I've been told that some people like the short version (Val) and others prefer my usual meandering narrative. So first the short version: Julia and I sailed Hookipa today and had a pretty good time except I got hit while slogging out by a dude going for a top turn, and my sweet custom Quattro board took a pretty big hit.
[ 5/10 update - I slightly edited my story to correct minor details and be more polite. ]
Now for the long version... Julia and I ventured back to Hookipa today (Sunday also Mother's Day - did you call yours?). We had also stopped by there on Saturday but passed on the wind swell and gusty wind combo for no particular reason. We then had a fine day in upper Kanaha where the waves reached head high, maybe a touch bigger, and I was well powered on a 4.2 But our friend Geoff sailed Hookipa that same day and later over drinks convinced us we needed to give Hoo another try. Plus he had a pretty nice picture of him taken by Francky, which sealed the deal for us. That and the margs at Milagros.
So we returned. I should mention that we've been under a spell of strong gusty trades most of this week - I've been rigging a 4.2 lately - with no real swell to go with it. So trade/wind swell is all we got, but that has been sufficient to kick up at least overhead waves at both Uppers and Hookipa. Here's a shot I took the other day showing what a good trade swell can produce, and it's not a bad looking wave. You can definitely get some nice turns on that!
So on this day, Sunday, we sat there and watched the first three or four sailors go out, and they were getting some nice rides, so we decided to give it a go. The wind was looking a bit light on the inside and I rigged a 4.7, Julia a 4.2. Now one thing about Hookipa that gives folks some issues is the shore break. And on this particular day, high tide was right around 1pm, which was about when we were getting ready to launch. As we got to the beach, I noticed that the wave wash had carved a ledge in the sand - I guess this only occurs around high tide cause I haven't seen that before - and you had to step down about a foot to get into the water where the current immediately grabbed you. This made the whole process much trickier.
Julia headed out first and she only fell once - and quickly righted herself - then got out pretty cleanly. I hung out to help and didn't actually need to. My own launch didn't go so easy. As soon as she was clear I jumped on my board and didn't try to time the waves, which was a bit of a mistake as I immediately hit a pretty good curl which took me down. Even worse the wind was very gusty on the inside and a gust promptly ripped the sail out of my hand at about the same time. Now my rig was downwind of me and pointed toward the beach and on the wrong side. Not good! By the time I got to it I was already close to the notorious rocks. I tried to waterstart from there but this time there was no wind and another wave took me down. Crap! Now the rocks were **really** close and I decided to bail and head back to the beach. Which wasn't at all easy with the strong current (high tide was going out). I finally pulled everything out almost on the rocks and dragged my sorry ass up to the beach. I had to sit there and catch my breath and I have to admit I was feeling a bit of panic about being so close to those dreaded rocks.
At this point another guy came in, dropped his rig, adjusted his harness, and while standing there asked me if I was OK. I must of been looking a bit flushed. So I smiled weakly and said yeah and at that moment a serious gust picked up his rig and literally flipped board over sail and flung it into the water into almost the exact spot I had just pulled myself out of. He had to jump into the water and do the whole fight the current dance.
That didn't make me feel much better. Then on my second attempt I got taken down again and ended back on the beach and again had to take some deep breaths. Finally I got it together, waited for some relative calm, jumped on board and was out. It was that easy!
So the wind was still light on the inside and I half slogged / planed out (no loops this time) until past the breaks, where the wind really picked up. On the way in I found it difficult to time the waves as sometimes I was under powered and sometimes way over, but eventually I got a bit of rhythm and managed some rides.
After about 45 mins the wind seemed to fill in on the inside and the waves were getting a bit better. I rode one in, got a few turns, jibed just past the rocks, and was slogging out as a decent set of waves were headed in. I was looking at the lip of one, still slogging, thinking I should just about get over it, when I see a guy headed down the line on the same wave. Now I naturally assumed he would go around me as there was clearly no room on the wave. And I was really concentrating on that wave which was starting to curl right in front of me - I didn't want to go down as the rocks were not all that far away and there was another wave coming right after this. All of a sudden, just as I was about to reach the lip, I see this guy going for a top turn right at the exact same spot I was about to occupy in one second. WTF!! And he was totally looking at me no less. So of course he basically t-bones the nose of my board, we both go down and the wave breaks over our heads.
As it happened Julia was on the very next wave - she was scoring some nice turns out there - and saw the whole incident go down. And she said the same guy had turned very close to her on a wave in the same situation. So she followed us in to help in the fight sure to ensue.
We all get to the beach and right there rigging up was Keith Teboul. At this point I see this guy has a new Goya sail, exactly the same as mine, and an obviously new Quattro production 85 lt quad board. And BTW, his board does not have a scratch on it. One of his quad fins basically cut into the nose of my board. Even his fin looked untouched. Bastard! And those MFC fins are damn strong.
Now he's very very sorry and apologetic, and really he should be, because what he did in that situation was extremely dangerous. The rules of both wave sailing and surfing are quite clear on this point - the surfer or sailor going out has the right of way over the surfer or sailor riding a wave (and surfers always have right of way over windsurfers, though I'm not sure what happens if a windsurfer is slogging out and a surfer is carving down the line at the windsurfer). On top of that I was slogging out and trying to get over a wave in a area where I had no room to maneuver. And finally, in all situations, it is most imperative to **avoid collisions**!! Even if you have the right of way, which this guy didn't, you still don't "I thought I could make it" and risk t-boning someone. Especially at Hookipa of all places and right in front of the rocks. And trust me on this, there was no way that guy was going to make it. I was already at the lip of the wave - obviously because he t-boned me.
I suppose it is possible that not everyone fully understands the basic wave right of way (ROW) rules. This guy happened to be from "not around here" (NAH), and does not primarily sail at Hookipa and perhaps doesn't surf much either. Now obviously there must be many from NAH that are at least vaguely aware of the concept of ROW - but this is the second person from NAH who has t-boned someone I know in a similar situation. In the past month! That is person going out getting hit by someone who might not sail Maui or waves often, and who was going down the line and "thought he could make it". And a board was wrecked in that circumstance as well. And this person, the hitter that is, was a real nice guy on the beach and we met his wife and kids and everyone was very friendly, meaning its not a completely agro kind of thing. So I just don't get it, but I'm thinking that maybe on the flight to HI, in addition to handing out those agriculture forms, they should also hand out the surfing/windsurfing/kiting ROW rules. And explain that failure to obey could result in lose of board. Or deportation or something.
So I will update this story as it unfolds. Meanwhile I went up to the bluff and took some pictures of my friend Geoff, who had showed up and rigged and was having a pretty good time (again). Nice jump Geoff (see right photo).
Before I leave two more things.. first I'm sure you want to see the damage so here goes. I guess the only good news is this is in the nose which isn't structurally that important, and Keith seemed pretty confident that he could fix it. But to me, this looks bad...
Second, and this really is good news, NWS is forecasting a small but not insignificant NW swell coming around Wednesday. The swell is 4-5 ft at 10-12 secs. Which means head high waves at least. Somewhere. So we'll see and I'm not sure what kind of board I'll be on when it hits, but this is no doubt the last swell we're going to see this trip. We leave this Saturday for the Hood.
Oh yes, and one last weather map showing this potential swell producer. Go baby go!
Windsurfing, surfing, Maui, The Gorge, and random rants.