Monday, November 30, 2009

birds and waves

Let's get rid of the birds first.

Not exactly the same bikini top that Stephanie Gilmore wore when she won the contest at Sunset the other day (and together with that her third consecutive world title), but sure looks cute.

I have three questions for you, dear asian beauty.
1) what's up with the double leash?
2) who put the pad on that board?! A few inches more forward and it would be good for nose riding!
3) how do you clean the wax off the piercing?

And now the waves.
12 feet, 9 seconds from NE and 9 feet 12 seconds from NW made for a big mess on the north shore.
Pascal knew better.

Like often happens in light wind, the kiters impressed me a lot. Specially this guy.

Let's see who throws more spray:

Uff, I don't know...
It's early for new year resolutions, but here's (a conditional) one: forget about trying to learn in winter time (I'm too busy surfing and wavesailing), but IF next summer I'll be in Maui, I'll give kitesurfing another try.
Ok, and now let's start planning where to spend next summer...

Here's a brief forecast.
This week: big waves.
Next week: bigger waves.

This post is dedicated to a friend who left today for a short mainland trip. Brah, you missed a really fun session. Wind forecast doesn't look good though, so no more torture posts for you. Oh wait, I forgot you surf too...
Oh well, there will be plenty more... technically winter hasn't even started yet.

God, it's already December though!! I'm about to panic... soon it's going to be June! Can't waste time, can't miss sessions. Time to go to sleep. Tomorrow morning there's more waves to be caught. Goodnight.

Friday, November 27, 2009

thanksgiving bliss + Jaws pics

Just updated this post with a few PS's at the bottom.


Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I gave plenty thanks... to mother nature, as usual.

Actually my session started pretty bad. It was the second day in a row that I drove to this super fickle spot. I got skunked already the day before and it looked like I was going to get skunked again: as soon as I hit the water, the wind dropped drastically.
Super light, super offshore. Thanks to all that practice at Da Spot last summer in Oahu, I was able to do my usual slog and surf thing and catch waves doing just one turn.
A bit frustrating, since till a few minutes before they were sailing on 4.5s... but, better than nothing I thought.
Lower Kanaha was onshore, there was no point to drive back. Allegedly Uppers was pretty good instead.

So, having finally given up the fantasy of an epic session, I was enjoying my one turn waves when unexpectedly the wind came back. At that point it was only me and Glenn and it was getting better and better. He had to leave kind of early though and I was left completely alone.

Let me try to describe how bloody awesome the thing got.
Upwind the clouds were low, dark and full of rain, framed by a monster super bright rainbow. The water upwind was very dark, but, since the sun downwind was out and low on the horizon, the white caps were so bright that they were almost glowing in the middle of the menacing chops. In this surreal beauty, I found myself catching peeling head high waves perfectly powered on my 4.7.

The wind was about 30 degrees offshore (0 degrees being sideshore) and the non intimidating size of the waves pushed me to do my top turns as close to the breaking lip as possible, in the so called pocket. I did so also because I thought that most of the times it was going to be a one turn wave anyway. But here's what happens when you do a turn in such a critical section.
The lip that is about to break but is held in place by the offshore wind acts like a slingshot being tensioned... and when you hit it just before it falls, you get a incredible push from it. That projected me in the next bottom turn with unexpected extra speed that, guess what, allowed me to stick another unplanned top turn. Still in the pocket, of course, and the whole thing happened again!
In other words, I had several waves in which I thought I was going to do only one turn and I ended up doing 3, 4 or 5... but not racing down the line, rather hitting the most critical section instead!
Unbelievable amount of fun.

I was just sorry for Glenn that had to leave early and I thought that it was a shame not to share such bliss with anybody else. But - cherry on the cake - when I got out of the water (5.30... couldn't do till 6 because my arms gave up) a couple of tourists renting one of the condos right in front of the spot gave me a standing ovation thanking me for the "awesome show".
It was probably the first wave sailing action they saw in their life, but still... I admit that I was flattered. They kept clapping hands until I walked out of their sight slightly embarrassed...

Photos now. Again, these photos were taken before the magic happened...
The one on top is Glenn doing a backloop. He pumped his arms off to get the speed. Click on the photo and admire the dramatic cliffs on the background. That's an awesome shot! Patrick did great, considering that it was the first time he used my camera...

