits e si va a Kahana, nel west side. Vento da 5 (anche se poi e' salito e ci voleva la 4.7) e onda a volta overhead, ma molto, molto choppata. Al solito, mi diverto.

7 su 7. Percentuale uscite dall'inizio dell'anno: 13 su 13: 100%.

Notice that Saturday's report is longer than usual because... for me it was the bloddy best SUP surfing day EVER!

Now that you have an idea, please express your desire or not of having them published on this blog on a weekly basis. Please vote only once, thanks.
AND, this time don't expect me to necessarily do what the poll result will be... I just need to have an idea if you guys would like them or not... you should know by now that I'm allergic to the word commitment!
Plus, the summer reports are way less exciting...

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Long awaited (at least by me) epic winter surf conditions finally hit the Hawaiian islands the last few days.

The NW swell started to really pump on the morning of the 9th, peaked on the 10th and slowly started to subside on the 11th. Three days of glassy beautiful hawaiian surf.
Here's my birthday present from Mother Nature as registered at the Waimea buoy:

Here's a little three days report.

Wednesday 1-9
I went to check Kanaha first, it looked a little too small and too much wait in between sets. I decided to surf up the coast instead and got in the water at Lanes.
Big mistake.
Lanes is such a difficult wave, specially with a longboard. It jacks up really quick and on low tide is sooo steep. I didn't catch much, but I got worked pretty well and got stuck on the inside a few times. Kanaha would have been so much better for me...
One of the qualities of a good surfer is to pick the spot that fits his ability. I failed on that matter, but Quatro owners Keith Taboul and Lalo Goya didn't, for they both are pretty good surfers.

Lalo:"Hi! How is it out there?"
Me:"Good... if you're good! And it's getting bigger..."
Here he is in a nice bottom turn at The point.

He caught a hell lot of waves (more in the slide below), but the bomb of the day was tamed by Keith. What's that, triple overhead?

This unknown kid instead surfed the shore break at the end of his session. I had the zoom set at the maximum (that'll be 12x optical + 2x digital) and I scored this lucky shot.

In the afternoon, as the buoy clearly shows, the swell picked up a lot and even though there was a light wind on it, this time I scored a nearly epic sesh at Lowers. Maybe because of the frustration of the morning, I was particularly inspired and caught 18 waves in 1.5 hours... each one of them was a deligth.
Wait, I know what it was... after having surfed (or tried to) Lanes, the left at Lowers felt like the easiest wave in the world...
So much fun and four stars for the day!

Thursday 1 10
I don't know where I found the strength, but I paddled out again in the morning at lowers. This time it was glassy till late. I shared a few with Michelle and caught another bunch for another FUNtastic session.
"Meesh, this is already four stars. If I get in the water again later, by definition it's a five stars day..."

Actually I did get in the water again at sunset on the standup (couldn't physically lay down paddle anymore). But the swell was peaking and most sets were closing out. I was out of my comfort zone, didn't want to hurt anyone and left the lineup without having added any fun... and any stars.
Not a problem, since the five star session was delayed of less than 24 hours...

Friday 1 11
Waves in decline, but still some really big sets.
Around 1.30 I stopped at Hookipa and saw two guys standup surfing. One was clearly Dave Kalama.

The other one looked like Laird, but as soon as he caught his first wave, I knew he wasn't him... This is a killer shot though!

The wind was picking up and the first windsurfer (and a few kiters) hit the water.

Later on, more windsurfers went out for what was a really good session (at least for Kevin Pritchard.. that's what he told me). But I had to leave... Lowers was calling.
Lighter wind at Kanaha, perfect for longboard sailing.
Those lefts... oh my god those lefts... glassy perfection.
I'm getting more and more into my 10 SUP sailing longboard. Specially going lefts, upwind, on the back of the sail, goofy stance... you can really try to make the sail neutral in the wind and pump the rail like if you were surfing...

Once on the face of the wave, it becomes 10% windsurfing and 90% surfing... with the difference that you don't have to paddle to catch the wave (which comes handy if you are surfed out after two days of intense surfing and you couldn't paddle anymore even if they pay you!), you can catch a whole lot more waves (sailing out again after a ride is way faster than paddling out) and you can also do a better wave selection (standing up you see them better) and be in the right spot faster (more mobility with the sail).

