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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Making something out of nothing - Nick Warmuth

The weather on Maui has been interesting lately.  And interesting isn't necessarily good.  The north shore has suffered under relentless light north winds bringing clouds, rain and conditions generally not conducive to good wave sailing.  Which is unfortunate since there have been decent waves the last few days.  As always, there were ways to deal with this.

First, Kihei has had fairly strong slightly offshore wind almost every day this week. So if you really needed your wind fix there was always that option. Julia and I instead went for some surfing on the sunny and warm west Maui shore.  There was just enough of a south swell two days back to make that worth the trip.  Another day we did the same drive and ended up sunning ourselves on the beach (cause it was flat) like regular tourists.  Which was nice considering how down right cool the north shore has been lately.  We also heard that Honolua Bay was firing a few days back, and though we lack the surf credentials to try that, there was always that option for those who did. (there are pictures of Honolua surfing action here)  Plus there might have been some wave sailing possible over in upper W Maui, though I haven't talked to anyone who was actually there so can't say for sure.

Ok, so enough about could haves and should haves.  Yesterday a bunch of us we hanging out at Kanaha basically crying over the lack of wind combined with nice waves.  Yes, you could have paddled out to lowers, but there was just enough dead on shore wind to make that less than desirable.  If you haven't paddled the 1/2 mile out to lowers with 15 mph blowing straight into your face, trust me it's not very fun. Not to mention the occasional kiter buzzing by your head.

So while we ware hanging, Nick Warmuth pulled up, checked out the situation, and started rigging his 5.3 and 80l wave board.  At this point no one else had even considered rigging as the conditions were so obviously not plane-able on anything less then a course board and a 7.0 sail. Which none of us happen to have in the back of our vehicles. And even if we did, who would want to wave sail with that anyway?  If you check out this wind graph you can see the wind from 2-3pm averaged about 15 with no gusts above 20.


But that was good enough for Nick.  I have a new saying - "Nick would go" which means that for most people the wind isn't good enough to make it out to the waves, but for Nick it's just fine.  And this isn't the first time I've witnessed this, it's a fairly common occurrence in these circumstances.  But this time I've got convincing photo evidence that Nick can make these conditions fun.

So Nick rigs up, slogs out, and .. well check out this close up of him on the peak of "weird wave"...


Now step back and here's what Kanaha actually looked like at that moment from the beach.  Would you go? Makes you appreciate a) how light the wind really was b) how far you have to slog to get to the waves c) what a great zoom this camera has to resolve the detail in that first shot.


The rest of the pictures document the whole event.  First Nick taking it to the beach.  Note the lack of cars in the parking lot.  Not many folks bothered to even show up this day.


The slog out...


Still slogging.  Weird wave forming in the distance.


Probably 15 minutes later.  Still slogging toward weird wave, but looking very relaxed...


Close up of weird wave.


If you've never sailed or surfed Kanaha you might wonder why we call this the "weird wave".  Well, it's a wave that forms on the east side (usually upwind) of the channel that separates Uppers from Lowers.  It breaks at about a 45 angle relative to the beach - on a trade wind day that would be partly upwind.  There's usually a strong current ripping through the wave into the channel.  The wave tends to rise up quickly, seemingly out of nowhere and can pitch very fast and hard.  It often catches sailors new to Kanaha by surprise, just when they think are in the channel.  Also the wind and current take you toward the wave, while the wave itself drives you in the opposite direction.  If you fall in here it can be a chaotic "wash and rinse" cycle that's difficult to get out of. The current sucks you toward the pit of the wave as you try to waterstart, and the wave throws you back into the current.  Rinse and repeat!  However weird wave can sometimes be the nicest forming wave at Kanaha and if you surf it, the current is your friend as it gets you out so much quicker.  So here is Nick catching a ride on Mr Weird wave.


Now he's riding up wind back winded.


Back out..


It isn't easy slogging over weird wave.  Many have met their fate here...



Another ride. Nick was only planing when he was on the wave. Otherwise it was total slogging.


Back winded again.  I need to practice this...


Nick always managed to just get over the breaking waves, despite having no speed.  That's a skill in and of itself.


Another wave...


And again just barely over the breaking wave.  He repeated this about 20 times while we watched.  Note that there we no other windsurfers out this whole time.


As Nick said later "surprising fun"!  Well he made it look fun...





Again it's not easy getting over this stuff.  Most people avoid being in this situation. Nick goes for it.


Here's a big top turn.  I focused on this for the opening shot.  Very impressive!


So that's it. We were all very impressed by Nicks "something out of nothing" session.

Now I have an update on an earlier post, the one where Julia described being taken down by a huge wave, having her sail destroyed, and then an epic rescue by a Kanaha life guard (Ocean Safety Officer). Julia emailed the Mayor of Maui, Charmaine Tavares, about the heroics of her rescue. The mayor's Senior Executive Assistant, Marian Feenstra, replied back requesting his name so they can recognize him for his service. So we wandered down to the life guard station and found out that his name is Jeff Silva. Unfortunately he wasn't working at Kanaha that day, otherwise I would have taken his picture. Maybe later!

4 comments:

Nicholas Warmuth said...

Thanks for the shots, it was surprisingly fun!

Leonardo said...

Great pics, that's what happens when you're a great sailor, you make it look easy...

Catapulting Aaron said...

Nice write up and pictures. I remember seeing Nick doing something just like that last October, except the wind was more like 5.

Props to him and props to you for putting it on the record!

Anonymous said...

Ben, try submit this story to the International Windsurfing Magazine, the one on-line. Great story, great photos

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