Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Houston, we have a problem!

When I saw Robby Naish's first jump I thought:"I better zoom out next time".

Two minutes later.

Wild conditions today at Hookipa. The iWindsurf.com graph shows how from 3 to 4 the wind was 10mph stronger of the hour before.

Francisco Goya does look a bit overpowered in fact.

It was hard for everyone. I saw Campello doing a backloop on the chop on the way in, receiving a big "WOW" from the crowd and falling in the tack right after. I saw Francisco and Kauli catapulting. I saw Robby Naish falling in a gust just sailing along. I saw Antoine Albeau bailing out at 10 meters of height.
Oh wait, I got a photo of that, that even inspired the title.

Don't be fooled by the optical illusion. Fortunately for Antoine, his foot is not stuck in the strap.
Mark Angulo in auto-eject mode.

Dunno who this is, but that doesn't look like it's going to be fun.

Keith doesn't jump much, but he sure knows how.

Kauli was going for some super hesitated forwards. This is a backloop, instead.

Dunno who this is. Someone with enough balls to go for an aerial like that in those conditions.

Someone went on the rocks and this pair of beautiful legs went to help. Now, how come I get Rob Funk and a couple of other guys instead?

Kanaha's graph is not even funny.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gertrude and Gennaro

Boy, am I having fun with this prolonged windswell or what?

Hookipa is shoulder to head high every day (better on the rising tide), the wind is blowing strong and even if the spot is still overcrowded with pros and photographers in the water, we all still get our share of waves.
"Fun size", I was telling a friend yesterday, "because at my poor skill level, I feel like I can go for the lip without risking to do too much damage"...
Right. One hour later I was on the rocks.
This is the fifth or sixth time this season that I visit the rocks. They're like good old friends for me. I named most of them and I talk to them while I get slammed onto them: "Hi Gertrude, howzit going? Hey Gennaro don't hurt me please. Eat my gear, but don't hurt me, ok?"
Guess what: they listen! I didn't get a single scratch this year. But yesterday I destroyed sail and boom...

The windswell is mean. It hits you relentlessly (thanks Jake for the word) every 8 seconds. There's no lulls, only continuous white water coming at you and pushing you deeper and deeper. And it looks so small from the beach...
Here's my explanation of why the windswell is so gnarly.

A wave of 16 seconds period can shoal on the reef up to three times its size (that happens at Jaws, for example). At Hookipa, I observed that the shoaling factor for such a wave is pretty much 2: a three feet wave can grow up to six feet.
An 8 seconds wave, instead, won't grow much at all on the reef. That's also why it's so hard to read the windswell waves: they don't start feeling the reef until... they're on the reef! So a three feet wave will stay pretty much the same size when it breaks on the reef... IF it breaks on the reef!

Everybody knows that a wave breaks when it meets a bottom that is shallow 1.3 times its height.
What, you didn't know that? Come on, all my surfing students know that!
In other words, a three feet wave will break on a four feet deep bottom. That actually depends on the period too, as we were saying before.

Ok, all this theory to tell you that the amount of energy of a windswell that reaches the rocks at high tide is impressive, because most of it doesn't get released on the reef, but keeps traveling towards the shore.
A confirmation of this is the fact that on high tide the shore break in summer time under a windswell episode is often gnarlier than in winter time with a three times as big long period NW swell...

This picture of the Hookipa shore break clearly illustrates that.

Geez, what do I have to do to get your attention...

Awwright, forecast.
I feel like I've been sailing every day for...ever and it doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon. Plus, on top of the windswell, tomorrow there will be a respectable WNW swell (6 feet, 16 seconds at the NW buoy at 6pm).
Now, that's a really good recipe to goo see my rocky friends again (the long period waves knock you down and the windswell ones nudge you to the rocks), hence I'll sail elsewhere. The wind is going to be cranking as usual, hence I'll sail late.
Sounds like a plan.
I usually don't like making plans, but when the plans are like this, I don't really mind having them...

Thanks to Ray for the first photo.
And thanks to Brian and Aaron for reminding me to link Dan's histerical video. Check it out, it's very well done.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

lost gear

Two boards were lost Thursday at Hookipa. If you found them down the coast, email me (address on the right) and I can get you in touch with the owners.
Also, Juan found a boom at Kanaha a few weeks ago. Call him at 298 9317 and provide a description.
Somebody lost a Tecnolimits carbon boom at Hookipa on the parking lot yesterday. Email in the comments.
Sharon didn't lose/find anything, but she did a nice Maui sightseeing post.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

top level show

As easily anticipated on the page, today the show at Hookipa was top level.

