Monday, December 17, 2012

the best show on Earth

Since 1970 (I was 7) and up until last Friday, the best thing I have ever seen on tv or internet had clearly been Italy-Germany 4-3 in the semifinal of the world cup in Mexico.

The scoreline should give a pretty good idea of how dramatic that game was.
8' Boninsegna (Ita), 90' Schnellinger (Ger), 94' Müller (Ger), 98' Burnich (Ita), 104' Riva (Ita), 110' Müller (Ger), 111' Rivera (Ita).

Here's the link to the first extra time and here's the link to the second extra time. On those pages you'll find the first and second regular times too if you fancy watching the whole thing.

Well, 42 years after that game, last Friday I watched something I liked better: the final day of the Pipeline Masters.

For the ones not in the know, let me recap a bit what happened.
The ASP is the association of surfing professionals. Here's wikipidia's definition of it.
Their world tour this year was made of 10 contests. Some were the best waves on the planet, some were locations that were just good for the sponsors... doesn't matter. What the best 34 surfers in the world can do on average waves remains extremely fun to watch for me.

The last event is usually at Pipeline, the most famous wave in the world on the north shore of Oahu.
Well, this year Joel Parkinsons and Kelly Slater arrived there both with a chance of sealing the world title. Here's how it unfolded.

Parko got to the quarter finals and was in the lead. If Kelly lost his next heat, Parko would have been the champ.
Kelly advanced to the quarter finals and was in the lead. If Parko lost his next heat, Kelly would have been the champ.
Parko advanced to the semi finals and was in the lead. If Kelly lost his next heat, Parko would have been the champ.
Kelly advanced to the semi finals and was in the lead. If Parko lost his next heat, Kelly would have been the champ.
Parko advanced to the final and was in the lead. If Kelly lost his next heat, Parko would have been the champ.
Kelly lost his semi final against Kerr and Parko won the title.
Only a final between Kelly and Parko would have been even better than that, but if you think about it, it's nonethelss ridicolously amazing/dramatic that it all went down to the semi finals on the last contest of the year.
Here's the page for the heats on demand. The quarter final between Slater and Dorian ended with a score of 18.73 vs 18.2...

Congrats to Parko (in the photo above) who has been on tour for 11 years and often a runner up. He overcame the extreme bad luck of being a professional surfer in the same years of a guy like Kelly Slater.

That Friday, I pretty much spent the whole day at home watching the contest. As soon as Kelly lost, around 3pm, I decided to go to Hookipa and check the conditions... I would have watched the final later on demand.

The same swell that was hitting Pipe was abviously hitting Hookipa too, but the extreme west direction made the wave sailing look quite gnarly. I was about to leave to go sail another spot when I saw John John Florence, Matt Meola and Albee Layer going out at Lanes.
"Fuck it, I'm gonna keep watching for the rest of the day... I can use a day off the water".

So I sat on the rocks with my chair and took photos of both surfers and windsurfers. How's my comfort level? (thanks Sofie)

Here we go. John John upside down... he landed that thing.
Both Jimmie and Sophie and Paul have galleries of the session on FB.

John John again. I thought Matt and Albee were the aerial specialists, but JJ did better... no wonder he's top 5 in the world.

A look at the windsurfers. Philippe.


Marcelo. (sorry about the tilted horizon, but I can't be bothered with editing the shots. I don't have any fun editing, I have fun shooting).


A kiter too.


Greg Aguera was drawing old school lines with his old school board... he sure looked like he had a blast.

Sorry Albee, that's the only shot I have of you.


John John and Matt. You can call them skinny 'cause they have no fat, but they're all muscles.

This lovely rock at low tide illustrates the light of a very low sun.

The same light hits the Hot Sails logo on Andres' sail while he does his upwind stylish move.

One more from Andres.

I'm gonna finish with a note on the conditions we're experiencing.
Apart from the day illustrated here, there has been no ground swells for like 10 days or so.
The reason for that is an extremely strong high pressure that placed itself in the middle of the north Pacific. For example, below is the weather map of this morning.
100 bucks to whoever can see a wave with more than 10 seconds period being generated towards Hawaii.

The other extremely annoying side effect of such high pressure is the strong trades.
The previous post of this blog illustrated a beautiful stretch of 10 days of glassy surf, at the end of which my surfing improved greatly.
Now I haven't paddled out in a week, I probably lost all the improvement and the only "fun" thing I'm doing in the water is to go ride the windswell in the last hour of light on a 3.7 or 4.3 hoping that the gusts will only be 25 instead of 35.
Not my kind of conditions. Fortunately there's some light at the end of the tunnel. Things should change by the end of this week.
Thank god.

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Monday, December 03, 2012

maui surfers love light Kona's

What an incredible stretch of good surf we're having!

I absolute love Maui with no wind. And I love it even more when the light Kona's blow.
That's when the north shore of Maui becomes as good as the north shore of Oahu (when light trades are blowing).

All surfers know the huge influence of a few knots of wind on the waves. Onshore will be a catastrophe. Off or side off and it's heaven.

