Friday, December 31, 2010

Simmer boards

Kai Katchadourian has been seen riding new boards with the Simmer logo for a while now.

Rumor has it that the designer is a northern european mad scientist named Ola Helenius (who I have the pleasure to know quite well).
He's the designer of the 2011 Starboard Quad IQ 69 and he just left the Thailand based company to move on a new adventure with Simmer.

BTW, I had the prototype of that 69 in my garage for a few months, before the Starboard team landed in Maui for the April photoshoot and decided to take it to make a production board out of it.
I had the chance to sail it only once (then I broke my foot) and it was a super fun board.
Ola should be here in Maui soon and I'll try to get an interview with him... his story is quite interesting and could definitely make a chapter of an "everything is possible" series.

Here's Kai ripping. I have to ask him why he didn't put pads on that one...
Hey Kai, wonna leave a comment with that (and any other things you'd like to add about the boards?)
BTW he's having a gig with his band Anesthesia at Stella Blues on January 15th. Kai is a damn good drum player and if you enjoy heavy metal you shouldn't miss out. Bring your ear plugs, those guys like to get loud!!

Here's the comment that Kai left. I feel like copying it and pasting it here.
It's been a rewarding experience getting these boards tuned in. Ola is indeed a mad scientist that's always thinking ahead and listens intently to any of my input. We are also lucky to be working with Maurizio Ubaldi who is a master craftsman and will oversee the production.
Simmer style will offer 2 differnt wave designs, a down the line design and a more flat rocker model along with a freestyle wave design and race board.
Board names and graphics are coming up so stay tuned and I also want to get you to try one soon !!
Aloha !

Sounds good to me!

Hey, I also just found a video that shows Kai's drumming skills!

Kai Drumming

KK | Myspace Video

Nat Gill was trying out the boards too.

Here's a detail of the fins. They adopted the FCS-like Tabou idea and that's good news for me, since I'll be able to try different setups for my board. Those fins are already in my car...

The Goya bros talk about their products.

And sail designer Jason Diffin puts them to use.

And while all around there's boards and sails designers testing out new gear, someone else decides that: "Oh, it's just a little tear, a bit of tape will fix it!"
Got to love that!

Browsinho is the king of rotations off the lip. A true goiter/taka machine.

Mauisurfreport team rider Nico Drasimino sent me these couple of snashots out of GoPro videos in which he amuses us with some funny expressions.

The expression might be funny, but knowing the flattening effect of the wide angle, he's pretty high up there!

He also wants us to know that he found a watch at Hookipa and he'll be happy to give it back to the owner. :)

As for my session: I didn't really have one. I forgot to pick up a seat harness at the shop and my waist harness was compressing my rib in an uncomfortable way, so I decided to quit and take photos. Conditions were pretty average anyway, with smallish waves and very gusty wind.
One thing I know for sure: after 24 days of glassy waves, bouncing on all those chops felt horrible.

I feel like I keep moving my interest towards the surfing part of the word windsurfing.
Unfortunately, the forecast for the next week looks very promising wave wise, but frankly horrible wind wise. The trades should go up to fresh levels (that means very strong and gusty) for a few days at least. No big deal really, I always know how work around that...

BTW, I have no new year's resolutions whatsoever. They don't make any sense to me.
You didn't read merry christmas and you won't read happy new year on this blog. Those are man made stupid conventions. Each single moment of our life is a gift and should be honored as such. That's how I see it, at least.

Hey, seems like Ligabue agrees with me:
di tutta la vita passata questo è il momento, di tutta la vita davanti questo è il momento
(of all your past life this is the moment, of all your future life this is the moment)

So if you can read this, it means you didn't die yet and I'd like to wish you a happy new moment!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

24 days of clean surf

According to this blog's archive, the last windy day of December was the 5th.
According to the forecasts, the last non windy day was today.

A beautiful strip of 24 days of no wind in which the waves have been very clean.
A bit of a bummer that I couldn't surf for those 10 days that I didn't know I had a dislocated rib but hey... could be worse... could be 20!

