Tuesday, June 30, 2009

what a season!

Without any doubt the best start of the summer season since 2001.

Check Pat Caldwell's latest forecast (not that I didn't know that already, but it's comforting to read Uncle Pat's confirmation).
No need to go back to Oahu this week (also because there will be no wind for sailing for the next few days). I may stay in Maui till July 5th, at least. That'll make the 1000 waves target even more challenging... cool!

Yesterday I caught a bunch (feels good not to have to count them, I have to admit...) of playful waist to shoulder high waves on the Lahaina side. Today more of the same. I woke up early, may have to go dawn patrolling.
In the meantime, enjoy a couple of shots from Oahu.

This guy's board (and shorts) look like straight out of Endless summer... classic.

I wish I had a bird's eye view of that... maybe I should mount the GoPro on my carrier pigeon!

Monday, June 29, 2009

La Perouse

Well, there's waves in Maui too.

Actually, as I said already, when the buoys are at four feet or more, I think Maui is better than Oahu! This photos are from Sunday, when the buoys were already down to three feet.. not bad.
Unfortunately this morning they are at two feet and that's when Oahu is 100 times better than Maui. I just saw a beautiful shoulder to head high set hitting Ala Moana on the webcam... let's see what kind of waves I'll find on the Lahaina side instead.
In the meantime, enjoy a few pics from La Perouse.

Beutiful top turn on a sweet Kazuma with parabolic stringers on the rails.

A little mini sequence dedicated to Hookipa lifeguard Kaleo Amadeo who, on top of being a super nice guy, is always one of the best surfers out there.
That's the bottom turn.

A little cuttie.

Another bottom turn.

Somewhere in there lies Rich Foster...

This guy had a close encounter with the rocks. Well, at least the ranger helping him seems nice and friendly!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

a break from Oahu

Here's a list of things that happened yesterday (day 24):

- most of Waikiki breaks were still closing out
- the wind was too light at Da Spot (and the forecast calls for even lighter winds: no wavesailing there for a while)
- my body was still sore and in need of rest
- I was missing Maui and my friends

So I got online and bought a ticket to Maui (from where I'm posting now).
That's another great thing about this awesome surf/windsurf trip: I'm not in Indo or Central America or in some other remote spot. I'm a 25 minutes $49 flight from home!
How long am I going to stay in Maui? No idea...
Am I going to blog? No idea...
Am I going to surf? Yes.
Am I going to check out this Paia fest? Possible.
Am I going to attend this Quatro/Goya demo day at Kanaha on July 1st? Maybe (if I'm still here).

In the meantime, enjoy this dramatic sunset from two days ago. Yesterday's was even better, but I was at the airport...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

oahu day 23 - shiatsu + epic Ala Moana

After 22 days in a row of either surfing and/or windsurfing, I finally had a massage.

I decided to give Shiatsu a try.
Well, it was not even remotely as pleasant as a regular massage, but when I got out of that room, I really felt like a different person. Not necessarily better, but sure different. I felt like the blood was getting to places where it hadn't been in a while...

The therapist strongly recommended to take a day off or two, since the muscles would feel pretty sore before they I could actually feel the advantages of the regained flexibility/softness.
So, believe it or not, yesterday I didn't get in the water! Pretty good timing, I'd say, since the swell was pretty damn big again with most spots in Waikiki closing out.

I went to Ala Moana at sunset and, together with plenty epic rides and barrels that will eventually end up in the Oahu Movie (IF I'm ever going to do it), I shot this clip that, I can guarantee you, will entertain you for a couple of minutes... at least for my colorful language!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

oahu day 22 - and now back to surfing time!

What another gorgeous day.

Beautiful waves all day long in Waikiki. I surfed Publics in the morning with 5 other people (!).
Then I went to check out Da Spot, but the wind wasn't there. They told me that Diamond Head was sailable, but I had so much fun in the morning that I decided to go back to Publics.
Of course, there were now 44 people, but that was ok for two reasons:
1) I was pretty tired so it was good to only paddle for a few waves
2) it was the first time I took out the Sanyo and shot the surfers from the water.

