Monday, March 29, 2010

everything is possible: chapter 5

Let's go back in time to 1984. If you followed this series, you'll remember that that's about when I started windsurfing.

One day I was checking some magazines in a book shop when my attention got caught by a magazine called "Surf".
Two questions immediately arose in my mind:
1) why the hell did they put a windsurfing magazine next to the porn ones?
2) why the hell we europeans keep confusing surfing and windsurfing?

I didn't find an answer to either one, but I bought that magazine, my first windsurfing magazine ever (I didn't even know there was such a thing!).

On the cover of that magazine there was something that was going to change my life forever.
It was a windsurfer on a never seen before (by me) short strapped board doing an unimaginable (by me) turn on a incredibly beautiful wave.

All I had known that far about windsurfing was my friend's longboard gently cruising on the calm waters of the gulf on Naples.
I had no idea there were windsurf boards with foot straps and even more that someone could ride them on waves... there was no internet at the time!

I admired the photo in complete awe for a while.
The title next to it said:"Alex Aguera wins the Aloha Classic".
I opened the mag and immediately jumped to that article where I found plenty more photos of Hookipa.
"No way. No fucking way. Wow, look at that... they can even jump!"
The book seller thought I was crazy.

Thanks to that magazine Alex Aguera became my first windsurfing hero and my Maui dream really started.


Now, fast forward exactly 20 years to 2004.

Somehow I managed to be a judge of the "resurrected" (last one was in 2001) Aloha Classic.
From the left: co-organizers Mark Lefevre and Pietro Porcella, judges Matt Schweitzer, Tom Hammerton, Rob Funk, Doug Hunt (head judge with the microphone), Luke Hargreaves and moi.
Who's the one without a shirt?

That itself already should deserve a chapter of "everything is possible", but wait... it gets better.

There were several categories and if you payed the entry fee, you were entitled to enter as many categories as you would fit in. In my case, 'Open men' and 'Masters' (40-45 years old).
I had no intention to compete for a number of reasons:
- I'm a cheap bastard
- I'm not a competitive person
- I didn't stand a chance to advance a single heat

Nonetheless, the day the of the Masters, the waves were kind of small and I thought I could give it a try on my 12.6 sailing longboard, just to show something different.
"Ok", I said to one of the organizers "I'll register. I'll give you the money later"
"Cool", he said. "Go write your name on the boards of the categories you want to do".

I love when the destiny does those tricks... check this out.
In the Open men, there was only one spot available to complete a board of 16 heats and I took it. In other words, my name pretty much completed that board.
In the Masters board, the next available spot was in a heat in which there was also... US151, Alex Aguera!

As soon as I took the marker off the Open men board, Jason Stone arrived and asked the organizer:"Hey, is there room for me? I'd like to compete"
"Sure!" he said, stoked that yet another great sailor wanted to join the contest. "Let's go write your name down on the board...
Ops, looks like Giampaolo got the last spot available in heat 16...
Hey Giampaolo, how about this? If you let Jason do the Open men in your place, I'll let you do the Masters for free. Whatcha think?"


(by the way, the weather conditions didn't cooperate and the Open men division was never held...)

The moment of my heat came and with the help of a couple of guys I managed to launch the 12.6 through the shore break. Even though I had done quite some practice at Kanaha, it was my first time I ever sailed it at Hookipa.
(This helicopter shot was taken by David Blyth at the outer reef at Uppers on a fairly big day.)

As soon as I launched, I got a strong gust and that Titanic thing started planing towards a steep chest high ramp. I started pumping the sail and heard Jace Panebianco announcing on the microphone:"he's pumping, he's pumping, what is he gonna do... jump?!?"
I hit the wave and at the top I jumped in the water doing a backflip... clearly without the board, just with the body. Total show off action. Later on they told me that it was quite entertaining... good, mission accomplished.

After getting worked by a few waves, I managed to get back on the board, uphaul and sail out. On the outside I saw what seemed to be a set wave and jibed on it.
Now, a jibe on a 12.6 is made by stepping all the way to the back of the board and sinking the tail (pivot jibe). Having tought windsurfing for years, I was quite proficient at that.
While I was coming out of it, Alex Aguera, who in the meantime had already ridden his first wave and was now sailing out, passed by and with a big smile shouted at me:"hey, nice turn!"

