Monday, December 17, 2012

the best show on Earth

Since 1970 (I was 7) and up until last Friday, the best thing I have ever seen on tv or internet had clearly been Italy-Germany 4-3 in the semifinal of the world cup in Mexico.

The scoreline should give a pretty good idea of how dramatic that game was.
8' Boninsegna (Ita), 90' Schnellinger (Ger), 94' Müller (Ger), 98' Burnich (Ita), 104' Riva (Ita), 110' Müller (Ger), 111' Rivera (Ita).

Here's the link to the first extra time and here's the link to the second extra time. On those pages you'll find the first and second regular times too if you fancy watching the whole thing.

Well, 42 years after that game, last Friday I watched something I liked better: the final day of the Pipeline Masters.

For the ones not in the know, let me recap a bit what happened.
The ASP is the association of surfing professionals. Here's wikipidia's definition of it.
Their world tour this year was made of 10 contests. Some were the best waves on the planet, some were locations that were just good for the sponsors... doesn't matter. What the best 34 surfers in the world can do on average waves remains extremely fun to watch for me.

The last event is usually at Pipeline, the most famous wave in the world on the north shore of Oahu.
Well, this year Joel Parkinsons and Kelly Slater arrived there both with a chance of sealing the world title. Here's how it unfolded.

Parko got to the quarter finals and was in the lead. If Kelly lost his next heat, Parko would have been the champ.
Kelly advanced to the quarter finals and was in the lead. If Parko lost his next heat, Kelly would have been the champ.
Parko advanced to the semi finals and was in the lead. If Kelly lost his next heat, Parko would have been the champ.
Kelly advanced to the semi finals and was in the lead. If Parko lost his next heat, Kelly would have been the champ.
Parko advanced to the final and was in the lead. If Kelly lost his next heat, Parko would have been the champ.
Kelly lost his semi final against Kerr and Parko won the title.
Only a final between Kelly and Parko would have been even better than that, but if you think about it, it's nonethelss ridicolously amazing/dramatic that it all went down to the semi finals on the last contest of the year.
Here's the page for the heats on demand. The quarter final between Slater and Dorian ended with a score of 18.73 vs 18.2...

Congrats to Parko (in the photo above) who has been on tour for 11 years and often a runner up. He overcame the extreme bad luck of being a professional surfer in the same years of a guy like Kelly Slater.

That Friday, I pretty much spent the whole day at home watching the contest. As soon as Kelly lost, around 3pm, I decided to go to Hookipa and check the conditions... I would have watched the final later on demand.

The same swell that was hitting Pipe was abviously hitting Hookipa too, but the extreme west direction made the wave sailing look quite gnarly. I was about to leave to go sail another spot when I saw John John Florence, Matt Meola and Albee Layer going out at Lanes.
"Fuck it, I'm gonna keep watching for the rest of the day... I can use a day off the water".

So I sat on the rocks with my chair and took photos of both surfers and windsurfers. How's my comfort level? (thanks Sofie)

Here we go. John John upside down... he landed that thing.
Both Jimmie and Sophie and Paul have galleries of the session on FB.

John John again. I thought Matt and Albee were the aerial specialists, but JJ did better... no wonder he's top 5 in the world.

A look at the windsurfers. Philippe.


Marcelo. (sorry about the tilted horizon, but I can't be bothered with editing the shots. I don't have any fun editing, I have fun shooting).


A kiter too.


Greg Aguera was drawing old school lines with his old school board... he sure looked like he had a blast.

Sorry Albee, that's the only shot I have of you.


John John and Matt. You can call them skinny 'cause they have no fat, but they're all muscles.

This lovely rock at low tide illustrates the light of a very low sun.

The same light hits the Hot Sails logo on Andres' sail while he does his upwind stylish move.

One more from Andres.

I'm gonna finish with a note on the conditions we're experiencing.
Apart from the day illustrated here, there has been no ground swells for like 10 days or so.
The reason for that is an extremely strong high pressure that placed itself in the middle of the north Pacific. For example, below is the weather map of this morning.
100 bucks to whoever can see a wave with more than 10 seconds period being generated towards Hawaii.

The other extremely annoying side effect of such high pressure is the strong trades.
The previous post of this blog illustrated a beautiful stretch of 10 days of glassy surf, at the end of which my surfing improved greatly.
Now I haven't paddled out in a week, I probably lost all the improvement and the only "fun" thing I'm doing in the water is to go ride the windswell in the last hour of light on a 3.7 or 4.3 hoping that the gusts will only be 25 instead of 35.
Not my kind of conditions. Fortunately there's some light at the end of the tunnel. Things should change by the end of this week.
Thank god.

PS. As usual, let me remind you guys that IN ADDITION to posting on this blog I also post stuff on Facebook.
Please, don't friend me if you don't know me. Just SUBSCRIBE to my posts and you'll be able to read them and post comments. Thanks.

Monday, December 03, 2012

maui surfers love light Kona's

What an incredible stretch of good surf we're having!

I absolute love Maui with no wind. And I love it even more when the light Kona's blow.
That's when the north shore of Maui becomes as good as the north shore of Oahu (when light trades are blowing).

All surfers know the huge influence of a few knots of wind on the waves. Onshore will be a catastrophe. Off or side off and it's heaven.

This morning I surfed G-Lanes for two hours (that's when Lanes looks like G-Land... kinda) and I had a blast.
After that (couldn't do more because I went to a party yesterday and I had three stupid beers... that's how demanding of a sport surfing is... and how old of a guy I am!), I sat and took a few photos.

I'll start with the windsurfing, but only because Browsinho did a couple of things that were absolutely remarkable.

He started with this backloop off the lip on his first wave.

You think that was sick?
It sure was (even though he went off the back and didn't land it), but this was 10 times sicker...
Table top off the lip, perfectly landed well in front of the white water.
One of the sickest moves I've ever seen, considering the extremely light sideoff wind.
He just timed it to perfection. Respect.

Only three sailors went out before the wind got way too light.
It was all about the surfing then.
Alan Cadiz on a smooth beauty.

This should give you an idea of the quality of the waves.

Many, many small barrels on offer at the point. This swell was 6 feet, 13 seconds. Had it been 16 seconds, the barrels would have been bigger. And I probably would have not paddled out.
Those three seconds made all the difference for me. I didn't get scared once.
One day maybe I'll explain what the period does to a wave when it hits the reef using the pizza dough analogy... no time tonight.

This guy got barreled almost every wave he took. He knew how to pick them.

One of the nicest girls in the lineup. Great duck diver too.

Wheels are out... planes landing Kona style.

That's Mr. Barrel again.

Life is good. I don't even check the forecast anymore. It's winter in Hawaii... wind, no wind... who cares. There's waves.