This morning I surfed G-Lanes for two hours (that's when Lanes looks like G-Land... kinda) and I had a blast.
After that (couldn't do more because I went to a party yesterday and I had three stupid beers... that's how demanding of a sport surfing is... and how old of a guy I am!), I sat and took a few photos.

I'll start with the windsurfing, but only because Browsinho did a couple of things that were absolutely remarkable.

He started with this backloop off the lip on his first wave.

You think that was sick?
It sure was (even though he went off the back and didn't land it), but this was 10 times sicker...
Table top off the lip, perfectly landed well in front of the white water.
One of the sickest moves I've ever seen, considering the extremely light sideoff wind.
He just timed it to perfection. Respect.

Only three sailors went out before the wind got way too light.
It was all about the surfing then.
Alan Cadiz on a smooth beauty.

This should give you an idea of the quality of the waves.

Many, many small barrels on offer at the point. This swell was 6 feet, 13 seconds. Had it been 16 seconds, the barrels would have been bigger. And I probably would have not paddled out.
Those three seconds made all the difference for me. I didn't get scared once.
One day maybe I'll explain what the period does to a wave when it hits the reef using the pizza dough analogy... no time tonight.

This guy got barreled almost every wave he took. He knew how to pick them.

One of the nicest girls in the lineup. Great duck diver too.

Wheels are out... planes landing Kona style.

That's Mr. Barrel again.

Life is good. I don't even check the forecast anymore. It's winter in Hawaii... wind, no wind... who cares. There's waves.

Monday, November 12, 2012

the 2012 Maui Makani Classic and more

Anybody still ckecking this blog out there? Well, thanks for the persistency!

Let me remind you guys that IN ADDITION to posting on this blog I also post stuff on Facebook.
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At the end of October there was a great windsurfing contest at Hookipa.
Sam Bittner of AWT organized it and the conditions were absolutely killer.
The media coverage was very good indeed and I don't feel like adding my chronicle of the event. I'll just throw there a few random thougths.

Let's get rid of this right away: yes, I won the Masters category. That is another proof that absolutely everything is possible.
Of course I was and am happy, but I'd like to spend a couple of words about this.

Last year I was second, this year first. You would think that this year I'd be more happy, instead.. I am just as happy!
I know this sounds crazy in a country where they teach you that being second sucks and that all it counts is to win, but I see it differently.
I actually couldn't care less about my final ranking. People keep congratulating with me for the result and I smile, say thank you, but deep inside I'm a little bugged by it.
I'm bugged by the importance and meaning that most people give to stuff like this.

I came to Maui in 2001 and I spent countless hours in the water with the only goal to have fun. That made me evolve from the status of total kook to the one of champions of the old farts... so what?
My actual windsurfing skill doesn't mean anything... I believe I was having as much fun back then as I'm having now, really.
So what counts are those countless hours of fun and joy that had the pleasent side effect of making me sail/surf better.

If you look at my result as the expression of those 11 years of fun, then I like it too.
But most people don't look at it like that. Most people would like to win a contest because that will prove that they are better than the others. How much better or worse I am compared to the others means absolutely nothing to me.
Of course, I look at the good guys and get inspired and learn from them, but that's about it.
Of course, I would love to be able to shred like Levi, but I would have no interest in proving that I'm better than him (yeah right!) or anybody else.

I was extremely uncomfortable on the top step of that podium. "What does this mean?" I was thinking while I was under the light in front of a lot of people.
I wish they would notify the winners with an email instead... here's how it would go.
"hey GP, the judges thought you were the best!"
"Cool! Do I get to sail another heat?"
"nope, that was the final... you won!"
"bummer... it was so much fun to sail without anyone out!"

Photo by Jimmie Hepp out of this gallery. Pretty stoked on how I look at age 50, btw...

In conclusion, contests are still a big question mark for me. I don't like the idea of competing against others to show the judges that I'm better than them, but when I'm in a heat, I actually enjoying doing that quite a lot.
Just another of my many contraddictions...

The second thought I have is for the webcast.
Finally windsurfing contests are catching up with the surfer cousins. It's not perfect yet. Commentators don't have a monitor so they often talk about some action happening somewhere, while the cameraman is shooting something else, there's no replays, no real time scores, no beach interviews, etc.. BUT there is a live webcast! And that is huge!
BTW, Kai Katchadourian was so good at commentating the final day, it seemed like he's been doing that for all his life! I really hope he's gonna be commentating for all the other contests where he's going to attend.

Third and final consideration.
The Pros put up an amazing show, thanks to the great conditions.
Sailing in a heat and free sailing are two different things. Levi didn't win, but he's still the best at Hookipa, IMO. See? Contest results don't really mean much (other than some money for those guys, now that I think about it...).

16yo Bernd Roediger won and that is amazing.
10 years ago I was a windsurf instructor at Kanaha and I remember his dad already taking him to the beach every single day. That's how you become that good that young, I guess.
Congratulations to him, but I confess I was rooting for Kevin Pritchard in the final.
Bernd is so good and young, he will win a hell lot more contests.
Kevin's carrer has peaked already, it would have been really nice to see him win again.