The idea is pretty cool. Catch a wave, wait on the inside, film the others for a while and then paddle out to catch another one. Still there's something that doesn't quite convince me about that camera. I have till July 4th to return it, so I better decide soon what to do with it...
In the meantime, you guys enjoy this little clip. No, I'm not going to blame the camera for the fact that I lost the surfer for a while... I got to learn that I can't zoom so much.

Waves today: 16
Wave count up to date:
windsurfing: 288
surfing: 204
total: 492
average per day: 22.3

oahu day 21 - secret spot

Scott took me to a secret spot. Amazing how in multi million inhabitants Honolulu you can still find a spot to surf completely alone. Very difficult to access, took us 30 minutes from the car to the waves, which unfortunately weren't epic, but the whole experience was worth it anyway.

This photo is from last week.

Waves weren't great at Da Spot either (also because I got there late with the high tide) and that made for an under the average day (total 14 waves).

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 288
surfing: 188
total: 476
average per day: 22.7

Blog author spotted while inspecting his favorite grocery store department. Nothing like the taste of a fresh fruit...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

oahu day 20 - the start of a new long lasting south swell

South swell is back and the waves at Da Spot were in the head high range. I caught 33 of them in two sessions. In the break I let a sailor called Thomas try my 81l Quatro twinzer.

Here's a couple of shots that should show what he will then say in the lil interview below.

Damn, this place is so bad for photos...

BTW, I'm not sure what model is his sail, but I looked up the weight of a 09 Zone 5.2 and that's 3.93 kilos. The weight of a 4.7 Superfreak ultralight is 3.32 (a 5.3 weights 3.50). That's 600 grams (1.3 pounds). And that in light wind makes a huge difference...

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 284
surfing: 178
total: 462
average per day: 23.1

Pat Caldwell is back (thank God for that!) and he says that the weekend swell will not be as big as the one last week. That is a good thing, since most breaks in Waikiki were closing out last week...
Go to go surf!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oahu day 19 - more windsurfing

I just discovered another lovely characteristic of Da Spot: it's always better than what it looks like from the beach...
38 waves caught in a single session of two hours, once again most of the time completely alone. That's almost a wave every 3 minutes... quite impressive, considering that I was planing for only 10% of the time!

Didn't take any action shot, so you'll have to live with this couple of ones taken by Sharon on the north shore last Friday.
This guy was bodyboarding Pipe... unbelievable! He only had one arm, but I'm pretty sure he had at least three balls.

Despite the fact that he had both arms still attached, this other guy was only taking photos of Pipe for his blog, instead.

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 251
surfing: 178
total: 429
average per day: 22.5

There we go. Once again, the Maui County is trying to enforce restrictive rules to surfing/windsurfing/kitesurfing/any ocean sport schools. Here you'll find a few email addresses where to eventually send your opinion... by Friday 6/26 9am!

Monday, June 22, 2009

oahu day 18 - it's all about sailing these days

The wind is blowing, the swell is down, the only option is windsurfing. Not that I'm complaining... it's so much fun over here!

With a 9 feet windswell, I'm pretty sure that Hookipa had some waves too, but with gusts over 30 knots, as reported by the "wind yesterday" graph on iWindsurf.com (not sure if you need membership to see that), I'm quite happy to be here and sail these super clean waves with offshore wind instead:

Yesterday Tristan Boxford showed up quite unprepared to go sail (...it wasn't in his plans). He had to borrow one of my extension and mast foot and he had no shorts to wear...

Here's when he hits the water in jeans... if you pump up the volume you may be able to hear a bit of the dialog...
He still ripped, no matter what.

The videographer I'm about to tow out is Bruno, a french windsurfer that injured his ankle on the mountain bike and now is dedicating himself to shooting his friends from the water. Hopefully he will send me some of the clips...

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 213
surfing: 178
total: 391
average per day: 21.7

Sunday, June 21, 2009

oahu day 17 - fun windsurfing

The wind is blowing and waist to shoulder high waves at Da Spot offered fun wavesailing conditions.