This one is Nico instead, who was part of the early crew.

Just like Ferdinando. He was rigging down from 5.0 to 4.5 when I arrived. 20 minutes later the wind dropped and he headed back in.

That's how Nico made it back.

And that's me heading out. Had to swim for a while before I was able to uphaul and catch a little puff...
Those guys seem to be having more fun than me.

Didn't know kitesurfers could swim back in like that.

Glenn bottom turn.

Blog author.

Glenn top turn.

Patrick got bored.

This is Nick the day before. The wind was so light that me, Glenn and Andres decided it wasn't worth it. I'm sure Nick disagrees with us. BTW, brah I need to borrow those fins!

Couple of Hawaii shots.

And now a few photos of Jaws on Wednesday that Tormod sent me.
This looks like Polakow.

This is Levi.

But the most amazing shot I actually took from Nayra's blog. That is Francisco Porcella sliding on his back, head first, down the face of a monster. Patrick was there (congrats on his first Jaws experience) and told me that he kept sliding until he got caught by the lip and thrown over the falls.

That didn't stop him from going windsurfing later on.

For more Jaws photos, check Tormod's and Nayra's blogs.
Special thanks to Tormod who is about to leave the island. Very nice guy and I have to admit that his peculiar English spelling and grammar crack me up... I'm sure I do the same effect to someone else!

PS. Congrats to Tatiana for winning the 2009 Paia Bay invitational surf contest.
PPS. Thanks to Ian and Danny for the delicious food. You guys rock!
PPPS. The forecast continues to be awesome. New swells on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. And check what Pat Calwells says in his latest forecast:
In the northern hemisphere, it will be the 40th anniversary next week of the hugest surf of the last 50 years, a series of episodes with the peak day on December 4, 1969. That episode was a typhoon-fueled, extratropical source. Presently, there is a typhoon in the western Pacific, nadi, to watch for re-curvature into the central north Pacific mid next week. It is too early for specifics, though the potential for the gender bender, meaning a tropical warm core low turning to a mid latitude cold core low, ups the surf potential ante.

And this is the weather map modeled to happen Sunday dec 6th.
It's going to be Jaws time again for someone. It's going to be uncrowded smaller waves again for someone else...
Meanwhile, the Pipe Masters in Oahu is going to be epic just like the women's contest at Honolua Bay in Maui.
Winter in Hawaii: what a bloody awesome thing!

PPPPS. The surf contest at Sunset Beach in Oahu is on. Here's the link to the webcast.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

first HD gopro clip + upcoming Jaws

This is the first clip I shot with the new HD GoPro.

first gopro HD clip from giampaolo cammarota on Vimeo.

The action is not that exciting and there's a couple of drops on the lens, but I just wanted to give you an idea of how crisp the image is. And I didn't even select the highest resolution. And uploading it to a vimeo (or youtube) reduces its quality. But still, compare it to this other one shot with the regular definition wide angle and you'll see the difference...
I'll do a more extensive report on the camera when I have a bit more experience (and better footage!).
Oh, I was trying the chest mount. Nice angle from between the harness lines...

Wednesday morning, the dawn of a giant NW swell episode that should last a couple of days. With all these pros in town and a strong wind forecast (at least for Thursday), Jaws is going to be packed. I heard of three helicopters, plenty jet skis, hordes of people on the cliff filming and watching.
I'll make sure to be somewhere else, sailing relatively uncrowded waves...

PS. Don't miss the live action at Sunset beach in Oahu for the first day of the surf contest. It's going to be massive over there. I actually doubt they will run it... we'll see. BTW, the webcast is also on OC16: I'm going to record it and watch it tonight (if I'm still alive...).
Plenty Maui surfers in the first round:
- Ola Eleogram in heat 1
- Clay Marzo in heat 4
- Hank Gaskell in heat 5
- Kai Barger in heat 14
- Granger Larsen in heat 15

Talking about surf contests, Thursday (Thanksgiving day) the annual Paia Bay invitational surf contest will be held. Unfortunately I have to work till 1.30 and won't be able to take part. Bummer.
Well, actually, with this kind of forecast I'm kind of relieved... the (alternative) Bay can get gnarly with that size...
Have fun without me, you guys. Be safe!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

water shots!

