Let's go back in time to 1984. If you followed this series, you'll remember that that's about when I started windsurfing.
One day I was checking some magazines in a book shop when my attention got caught by a magazine called "Surf".
Two questions immediately arose in my mind:
1) why the hell did they put a windsurfing magazine next to the porn ones?
2) why the hell we europeans keep confusing surfing and windsurfing?
I didn't find an answer to either one, but I bought that magazine, my first windsurfing magazine ever (I didn't even know there was such a thing!).
On the cover of that magazine there was something that was going to change my life forever.
It was a windsurfer on a never seen before (by me) short strapped board doing an unimaginable (by me) turn on a incredibly beautiful wave.
All I had known that far about windsurfing was my friend's longboard gently cruising on the calm waters of the gulf on Naples.
I had no idea there were windsurf boards with foot straps and even more that someone could ride them on waves... there was no internet at the time!
I admired the photo in complete awe for a while.
The title next to it said:"Alex Aguera wins the Aloha Classic".
I opened the mag and immediately jumped to that article where I found plenty more photos of Hookipa.
"No way. No fucking way. Wow, look at that... they can even jump!"
The book seller thought I was crazy.
Thanks to that magazine Alex Aguera became my first windsurfing hero and my Maui dream really started.
Now, fast forward exactly 20 years to 2004.
Somehow I managed to be a judge of the "resurrected" (last one was in 2001) Aloha Classic.
From the left: co-organizers Mark Lefevre and Pietro Porcella, judges Matt Schweitzer, Tom Hammerton, Rob Funk, Doug Hunt (head judge with the microphone), Luke Hargreaves and moi.
Who's the one without a shirt?
That itself already should deserve a chapter of "everything is possible", but wait... it gets better.
There were several categories and if you payed the entry fee, you were entitled to enter as many categories as you would fit in. In my case, 'Open men' and 'Masters' (40-45 years old).
I had no intention to compete for a number of reasons:
- I'm a cheap bastard
- I'm not a competitive person
- I didn't stand a chance to advance a single heat
Nonetheless, the day the of the Masters, the waves were kind of small and I thought I could give it a try on my 12.6 sailing longboard, just to show something different.
"Ok", I said to one of the organizers "I'll register. I'll give you the money later"
"Cool", he said. "Go write your name on the boards of the categories you want to do".
I love when the destiny does those tricks... check this out.
In the Open men, there was only one spot available to complete a board of 16 heats and I took it. In other words, my name pretty much completed that board.
In the Masters board, the next available spot was in a heat in which there was also... US151, Alex Aguera!
As soon as I took the marker off the Open men board, Jason Stone arrived and asked the organizer:"Hey, is there room for me? I'd like to compete"
"Sure!" he said, stoked that yet another great sailor wanted to join the contest. "Let's go write your name down on the board...
Ops, looks like Giampaolo got the last spot available in heat 16...
Hey Giampaolo, how about this? If you let Jason do the Open men in your place, I'll let you do the Masters for free. Whatcha think?"
(by the way, the weather conditions didn't cooperate and the Open men division was never held...)
The moment of my heat came and with the help of a couple of guys I managed to launch the 12.6 through the shore break. Even though I had done quite some practice at Kanaha, it was my first time I ever sailed it at Hookipa.
(This helicopter shot was taken by David Blyth at the outer reef at Uppers on a fairly big day.)
As soon as I launched, I got a strong gust and that Titanic thing started planing towards a steep chest high ramp. I started pumping the sail and heard Jace Panebianco announcing on the microphone:"he's pumping, he's pumping, what is he gonna do... jump?!?"
I hit the wave and at the top I jumped in the water doing a backflip... clearly without the board, just with the body. Total show off action. Later on they told me that it was quite entertaining... good, mission accomplished.
After getting worked by a few waves, I managed to get back on the board, uphaul and sail out. On the outside I saw what seemed to be a set wave and jibed on it.
Now, a jibe on a 12.6 is made by stepping all the way to the back of the board and sinking the tail (pivot jibe). Having tought windsurfing for years, I was quite proficient at that.
While I was coming out of it, Alex Aguera, who in the meantime had already ridden his first wave and was now sailing out, passed by and with a big smile shouted at me:"hey, nice turn!"
(Photo by Jono Knight)
And then I had one of those moments in which you really have to ask yourself if you're awake or dreaming...
"Wait a second, was that my first windsurfing hero of 20 years ago that just passed by and told me 'nice turn'?!?
And am I in a heat of the Aloha Classic against him?!?!?
And are all those people on the beach now going to watch what I am going to do on this wave?!?!?!?!?
I'm bloody going to hit the lip, that's what I'm going to do!!!!!"
What a moment you guys. What a moment...
I was so pumped that I really went for the lip, but Hookipa is not exactly Kanaha and a 12.6 is not exactly the best board to hit lips, so I did a remarkable over the falls wipeout... Still quite entertaining, they told me.
This photo was taken after the heat.
My first windsurfing hero was now my friend Alex.
The sixth and final chapter of this series of posts will be online Thursday at 9am Hawaii time. This is your last chance to guess.