Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oahu wrap up

I'm back in Maui and this is the last post about the Oahu trip.

As you guys know already, it has been an awesome trip. I was incredibly lucky and scored great conditions pretty much every day. I only remember a stretch of like three-four days when the waves were only knee to waist high, but even that was fun, because I could finally surf an uncrowded Ala Moana Bowls (that otherwise is pretty much off limits).

A local guy told me that to remember a summer as good as this one he had to go back to 1995. "That's when the waves were breaking on Kalakaua" (the Waikiki boulevard), he said...

This is the spreadsheet with all the stats of the 1050 waves that I caught. Click on it to read it. DH stands for Diamond Head and DS for Da Spot.

600 windsurfing waves vs 450 surfing ones. That's a bit of a surprise, considering that I went there mostly for surfing.
The thing is that I knew how good the surfing spots were, but I had no idea of how good Da Spot was. It definitely exceeded my expectations. Thank god, because if Diamond Head was the only sailing spot, I would have not sailed AT ALL.

My favorite surf spot, instead, was for sure Publics. But only in the morning, since in the afternoon, when good, it can get up to 50 people...
China Walls is a way higher adrenaline wave, but adrenaline is not everything and Publics is a more playful wave.
Plus I got it on a couple of epic days and those waves were of a beauty that I really can't even try to describe. Unique shape and movement, I don't know what was about it, but I really digged it. The only place I know where it can be double overhead and slow, clean and mellow, that's what it was.
Even Kanaha gets challenging at that size (the bowl starts closing out), instead the waves at Publics can get big, but they still keep the typical Waikiki character of easy mellow surfing. Awesome and incredibly fun.

A few considerations about life outside of the water.
Bad aspects: traffic, parking.
Good aspects: there's less racism and hostility towards white people. Maybe it's because there so many people from different places (lots of Chinese, Japanese, Philipino and tourists from all over the world), but I was treated by the locals like one of them (i.e. a human being). And that was refreshing.
Unfortunately, in Maui there's still a lot of hostility towards the whites. In Oahu I didn't hear one time the word 'haole', usually preceded by the work 'fucking'. Hey, even Wikipedia says so:
In current application, Haole can be used descriptively or as a racially derogatory word (often, if not generally, preceded by an obscene invective

I met some really great people.
The windsurfing community is just a delightful bunch of great guys and they welcomed me in with joy and love... once they saw I wasn't snaking waves! I feel sorry for them knowing that the August crew will not behave as good and they will see their beautiful waves crowded by unrespectful tourists (some of them, unfortunately from my home country...).
Guys, it was a pleasure to meet you all.
Special thanks go to Fabrice Beaux who lended me a mast for the last couple of days.
Here's a great video of him I found on youtube. The wave sailing part is entirely filmed at Da Spot (from the raft: very cool!).

And here's a link to an SUP video he just sent me.
Many thanks also to Scott for showing me places and for the dinner parties.

More about the Oahu-Maui comparison. Maui is definitely more "provincial" so to say. If on one hand it's nice to go to Kanaha and have to stop every 10 yards to shake hands with someone that says "welcome back" (fortunately most of them followed the blog so I didn't have to tell them how it was, otherwise I would have never made it to the water), I kind of liked going out in Waikiki and entering a pub knowing that nobody would know me and that I would know nobody. Variety is a spice of life and Honolulu clearly offers more of that than Paia...

Friday morning and the start of a new south swell. Ala Moana is already head high and there's not even a shore break in Kihei. Uff, this weekend is going to be hard not to miss Oahu. Well, looks like after this swell the south shore is going flat for a while, so that should help.

This post concludes the blog coverage of my Oahu trip (all posts can be retrieved by clicking on the "oahu" label). I hope you guys enjoyed it. Aloha.

Monday, July 27, 2009

oahu day 46 - Thousand!

I sure would have liked wave number 1000 to be a good one, but unfortunately it wasn't.
Wave 999, instead, was not a bad one so that's what you get.

This quick post is to celebrate the achievement of a stupid little goal that I set before starting this Oahu trip: I caught a thousand waves.
Not all of them were good, but I enjoyed them all. And they all made me a better surfer/windsurfer.