Boy, was Hookipa crowded today or what?

I chose to sail there only because there were two friends in the water that would have taken photos of me.
Very hard to catch the good waves when the level of the other sailors is so incredibly high like in these days (most pros are here), but thanks to the talent of Francky, I got a couple of nice shots!

Tomorrow is going to be pretty damn big. Unfortunately I have to work in the morning and I won't able to take photos of Hookipa. Hopefully Francky will. Check his website for that, he's got some really good shots.

This one is Morgan. Great colors: Superfreak, rainbow, shorts...

And this one is Glenn on his new Quatro custom quad.

These are the photos I took instead.
Monsieur Bergeron.

Monsieur Albeau. We had a nice swim for our boards together. He beat me.


Long time no see something like that.

The buoys are already sensing the forerunners (1 foot 22 seconds at Waimea) of the new NW swell.
I just received my new HD Gopro camera. Time to put it to work...

PS. Sunday and Monday will see the last two days of the surf contest at Haleiwa. Live webcast here. Start at 8am Hawaii time.

mid wipeout nap

Found this photos on FB:

Russian sailor Seva taking Super Freak "comfort" to a whole new level! zzzz.

Just a few words on the forecast that looks awesome. From the NOAA site:

Outlook through Thursday Nov 26: a large northwest swell is expected to begin filling in Saturday night, likely reaching advisory levels Sunday and Monday then slowly lowering into Tuesday. A larger northwest swell is expected to fill in Tuesday night, and peak late Wednesday or Wednesday night.

Holy smoly guacamole!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Philippe + bunch of links

New NNW swell and very hard conditions yesterday at Hookipa with the wind that got shut down multiple times by the squalls. I managed to take a decent shot of Philippe.

And now it's time to publish a bunch of links I received from the readers.

The Windsurfer International issue 3 is out. (note: I can visualize it with Firefox, but not with IE)

Fabrice Beaux and Bruno Sillac made another Oahu wave sailing video. Plenty Da Spot action at the beginning.

Cookie's new video.

Some cool beach environmental art action.

Hawaii's beaches are disappearing.

Pat Caldwell's local tv interview.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

various level of epicness

Just updated this post again with Pat Caldwell's contribution at the very bottom. Thanks a lot!


Just did a meteo appendix to the very end of this post. Stay tuned for uncle Pat's reply.


Goodness, what a swell episode we just had in Maui...

Let's start with Thursday.
The early morning NW buoy readings were around 10-12 feet and 10 seconds from ENE.
I drove Waiehu side and even though it definitely looked kinda big from the beach, I thought I could have fun in those big windswell chops. Usually in fact, the short period gives a character of mushyness to the waves.

Well it didn't take me long to find out that the reality was quite different out there.
I just couldn't believe how much those waves were shoaling upon meeting the reef. Something that looked like head high, grow to double overhead + in the last thirty yards right in front of me... I have no problem to admit that I got scared a couple of times.
The big sets were sucking the water out Teahupoo-like, like I have never seen in that spot that is mainly hit by windswells. I just couldn't believe that 10 seconds period waves could do that.
Anyway, I managed to survive a couple of washing machine treatments (thank god my leash didn't snap) and even caught a couple of fun insiders.

Later that day, I re-checked the buoys and noticed that the swell went up to what you now can see in the graph: an astonishing 22 feet and 15 seconds!!!!!
And that's the NW buoy that, given the ENE direction, is hit a few hours AFTER Maui.
Kinel, I was in the middle of a giant swell trying to catch waves on my trusty 6.10, while they were towing in at the next break at Paukaukalo...

Let's now see, thanks to the photos sent by different blog readers, what was happening elsewhere.

Early morning, a friend of mine, spotted Robby Naish, Dave Kalama and someone else entering the water at Hookipa with their standup.
A different friend, visitor Rick from Australia took a few photos. It looks like Lanes and most of the times it looks like Michi Schweiger to me.

This one on the phone is definitely Robby: "What? The harbor is going off? We'll be there in a jiffy!"

Here he is (or is it Michi again?) dropping in a bomb and Kai Lenny trying to catch it on the shoulder.