The best sailors in the world going for the craziest stuff in mast high waves and strong wind. I got many good shots in the slide show below.
Keith Teboul.

Antoine Albeau.

I timed my sessions perfectly. The first one was 11.30 to 12.30, 4.0 and 68l. Fun, with waves still in the head high range and the wind not too crazy yet.
The second one was 4.30 to 5.45, with the wind finally dropping a bit and with overhead to logo high waves getting smoother and with less chop. I had an absolute blast.
Also because I had low expectations, since the reports of the people coming out of the water weren't that good: 4.0 too big, way too choppy, quite dangerous.
What a difference one hour can make. While surfers know very well how important the timing is for a good session, it seems that most windsurfers are not as sensitive to that. Too bad for them...

Still plenty waves and wind for tomorrow. Life is good.

Here are the other photos in a slide show. No time to add the names, I'll let you guys guess them. Just a couple of helps: the guy that got the board disconnected is Browsinho and the one walking on the rocks is clearly Robby Naish (not sure if he broke something or went on the rocks). Number 2 is Victor forward off the lip.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

calling for a rest

That's what my body is doing.

Another day of extraordinarily strong and gusty (=awful) wind here in Maui. I chose the right week to test sails of four different brands I have access to... clearly they're all NOT MADE WITH DACRON and my body is suffering unimaginable physical abuses.
It's like driving a car without shock absorber on a very bumpy road.

Please don't even ask which brands they are and which ones I like. So far they're all good, nice, powerful and awfully stiff and they all like to torture my body. Hey, this is not a sponsorshit talk (no, that's not a typo). I would say exactly the same of a Fire.
It's that when the wind goes from 18 to 33, there's nothing like a Superfreak for an old fart like me.

18 to 33? No way... it was more like 5 to 40, really.
I was out on a 3.7 today and I got slammed twice into the water by a gust just sailing along.
Power is a dreadful thing in these conditions and with my non-pro abilities.

Clearly Victor and all the pros don't mind all that power (even though I saw everybody falling in jibes, catapulting, etc...) and continues to make it look good.
If you click on this photo, you will enjoy how his shorts match the colors of the superfreak in the background...

Another in form sailor today was Alex Mussolini.

The rest of the photos in this slide.

The wind forecast calls for a couple of more day of ugly strong East wind, then Friday and the weekend the models say ENE and slightly less strong. If they're right, that slight difference in the angle would make a huge difference in the quality of the wind on the north shore of Maui. Let's hope so.

The wave forecast calls for a fat WNW swell peaking on Thursday afternoon. I believe that is going to be a fun day to watch at Hookipa, with all these pro sailors (and pro photographers) competing for the ultimate shot. I'll try to squeeze an early session somewhere and then focus on my duty of reporter from paradise.

Stei tiund (that's how 'stay tuned' would be written with the italian pronunciation rules). Ai laic it. Meibi ai uil start raiting laic dis...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

strong and gusty (and awful)

Boy, what another day of gusty, strong, awful wind it was... This is the iWindsurf.com Hookipa graph. The only steady thing in it, is the oscillation between 15 and 30...

I went out, didn't get any good turn, but didn't get hurt... so I'm happy.

Victor, making it look good.

Sometimes overexposed is good. Andres.

Some other times rightly exposed is better. Still Andres.

Well, let's get rid of him. Andres scores a hatrick.

The world's highest skilled windsurfing couple is back on Maui. Nayra Alonso.

She's such a nice girl. I'll give her another shot.

Boyfriend John Skye is just as nice. He went out with a foot still clearly swallen from his recent footstrap injury. He sailed moderately conservative, making sure to get out of the straps in time.




Brazilian big wave surfing charger and canoe paddling top competitor Andrea went out on Juliana's gear after one year of not sailing.

Here's the result.

Thanks to Glenn and Nitsan for taking some of these photos with my camera while I was out catapulting my ass off.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

winter is over

Well, the 'sunny side up' post gets post-poned again. I put it up this morning but I took a bunch of pics in the afternoon and here they are.