Rise up your glasses blog readers and toast with me.

day waves: 30
windsurfing: 569
surfing: 428
total: 1028
average per day (42 days in the water): 24.5

PS. I'm leaving wednesday morning and for the next couple of days I'll be very busy packing and catching a few more. I'll do a final post about the Oahu trip from Maui and I'll need a few days for that.
In the meantime, enjoy your lives.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

oahu day 45 - two waves shy of...

A bit of surfing and a bit of sailing made for a total of 21 waves today. That brings the total to 998.

Links and news.
- Brett Simpson won $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars!!!) at the Us Open of surfing at Huntington Beach.
Here's a photo from Harry from the previous days.

And here's the highlights of the heat in which Kelly Slater did the sickest carving 360 you can possibly imagine. Minute 2:00.

That's actually the most difficult surfing maneuver I have ever seen. I watched it many times and I still can't figure how in the world he did it... without footstraps!
Unreal. Insane. Sick. And whatever other word you may want to use. Impossible, that's how that move was.
I love the way he "claims it" with his left arm at 2:03. That's exactly what I would have done if I was there watching from the beach. I would have done that same exact gesture, turned around and said loudly to whoever was standing behind me:"you got to be kidding me!"

- Jamie Mitchell won $3,000 winning the prone paddleboard category for the eighth time at the Molokai to Oahu crossing.
I went to the arrival to cheer Michelle (who got second in the standup mixed team category) and took some horrible photos (and parked even worse: $50 ticket). This is the only good one.

- FINALLY, a decent non-live coverage of a heat of a windsurfing contest. Ok, windsurfing is way poorer than surfing and setting up a proper live webcast might be an expensive task, but something like this is way more doable. Two cameras and a commentator (great job by Ben Profitt) et voila': we can actually see what the Pozo final looked like. Thanks Patrick for sending the link, but specially thanks to the people who did it... FINALLY!

- crazy The Wedge SUP action. Thanks Alex.

The Wedge - Bryce & TJ Saeman from SportShorts on Vimeo.

day waves: 21
windsurfing: 551
surfing: 416
total: 998
average per day (41 days in the water): 24.3

Saturday, July 25, 2009

oahu days 43 and 44

THANK YOU HARRY for sending these amazing photos.

The US Open of surfing is taking place in Huntington Beach and the waves are just massive over there.

I watched live on the webcast Kelly Slater getting a perfect 10 with a huge barrel this morning and that was already overly cool. Webcasts rock. Especially the properly done ones. Tomorrow at 9.40 am hawaii time there's the final. Here's the complete schedule.

Imagine my extreme pleasure when tonight I received an email by master photographer Harry Wievel containing the following photos that any comment would stain.

Courtney Conlogue on a big one.


The tales of my surfing would be extremely uninteresting after those photos, so I'll limit the information to the mere stats.

day waves: 22 + 21
windsurfing: 572
surfing: 405
total: 977
average per day (40 days in the water): 24.4

977 you guys... it may happen tomorrow...

Friday, July 24, 2009

oahu da 42

What an awesome day of surfing!

Morning session at Publics. Inconsistent, but glassy, big and not crowded. I really like this place because it offers big steep drops that mellow out immediately after the take off. The waves are slow and playful. The take off area is very wide and the morning crowd is mellow and not too numerous (in the late afternoon, instead, it can get very, very crowded).

There was a SUP surfing contest at Queens. I stopped by quickly to take some photos.

I was fairly unimpressed by the level of the contestants and by how in general by how SUP surfing looks.

Check the difference with these shots of the US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach sent by my buddy Harry .

Well, Harry is a better photographer too, that's for sure...
Did the guy in the first three photos look like Kelly Slater? Yes, it was him riding a double stringer quad.
The webcast is up, just like the waves. Slater is up soon against Maui's Granger Larsen who learned how to surf at Puamana pools.
What should I do: wait for his heat or go surf myself? Ah, what a tough decision...

Anyway, back to Queens, click this photo and check the guy flying mid air on the front of the boat.

