Thursday, December 25, 2008

the board harem

One board for all conditions?

Screw that!
Boards are like women: the more the better.

Let me introduce you my wave boards harem. From the left:
1) 100l freestyle (or freeride... not sure!) old RRD beat up board with reshaped tail AKA The Experiment
2) 90l Goya custom wave series
3) 81l Goya custom wave series
4) 75l custom SOS
5) 68l custom Quatro

1) The Experiment (I'm thinking about renaming it The Miracle) is the reason because I pretty much don't wave sail on a longboard anymore. What I liked about the longboard, in fact, is that it allowed me to sail in super light wind and had a surfboard rocker.

But then I figured that I didn't really need all that volume. I'm 154 (70kg) and 100l are enough to float me in any wind!

The problem is that there aren't many 100l wave boards on the market and even if you guys will find one, it will not have a surfboard rocker. Even if they're labeled "wave", they're still designed for planing. Most of the times, they are designed as wave boards for big guys.
That's not what I wanted.

I wanted a board that would take me out there with 5-10 knots of wind, clearly without any ambition of planing, get me on the wave and ride it well, with a feeling as similar as possible to the one of a surfboard.

One lazy sunday morning, three rare things happened at the same time:
1) my grinder had been resting for too long
2) all neighbors were out
3) I had nothing better to do.

So I did it.

I added more than one inch of rocker and a huge V to the tail. In the process, I incidentally also shortened the board of a couple of inches and since I was able to keep the tuttle box in place (had to sand down the base of the fin too), the fin is now placed veeery close to the tail. Not too bad, actually. I would just love to install a couple of side fins... we'll see when the three above conditions will happen again!

Pros compared to the longboard.
- it turns a lot more
- it's lighter to carry

Cons compared to the longboard.
- it doesn't glide
- can't do SUP surfing if the wind dies (I even tried... forget it!)
- can't use it as a board to teach your friends

The old time blog readers know that, when the wind is so light that it won't allow down the line riding, I like to please myself with jumping on the backside of the sail while going upwind on a wave.
With the longboard, I couldn't really turn it much while doing that. With T.E. instead, I'm now starting to go up and down the face of the wave and in the last couple of sessions, I even INVENTED the reverse lay down bottom turn.
Da heck is it? Hang on, here it comes...

You've seen the lay down bottom turns of the pros, right? Here's KP again.

Now, without having the presumption to compare myself to the greats, I'm trying to do a reverse version of that. Imagine the same wave, but with the sailor now going upwind towards the right of the photo and on the back (downwind) side of the sail. His right foot is his front foot. Just like in the regular downwind version, I discovered that laying down the sail helps the board do a tighter bottom turn. It clearly all happens at way slower speed (since the wind is very light), but the concept is the same.
I haven't figured out yet what to do with the top turn... someone suggested to continue turning into a 360... I think it's a great idea!

Forgot to say the most important thing: no footstraps. They are absolutely unnecessary at these speeds and they would be in the way 99% of the times. When slogging, in fact, the back foot rests exactly where the front streps are. And when riding a wave at slow speed it's absolutely key to be able to freely move the back foot.

2) I fell in love with the 90 right away at my very first session. It was March 08 and I still have a little youtube video of it.
I use it when the wind is 10-14 knots with a 5.0 superfreak ultralight. Again, no ambitions of planing, but the wind is strong enough to allow strapped down the line wave riding.
Most big wave boards I tried are too wide. Again, they're designed for heavy guys and maybe they work for them. When using those superwide boards, I'm unable to really dig the rail in the water. The Goya, instead, is not that wide (damn, they just updated the website with the 09 models, and I'm too lazy to get the measurement tape, so I can't even tell you how wide it is) and that makes two things happen:
a) the board is still fast
b) I can dig the rail (specially in the tail which is relatively thin) and turn it really sweet!
Where's all that volume? In the thickness in the center and front. The little con of it (in boards, just like in everything else in life, there's always good and bad aspects) is that the domed shape gives the board a little tendency to roll over its axis. At my weight and skill level though, tacking is still absolutely comfortable.
I bought it for Kanaha, but lately I used it at Hookipa too in a day with overhead glassy waves. I couldn't believe how well it worked!