Provided that one can handle the extreme gusts and holes of the wind and the shallow reefy bottom, that is a perfect place for learning how to ride waves on a different tack. Waves are clean and easy to ready. I'm slowly starting to click into it, but still obviously far from being as good as I am on the other side.
I actually noted one thing that made me come up with a new theory. Being goofy when I surf, is rather a disadvantage than an advantage. Yes, I'm used to riding waves with the right foot forward, but a surfer doesn't have the windsurfers' third leg: the mast.
In other words, I found myself cranking those turns mostly out of the back foot because I know how to do that from surfing, and forget to put pressure on the mast foot to make the whole rail of the board bite in the water.
Anyone has an opinion here?

Another thing I'm wondering is how I will feel once I will go back to riding waves on the other side, after two months here. Will I be better, same or worse?
Well, if I was forced to brush my teeth with my left hand for two months, I'm pretty sure I would still be able to do that with my right hand after all... we'll see.

Anyway, let me post some photos... I must have bored you guys to death already!

I went to check out Diamond Head. What a beautiful view.

But conditions suck! There were two sailors out and a bunch of surfers and I couldn't get any good shot in 45 minutes. Very light on the inside, mushy shifty peaks, really not exciting...
Or maybe I was distracted my the people walking by. This girl was gorgeous.

Da Spot, instead, is the opposite. Ugly to photograph, but a hell lot of fun.

Decent size waves.

Decent size legs.

The beach became an even better place when this lady showed up.

Only in America.

With a total of 28 waves ridden in two sessions, the windsurfing waves have now surpassed the surfing ones. This trend will continue as long as the breezy trades condition will last. Monday night the a new south swell will start hitting, but the big stuff is scheduled towards the end of the week.

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 180
surfing: 178
total: 358
average per day: 21

Saturday, June 20, 2009

oahu day 16 - north shore

Together with a friend, we went to the north shore and "scored" Pipeline and Sunset breaking (actually even Waimea Bay had waves and three surfers catching them when we drove by!)



A sunset surfer.

BTW, Backyards didn't look windy/good enough, so I decided not to sail there.

I can tell two things for sure about those speedo wearing tourists:
1) they are NOT italians
2) yes, they're gay

Then we stopped by Sandy's and enjoyed watching the body boarders run over each other.

The day ended with a fun sailing session at Da Spot, where I caught 16 waves.
South swell going down a bit, windswell on the rise... I might need to try Diamond Head again.

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 152
surfing: 178
total: 330
average per day: 19.4

- blog reader Scott sent this link to photos of surfing in Munich
- Tristan Boxford sent this other link that announces the creation of the Standup World Tour
- my dad just told me on the phone of this tragic death of a kitesurfer in Italy. Caught by a marine tornado. Looking for an english version of the news, I ran into this other one, just a week old.

Last, but not least, please note the introduction of a new video player on the right, in the middle of the banners. This is a beta version of a service provided by an italian site called www.vvtv.it. I added the best videos I had on youtube and vimeo and now you guys can watch them without having to look for them in the archives. Let me know what you think. I think it's kind of cool...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

oahu day 15 - finally some fun wavesailing

This little video will tell more than my words. Not epic, but fun. Finally fun. The place can get better, I'm sure. But tomorrow there's a NW swell...

It was the first day that I didn't surf in the morning and that made a difference. I was able to have two sailing sessions, the first of which was definitely better because wind and waves were better. Plus after the other guy left, I was completely alone for most of the time. 26 waves, not bad.
The second session was so and so and it even got crowded! (lol)
8 is the highest number of windsurfers I saw in the water at the same time since I got here...
How many people will be sailing Hookipa tomorrow in the late afternoon? Can someone count and let me know?

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 136
surfing: 178
total: 314
average per day: 21

PS. This post is dedicated to an american citizen, hoping that it won't hurt him too much...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oahu day 14 - a bit of frustration

Day started ok with a surf session at those breaks on the Kewalo other side of the Magic Island.