(Photo by Jono Knight)

And then I had one of those moments in which you really have to ask yourself if you're awake or dreaming...
"Wait a second, was that my first windsurfing hero of 20 years ago that just passed by and told me 'nice turn'?!?
And am I in a heat of the Aloha Classic against him?!?!?
And are all those people on the beach now going to watch what I am going to do on this wave?!?!?!?!?
I'm bloody going to hit the lip, that's what I'm going to do!!!!!"

What a moment you guys. What a moment...
I was so pumped that I really went for the lip, but Hookipa is not exactly Kanaha and a 12.6 is not exactly the best board to hit lips, so I did a remarkable over the falls wipeout... Still quite entertaining, they told me.

This photo was taken after the heat.
My first windsurfing hero was now my friend Alex.

The sixth and final chapter of this series of posts will be online Thursday at 9am Hawaii time. This is your last chance to guess.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

everything is possible: chapter 4

For some mysterious reasons I've always been attracted to the bass guitar.

When I went back home from that 1999 "president's club" trip from Maui, I bought myself one, because I wanted to be focused on some new passions that I could do more often than windsurfing (in Italy the right sailing conditions don't happen all that frequently).
It was like a need of putting more of my time into something I liked.
I took some lessons, did a little practice on my own, but never really found a band to play with. The passion faded and the bass got some dust...

During my second year in Maui, one day I was at a party and there was a couple (she sang and played rythm guitar and he played lead guitar) that provided some nice background entertainment music.

When they hit the notes of "Time is on my side", I thought:"hey, that would be fun to play on the bass!"

A few minutes later, during a break I introduced myself to them:
"Hi, thanks for the music, it was great! My name is Giampaolo and I am a bass player. Do you need one?"
"Sure, let's jam together next Friday at my place!"
The day after I went to Bounty music and bought myself a bass and an amplifier.
This one's for the ladies.

It was probably 2002 and since then, though through many interruptions and changes of schedule, I still play with Corinne and Tony.
At one point we had Pat playing drums with us, and that was great! But he had a very busy schedule and we lost him along the way.

Lately Steve (a keyboard player) joined our every other friday practice. And it looked like two Fridays ago it was going to be the first time ever that the five of us would get together and play.
The idea for the fourth example of "everything is possible" was to record Sympathy for the devil and show that I can now play its bass line, which was unthinkable of a few years ago. It's not that it's that difficult, but it's kinda fast and long, very long...

Unfortunately (well, I guess I should say fortunately, seen the circumstances!), that night Steve's grandson decided to come to check out this world, so our first rehearsal as a complete band didn't happened.
Now Tony is about to leave for a four months job in New Zealand and so that'll have to wait a bit longer.

The way Steve plays that lovely tune is so good that we decided not to play it without him. But I did some recordings anyway and here's a few classics for you guys.
Note: you'll notice that some have video and sound out of sync (specially the first one, but I don't have time to fix it), because I had to take the video from one camera (the GoPro) and the audio from the the other (the Sony), in order to have a acceptable combination.

So what's the "everything is possible" in it?
Bloody hell, I'm playing tunes that I never even heard before (Tom Petty or the Greateful Dead weren't too much of a hit on italian radios when I was a teenager) with a band of guys that instead grew up with them!
Our average age might not be that young anymore, but our spirits sure are.

BTW, as I said Tony is leaving for four months and I wouldn't mind to jam on a regular basis with someone else. I would love to play some reggae tunes, for example. Anyone out there? The internet is a great way to meet musicians...

The other day, for example, Kai Katchadourian posted on his facebook that he and his band were going to play at Slim's in San Francisco.
I posted the comment:"need a bass player?"
He sent me a message:"Hi G you play bass thats awesome I have several potential projects and some may need a bass player so i'll let you know..."
I replied:"Kai, I play the bass the way I sail: like a kook!
I've seen you playing and you play drums the way you sail: like a pro!
That probably makes us not a good match.
Plus, I'm not quite into metal...
Said this, if the bass lines are not too difficult, I'd be STOKED to jam with you. That'll make a nice blog post for sure!
Talking about which, stay tuned on my blog. Very soon you'll have an idea of what kind of level we're talking about."