If the wind outside is stronger, the board planes very quickly and (thanks again to the limited width, I think) it sails really nice. If the wind gets stronger also between the waves, then it becomes too big for me to control in the chop and I go back to my lovely car and swap it for...

3) ... the 81l. You guys probably remember that I recently fixed a snapped 81 that was given to me by a friend. I liked it so much that I had to own a non fixed version. In fact, the fix added 1 kg to the weight and even though that made it bounce less on the chops in high wind (see? there's something positive even in weight), it wasn't the best for the aerials and for early planing.
The 81 for me is still a light wind board. Let's say around 16 knots steady or strong on the outside but pretty light between the waves.
Very similar shape and behavior of the 90, I fall a bit more often in the tacks. But that's mostly because I suck...

Is 9 liters enough difference to justify two boards?
Oh yesss...

4) Sean Ordonez shaped this board for Kevin Pritchard.
It's the board I use more often at Hookipa with the 4.7, as you can tell by the number of dings on the bottom that the rocks put in it...
Completely different from the Goyas, with a more flat deck and not so narrow. At this volume, in fact, the width becomes important for stability in the tacks.
This board likes big, smooth waves. It doesn't like the chop too much but... which board does?
Here's a recent photo from the water (thanks Ben!).

5) Keith Taboul shaped this one for himself with a slightly flatter rocker than usual and even though it was a bit faster he didn't like the mild turnability loss.
It's all relative, I guess.
When I tried it, in fact, I didn't find it particularly fast but, without a doubt, it was (and still is) the turniest board I have ever tried!
I'm still so excited every time I get to use it, but it doesn't happen quite often. The wind at Hookipa is always light on the inside and to go over the breaking waves, I need a bit more volume. The bigger the waves the more volume you need. I mean, I need.
That's why I use it only with small waves or in those rare days in which the wind is strong also on the inside.

Somebody told me: brah, you need a van with all these boards!
Absolutely not, was my answer. Why should I carry them all at the same time? Most of the times I know what kind of range of wind I will find and so I only take a couple with me (which fit beautifully inside my Escort) and I happily drive at 32mpg. If I feel like being particularly conservative, then I put a third one on the roof racks.
Plus, if I'm at Hookipa and I need a board that I didn't take with me, my place is a 45 seconds drive away... can't beat that!

And now that I got all sizes covered... what volume am I going choose for my first twin fin?!? Come on, is it really possible to be a windsurfer these days and not to have one?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

how Kazuma shaped my custom surfboard part 8

This episode concludes the Kazuma series, I hope you guys enjoyed it.

I can only add that I love the board and it definitely catches a lot of waves. But a good board alone isn't enough. Got to get out there and paddle!

Just arrived in Italy. Completely whacked by the trip as usual.
Funny/dumb moment on the LA-Washington plane: upon the arrival, the captain announced: "We are now approaching Dallas were we should land in about 15 minutes..."
What?!? I asked the guy sitting next to me: "Excuse me, did he just say Dallas?"
"But I thought this plane was going to Washington!!!!"
"Oh, Dulles is the name of the Washington airport, not Dallas Texas..."

Kinel, I almost had a heart attack...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rain and no wind, but still some fun waves to ride here in Maui.

I took this photos in the late afternoon yesterday at Hookipa.

This kid was ripping.

I, instead, sucked so much that in my morning session in a paddle-intensive spot I got caught three times on the inside by the quickly building sets, paddled for one hour without interruption and went back in with the astonishing wave count of: zero.
Sure enough it was a good workout.

Back home I tuned in the Pipe Masters and that's the best surf I did that day...
Mister Kelly Slater was enjoying a big swell with some buddies at a secret spot on the Caroline Islands, got texted what day and time his heat was and arranged to fly to Oahu just in time for his first heat...

Was it worth it? I'd say so... he won it. Not only the first heat, the whole contest.
Here's how he destroyed the opponent in heat 3 of round four of the final day of competition.
Notice some kind of kamikaze fish (a small manta ray, I'd say) jumping out of the water and into the lip at the second 10 of the video... pretty nuts!