Concessions, I think is the one I surfed. Nothing epic, a bit windy at times, a bit closing out at other times, but if you don't get out there and search, you never never know what you're missing... Quiz: who says that in which awesome windsurfing movie?
Anyway, 8 waves... better than nothing.

In the afternoon I went to da spot and saw another Superfreak!

Went out myself and broke the mast on the first wave. Derigged in the waves, paddled in, noticed a tear in a little panel of the sail (probably hit by the broken mast in the derigging phase)... thank god it's a superfreak, it's still sailable.
Went home to get the backup mast and headed out again around 5.30. The wind on the inside was so freaking light. Took me a while to make it out. In the meantime, the tide was dropping and, even though I was wisely wearing shoes (that I then put in the harness once out), I got a couple of sea urchins souvenirs in my foot.

I finally caught three beautiful waves that closed out in front of me after one turn because I didn't have enough power to make the section, when out of nowhere 6 surfers crowded the lineup.
That was too much to handle for me. It would have been different with a little more power, but I recognized that the conditions were actually better for surfing that windsurfing, so I left the arena to them.

Anticipating questions, I answer that I was out on a 4.7. I have a 5.3 with me too, but with this kind of wind the added power of a bigger sail doesn't help AT ALL. It's only more difficult to uphaul, light wind water start, tack, etc, because it's heavier.

You guys should know that I like light wind, but this is a bit too light. Tomorrow the forecast calls for stronger wind, we'll see. So far, the windsurfing has been a bit frustrating, but I have faith in the future.

The surfing has been great instead, maybe apart from the last few days, when it has been a bit too big. Most breaks start to close out over here when the buoy reads more than 4 feet long period swells. In other words, I'm starting to figure out that in those UNUSUAL conditions, Maui may be even better, because it gets less energy. And when the energy is so much, less is better!
Unfortunately (!!!) the wave forecast calls for more big waves.

Here's this morning's South Pacific weather map. That's already another big swell in a week.

And this is the one forecasted for Sunday 21st: even bigger!

Next weekend is going to massive again and, instead of being excited, I confess that I'm a little concerned. Unless the wind starts cranking from a more favorable ENE-NE direction and then the wave sailing could get epic... so they say.

But whatever, no complains. I'm happy to be here. As that reader reminded me, I could be working or have kids right now...
Plus I can always get on a cheap flight and cruise back home if really necessary!

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 103
surfing: 178
total: 281
average per day: 20

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

oahu day 13 - shoulda rested

Today I learned a very basic rule of surfing.

You surf TOO MUCH the day before? You're gonna suck the day after.
Yeah, yesterday I overdid it (12 days in a row of surfing didn't help either) and this morning I should have just rested. But I'm not too good at resting, so I went out anyway and solemnly sucked.

Fortunately the afternoon light wind wave sailing session raised my moral a bit. I'm now really ready for some action with a tiny little bit more wind please (today on the wave the sail almost got backwinded when going down the line). And that's exactly what should happen starting Thursday. Maybe even tomorrow.

The only "problem" is... what am I going to do with that NW swell (that the NOAA keeps calling small, but I think it's going to be a proper one)?
I might need to call my personal Oahu secret information agency to get directions to Backyards!

This is a lil clip from yesterday. A wave caught way on the shoulder (actually at another peak way down the line), not even remotely as good as the waves on the main peak, but that's what I got on the camera. So that's what you get.

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 100
surfing: 170
Grand total: 270

PS. A couple of links:
- the Maui Vmax competition started. Info and blog.
- a facebook page for the fans of Windsurfing magazine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

oahu day 12 - Rice Bowls... not!

Wow, it was big today!

Probably the biggest since I'm here. 5 feet and 15 seconds at the west buoy, that's a lot for a south swell.