How's the spray on the last one? (click on it to see better). These photos were taken by Alex.

Meanwhile, Norwegian blog reader Tormod (check his blog, he's got some cool photos of the lightning storm that happened Thursday night) took some photos of tow-in surfers at Honolua Bay.

Now, I've never done tow-in surfing (and probably never will, since I don't like jet skis... unless they're used for rescues, of course) and I shouldn't speak... but, as usual, I will nonetheless.
Look at the last photo. If that was Kelly Slater or any other good surfer, probably also the guy in the photo on a regular board, he would have a wider stance. Regular (good) surfers adjust their feet on the board almost at every turn. Having your feet stuck in fixed position footstraps must feel like an incredibly limiting sensation.
Bigger waves moves faster and if it's choppy straps are the only option, I guess. But on that wave in the photo, I bet the guy would have preferred to tow-in on a strapless board... but what do I know?

Let's move on to Friday.
The swell turned even more east and some veeery offshore and gusty trade winds kicked in.
Most of the reefs on the north shore of Maui were acting like huge right hand point breaks. Plenty people on the rocks at Hookipa, Lanes was mast and a half and so on.
BTW, I'm officially giving up with the Hookipa Rockstar Contest. Too difficult to keep track of the rockstars... Thanks to the sponsors that stepped in to support this idea, but it's a no go.

Where were we? Oh yeah, Friday afternoon wavesailing session.
I first rigged a 4.5, but the gusts were so strong that shortly I came back in to rig a 4.0. Like often happens, immediately after I went back out, the wind dropped and I sailed most session way underpowered. Which is a feeling that I usually like, but not with this size waves... check the first photo on the very top: that's me going out without much power in the sail...
And this is me again sailing out. Congratulations to Rick for taking such a beautiful shot with a no additional lens point and shoot camera.

This one is Pascal. Unfortunately it's the only photo Rick took of him, but I feel like mentioning how impressive his sailing was. I saw him on a couple of perfect mast high peelers doing three turns in the pocket and a final aerial.
"Yeah, I had a couple of good ones", he humbly commented...

This is Art, who sailed pretty damn good too.

This is the blog author who, instead, didn't sail good at all and was often off timing.
I'm going to blame the too small sail that didn't help to push the front of the rail down in the bottom turn (it was the first time ever in which I wished I had a heavier sail!) and the unusual direction of the waves and wind that made the waves behave differently. But that's exactly when the good sailors step up.
Live and learn...

At one point I lost my board and started a long swim. After a few minutes I saw a board far downwind. It was upside down and I had a clear glimpse of a black single fin, while mine was a twin fin.
"Whatever" I thought, "I'll swim for it anyway... I'll take any board at this point!!"
It was the board of this nice guy who was also holding mine. Thanks a lot and... what a wave!

French guy.

French guy aerial.

Well, thanks again to all the contributing photographers. I didn't have the time to take a single photo (too busy working, surfing and sailing)... it's great to have friends that take photos for you. And it's great to put them on a blog to share them with the rest of the world.

Internet rocks!

PS. Something remarkable just happened. After many years of being the song that sounded best on my car stereo, UB40's Dance with the devil has been replaced by Ligabue's Happy Hour.
Considering the amount of shit I have in my wagon, I could definitely use some more space in the back. But I'd rather have no car stereo than a car stereo with no amplifier and subwoofer...
And I'd rather have no car stereo than a car stereo without the possibility of adjusting the levels of... everything.
Low: +1, Medium: 0, High: + 2, Balance: center, Fade: rear +2, SubW: +10, Volume: 35 (out of 50) were the magic settings I found tonight. They were so good that I played Liga's song all the way from Paia to Makawao.
If you see me at the beach and would like to experience that, just ask me. Unfortunately, I can't post that...

PPS. Let's talk a bit about what created this monster swell.
Watching the waves on the beach at Waiehu a local guy asked me:"btw, where was this storm coming from?"
"Great question", I said. "There was no storm!"
"That's right, I think this is the biggest windswell ever!"

Now, that was before I paddled out and before I saw the buoys showing 15 seconds.
I went back to the weather maps and couldn't find any possible low pressure that generated those monster waves. Here is what Pat Caldwell says on his last forecast on Friday.