On that same page, you can watch all the heats of the last day.
Kelly's heats are:
- quarter final 2 (great match up with Pipe specialist Jamie O'brien)
- semi final 1.
- final.
In the semi final Tim Reyes combo-ed Kelly with something like 7 minutes left. That means that Kelly needed not one, but two really good waves to advance. Under Tim's priority, Kelly sneaked a Pipe wave and scored a 9 and paddling back out he got a Backdoor right and scored a 10. Everything happened in 2 minutes. And I couldn't catch one damn shitty wave in one hour...

From one living surf legend to another. Laird paddled out almost at dark. If you're learning to standup paddle surf, this photo is a "how to paddle" clinic: reach as far forward as you can without leaning forward too much, keep both arms straight, slightly bend your knees.

Carbon paddles are notoriously stiff. Not for Laird.

In a couple of days I'm off to Italy.
I don't like going back to Italy. Specially in winter time, when there it's cold and here it's wavy.
FORTUNATELY, the forecast for the coming week looks hoorible for Maui. No good wind, way below average surf (!!!) and plenty rain. Stoked!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

how Kazuma shaped my custom surfboard part 7

A couple of days with no wind here in Maui give me the opportunity of a surfing related post.

Here's chapter 7 of the Kazuma saga.

And here's are a few photos that I took yesterday. Still comparing Canon and Sony. This time I had my buddy Chico (a good photographer... check that amazing bottom turn shot on KP's blog) taking photos with the Canon and yet the photos were pretty disappointing. So the conclusion is that that lens it came with is either bad or a bad "copy". It's going back.

Here's Chico's best shots (the second one is Lalo getting a little cover up).

Here's my best shot with the Canon: blurred and overexposed.

Now look at my best shots with the Sony. You got to be kidding me! Look at the sharpness, look at the colors, look at the... oh well, that's not the camera!

Lalo again.

Average file size of these photos: 300k.

And check the zoom. This is Lanes from The Point at Hookipa!

The Pipeline Masters is on. Here the live webcast.

PS. Looks like the wind just turned Kona at Kanaha... got to go sail!

---------------- post update -----------------------

Well, the Kona was pretty light, which is not a problem for me, but there were too many surfers out. I caught a few with T.E. and then switched to surfing. I surfed already this morning and my arms were kind of useless, but with the offshore wind the waves were so beautiful I just HAD to paddle out...

I had my GoPro with me and took a few shots.

Kelly hanging five. Every time I see her I always have the same atrocius dilemma: does she surf or look better? Trust me, it's not an easy one...

This one will give you a better idea of her gracious silhouette.

Alex enjoys yet another left.

A couple of shortboarders were killing it. Kind of glassy, uh?

Beauti-full moon.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thank god for duct tape

Whatever that means, as predicted Hookipa was "all time" yesterday.

Let's start the show!
Best shot, as often happens: Levi with a sick goiter. I love when the tip of the sail touches the wave... it doesn't seem to prevent the success of the manouvre.

In this other goiter instead, Brawzinho's t sail didn't touch the water as much. Cleaner and faster execution, I have to say. Probably a bit easier, since he could use the energy of the closing out section in front of him.

One of those beautiful KP's bottom turns.

A rare "simple" lip hit by Mark Angulo (later in the post you'll understand what I mean...).

Brawzinho wave 360. I think there's way too much pure monofilm in that sail (later in the post you'll understand what I mean...).

Big waves, crazy moves all over the place and... Phil McGain testing race gear.

Jason Prior wave 360.

KP hits the lip and does a counter clockwise rotation... what's that a taka off the lip?

Jason Prior tweaked aerial.

And now four post subsections.

------------- subsection one: backloops --------------------

Francisco Goya in a big one. Nico's one (a few posts down) was taken from the same spot, so imagine how high he went...

Polo makes it to the blog!

Kai Katchadourian (always a nightmare to guess the spelling... I may start to call him KK).

------------- subsection two: on the rocks ---------------

Plenty people on the rocks, since occasionally some sets where closing out the channel. Danielino stopped and held Mark Angulo's and Browzhino's boards in an attempt to save them from the rocks.

Here's how all ended up.

See what I mean about too much monofilm without reinforcement?

Mark did a bit of damage too.