I went to check a spot called Rice Bowls, allegedly a hollow and fast wave when it works.
First, just to warm up, I set on the next break over where there were far less people and it was far less consistent, but when the set arrived it was pretty intense.
I managed to make a couple of drops and that felt good. But then it happened that I had to duck dive under a big one that was doing the barrel right where I was. I pushed the 6.10 as hard as I could under the water and I think I went down two-three feet at least. It was like those two-three feet didn't offer any protection at all. The heavy lip hit me hard on the head, like I never was hit before.
Actually, now that I think about it, those two-three feet probably saved my neck!
Anyway, after having been punished and humbled, I observed a guy catching a bomb and standing tall in the tube at Rice Bowls and wisely decided that that was going to be a bit too much for me.

So I paddled down to Publics.
What? Only three people out! Mmm... there must be something wrong...
And in fact there was a simple problem: it was too big for that spot. You had to sit inside and wait for a peeling one, but once in a while a cleanup close out set would push you all the way inside. Geez, so much work to paddle out again!
In two hours I caught a total of four waves and probably paddled half of the time.

In the afternoon, the wind was too light to sail and I went to check China Walls. This guy was taking off so close to the rocks that most of the times you couldn't even see him! That's why I don't have any of those rides... but I have this other one. Beautiful colors, that place is magic.

Yeah, so beautiful that I couldn't resist and, despite the tiredness, I had to jump in the water again. Didn't do too much, but it was worth it...
I got a little clip of a wave caught on the inside shoulder, but no time to upload it. Check back later. Exhausted. Need some sleep.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

oahu day 11 - one wave at China Walls

11th day in a row of awesome surfing.

More to come with a healthy mix of windsurfing action too in the second half of the week.
And, after I checked the north pacific weather map, even an out of season NW swell on Thursday... you guys ready for Pipeline?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oahu day 10 - Relentless energy from the South Pacific.

That was the title of an email from the Surfline forecaster to inform me that the day that I will finally give my abused body a rest is far to come.
Bloddy hell, how was my timing in coming to Oahu?

Between sessions, right out of the water at Waikiki, I ran into the annual parade for the King Kamehameha day.

Here's a few misses.

Beautiful flowers!

Not sure what takes to be "Chinese model mother of the year", but sure Mrs Yun Soong Jim knows.

Meanwhile, even the usually beginner friendly spots of Queens and Canoes were seeing some serious action.

I can tell two things for sure about those speedo wearing tourists:
1) they are italians
2) they're not gay

Wait, I'll take that back.

Click on this one. Both ladies and gents will appreciate it... BTW, isn't she lovely?

Kobe Bryant.

If I'm ever going to do a movie about this trip, Dancing Auntie will have a whole chapter. She was hysterical.

Session report.
Today yet another day of waves. Marcio slept in late and I opted for Publics again. I like that wave, because even though it can get big (plenty overhead sets today), the drop is steep only at the very moment you catch it and then it gets immediately mellow. That helps me overcome the fear or dropping in big waves with the 6.10.
Here's the two main areas where I already improved my shortboard surfing in 10 days:
1) paddling: I paddle way stronger and can catch waves that I would normally miss.
2) duck diving: damn, am I practicing that or what? I'm way more confident to make it even under big ones, still sometimes I relax and fuck up...
Areas where I haven't improved yet, but I'm now conscious I need to improve (which
is already an improvement, if you think about it:
1) generating speed by doing turns. Got to get those rails engaged at every single moment. Just cruising up high on the wave to make the sections is more of a longboard thing.
2) bottom turns, top turns, cut backs... in other words all turns.
3) reading the waves

In the afternoon I went to Da Spot and since the waves were bigger, I decided to take the 81l out instead of the Sea Lion.
Man, that was a lot of work for those four waves... uphauling was the only option, that's how light it was.

Wave count up to date.
windsurfing: 86
surfing: 146
Grand total: 232

"GOOD-EPIC SURF: 4-7 ft. - shoulder high to 2 ft. overhead occasionally 8 ft. and good-epic conditions."... that's the surfline forecast for the next four days...

You got to be kidding me! I'm having a blast you guys...

Friday, June 12, 2009

oahu day 9 - Suicides + Sea Lion sailing

Yet another gorgeous day here in Honolulu.

