Windsurfing, surfing, Maui, The Gorge, and random rants.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring time on Maui means.. a south swell!

I added the back story for these pictures at the bottom.  First the pictures from Saturday.  I'll start with the windsurfing action at Kihei. I took a lot of shots of this one dude (now identified as Loic Viandier) on a Hot Sail working on some free style on the 3-6ft waves breaking there.

Initially I was irritated that this sail almost got in the way. When I saw it later, it looked kind of cool.  Almost like I planned it.

This is either a ponch or a nasty crash. Maybe both.

There was actually some down the line at Kihei

And off the lip!

Now for the Maalaea shots of the famous but seldom seen in the winter (or spring) Freight Train.  These were all taken around 5-ish to sun down.

There was a bit of an offshore breeze.  Made for some cool spray.

Through the doggy door.

There is someone inside that barrel - I swear!

So nice to see dudes sharing the wave ;).  These guys pounded each other senseless five minutes later.

Going for the tube...

Biggest wave of the day while we were there - obviously well overhead.

Or maybe this is bigger?

This dude never saw the tree!  His board was stuck for a long time.

If this guy wasn't crouching so low the lip would be slapping his face.

Either this surfer is real short or that's a 10 ft + wave (by HI standards this is only 4 ft).

Haleakala in the distance.  Elevation 10032 ft by the way.

The observatory at the summit.  Fittingly used for solar study (you can look up what Haleakala means in Hawaiian).

The Bellagio water show has got nothing on this.

And waves don't get much prettier then this.

Maui is a beautiful island.  Looking south over the Freight Train toward Kahoolawe.  There's probably some whales jumping somewhere out there.

So Spring has sprung and Maui is already getting a south swell and a decent one at that.  It's cool to think these waves were kicked up by a storm southeast of New Zealand.  That's a long long ways away - such as  4800 miles.  That's about the distance from here to New York.  So if there was no north america to block it, that would be like a nor-easter off of Maine sending waves all the way to HI.  Swells from a greater distance usually have a longer period - in this case 20 seconds.  The swell height was 4ft but the wave (face) height easily tripled that in the biggest sets.

Now for those who only surf and don't windsurf, I should mention that when you windsurf you get a neat perspective on swell size, period, and wave height.  That's because windsurfers can go way out beyond the break and see the incoming ground swell before it becomes a wave.  In fact, if you have enough speed you can often ride that swell all the way in and watch as it grows into that wave, and hopefully you've been able to strategically position yourself so you're now on the peak and shooting down the face.

And there is nothing quite like seeing a giant swell coming in from the deep, jibing onto it, riding it in and watching as it grows and grows and eventually rises up into something that makes you very happy you're on a fast board capable of getting out of the way of the curling 20ft + lip crushing everyone else caught inside.   When you're surfing you sit on your board in the lineup, and you watch the incoming swell, and hopefully you're in the right place and not too far inside when the big one comes, and if not, bummer.  Anyway, your maneuverability is hugely limited compared to a windsurfer (assuming they're planing).  But on the wave, the surfer gets to experience the wave in it's true element.  Plus you don't have that pesky sail and pole in the way.  So I say, do both my friends!  Sail when its windy, and surf when it's not.  Then you get the best of both worlds.

Anyway, Kihei is usually a windy and choppy place with no waves at all.  Saturday was a different story.  A 20 second  4 ft swell means the swell is spread over a large area. It's more like the whole ocean is rising up (like a very mini tsunami).  I could sense the swell way outside where it's normally just choppy and it's very cool to feel the rise of the swell almost more then see it.  Occasionally I got lucky and was able to ride it back in.  Of course the reef at Kihei doesn't do a great job of amplifying a south swell (as it faces mostly west) so the resulting wave was at most  6 ft or so.  Anyway, enough to be way more fun then usual.

From there we headed up to Maalaea  to watch the Freight Train, which is the wave that breaks just outside the harbor.  It's called that because it's one of the fastest moving breaks anywhere. I don't mean the wave itself is moving fast -  the break is moving from left to right and if the surfer has the speed and times it right they can stay tubed for a really long time.  BTW - there was a surf rider movement a few years back to prevent extending the wall of the harbor which would have likely wrecked the freight train.  I'm happy to say that Julia and I contributed to Save Ma'alaea before we ever surfed and seeing it now preserved and firing really validated everything.  Anyone who surfs or windsurfs or plays in the ocean needs to be an environmentalist and pay attention to whats happening.  Contribute to Surf Rider and keep the beaches clean and accessible.  Mahalo!

So where was I - we drove up to Maalaea and sat on the lovely landscaped grass of the resort taking photos when a gentleman from the condos approached us.  I assumed he was going to tell us to get the hell out of there, but no!  He introduced himself as Hal, a good friend of Marge (Nick Warmuth's mom). Marge told Hal that we would be in the neighborhood.  Hal invited us up to his very nice apartment on the 4th floor (more like a penthouse actually) so we could get a better vantage.  Most of the pictures that I took were from his balcony overlooking the harbor.  Thanks Hal and Marge!


Anonymous said...

Nice pics, I was out at Buzz's with no crowd...definately had some epic moments.

Maui Margie said...

Hal's place is pretty hard to beat for awesome photos!

Maui Margie said...

Hal's deck is pretty hard to beat for awesome photos!

Davide Giardini said...

First freestyle pics are of Loic Viandier...
Nice blog!

(Ben) Jamin Jones said...

Thanks Davide. I added Loic Viandier's name to the text. He was putting on a good show. Do you know if he's still on Maui?

Davide Giardini said...

Yes he is, at Hot Sails!

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