I picked four shots for the main page and a clear dominating sailor (I watched from 4:50 to 5:30): Browsinho. As you will see from the slide below, he was all over the place. Pretty much a goiter or an aerial or a top turn taka on every wave he was on. Some he didn't land of course, but I was quite impressed by the confidence he showed in all those numerous attempts.

Victor Fernandez was the other North sailor on fire. You hardly see anyone with North sails on Maui. But it's spring break for the pros too. Their next contest is in June in Portugal and now they are all here for the photoshoots. Supercrowded, but taking photos is a pleasure.

Well, the twin fin are back after so many years... why not the asymmetrical boards? Mark Angulo sailed one while insisting in his crazy 'Mutant' move.

Thomas Traversa did good too.

And here's the slide. The other sailors other the ones above are Eyal on the Fire and an unidentified one on the Goya.

Hey, today is the first day of spring and I'm not even pouty 'coz I have an escape plan... :) :) :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

light wind Lanes

Well, I posted something else this morning, but then I took a bunch of pics this afternoon, so that original post is going to be... post-poned.

Surfers in the water at Hookipa, for the second consecutive day, the windsurfers had to go light wind wave sailing at Lanes. As you will see, not too bad at all.
At the end, someone sailed Hookipa too (I assume the surfers number went under 10).

Can't be bothered to select the main page deservers (dinner is calling), I'll put all the worthy shots in a slideshow. I'll let you guys do the selection... let me know.

Ok, I had to pull one out. This is Eyal on a longboard that shows that he's not scared of getting close to a whale...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kanaha with the Kona shots

Big thanks to Alex who sent me these photos. Here's the text of his email:

Weather was not the best for shooting and the distance to the waves made it tough to get good shots (also without a tripod). I wish I had the camera out a bit earlier I would have caught you on some Big sets even though you said you made no turns (I saw you turn) not everyone is as comfortable as Pascal or Kauli... any of those sets could've made you swim for a looong time if you got a bit cocky, anyway this is what turned out and sorry if the files are to big.

Pascal was out for 3.5hrs and had some incredible rides including a few on weird wave, Kauli was out for 45min. and as you see it was raining while he was at the beach, so as soon as he hit the water the wind got super lite until it stopped completely while he was still at the reef. So he started swimming (Pascal pretty much sailed to within 15m. of the beach on the lightest of gusts 10min before it went to zero), the lifeguard jet ski happened to rescue a french sailor from uppers when they saw Kauli, so he got a ride while his friend and everyone else swam all the way in.

And here's the other photos he attached.

In the meantime, I put together a few clips I shot at the harbor on Friday.

And I still have to edit the gopro clips of my session, so stay tuned.

Glenn sent this (sick table top at min. 4), Graham Ezzy sent this, Norm and Bernd Roediger sent this and Pietro Porcella sent this.

Today I surfed almost 3 hours and can barely move my arms. Life is great, despite the poor wave forecast for this week.


I'm updating this post with something I wrote after having read the first comment from Ben:

Yes, what I was trying to explain with words is much better rendered by a photo.
Here's what I said in a previous comment:
"If you never sailed there, be very careful. It's waaay more difficult than it looks because of the extreme offshoreness and gustiness of the wind. And the wave is not the usual mushy Lowers wave... it's a beast that breaks top to bottom.
Again, way more difficult/dangerous than the usual Lowers."

I guess that picture tells everything (do click on it, it's the one above the jet ski one).
The peak you see breaking is the (in)famous bowl. Here's what happens: there's a shallow spot that sticks out in the ocean more than the rest of the reef. When the wave starts feeling it, it slows down and peaks right in front of the shallow spot. At the same time, the two shoulders keep travelling faster, they bend around the peak and that's when the bowl forms. It only happens with big waves though and, in my very personal scale of values, it's one of the most beautiful thing I've seen in this world. Being in the right spot on the bowl going left on any kind of board for me is better than sex.

That's why I was so stoked to have been out there for two hours without getting worked even if I didn't do any radical turn...
As Alex said I'm definitely not as comfortable on port tack also because I feel like I could get hurt more easily, since I have less experience not only in riding waves, but also in falling and wiping out on that tack.

Technical note: both me and Pascal were out on 90l boards. No idea about Kauli. Being out there with my 81l would have been a lot more difficult for me if not impossible.
Think about this: the wind was so fluky that I had to uphaul three times! One of which in emergency mode in the impact zone with a big set looming on the horizon...