See? Maybe next year I'll be playing at Slim's in Kai's band...

Never know. Everything is possible.

PS. No one guessed chapter six yet...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

honolua + kanaha

Yesterday I went to Honolua bay.

Along the road a pod of whales was waving goodbye.
See you guys next year!

When I got to the bay, it looked really good and midly crowded. I was waxing up when a double overhead set arrived. That's too much for me on my backhand.
Surfing only spots suited for your own skill is one of the most ignored surfing etiquette rules.

I put my board back in the bag and took a few pics before driving some miles back.
There were still two feet of south swell and I ended up scoring one of my favorite lefts of the island. Waist to belly high, perfectly peeling, glassy and with max 5 people out.
I love those days after a big swell when people are surfed out or don't think that the swell is still there or they're simply content with what they just had... give them a week of flat and they would have been all over the place. It's like with women. Abstinence works better than makeup, high heels and breast implants!

I, instead, wasn't quite satiated and eagerly caught a large number of waves. Snapping top turns, cutbacks, even a little floater... when the wave is that perfect, it's A LOT easier to surf good.
Here's the pics from Honolua. What another perfect wave!

I took those from the lookout on the bay next to it. This is a fairly small set, I didn't want to wait for a big one...

After the surf, I drove back to the north shore where I scored two more hours of great wave sailing. Lowers from 12.30 to 2.30 wasn't too crowded, the wind had just picked up perfect 4.7 and, thanks also to the low tide, the waves weren't too choppy yet.
I even caught a few at uppers. The outer reef was occasionally breaking (super choppy though), but the inside bowl was glassy and going off. A one turn dream... if you know it well enough to predict what it's going to do.
Later in the day, the wind increased to 4.2 levels and that, together with a higher tide, created some big chops. So, thank god!, I spared myself another session.

Hookipa was big and messy and most pros were down at Lowers. Kauli's sailing was off the hook.

This is Jake (the aerial). I heard he did three backloops on three consecutive waves. That is amazing. I wonder if he felt dizzy after that.

Elena was showing off a bikini that ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated (I think that's what she said...).

In other words, another gorgeous day (off). I was so tired that I went to sleep at 8.20. Now it's 6.30am and the Kilo Nalu buoy still shows some energy from the south. The weather maps of a week ago that I saved confirm that, so I guess I'll have to jump in my trusty wagon again, before hitting work at 10. What a tough life...
Chapter four of "everything is possible" coming soon!!!

PS. Just changed my mind... I see too much wind around, it probably won't be glassy... good, got plenty other things to do, like packing the Sea Lion for shipping. Congrats to Scott G. who bought it. I'm still selling a 2009 81l twin fin Quatro.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Without any doubt, Makena is the most beautiful beach in Maui.

On a big south swell the shore break can get huge.

And very dangerous.

But for some, it's source of amusement.

There's a human body in there! That'll break your neck.

This guy was shooting the beautiful scenery shown in the following two pictures...

...but he missed what was behind him!

Little beach goer.

I took a little video for you guys. It was the first time I saw someone surfing the right at the northern end of the beach. I heard stories of very rare epic days where you can ride it halfway across the bay...
Just listen to the ocean breathing.

PS. It's 5.30am of Tuesday morning. A new NNW swell is on the rise. The NW buoys reads 10.5 at 16sec from 351 at 3am and I'm off.
Mmm... I haven't surfed the Bay in a loooong while...

PPS. I'd like to welcome back Maui Ultra Fins as a sponsor of this blog. Their banner is on the right. Email me for info about advertising on this blog.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

everything is possible: chapter 3

My inclination to sharing my experiences through words and photos by the means of the internet manifested itself as soon as I arrived in Maui.
What I was experiencing, in fact, seemed so extraordinary that I felt the urge to share it with my friends back in Italy.

I created a distribution list called "adepti" (not sure how to translate that... maybe recruits? But not the military kind) to whom I was sending random emails called "hawaiian reports".
Those were pretty much my first writing exercises and they ended up being incredibly successful. Well, half of the people in the list were ex HP colleagues, and that made them particularly receptive, considering that till a few months before I was sitting in a cubicle next to them...