Thanks to all the intense surfing, I got a tiny little bit closer to be able to surf like this.

Kelly slater from Bryan H on Vimeo.

That's all it counts for me right now. There will be one day in which I'll be conscious not to be able to progress anymore and that will not be a good day...
Or maybe it will, since I'll be 80 and still surfing! ;)

So, tomorrow there will be wind and considering I have a brand new windsurf board on the rack, it's not really the end of the world, is it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

just a cloud

I had to pull over to take a photo of this cloud...

It was 7am of december 26 and I was going to Kanaha to surf. The first hour I was out with three other guys. The second hour I was completely alone. Head high surf and offshore wind. I just couldn't believe it!
Probably everybody was sleeping in or digesting... or maybe spooked out by the super murky water you could see at kite beach because of the heavy night rains (I heard north Kihei got flooded).

Anyway, I am absolutely loving this windless december. It reminds me of last winter...
Yesterday (27) I had three sessions (and I even worked!) and today looks like I'll be in the water at 6.30 again to catch the remaining of the N swell, before a new NW swell will fill in the afternoon.

The rib is still a bit sore, but I can surf. Life is great.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

more waves

Yet another big north swell hit yesterday.

I took these photos at Hookipa at 5.40 with very low light. This is a tow surfer.

This one instead paddled into the wave with his arms.

Couple of clouds.

Thanks to the accuracy of the forecast tools available these days, seen direction, size, period and tide, I had planned my session at one of my favorite spots at 1 pm days in advance. Everything was confirmed and with the help of light offshore winds, the waves were absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately 20 more surfers had the same idea, but I got my share.

This morning should still be good. Tide is way too high, but hopefully at 7am there'll be less people.
Anyway, perfect or not, people or not, the important thing is to be out there catching waves and getting better (having fun in the process!).
Hey, I'm becoming a committed surfer! I like that...

PS. I was checking how the post came out when I saw in the "live traffic feed" column that a visitor from Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal) was connected.
First I went: "Hey, I've been there!" and then I noticed that he was on a September 08 post that I remembered quite well.
In fact, it had the best duck dive photo I have ever taken and you guys will forgive me if I'll post it again here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

if you like wavesailing you'll like this forecast...

...unfortunately for the Maui windsurfers, it's not for here but for Cabo Verde's Sal. Eh eh, I wonder if I got someone there...

Maui's forecast looks like nothing like that, but just as good (at least for me!). In fact we're experiencing a long spell of no wind at all and endless supply of glassy waves from the N-NE.
This morning's session was pretty good. After it, I quickly took this pic from the parking lot.

Sunset session was blessed by a couple of beautiful sets, but most of all by quite a dramatic sunset. The best wave was in the sky... did anybody else see it? And did anybody take a photo of it?

Here, I'll leave you with the song that the shuffle just brought up and that I'm going to try to learn right after this post.

The chords are easily available on the internet. Looks like totally doable, I just have to get into its groove. That shouldn't be too difficult...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Head high and light offshore...

...and 20 cm of snow!!!

This a Dutch surfer and my respect goes to him and to all the others that surf in that kind of cold.

Check out this is an absolutely hysterical animal voiceover video!

Searching for more "animal voice over" I ran into this very interesting video that shows how we evolved from apes to what we are now.
Really? What about Adam and Eve?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ribs tale

Long time no post, I know.

I've been dry for 10 days because of my rib. Too much pain to do anything at all put a cap on my inspiration. Then Saturday afternoon I finally decided to go see my body mechanic.
He told me that the rib was dislocated and put it back to where it should have been.
"If you came right away I could have saved you 10 days of pain..." he added.

You always hear: for broken, cracked or bruised ribs, there's nothing you can do, you only have to wait. That's true, but first check if they are in the right place!!!

