Sunday, May 29, 2011

the Namotu photos part 3

I'd like to post all the remaining Namotu photos before I move over to the next adventures.
So, here we go! Let's get rid of some...

Still day 3 at Cloudbreak. Halfway decent top turn... if it wasn't for the usual "dead" front arm.

Here I finally figured out that it's better to kick out before the end (shallow reef), even though the next section looks doable.

Lil drop/bottom turn mini-sequence.

Considering the position of the boat where Stu is taking photos from, this must be one of those waves I was catching in the very end section. I had the most fun there.

Fuck yeah! I wonder why Stu didn't add any photos of this sequence to the dvd... maybe the wave got in the way?

Little cuttie on the right of Namotu (Pools) on that magic session on day 5.

Back to Cloudbreak day 3: another beautiful wave right in front of the lifeguards paddling out. One of them (Nathan) was quite impressed by my surfing after "only" 9 years of practice.
Well, they're paid to please the customers...

Another barrel opportunity...

...carefully avoided.

Pools. What a session that was.

This is Lefts in the morning of day 5. Compared to Cloudbreak, Namotu Lefts is a mellow wave: the lip is not throwing... at least in this session! In this case, I'll manage to duck dive, but overall I have to confess that I had to let go of my board (after having checked that no one was behind) soooo many times. That is a clear sign that I was surfing waves a bit too hard core for my skills. I got very lucky that my leash or board didn't break. I would strong recommend a new thick leash for a Fiji trip.

Lefts again. We're sitting quite relaxed thinking that we are wide enough even for that big one...

Ok, better paddle just a little bit more over to the side...

There will be one last Namotu post after this. And after that, you guys just want to hope that wireless internet connections will be available in Indo.

Oh yeah! Check out the video that one of the Aussies on the same trip did. Good job, Andrew!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

and all of a sudden... Indonesia!

The recent Namotu trip has awaken in me the desire of searching for new high quality waves out of my usual comfort zone (in terms of spots and size). In other words, it was awaken a healthy desire of adventure.

This morning at the shop I was having a chat with legendary shaper Tom Parrish (one of the original shapers of the Lightning Bolt brand). We were talking about a 6.4x19.25x2.625 by Erik Arakawa that had just been taken in consignment for the ridicolously low price of $200 (it was in really good shape).

"It's a great looking board", he said... "but it would definitely be too small for me!"
"Yeah, it might be too small for me too, but I feel like I can push my limits on the shortboard surfing..."
"How old are you, GP"?
"Yeah, you got a couple of years ahead to improve!"
We both laughed at what sounded like a joke... but that wasn't much of a joke, I'm afraid. The stoke can last forever, but bodies do get old.

Consequently, I immediately thought that I couldn't afford to waste a whole summer in Maui... "I need to go somewhere where I can improve my surfing", I found myself thinking...
At that exact moment, the Hi-Tech rental department manager entered the scene. I asked him about schedule and vacations.
Despite the fact that Russ is leaving soon too (he's going to do/organize the AWT), he nonetheless said: "from now till the beginning of July, you can leave for as long as you want. I'll work everyday if I need, not a problem".

Now, where else in the world can you find such a flexible work environment? I just really love that!

And here's what I just booked. Only the flights. No hotel, no resort, no cars, no nothing.

4 weeks traveling between the islands of Indonesia. I've never been there, I don't know too much about it, I'll follow the flow and see where it takes me.
The feeling of freedom I'm experiencing in this exact moment is pretty damn cool.

PS. BTW, that means that my tiny little studio in Kuau is going to be available for rent from June 2nd to June 29. And my car too. Email me if you're interested.
PPS. I did buy the Arakawa 6.4. But I think I'll take a 6.6 to Indo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

the Namotu photos part 2

Here's another sequence from that magic day 3 at Cloudbreak.

I remember this one very well, since it was a solid double overhead one.

Not Slater, but not a bad stance either.

I like this one too: the board is still on the rail.

This one sucks instead. Yeah, I threw a little bit of spray, but the arms position is lame.

Oh well, at least I didn't fall!
I believe this is the one that I rode all the way to the reef (and got stuck there in very shallow water for a while).

Not much to report from Maui.
After that brief NW swell, the north shore now looks like Porto Pollo (the Italians would know) but the south shore has been fun.
In particular, yesterday I surfed the same waves that hit Cloudbreak on that huge day 6. They did lose quite a bit of energy (shoulder high in the sets), I have to say...
But on the other hand, it's amazing how long they can travel! I feel like thanking mother nature for this wonder called waves. I just can't get enough of them...

Ok, let me add one more that I stole from Michelle's album.
As far as wave shapes, can't get better than this! Looks like the reef used a ruler to decide where to grow...
Meesh, thanks again for inviting me and allowing me to experience this!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

the Namotu photos part 1

Time to start uploading some of the photos that the photographer took in Fiji.