The Hookipa rocks is one place where Karma doesn't work. The one time I stopped to hold a board (it was little Bernd's one), I saved his board, but mine went on the rocks. That's when I decided not to do that again. Anyone who enters the water at Hookipa is on his own.
Another great example of this theory happened earlier this year: I went on the rocks and a guy came and help me to rescue my gear. While doing so, he cut his foot so bad that he had to stay out of the water for more than a week. I felt so bad for him, since he just arrived from Argentina and was going to stay just for three weeks...

Sure, it's nice sometimes to help somebody or if somebody helps you, but there's situations in which the help can not only be useless, but even counter productive.
In this case, for example, it could have been possible that the strong current would have swept those two boards faster and saved them from the rocks... who knows.
For sure Daniele wanted to be nice, but unfortunately it turned out not to be a good idea.

------------- subsection three: Mark Angulo crazy move --------------------

What is he exactly trying to do?

It looks like an aerial wave 360 off the lip, but with an arched back tweaked start.

This third shot, taken a little later in the rotation, may confirm the theory. He landed a few on the back. I wonder if he ever landed one on the face... I have to ask him. For sure he's collecting a huge amount of interesting wipeouts...

------------- subsection four: shared waves --------------------

Laurent (can't remember who was the other guy).

Jason and Jason (Diffin and Prior).

Cisco and KP.

This last section gives me the opportunity to explain the title.

Despite my sore ankle I was able to get in the water at Kanaha thanks to duct tape. Gary showed me how to wrap it in a way that won't allow the foot to overextend and the system proved to be quite efficient. Way better than the neoprene ankle braces that I tried at Sports Authority...

I started early with light wind and my footstrepless 100l modified tail board, AKA The Experiment. No problem there, seen the total lack of streps.
The wind picked up a bit and I went out on a 90l wihtout the back footstrep. Kind of weird, but somehow it felt great to be able to move the foot around.

Here's what I experienced: during the bottom turn the back foot doesn't need to be too far back (since you're in flat water you're actually trying to push the whole inside rail in the water). In the top turn instead, I was moving it all the way back to achieve a tighter radius and to better use the energy of the top of the wave to turn the board.
In other words, I found myself moving my back foot back and forth in the sequence of bottom and top turns.
Can't go too radical, can't do crazy aerials, can't jump... but I felt free-er. You guys should try in a not too choppy day.

And what did the shared waves section had to do with the duct tape? Oh yes, because thanks to the duct tape I was able to go sail, have fun and in particular to enjoy the best shared wave of my life! Swiss Ian was upwind of me (without priority, I think) and he signals with his hand: "shall we go together figure-eighting?"
"Sure, why not..", I nodded back.
Oh my god, what a great wave that turned into! Can't remember how many turns each we had (at leat four, maybe five), all of them in the very pocket of that miraculously perfectly peeling wave. So freaking cool to be at the top and see your buddy bottom turning below and immediately after starting to bottom turn yourself and so on...
Wow. We were both screaming at the end. I tell you what. If any of us would have ridden that wave alone, it would have not been even remotely as much fun.

Things I noticed:
- I was so focused on what he was doing, that I don't think I checked at all if there was anyone else in the water. Dangerous! Next time, I'll have to pay more attention and in general those rides are probably not a good idea in very crowded conditions.
- You need to trust your buddy. In other words, make sure you pick one that knows how to wave ride...

Superstoked that his ankle injury is mild and looking forward to another gorgeous day in Maui, your reporter from paradise reminds all readers to let go of all the possible bullshit reasons (a very common one these days: the economy!) that make you eventually pouty (NOTHING MATTERS, since one day we'll all be gone and that day could be tomorrow or even today!) and to enjoy your life wherever you are.
If you are reading this, it means you're sitting in front of a computer checking your favorite blog ;-) and that means you're way luckier than these guys.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thank god for ice

What a grand day it was!

With a new swell on the rise and a promising morning breeze, I made the wise call not to surf in the morning, watch the surf contest at Sunset beach online instead, get in the water early with 5.0 and 90l board and score some fantastic head to logo high glassy waves.

Try to picture this (having been in Maui helps... smoking something might as well).