Anyway, on Sunday I was so much better that I could do something like 5 hours of standup surfing (definitely NOT my favorite kind of surfing, but A LOT better than nothing) in three different sessions.
In the dawn patrol one, I took some photos with my gopro

Here's how the sunrise looked like.

First wave.

Later in the day.

Straightened horizon.

Bottom turn.

My hand reminded me of something...

Of course, the hands of this guy! Still in the top five of my favorite LPs...

Well, on Monday (yesterday) the rib felt so much better that, after another morning SUP sesh, in the afternoon I paddled out to one of my favorite waves on my shortboard.
OMG, did I have fun or what?! I caught 6-7 perfect shoulder high long peelers before falling on a takeoff and landing on the wrong side and hurting the rib again.

Body mechanic, here I come again... hope you can do your miracle again!
Waves have been, are and will be glassy and it's pretty hard to be land lock.

Congrats to Kai Lenny for winning the SUP world title. The waves in Big Island for the last contest were quite average, but he deserved his title right from the start when he ruled everyone on a massive Sunset Beach day.
Originally I wanted to link the videos of that day, but SUP in big choppy waves looks just too bad to me with those huge boards bouncing all over the place.
So, I'll link this little video instead that shows SUP in conditions where it is definitely more fun than regular surfing: small, "shitty" waves (don't mean to offend anybody, that's just what I think) and because it shows the other Maui kids that did good (Bernd and Ridge).

BIG congrats to Jeremy Flores for winning the Pipe Masters. Winning the world's most prestigious surf contest (even though this year it should have been called Backdoor Masters) must have been a huge thing for the young Frenchman.
Here's his blog and the video that shows the barrels that gave him the win.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Brandon Bay, Ireland.

Thanks to the forced days of rest that my bruised rib is giving me, I finally found the time to publish the post about last October's Ireland trip.
Actually, I wrote the article back than on a plane, but I just never found the time to put it on the blog and select the photos... that goes to show how great of a surfing/windsurfing/blogging Fall I had as soon as I got back in Maui!
The readers of Windnews in Italy have already read the italian version on paper.
If there are other worldwide magazine editors interested in publishing it, my email is on the right.
Here we go, hope you guys enjoy.


If I had to use only two words to describe the Ireland trip, they would be: bloody awesome.

First, let's see why and how such a Maui enthusiast like me ended up in a far and cold water place like Ireland.
Well, first I always have a healthy pull towards visiting new places. "If you don't try new places, you'll never know how good it can be out there", says Levi in the Windsurfing movie.
But considering that there are plenty other places I'd like to visit, why Ireland that seems to be so off the track?

The reason is that our good friends Oly and Renata (who come to Maui often and also go at least once a year to Brandon bay) invited me and my lovely friend Sharon to join them in their early October vacation. "The place is beautiful and the house we're renting has a magnificent view on the whole bay".
You can't say they were wrong, can you?
I'd recommend to click on the photo... and thanks to Alex and Greg for the help in stitching it!

That's the backyard view.

"Allright", we thought, "in September I'm going to Italy to see my parents and Sharon is going to England to see her mum, so maybe we can make this work!".
Ryanair seemed to offer fairly cheap inter-europe flights (you just have to be careful with their "peculiar" check in rules...) and there we go: a few clicks and credit card transactions later, we booked a couple of convenient flights to Kerry (45 minutes drive to the spot).

With a remarkable strike of luck, we ran into a week that was going to offer some amazing conditions.

On our arrival on the late afternoon of Saturday October 2nd, the spectacle offered by huge waves even breaking on the outer reefs in the middle of the bay was at the same time magnificent and intimidating. Stiff offshore winds, frequent rain squalls and low temperatures made me think:"what da hell am I doing here? I can't even resist two minutes outside!".
No time (nor desire) to go sail or surf that day, we opted for a first visit to a local pub.