In other words, longboard wave sailing is a blast!

At one point we were: me, Luke and Carter on longboards, Jeff on his Seal and Glenn on his floaty shortboard... all on Hot Sails! Great to share the stoke with a few friends.

The storm NW of Hawaii in this weather map of Jan 8th evidently generated another large swell that will hit Sunday.

At the same time, the wind will be NNE. Better make sure my tank is full of gas... I can see some driving in my future!

Monday, January 07, 2008

2007 QUOLI stats

QUOLI stands for QUolity Of Life Index.

It's a measure of how good is my life AND how good is the place I chose as home. In fact, those days that I don't get in the water it's either because I'm too tired, I have no time or the conditions aren't worth it.

As anticipated, the 2007 QUOLI has been an astonishing 95% (last year was 89%). More precisely, 300 days in the water out of 317 possible ones (physically in Maui and not injured/sick).
I need to clarify that it would be QUITE EASY for me to get in the water every single day (hence achieving 100%), but that is not my goal. It would make the QUOLI meaningless and stupid.

Here's a little legenda to better understand what's on the calendar. Btw, thanks to Windnews, the italian magazine I work for, for providing such a cool calendar in the first issue of every year.

In every cell there are three rows.
In the first row there's the activity:
W windsurfing (you can also ready it as wavesailing, since I don't do freestyle)
LS longboard sailing (wavesailing on waves in light wind on a longboard)
SL slalom sailing (free riding on "flat" water with slalom gear in relatively light wind)
SC speed challenge (new category: trying to go as fast as possible measuring the speed with a GPS)
S surfing (either shortboard or longboard)
SUP Standup Paddle surfing (on waves)
DSU downwind SUP (downwind runs on an SUP board)
DC downind runs on my one man outrigger canoe
T stands for Travel and I for injured/sick (these days are not counted).

In the second row there's the location (and the sail size in case the activity is w... for LS I always use a 5.5, for SL I mostly use a 6.0 and for SC I mostly use a 5.0):
K Kanaha
H Hookipa
KU Kuau
S Sprecks
plus a bunch of surf spots.

In the third row there's my ranking:
5* epic
4* a hell lot of fun
3* fun
2* not the best, but still kind of fun
1* sucked

You can click on the photo for a larger more readable version (right click "Open link in new tab/window" will open it in a new tab/window). I know, the girl on the background is distracting.

Here's the rankings distribution:
5* : 17 (6 %)
4* : 73 (24 %)
3* : 159 (53%)
2* : 33 (11 %)
1* : 18 (6 %)
which is pretty similar to last year's one.

Here's the totals per activity (the total number of session is bigger than the number of days, because once in a while I fancy multiple sessions of different activities in the same day...):
w... 180
ls... 37
s.... 59
sup.. 37
sl... 18
dc.... 1
dsu... 2
sc.... 6
tot. 340

These ones instead, denote a trend: way more windsurfing than surfing. This is due to two things:
1) it has been a abnormally windy year. While it was really fun to wavesail often over head high windswell at Hookipa (at least four episodes!) in summertime, the lack of the classic, long period, clean and glassy swells so far this winter is annoying. Thank god, starting this afternoon we should have a few days of good surf and no wind.
2) I'm getting older (45 in two days!) and lazier. Of all the above activities, regular surfing is by far the hardest on my body. Every time I surf, my lower back is sore, so I'm not extremely motivated to go surf often, even though I really love it.
It doesn't hurt when I windsurf, but somehow I feel that all that bouncing on the bumps makes it worse for surfing... I'll have it checked next time I'll go to Italy...


In February 2001 I left Italy and my steady / high income job in HP, because I felt that working all day - 5 days a week didn't allow me to be truly happy doing the things I that really like.

7 years later, here I am logging a 95% QUOLI... How am I doing?

Friday, January 04, 2008

in the harness in three days...

...it's very difficult, but not impossible!

Ladies and gentlemen, here's the amazing Catherine on her THIRD day of windsurfing...

The board is a Starboard 12.6 that has proved to be a really good board for learning.

For some more radical action (well, in the harness on the third day... that's pretty rad too!), check this post on Kevin Pritchard's blog.