This is the best sequence. Taken on Tuesday (day 3) at Cloudbreak. Believe it or not, I didn't even see that barrel. All I remember is that it was getting steep and I felt the urge to stay as low as possible, before jumping in the water (you can see my hand in the water in the last shot).
I'm definitely NOT a barrel rider (yet). My strategy usually is to try to escape the barrel and look for an open face where to throw some turns. Must have failed on that one...

Here's a link to an article in which you can see some of the photos that the same photographer (Stu Gibson) took on that big Friday at Cloudbreak. Just let the slideshow roll.
And now I'm going to try to catch the remaining of that big swell in Lahaina... better don't have any expectations at all!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Namotu day 6

Back in Maui, I now found the time to complete the post about the last day in Namotu.

As I anticipated, it was another great day.
The big swell peaked and the wind was the regular trade direction. With that size and wind, the only surfable place was Restaurants, the left in Tavarua. We went there pretty early on a very high tide. That created a strong current and it was like being on a treadmill: constant paddling just to stay in the spot. I caught a couple, but it was really too much for my tired body, so I went back on the boat and watched the show. Didn't have the camera with me, so can't share the beauty of those waves.

Back on Namotu, I noticed one lonely kitesurfer on the Lefts. The waves looked pretty big and I decided to go check them out windsurfing.
When I got there, the kiter had lost his board and had been rescued by the boat. That meant that I was alone. For once, that was not a good feeling...
The waves were so big that the channel between Lefts and Wilkes looked like it could close out. Or at least you could clearly see the whole wall of water connecting the waves at the two breaks that are a few hundred yards apart. Even the locals told me that that doesn't happen often.

Very carefully I caught a big one prudently on the shoulder. It was a great feeling, but the sound of the wave breaking just upwind of me was pretty scary... didn't have the courage to look upwind!
Then I caught another one. This time it was a medium one so I decided to go a bit deeper. And I ended up upwind of a close out section with no much wind at all. Fortunately I was able to pump my way out of that, but that was enough for me.
It wasn't my gear and it wasn't Kanaha outer reef. If I fucked up and and lost the gear, it would have been trashed on the reef, guaranteed.

Anyway, that wasn't even the highlight of the day. Because after lunch, we went for a quick boat trip to Cloudbreak. The waves were massive and the kiting action was fantastic.

Ben Wilson and his team riders were killing it.

This is a tow surfer.

Spotting the barreling section and setting the line.

And there he is.

And there she is.

The tow surfer catches another one.

This guy instead paddled into this wave.

And got barreled.

And that's him again. This wave was unreal.

Unbelievable stuff.

Photographer Stu Gibson was on a chopper and he posted a few shots in this gallery.

After that we only had the time to grab our bags and get on the boat again. This time heading to the mainland (the big island of Fiji, which in Fijian language is spelled Viti). There a minivan was waiting for us and took us to the airport.
And after a red eye flight, what's the best thing to get rid of the tiredness?
Get on your windsurf board and catch a few head to logo high waves at Hookipa!

This was an amazing trip, but Maui remains the best place in the world to go back to.

PS. Not done with the Namotu photos yet, since I purchased the cd of the photos that Stu took of me... stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Namotu day 5

After 4 full and intense days of action, today my body demanded a rest. At least in the first half of the day.
Nonetheless, I went out on a boat to take pics for you guys. Let's see what I got.

The little fellows like to climb sticks.

Hanging out with Wayne Rooney. Sharon, I got you an autograph.

Ulli and Michelle clearly very stressed out.

When the sun is out, the light here is amazing.

This is how Lefts looked like from the boat. A lot better than from the water... just trust me on that!!!

I actually tried it 20 minutes in the early morning, but a full moon tide and my weak arms didn't allow me to catch anything. I did manage to get a couple of cleanup sets on the head though.

The best feeling in the world.

This is another wave called Wilkes pass. Very close to Namotu Lefts, at this size it's an hardcore right for natural footers only.

Ok, I'll take that back.

He's seeing it.

He saw it.

And here's a couple of clips to show you the perfection of these waves. This is Namotu Lefts.

This is Wilkes.

Well, I wrote what I wrote so far just before lunch when I hadn't caught a single wave yet.
Now that I take it up again, it's just after dinner, so I can update you on how the afternoon went.
Right after lunch a tropical storm hit. That was quite some heavy rain. But that also killed the bloody north wind. As soon as the rain stopped, all the island guests came out of their refuges (rooms, bars, pools) and met at the beach shack to catch a boat to the breaks. While very few people went to the Lefts (where it was pretty damn big), most of us went to Pools.

Not that Pools was small by any means, but it was manageable. And fun. And epic.
I'm a goofy footer who pretty much only surfs lefts, but this right on Namotu is just fantastic.
The vibe in the water was special. It was like 15 of us, all Namotu guests (surprisingly no boats from Tavarua showed up), everybody catching waves, everybody hooting at each other. Absolutely perfect waves.
I believe I'm going to buy the photographer's dvd and that will show you guys what I'm talking about. I think I will have enough material to blog for a month...

Surfing: without any doubt the best thing in life.