The wind was very light and in the afternoon I surfed Da Spot, that can be a really good surf spot too. There's a fairly long right that was quite packed though, so I was catching the same lefts of the windsurfing break. Fun. Here's a wave.

day waves: 24
windsurfing: 572
surfing: 362
total: 934
average per day (38 days in the water): 24.6

PS. I waited for that heat and as usual Kelly the freak Slater didn't disappoint. A huge carving 360 under the lip of a double overhead wave: 9.87.
Now I'll go to Publics and do EXACTLY the same!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

oahu days 40-41 - how to break a mast

First, let me quickly mention that day 40 that was below average, both for surfing and windsurfing, because the old swell was on the way down.

Day 41, instead, could have potentially been one of the best if I wasn't such a kook!
New south swell on the rise and beautiful waves up to overhead high. Usual tricky wind conditions. Very offshore, very gusty, very light at times. Difficult to position yourself in the right spot at the right moment, but when you hit that magic combo of wave and wind, it was really sweet.

This first clip is a very good example of the extreme variability of the wind at Da Spot.
I caught a wave during a sudden strong gust that made me overpowered on my 4.7. Kook as I am, I went too late for the second turn and got worked (notice the shallow reef).
Fortunately, I was followed by Fabrice Beaux who, instead, timed it right and rode his wave beautifully. Notice how glassy the water is at the end. I remember it took me a while to water start due to the complete lack of wind. And few seconds before it was howling.

I'm not done with showing off my kookness.

In this other clip, I had just fallen in the water trying to tack and get out of the way of a big set when I saw once again Fabrice charging down the line. Instead of checking what was the relative position of the mast to the wave, the only thing I could think about was to push the button of the camera on my head and film him. So, more than kookness, I'd say I'm now exhibiting stupidity.
Of course Fabrice does a beautiful big aerial (the photo on top is a snapshot out of the clip) and of course the wave breaks my mast. I only found out later by watching the clip that the mast was perpendicular to the wave and oriented towards the beach, which is the best possible way of breaking it. I'm not even going to try to ask for a warranty replacement. That was my fault, period.

Look how happy I am that I caught the aerial on video! Clearly I have no idea yet that the mast is broken...

Now I got no more masts (I broke another a month ago) and the 4.7 is pretty trashed, but I still have that 5.3 that is for sale and Fabrice was so nice to lend me a spare sdm mast and extension (he broke his rdm mast too earlier today).
Not that I got too many days left (I'm thinking about leaving on Monday), but...
"if the wind holds, tomorrow could be one the best days of your stay... I don't want you to miss it and I got more masts at home!", he said.
What a nice guy! THANK YOU BROTHER!!

Talking about great guys, I just received the link to this really good ESPN article.

day waves: 32 + 16
windsurfing: 572
surfing: 338
total: 910
average per day (37 days in the water): 24.6

PS. While I was at it, I filmed the whole struggle of derigging the sail in the waves without losing any piece. The top of the mast got stuck in the sail (I had to use a knife and cut the sleeve to pull it out on the beach) and I could roll only half of the sail. The current took me out through the channel and I had to paddle through the next break downwind with half sail dragging in the water. It was the hardest paddle ever.
The clip lasts 30 minutes and then for some reason it stops (maybe I ran out of battery). I think it took me 20 more minutes to make it back to the shore.
Sure, I could have ditched the sail, but I didn't want to pollute (and lose the top of the mast). Please fellow windsurfers, do the same: ditch your broken stuff only if you're in danger.
PPS. The above mentioned clip would make a perfect "bonus" material for the Oahu DVD... if I'm ever going to do it!
PPPS. I just found out that a place around the corner has Guy Cruz playing live every Wednesday night. Good: I can use a beer after all that paddling...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

oahu day 39

It's official: I'm in love with Da Spot.

What another awesome session yesterday! Sorry Pascal if this is going to hurt you more, but I took a break between my two sessions and had time to take some pics.
Hans was on fire.

At the same time Bruno was in the water filming and I can't wait to see the footage. It doesn't show from the photos, but some waves were extreeemely clean.

Nice spray.

The start of a perfect 'hair job'.

See what I mean? The hair you guys, the hair.