The Guinness beer is one of the Irish icons and the reason is a simple one: it is so freaking good! Nothing to do with the one we can drink over sea (just like italian wines, I guess it clearly doesn't like traveling!). Such a smooth taste and gentle buzz due to its mild alcohol gradation (4.2). We tried other stout brands, but nothing quite matched the unique taste of that divine nectar. A bit scared by the forecast that at the moment looked slightly violent, we all agreed that "the beer itself was going to be worth the trip".


Fortunately, mother nature had different plans for us.

Sunday we were expecting another friend to join the crew (the ever so lovely Melanie) and Oly (who had brought enough windsurfing/surfing gear for two people) went to go pick her up at Shannon airport at lunch time. Thanks to the fact that the wind was lighter and it wasn't raining anymore, with a couple of rented extra boards we all managed to squeeze a couple of surfing sessions in the morning and in the late afternoon.
I was wearing the 4/3 mm brand new wetsuit I had bought at an outlet in San Clemente with underneath an additional light tank top with hood. Oly had extra booties for me and I ended up being perfectly warm. The water is cold? If you have the right wetsuit, it's no big deal... really!

I'm not giving a shaka sign... my hand just froze like that.

We went to places that weren't particularly "proper" surfing waves (but that looked doable for all the members of the group), so I didn't catch any remarkable ride, but I had fun nonetheless. Typical beach break waves, without a clearly defined peak and very fastly closing, once steep enough to be caught.

Melanie shows the (wrong) way.

In my first session with a shortboard, I was never fast enough to ride enough of a face. I'll blame my lack of skill on beach breaks for that.
But in my second session I used a longboard and with that I could get in way earlier, and when the wave offered a decent shape, I could trim the board and walk to the nose. The offshore wind kept the wave up for quite a while, so that was definitely fun.
Once in a while there were sets that were still plenty overhead, but since they were not breaking top to bottom (it was high tide), turtle rolling (my 9.0 was too thick to duck dive) was never a problem.

As kook looking as one can get... but warm!

In general, the waves in Brandon bay seemed a lot softer than the Maui reef ones. I believe that that is because of the gentle slopes of the sand (clearly shown by the long exposed stretches of beach at low tide). And also because the period of those swells was around 10 seconds, so just a bit longer than a windswell.
In fact, for most of the time we were there (and I believe for most of the time in general), the west coast of Ireland was right at the end of W and SW fetches of wind created by the semi permanent Islandic depression. A quick tour to the open ocean of our last day of the stay (I'll talk about that later), clearly confirmed what I already had guessed: very rough active seas.
But Brandon bay faces north, and it's extraordinary how the waves can wrap around points of land and completely clear up the chop (the offshore wind does help the grooming process), yet still maintain a decent size and an amazing consistency.
Clearly there are still sets of bigger waves, but between sets there's no lulls. The waves are constantly breaking and that, together with the lack of channels and the flukiness of the offshore winds close to shore, makes it a bit of a challenge for the windsurfers to sail out.

On Monday the waves were a fun head to overhead high size and thanks to the perfect sideoff wind, we had a first very fun windsurfing session. I read it already in many places and I can now confirm it's true: thanks to the shape of the bay, you can pretty much find a sideoff spot for almost every wind directions, or at least for the predominant south to west winds.

Oly's gear proved to be absolutely top.
He's about 87 kilos (I'm 70) and so he "sacrified" himself on his 92l and I got to use the smaller 82. Both 2010 JP quads. I was immediately at easy on that board.
That first day I was on a 4.7 NP Combat (the other days of a 5.0 of the same model) and that's where I had the most trouble to adapt to. Don't get me wrong: they're great sails. But once you're addicted to the soft feel of a Superfreak, there's no other sail in the world that would make you as happy. The Combats had definitely a better low end power (and that is probably true for ANY full film sail), but the price to pay is the stiffness, the weight and the fact that pretty much everything is more difficult.
In my particular case, the maneuver in which I notice the most difference is the tack. Thanks to the fact that the two central batten of a Superfreak don't go all the way to the mast and that the sail is built with dacron, the transition from one side to the other is just smoother on a Freak. Mid tack, when you jump on the other side and throw the sail in the wind, the a Freak goes flat (full battened sail instead keep the profile) and there's no BANG (I don't know how, but sometimes I managed to do a triple BANG when tacking) due to the battens changing side of the mast.
In other words, I fell in the tacks way more often than I usually do. Damn, am I good at blaming the gear or what?