One of them suggested me to send a few samples to the italian windsurfing magazines. There were (and still are) three of them: Windsurf Italia, Funboard and Windnews .
I didn't hear back from the first two, but I got immediate interest from the last (and smallest) one, a magazine run out of pure passion by a guy who has a publishing family business.
So I started writing an article every month, even though at the beginning they had very little to do with windsurfing.
Quite remarkably, as of today I still do that... I just sent in my article number 74!

At one point in time (da hell, can't remember all the dates!), one of us (me or the editor... da hell, can't remember all the details!) had the idea of collecting the articles of the first two years in a book.
He found a cartoonist (his art name is Cryx) that volunteered to draw a little sketch for each individual chapter and the final product was, I dare say, quite pleasant.

In order to minimize the risk of money loss, the editor printed only a limited amount of copies that could be ordered only by contacting him and sending the money with the equivalent of a postal money order.
The title is a word joke based on a best seller at the time. It literally translates into "I hope I'm going to surf her..."
Kinda works even out of context, doesn't it?

The book marked very high in readers liking and very low in sales... for which I'm going to blame the rather unfriendly way of selling it!

Here's a few examples of stories that can be found in it.

The arrival in Maui.
My friend Paolo picked me up at the airport with a beat up van full of boards. He had no slippers, no shirt, sandy feet and the first words he pronounced were:"man, you should see the waves at Hookipa..."
That was as good as it gets as a welcoming scene.

Little Beach... what a place!

The Monday night concerts of Willie K at Hapa's in Kihei... kinel, those were so much fun! You would never know what to expect out of a night like that. Ah, the good old days...
(if it doesn't look like uncle Willie, it's because I didn't send Cryx a photo of him).

At one point I entered a circle of... 'extravagant' people who organized amazing full moon parties in Haiku, every time in a different house/location. And how about those ones in Kaupo? Geez Louise!

This one was about a revelation I had while staring in awe at the waves sitting on the cliff at Hookipa after a surf session. Here's the translation of it.

"I'm going to live here for the rest of my life. I want to die on this island. And I want to be buried at Hookipa. On the rocks, in a lava grave right were the waves break, so that I will surf in eternity.
And on the grave, there will be written: here lies a man who lived the way he wanted, not the way the others wanted."

Oh, this one was about the adventures with a Californian blonde in a convertible car (a Camaro. Which inpired the title, seen the similarity with my last name)...
I didn't send Cryx a photo of the blonde either, but this time he guessed her quite right... ;)

I even retrieved a couple of photos of the Camaro rin't a Camaro...

Oh yeah, a weekend in a treehouse in Hana with another lady. One of my favorite chapters.

Oh God, the masquerade party in a multi million dollars house in Kula. Never seen anything quite like that again.

It was organized by some kind of association of mainlanders and none of them was into water sports. So I went dressed as a kitesurfer (that's when I was trying to learn on a 5.0 two lines Wipika in gusty 25 knots wind... good luck with that!) and ended up being quite original...
I had the kite bar hanging on the harness and often that bumped into the ladies bums... "Oh sorry, sometimes I just can't control my stick..."
Juvenile, shallow, vulgar, call it as you wish... it was fun for me!

This is the house.

My first full moon surf session at Hookipa. An absolutely unforgettable emotion.

Nice memories.

74 articles, one published book, a blog with almost a thousand unique visitors per day. Once again, if someone would have told me that 10 years ago, I would have said:"no way!"
All happened and keeps happening because of passion and will of sharing. Things that truly make me happy.
It wasn't the outcome of a plan. I had no idea how much I liked writing till I actually started writing. I just followed what my inclination was.

I try to only do things that I like doing. Sometimes it's hard and often it's not the most rewarding choice money wise, but there's no going wrong on that path.

PS. It's higly possible that I will take pictures of the big south swell and post them Monday night, so I anticipated this chapter to Sunday. Chapter four on Thursday.
PPS. Please keep guessing what the sixth example of "everything is possible" will be. Also because... no one guessed it yet!