The consistency of the weather is incredible. It's always sunny, hot and dry. The reason, as one can easily guess, is the direction of the trade winds that blow offshore across a chain of mountains that stops most of the humidity on the windward side.
Oh, and of course another lovely side effect of the offshore wind is that it keeps the waves clean all day...
Unless it's blowing 25+ of course, which will probably happen for a few days starting next Thursday... oh well, I'll go sailing then!

Here's some surfing shots from last big Wednesday.
As I said already, the level at Bowls is pretty high.

Shortboarders or longboarders... they all rip.

Sometimes they eat it too, though!

Dropping in on this guy is probably not a good idea.

A couple of helicopters were searching for someone in the water on the Kewalo side of the magic island. Didn't see any news on the newspapers, so I guess nothing bad happened.

This surfers prefers to wear a helmet. Probably a good idea, seen the size of the waves.

Magic sunset ride.

And now, for the real aficionados who not only watch the photos, but even read what I write, here's the report of the past few days.

Yesterday was my worse day since I'm here. After having checked out a few spots, none of which really inspired me, I ended up getting in the water at Diamond Head with the 6.10.
One wave was all it took to understand that as a surfing spot Diamond Head SUCKS.
I don't get why people actually bother surfing it, when around the corner the wind is lighter and offshore and the waves are 100 times cleaner!
I can understand that in Maui some surfers surf Hookipa when it's windy. I surf and sail, so I have the option to choose and I'd rather sail it, but many surfers don't sail. And when Hookipa it's head high, where else would you surf in Maui?
Paia bay? Tavares? Gimme a break (pun intended).

So, surfing windy waves does make some sense in Maui, if you don't have other options.
But, FOR GOD'S SAKE, why would you choose to surf a wave with plenty chop on the face and a shifty peak if you have 150,000 cleaner breaks around the corner?!?!!
I assume that being a better surfer than me (that doesn't take much indeed), helps overcoming the above difficulties... but still.
Maybe people wants to stay away from the crowds of Waikiki? Yeah right... it was even crowded!!!
My only possible explanation is that even surfing perfect waves after a while can get boring (!) and that at that point surfing a chop infested wave can become fun... for a change, you know.
Whatever... they surf Diamond Head because they can, I guess...

Anyway, after that one wave I surfed Ala Moana In Betweens at sunset and I caught only six more (kinda closing out) for the so far lowest daily score of total 7.

Fortunately, I amply recovered from that poor performance catching a total of 42 today.
The first 17 on the 6.10 at a spot called Suicides. Not sure why the name, since it was a pretty mellow and fun wave... Maybe it needs to be bigger. Let's see what Ambrose say:
"Suicides is a guaranteed good time, despite the rather alarming name. Although the reef can get nasty in the inside section at low tide, Suicides is a fun performance wave where an occasional tube makes a guest appearance"

In the afternoon I went to Da Spot and, seen the extremely light wind, I sceptically went out sailing on the Sea Lion. Last time I tried down the line wavesailing on that thing was on the north shore in Maui on one of the steepest and fastest waves you can think of. Clearly I wasn't too impressed by the performance of that funky little board.
Today, instead... oh my god, did I have fun or what?!
I caught 25 glassy waist to shoulder high gems, kinda slow and not too steep and really enjoyed that same funky little board!

So tonight it's friday night. Everyone is out to try to have fun ingurgitating tons of alcohol and various other toxic substances.
I, instead, am totally fried laying on the bed and feel no need to go look for extra fun. My body needs rest and my soul is content. I am a happy man.

And tomorrow I better be in form, because I'm going to surf together with a surfer that paddled into Jaws.
In fact, the other day I met Marcio, who made my same choice: to spend the summer in Oahu, where the south swells are way better.
I linked this already, but check this video. At minute 2.22 he's going to catch an enormous left a Jaws that should have awarded him the Billabong XXL award.

Tonight he called me and said that he wants to get away from Bowls that is way too crowded...
"No problem brah" I told him, "I'll take you somewhere else away from the crowd..."
Where? We'll see...

Better buy some new shorts first! ;)