This is Fabrice (who gave me a copy of his video, thanks!).

Cute little bugger.

day waves: 32
windsurfing: 542
surfing: 320
total: 862
average per day (35 days in the water): 24.6

Monday, July 20, 2009

oahu day 38

Another superfun day at Da Spot.

I timed it right and got in the water around 11 on a rising tide and a rising swell.
Two of us for most of the times. Beautiful belly to head high clean waves.
I caught 30 waves in 2 hours and the screen of my trusty wave counting device is the only photo I have in offer for you.

BTW, as soon as I'm done counting waves, I think I'll sell the watch. Email me if you are interested in this piece of history...

In the afternoon, instead, I went out around 5ish and, no idea how, ended up way upwind than usual. I was alone (on a bloody Sunday!!!) and had no other sailors to indicate me the right position. Before I figured that out by looking at the coastline, I got worked a couple of times on a super shallow inside and that made me lose a hell lot of time. In other words, I only caught 4 waves and still can't understand how in the world I ended up so upwind. I'm too good at slogging!!

Anyway, the buoy went up to over 3 feet at 14 sec from 200 this morning, the wind is cranking and I'm ready for more.

day waves: 34
windsurfing: 510
surfing: 320
total: 830
average per day (34 days in the water): 24.4

Sunday, July 19, 2009

oahu day 37

No action shots today, so you have to live with this one, which, I believe, will make someone happy...

Those three 81s are mine, Clay's and Hans'.
When Pascal sold me that board he said:"it's going to be perfect for you in Oahu!"
I can now say that he wasn't lying.

Went to see a surf movie yesterday called "sipping jetstreams". Very well done, with a lot of images of people and culture of the places where it was shot. Not the usual Hawaii, Indo, Australia, etc, but places you would never think as surf spots. Even Italy was in it! Nice soundtrack too and no words at all, only images. A bit on the short side: 40 minutes, I could have taken a bit more.

Went for a dinner at The Shack afterward and did plenty of people watching. That triggered this thought:
It's very sad that nowadays standards for being 'hot' induce girls to put on shit like:
- high hills
- nail polish
- fake boobs

What's even more sad is that most girls actually do that.
And what's even more sad is that most guys like them... even I do! It's weird. I disapprove and I would probably never really hang out with a girl with all of the above (because I suspect I won't be particularly interested in her personality), but I surely wouldn't mind a sesh! What a living contradiction I am...

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not a girl.
Actually, I'll take that back. If I was a girl, I wouldn't care about all of the above I'd be like Michelle. Who, by the way, after another triumph in her category in the Maliko - Kahului standup paddle race a couple of weeks ago, will now challenge the Molokai - Oahu channel this weekend. Way to go sistah!

Talking about being a girl, also seen the lack of photos of this post, one of the reasons I lately went back to Maui for a week, was to attend Ulli's 40th birthday party. The theme was Germany and here's my sexy Lufthansa hostess impersonation.
The kissing hottie clearly had a partner in the form of boyfriend, husband or similar, just like pretty much all the other girls at the party. What a boring society this is...

The forecast is particularly interesting.
First, let's have a look at today's weather map from down under.

That beautiful fetch will send a big swell in about 7 days, so around Sunday 26th it's going to big pretty damn big again. Uncle Pat says that it's going to be a long lasting episode, but I tend to disagree on that, since the following days weather maps are not as good. We'll see.
Hey, the 26th is the day of the Molokai crossing! That'll make for an interesting arrival...

But what's even more interesting is that starting Thursday the trade winds should get extremely light for a few days. Sunday looks pretty light too, but it's a week ahead and that can change. Light trade winds will make the crossing way harder...

Hang on! I just also saw on the maps a decent NW swell slotted for... sunday again! How that will influence the status of the channel... no idea. We'll find out, I guess. Actually, they'll find out!

Ok, time to go rack some more waves for the 1000 target. I don't know if I'll stay in Oahu till the end of July, so I better get to work.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

oahu day 36

Yet another fun day at Da Spot.