Enough gear talk, let's talk about the waves.
Thanks to Oly's local knowledge, we always ended up in places where the wind was quite a bit offshore (he loves that). As I said, difficult to get out sometimes (that depended a lot on the size of the waves too, of course), but once on the wave, I got to ride some of the cleanest wave faces I've ever seen windsurfing.
The lack of a downwind channel means that sooner or later the wave will close out on you. In small to medium waves, it was fun to keep riding them till the very last lip hit, but when the waves were bigger, I prudently chose to kick out just before the close out (making sure the wave behind wasn't bigger).
That one day practice of wave selection, paid back big time the day after.

That's when I came in to get rid of the hood that for windsurfing wasn't really necessary. I enjoyed it (together with the gloves) when surfing instead.

Tuesday October 5th, in fact, was the epic day of the week. The waves were logo to mast high (and 15 seconds period!) and Oly and I went out in a stretch of the bay that looked so intimidating that no other sailors were out. Let me tell you, it didn't only look tough... it really was! The good thing is that it's all sand and even if you get rejected, as long as you manage to keep the tip of the mast towards the breaking waves and hang on, sooner or later you just get back to the shore.
After a couple of serious rejections (and a serious thought of giving up), I saw that Oly made it to the outside and I got motivated to try again. This time I timed it better (or most likely I just got a bit luckier) and made it out too.
It was in the middle of a growing tide and quickly we realized that in that spot the waves were getting just too big and a bit hairy.

This is the view of the bay in the afternoon of that day.

Then he signalled to follow him and we sailed something like a mile upwind to a spot called Fermoyle. It was still big, but if you chose them carefully, the waves had a better shape and allowed quite a few down the line turns before the mandatory kick out (it would have been very hard to get out again, because the wind on the inside was extremely light).
And now I have to spend a few words about another remarkable feature of Brandon bay: the beauty of the mountains in the background.
They definitely reminded my of the Haleakala and the West Maui Mountain and at one point sun rays came out through a hole in the clouds towards the Connor pass and made the backdrop even more dramatic.
That's when (on two different waves) we both saw each other dropping in for a bottom turn on a mast high clean vertical wall of water, while surrounded by incredibly beautiful and wild natural elements. We both have clear mental pictures of those moments. If we could print them out, they would make the cover of any windsurfing magazine.
We also both have the even better memory of the feeling of BEING on those amazing waves, bottom turning into them knowing that there would be no chop to deal with and at the same time admiring a wave that seemed (and probably was) a mile long in front of us. Unreal. And the best thing of all is that it was just me and him. No one else out for at least a couple of hours, in which we both caught some very remarkable and intense rides.

This photo was taken on a different day at the east end of the bay (onshore wind), but that kind of light of the sun through a hole in the clouds was very similar to what I was trying to describe.
Actually, the photo at the very top is a much better example.
Now try to imagine yourself bottom turning on a super clean mast high mile long wave with the sideoff wind throwing spray off the lip... that's what we experienced that day.

Later on, a couple of other sailors ventured out, but the tide was now full and that made the wind on the inside a bit too light (the higher tide makes the waves break closer to the shore and the wind gets blocked by the land more), with not quite enough power in the sail.
Nonetheless, my last wave was the best. It was for sure the biggest of my session (don't ask me how big, that thing looked huge) and even though I saw another big set on the outside, I was tired enough to decide:"I don't care, this one looks too good and I had enough. I'll ride it all the way to the inside and call it a day".
Since it was bigger than the others, it started feeling the bottom way more outside than usual and I started my turns pretty early. I have no idea of what kind of distance I covered, but I sure remember the exhilarating feeling the ride gave me. Surfers and windsurfers usually refer to it as: pure stoke. And when Oly came in right after me, that's exactly was his smile was showing too.