A trough in the jet stream pinched off into an eddy just NNE of Hawaii on Tuesday. At the surface, near gales to gales set up between a developing surface low pressure trough below the eddy and a strong surface high pressure Midway between Hawaii and Alaska. Gales nosed to within a hundred miles of Oahu on Wednesday as Waimea and Kailua buoy wave heights rose abruptly up to 18 feet. The initial stages of the episode were mostly from 000-030 degrees. On Thursday, buoys still show elevated heights with the direction slowly veering to 20-40 degrees. Quikscat morning pass shows the strongest area of winds associated with the westward-tracking surface low pressure to the N to NNW of Oahu, beginning to exit the Oahu window. Winds still within the window to the NNE to NE of Oahu out 600 nm have decreased to mostly strong breezes to near gales. Thus, the peak of the episode is likely Thursday morning. The direction should slowly veer toward 30-60 degrees on Friday as the heights subside, yet remain high.

Now, Tuesday was the 10th and Thursday was the 12th.
Below are the weather maps starting from the 7th till the 12th. You guys see a fetch that can generate 22 feet, 15 seconds? I don't.
So I just emailed uncle Pat, maybe he will be kind enough to solve the mystery. My guess is that the maps were wrong...
Stay tuned on this post, eventually I will post his answer right here.


Hereafter are the emails that I exchanged with Pat Caldwell and the wind graphic he attached.

email 1:
Hi Pat, howzit!

When you got a minute, would you check my last post (some nices pics in
it!): ?

Where the hell was the fetch that generated that monster!? I don't
see it on the maps. What am I missing?
If that is a windswell, where is all the chop? I mean, look at those waves
at Lanes! They look just like waves of a serius groundswell that travelled
for days without active wind on it...

Help!!! ;)

reply 1:
Hi Giampaolo,

thanks for sharing, great shots. that fetch stretched from about 100 to
600 nm away from hawaii. Winds reached gales with some pockets of
severe gales. Glad it did well on your spots. Bigger stuff not ridable
here, too messed up, but filtered spots on the inside had some nice
form. I had some epic kiting friday-sunday, give thanks

Aloha, Pat

email 2:
Hi Pat,

thanks for replying. Clearly, I'm not done...

So, 100 to 600 nm is pretty damn close and the vicinity of the fetch
contributed to the lack of loss of energy for travelling, I was definitely
guessing that already.

But those weather maps still don't convince me.
What's gale to severe gale in knots? If it's more than 40, as I guess, it
doesn't seem to me that that high pressure, for high as it could have been,
could have generated such wind.

Or is Jamin (who just left a comment on my post) right when he says that the
maps didn't have enough resolution to show how deep that low that appears
barely on the 11th and then on the 12 was.
But even so, shouldn't it take a few days and a captured fetch to generate
such waves? I mean, we're talking 22 feet, 15 seconds!
And where did the chop go?

Sorry if I keep bothering you, but a few fundaments of my (presumed) wave
knowledge have been completely annihilated by this swell and I need some


reply 2:
Aloha Giampaolo,

Right, off basic meteor. chart, one may get a single ship report, and in
this case, a buoy (there is buoy 51000 NNE of Hilo now, it showed
gales), but one could not see the fine details.

It was the combination of a strong high and a "kona" low pressure system
that developed in the Hawaiian vicinity.

The best wind estimates over open ocean come from the QuikSCAT, see

Hope that helps.

Well, it does help, thanks a lot... now at least I can see a fetch!
Still quite impressed by the size of the waves... I guess I'm not used to fetches that are so close to us and can't really predict their outcome.

I can tell you for sure (since I've observed them for eight years now) that if that same fetch was up there were most of the NW groundswells we get normally get in winter time are, the resulting swell we would have received would have been way smaller.
And this is based on the observation that to get a NW swell that big, it takes a way bigger fetch and/or way stronger winds up there.
So what I learned from this episode is that the energy dissipation of traveling waves is bigger than I thought.
I other words, never under-estimate close fetches!

The lack of chop still remains a shock for me, but sure I'm not going to complain about it! Evidently the lifetime of the chop after the active wind has stopped blowing on it is really minimal and it doesn't travel much at all...

Stoked that I learned something new. Mahalos uncle Pat!!! Good job with your kiting!