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

Monday, May 17, 2010

The sun has set on our Maui spring 2010 trip

We had fun and great adventures, there were epic big waves, a tsunami, we got run over and had gear destroyed and even got rescued. We sailed spots we never sailed before (Hookipa), we met lots of cool and very nice people, there were so many parties... I could go on and on.  In summary we had an A-mazing time!!

One measurement windsurfers tend to use when describing any trip that centers around their fav sport is "how many days"?  Not that this should be the only yardstick for success, but it's worth noting that between Feb 25th and May 15th we had 77 days of potential on the water activity (not counting our first and last days or the big tsunami "stay away from the water" day). We windsurfed 60 of those days, and surfed 12. And the windy days were spread pretty evenly over all that time. I don't think we ever had more than three non wind days in a row. And yes I am a bit tired right now! Plus I skipped two days that I deemed "too windy" - that is more wind than I wanted for my 4.2.  I love high wind days in the Gorge, but not so much on Maui where big wind = gnarly chop + blow out crazy waves (if any).  We also skipped some marginal wind days to go surfing.  Actually some of those days were totally sail-able in Kihei but we had surf boards and there were fun waves to be carved.  Actually I wish we could have surfed more.  Well, there's always next winter!

Another measure we like to use is "what new trick did you learn"?  For me this is a bit tricky to answer (hmm).  I'd have to say it was wave sailing and getting more comfortable on bigger waves.  Specifically improving both bottom and top turns, hitting the lip or at least getting much closer to it.  This is a gradually learned skill where the only way to improve is to get yourself onto big waves.  And fortunately we had lots of that on this trip.

In fact this season offered the biggest waves both Julia and I have every ridden.  On one of our first days in February a  very large winter swell turned northerly and aimed some 25+ ft sets at Kanaha.  There was one set toward the end of my sesh where I caught the last swell coming in - I was afraid to turn onto any of the earlier ones - and I rode it up the line trying to stay close to the channel and out of the impact zone.  As I looked down the line it peaked and pitched way outside of the normal break area.  I could clearly see into the pit of the wave, thinking this must be at least a small sample of what Jaws looks like up close.  Actually I've been told that on the bigger days, Lowers mutates into a different animal, and the gentle slow wave we all know and love is transformed into a much meaner, faster and larger beast.  Sort of a Jekyll and Hyde thing.  Well I on this day I caught a glimpse of Mr Hyde and I was impressed. And frightened.

So I didn't get onto that particular wave, except when it reformed inside into some mast high left over wash.  But on some of the later big days, especially after I got my KT custom quad fin, I did a much better job of staying on the peak.  After seeing anything approaching 25+, 15 ft waves seem so much more manageable!  There was another day I was turning on a 15-20 footer, when I saw Bernd Roediger a bit further down the wave which was starting to close out. There was one steep section getting ready to pitch. Bernd went for it at full speed, and got to the lip just as it closed, and at the very top he threw a goiter. He didn't quite make it, and the wave came down and he disappeared into an explosion of foam as I sailed by. But he went for it and it looked very cool from my up close perspective. From that point on I vowed to be more aggressive on all my wave rides because no matter how bad you eat it, it's usually not so bad. And BTW I saw Bernd a bit later so obviously he and his gear survived just fine.

The last really big wave day was my best ever. I was staying close to the face and turning near the top, occasionally actually hitting a lip or two and even getting some air.  These were mast high waves so not killer but not trivial either. And I came so close to landing a back loop! The only bummer was this was in early April and after that the winter swell basically turned off. I didn't realize at the time this was going to be it. If only I had my GoPro on that day. Whaaa! Oh well. I did film another later day that was pretty nice but... anyway we had some fun waves after that and in fact the conditions in April and early May were really good compared to last year. So no complaints at all.

Other accomplishements besides everything I listed in my opening paragraph?  My forwards feel more consistent, almost landed a back loop or two (still seems like an awkward move to me, forwards are so much easier!), got a few 360's in front of waves (but none actually on them), and sailed Hookipa and only got run over once!  And Julia had some nice accomplishments as well. Besides her own biggest wave days ever, on her last two days she made two legit forward loop attempts, rotating around but ending in the water each time. The hardest part of learning to loop is making the first few attempts. Once you get over that, you're really not that far. Also our friend Geoff, who has only tried a dozen or so loops, had some great attempts. I saw one he threw right behind me after I landed one. He was fully in the air and nicely rotated end over end, and just over rotated a bit on the landing. But it looked great. And I think he landed a few clean.  Awesome guys! (new loopers showing their stuff on right)

And now for some further updates and random stuff.  We're back in Hood River. Water temp is still a chilly 55 but we just had an 80F day - much better than our return last winter (< 20 degs)!  We are headed to the right coast this weekend so we probably won't be hitting the Columbia for another week.

I got my board back and it's nicely fixed.  I'll save that for the next post.

On one of our last days we hung out at the Hookipa look out (or as Geoff calls it, the Hookipa LOOK OUT!!) as the evening sun set.  See the first picture above.   Some small waves were coming in and the longboarders were working them.  I had a thought about an Endless Summer as I watched them. Maybe this is the start  of our endless summer.  (humming the theme song in my head right now).

A different evening and a different sunset, this time driving up Baldwin from Paia to Makawao.  I saw the sun rays in my rear view mirror and pulled over - screech! just in time to take these.  Yes it would have been nicer if there was no telephone pole - damn them!.  But still some nice pics I hope.  And in the opposite direction was this classic church totally lit by the last rays. Kind of inspiring.

And finally, on our last day at Kanaha, there was this bird who was having a real image problem.


Catapulting Aaron said...


So cool that you have the flexibility to be in your favorite wind spot all the time! You must be living right!

Congrats to the new loopers!


(Ben) Jamin Jones said...

There was sort of a plan but it took me almost 20 years to make it happen. But yes, we do feel very fortunate. Things can change so fast, best to live it now if you can! SF is a pretty great place too BTW.

Kai Gilb said...

Aloha Julia (and Ben)

nice to meet you (briefly). I enjoyed hearing about the (in my opinion great) life choices you make. Maybe will meet again next year.

xxxooo Kai (from Norway)

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