Blue sky, even more blue ocean, warm temperature, the majestic green Haleakala on the background.
15 seconds period translated in what looked like a football field between the waves.
A few windsurfers out playing with them in the morning light.
Did you picture it? Cool! And now imagine how it feels to be one of those windsurfers...

I sailed a couple of hours and had a really awesome time.
I wish I had my camera with me. Actually no, since the video would have been extremely disappointing compared to the real experience.

I timed the lunch break to watch the semis and final of Sunset. Right after that, I went back in the water for the sunset session. This one, unfortunately, wasn't as enjoyable, since I hurt my ankle in a wipeout. Going over the falls with a foot stuck in a footstrap is one of the scariest feelings I can think of. You know you're stuck, you know you're gonna get worked and you think:"oh no, oh no, oh no!!!"
Sometimes you get away with no damage, but some other times you don't.
Usually you can tell right away how bad the injury is. Thank god in this case I think it wasn't really serious. I stretched those muscles/ligaments on the front by overextending the joint, but I didn't break anything. It could have been a lot worse... I'm icing it now.
Oh well, at least I got hurt trying to hit a lip!

BTW, C.J.Hobgood won the contest. Great performances of Jordy Smith (who dominated his heats but disappeared in the final) and of three Maui surfers: Hank Gaskell, Dusty Payne and across the street neighbor Ian Walsh.

Hey, where was that list of things to post? Let's have a look again.

- 1) reef model (don't get too excited)
2) underwear website link
3) windsurfing pole vault video
- 4) quatro/goya/mfc sale banner
5) photos kanaha (mine and alex)
6) photos hookipa (mine and jazz)
7) Kazuma series
8) my new wave board quiver (I still have to take a photo of this)
9) Chico's amazing windsurfing photos
10) windsurf boards museum. You guys won't believe your eyes...
11) description of a scary moment at Hookipa

What? I only did 1 and 4? Let's get rid of a few more.

Here's number 2, courtesy of blog reader Matt from Guernsey.
I tried ALL underwears on ALL models...

Here's number 3, courtesy of my friend Francesco who borrowed my gear during a short visit lately.

Just got up to get a couple of Advils... damn it hurts!
Clearly tomorrow it's going to be epic with the swell peaking in the morning and stronger wind.
If I can't sail, you guys are going to score, since I'll be forced to take photos at Hookipa, which I predict is going to be all time (da hell does "all time" means?).
I will not be pissed off (I'm talking to myself now) since I will be watching one of the best shows on Earth. No wait, is any pro sailor going to sail Hookipa tomorrow or are they all going to be at Jaws?
We'll find out! Anybody going to Jaws with a four wheel drive that wants to give me a ride?

PS. Talking about Jaws, these are Ray's photos from last Sunday.

PPS. Not many Maui resident know that the same epic Ahi Poke that the Nagata store use to sell is sometimes available at the Kuau Mart. Freaking delicious. Go get some, so that they will keep buying it, maybe every day.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

how Kazuma shaped my custom surfboard part 6

We are now in Matt's shaping room.
This is my favorite clip of the series. I just love the way Matt pulls that screen and gives the rails the shape he wants...

We're not done yet, stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, I need to report about an outstanding session I just had with my 6.10 Kazuma that you just saw in the video. The new NW swell is picking up quite quickly. The NW buoy reads 12 feet, 15 seconds at 9am... that means that in the afternoon, most spots will be unrideble.
Instead, I timed it right and scored early morning head to overhead high perfectly peeling lefts with light offshore and just three other guys out. At the first double overhead set, I wisely decided to quit...
Absolutely stoked! Can't believe I was able to stick those steep drops...

Now a little rest (and a little post) and maybe later I'll go explore some outer reefs with the standup... what a life!

A look at the forecast. Today's weather map shows one more impressive fetch. That is going to be the most west of the three swells and that is actually a good thing, since some spots in Kahului hopefully won't be too big. Will be here Thursday and Friday. A sporadic light trades episode might even make it sailable on Friday.
If you read this from an island of French Polinesia, Fiji, Tahiti or anywhere else down there, get ready for an unusually big swell on your north shores...

PS. Crazy conditions at Sunset beach. I just watched Rodrigo Dornellas dropping in a bomb that looked like five or six times overhead... he got a 9.43 for that!