But the main reason why I was rooting for Kevin was the only mistake that his brother Matt (head judge) did, in my opinion: he didn't finish the Pro's double elimination on a day with really good wind and waves.
He left a few heats for the final day when the waves were smaller and the wind was super light.
That was a clear advantage for the lighter weight of Bernd and everytime there's something that doesn't seem fair to me, I automatically support the weaker side...
Nonetheless Kevin sailed amazing and nonetheless Bernd sailed even more amazing. It was a great show. I would have just liked to see it end the day before.

BTW, I'm writing an article for Windnews and I asked Kevin his opinion about that and he replied in a very classy way:
GP. Did you ask Matt why he didn't finish the Pro's the day before?
KP. I am sure he did his best to finish with the best conditions. The Maui Makani is not only about the pro's, it has amateurs, masters, women, youth, so I am pretty sure he did his best. I mean it's not his fault that I am so big compared to Bernd...
GP. Any comment on Bernd's performance and in general on the kids level? When I came to Maui 12 years ago, I don't remember so many under 18 kids ripping so hard!!! What changed?
KP. Yeah he is ripping for sure. It is good to se someone getting consistent, ripping all the time. Once he gets even stronger, you can imagine how he will be with some power in his bag of tricks. Should be impressive!

Allright, let's move on to the photos.
I was competing in two categories and so I was quite busy and didn't take too many.
Here's some random ones.

Lots of people on the hill for the first (huge) day. (photo by Nino)

I had to patiently wait for a gust for this shot.


Next two is me in the semifinal of the Masters. Those waves were just awesome.

Someone brought a couch on the beach and Swifty and Rosario took advantage of it.

Stunningly beautiful young competitor from Guadalupe.

Oh, these shots instead have nothing to do with the contest: they are from Nov 7th. Sorry, got to clean up that memory card!
Ferdi is an aerial machine.

This push loop by Jason Prior was totally sick. I caught it just in time without a chance to zoom out.

Not sure who this is.

That's how Maui Surf Report (only) team rider Nico Dramisino sailed back to the beach after having broken his mast.

Incredibly inverted goiter by Morgan.

Hookipa most loved and consistent photographer Jimmie Hepp holds the beautiful Leilani.

That's all folks, thanks for reading.
Oh wait! I left a blue Mana Foods bag full of K4 yellow plastic fins on the beach at Hookipa on Nov. 9th. If you took it (or know who took it), please email me (email address to the right of this blog).
I was doing tons of experiments with them and was very close to a magic setup that would allow me to consistently do turns like the one at the top of this post (thanks Jimmie Hepp. Photo from this gallery).
Those fins mean a lot to me. They look like the ones in the photo below. Thanks.

Friday, October 19, 2012

memory card cleanup

Been slacking on the posting, haven't I?
Well, time to catch up and get rid of all these photos that were rotting on my memory card.
We'll go back to September 19 with this first shot. This is a rastafarian parrot outside of a historical ding repair shop in California, in front of which I spent the night sleeping in a VW van.


I was there on my way back from the Italy trip. I checked the forecast and knew exactly when they would run the last two days of the Trestle contest. Waves were going to be fun, so I went to surf and watch with my buddy Gianfranco.
This one is from our base camp by the old tree.

This is from right in front of Lowers and it looks like Adriano.

How's the right?

Adriano again.


 Beautiful waves.

O'neill wetsuit and blonde... can only be John John. Doesn't look like him, though... more like Bede really.

Too much surfing, we need a pretty girl.

Medina's focus.

Dolfins showed up in the lineup.

Dedicated to all my aussie fans.


And from the pro surfers, we move on to Skip paddling out on his trusty longboard. We're back to Maui now.

And then riding with his relaxed style.

Another day, another beach.

Colorful boards.

Empty gem.

I love this shot.

This is obviously Hookipa. Sept 29, Graham.

Not Graham.


That dress is at least a 5.7!

That's the view from my favorite shooting point. It also gives you an idea of the power of the zoom of my compact point and shoot camera.
36x optical, equivalent to something like 840mm.

Hookipa's best sailor in my (and many others') opinion: Levi Siver.


AWT organizer Samantha Bittner. The contest will run from October 25 to Sept. 3.
There should be a live webcast here:
Out of that period, they can use 7 days and they need at least 4 to complete all the heats.
A hell lot of people is flying to Maui for that. It's gonna be fun.
Thanks Sam!

I'll put my money on Levi.

Graham will be fun to watch too. As usual.

Sunset... two days ago?

This lovely bum will compete too.

Bernd is sailing so good, I think he'll be second.
Haven't seen Camille around though...

Pascal Hardy.

Allright, bit of a disconnected post, but I've been watching on demand the ASP contest in Portugal in the other window... quite a dramatic finish!
That's why I found the time for a post actually. LOL.

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