Not quite as fun as yesterday because... the wind was stronger! The stronger I got it so far: fully powered on the outside with a 4.7. Good, you would think. Bad, I say. More chop on the face of the waves disturbed me quite a bit. Geez, it's going to be hard to get used to the Maui strong wind again...

Anyway, as promised here are the other photos from day 35.
Fabrice Beaux was all over the place. Take that.

Or that.

Or that (forward off the lip).

Here's another frenchman called Bruno who is recovering from a bad ankle accident happened while doing some radical mountain bike stuff. He's just now going back in the water and he's trying to be conservative.
He spent the convalescence filming the action at Da Spot from the water and he will come up with a video. He promised to send me a copy, so hopefully you'll see bits of it on this blog.
How's that wave?

Following Ray's tip, I climbed on a tree to take some of these photos. When I came down (it wasn't particularly comfortable), I noticed that the trunk was pretty much empty! Weird.

Sure honey, that's how you were supposed to wrap the leash.

Fiona brings back the beast.

This is the 5.3 Superfreak Ultralight that I'm selling. One time in the water, like spanking new. $150 off the price list: $360. I got it because everybody was saying to bring big sails in Oahu since the wind is light. Well, they were right about the wind, but I decided that I don't want to sail anything bigger than 4.7. Anyone remembers Dave Osborne? He only had a 4.5 and he made it work in any conditions. The secret: an extremely light rig and a lot of skill. I got the first one, working on the second.
Email me if interested.

And a few photos from day 36, NOT from the tree.

This guy on a good old Hot SO sails launches from his house just upwind, so I never got to meet him and don't know his name. He's pretty damn good.

Him again.

day waves: 29
windsurfing: 452
surfing: 320
total: 772
average per day (32 days in the water): 24.1

PS. Deep storms are stirring the waters down south (must be quite a bad winter in New Zealand). Stay ready for a big day around the 26th.

PPS. OMG. Just watched this video on Had to embed it here too...

"Wow!" is all I can say.
No actually I can add that Pozo should belong to a different PWA discipline called 'Jumping and freestyle on the waves'. Other than that, that young kid is amazing.
How's this small jump?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

oahu day 35 - it's an all about me post

Peculiar: the worst surf session and the best sailing session in the same day!

Let's get rid of the first. I went to Suicides again and the conditions were pretty similar to the day before. So, what made the difference? The crowd, of course.
Not so much the number of people, but the attitude. Everyone was paddling for every wave. No one with a remote idea of what waiting for your turn means. Guys that just paddled back out after a ride sat deep and went for the next wave... that sucks.
I caught 3 waves and then I left disgusted.

Windsurfing: OMG, did I have fun or what?
Classic Da Spot conditions with waves from waist high to head high with occasional overhead bombs. Check these beauties (that'll be the wave and me).

Maui friend Fiona was in Oahu on jury duty and we hooked up in the afternoon. She did pretty good at sailing Da Spot and taking photos with my camera both for the first time.
Here I am again.

And again. And I could go on and post all the 27 (!) waves I caught but I won't... also because I don't have a photo for each of them.

And there she is, testing the ground on my borrowed gear.

She liked both board and sail. "The board turns like if it is smaller and the sail is quite comfortable"...
Comfortable? It's a bloody Cadillac!
Here's what my friend Steve had to say in a recent email he sent me, after I suggested him to test a Freak at the shop (he ended up buying two of them).
I just wanted to say hi and tell you I am really enjoying sailing my new Superfreaks. What range! Amazing. I can rig the 4.7 in really crazy wind and still manage to have a decent session...and the 5.3 is sweet! I am so stoked, Dude, thanks for the tip!!!

Back to Fiona, this is a self portrait of the reef tattoos she got on her leg and foot.
Blimey sistah, that's a serious gap between big toe and rest of da toes... been wearing slippahs long time, uh?

I took a bunch of photos of the other sailors while she was out, but I got no time today, so come back tomorrow for the Fabrice Beaux show.

day waves: 30
windsurfing: 423
surfing: 320
total: 743
average per day (31 days in the water): 23.9

PS. Ray and friends found some waves.

PPS. Double elimination completed at Pozo. 15 years old Philip Koster won the wave event! Fernandez second, Campello third, Kauli only 11th.