After that magic day, we had more fun wave sailing sessions for the next two days (what a week!), in which I ended up having somehow even more fun, since I could push my not so good port tack wave riding skills a bit more.

Guy Cribb.

One more time, the magic light through a hole in the clouds.

Friday the wind was from an east-southeast direction and we went to a spot outside the bay called Inch. A beautiful and long beach, facing west-southwest (so normally exposed to the dominant winds) that must often see some pretty rough waves. That day instead the wind was very offshore and the waves, once again, were beautiful and plenty overhead. Three guys out, but the wind direction (just a bit too offshore) didn't allow for too many down the line turns.

Plenty of those gliders around. They take off on the beach towed by a car and once airborn the mysteriously keep flying for as long as they want before landing back on the beach. Little detail: no engine.

Windsurfing at Inch.

Totally satisfied with the week's action so far, we decided to rest and explore the surroundings a bit. What a great decision that was. The road that takes to the Blasket islands offered some breath taking views. Big rough seas and high cliffs. Green pastures dotted with the white of hundreds of cows and sheep. An astounding view of the bay from the Connor pass. I'm really glad not to have left without viewing all this beauty, that gave me an idea of how magnificent the rest of the Irish coast must be.

I mean, look at this!

And now I'm going to add a few random thoughts (some of which pointed out by Oly).

- all the other windsurfers and surfers we met were super nice, smiling and overall stoked to be there. I didn't experience a single problem of priority on the waves, also because, let's say it, there were not enough people for that kind of stuff! That is something I'm not used to. I mean, I usually don't have any problem in Maui either, but I'm aware of the fact that both Hookipa and Kanaha are very crowded spots and that takes a bit out of the experience. You're always looking for the other sailors. Upwind, downwind, down in the water in the impact zone, everywhere.
Being able to focus exclusively on the wave it's just better.

Sharon titled this photo: Guy Cribb and the Noeprenes.

- When you're out of the water, you're in a place that is definitely not the common surfing/windsurfing spot. I mean, you drive around and all you see is cows, sheep and tractors. Inside the pubs you meet the local people (everyone extremely nice and kind) who don't wear the latest board shorts or sun glasses and don't give a shit if you wear them either. There's nothing really about surfing or windsurfing and that's somehow refreshing.

- Our house was absolutely key for the success of the experience. Not only we could check the conditions on most of the bay just by looking out of the window, but once we decided where to go, we could wear our wetsuit at home, go to the beach, rig, sail, derig, and still with the wetsuit on, drive home and hop in a hot shower. That means that the cold factor was completely eliminated by the equation. As a side effect though, I didn't take a single photo at the beach and that's why I'm relying on others' shots.

Straight into the shower with a Guinness!

- Not many bikini shots opportunity on the beach. But I didn't miss my only opportunity!

- Thank god I don't live there, otherwise I'd have a beer belly in no time! No kidding!!!

In conclusion, thanks to the great conditions and the hassle free organization (THANK YOU OLY!!!!!), as I was saying earlier, my Ireland trip was bloody awesome.
I wave sailed on the cleanest waves of my life and I'm afraid that I'm now a bit addicted to sideoff conditions.
Well, if that's true, I just will have to look harder for them, in and outside Maui...

Big thanks to Guy Cribb who sent me some beautiful shots. His website is:
Here's a video of their Ireland trip and here's a video of his latest Jericoacoara trip.

Big thanks to Sharon who took a bunch of great photos. She made four Ireland posts on her blog.

And big thanks also to a brand new blog sponsor, who just decided to invest some money into advertising here (check the banners!).
Cafe Mambo is a very cool restaurant in Paia.
The owners have a passion for classic movies. They're sponsors of the Maui Film Festival and they have free admission movie night at the restaurant every Thursday at 9pm.