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

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Waves, The Wind, and the Cross Island Shuffle

As advertised and eagerly anticipated, the first winter swell showed up this week.  The wind wasn't so consistent, and wasn't always from the optimal direction, but at least we had some.  Jaws went off, and we saw it for real and for the first time, surfed some very fun waves on the west side, found "the secret windsurfing spot", and had two of the best wave sailing days in a long time at Kanaha.  And there was a lot of driving involved to see and do all this - thus our cross island shuffle.

All Hallows Evening

Before the big waves  arrived, we spent the day of All Hallows Evening, otherwise known as Halloween, at Hookipa, torn between the certainty of surfing at pavilions vs. a possibility of windsurfing.  (Ironically no one cares anymore about All Hallows, otherwise known as All Saints Day.  Historically this was a day of solemn commemoration of all the saints who sacrificed themselves for others. Because it was **so solemn** parents gave their children a bit of a break the night before by letting them bob for some apples.  Whoot!  This has now morphed into a night of drunken semi-naked revelry for adults.  Kind of like Mardi-Gras.  Not that I'm complaining or anything).

So the wind at Hookipa was very light and we had our surf boards waxed up.  And then the pesky wind picked up a notch and the first bold windsurfers started rigging. Our friend Geoff insisted that we should rig as he did, which was very tempting as we watched him launch and catch some waves.  But the wind seemed fickle, so we proceeded with the surf plan and managed to catch some decent rides.  Now I should mention some of the reasons for our reticence to windsurf Hookipa on this particular day: First the wind was never very strong and constantly threatened to die.  I'm not a fan of swimming back at Hookipa and we did in fact see several dudes end up "on the rocks". Second, Hooks has been very crowded as many pros are tuning up for the competition in Cabo Verde (Nov 14-23). Everyone is trying to bust their big moves right now, even when the surf is relatively small.  Which is very cool to watch! (see photos below).  But I feel that my (and Julia's) presence on these same waves might not be so appreciated under the circumstances.  I should also mention that I was run over at Hookipa in much less crowded conditions last year (and not my fault, some dude was just "going for it" at the wrong time and place), so that possibility is always present when it's so crowded.  And maybe the fact that we insist on wearing helmets makes it more obvious that we are non-regulars (the whole helmet issue will be an exciting future blog post).

And a bigger reason is... in the grand total of two times I've sailed Hooks, I know I'm not "going for it".  I sail very conservatively there with the goals of not getting in the pros way, not getting run over, not ending up on the rocks, and making it back to the beach generally unscathed (which so far I'm only one for two).  Which means I'm not having that much fun, nor am I learning anything.  It's not like sailing Hooks is totally out of the picture, but with the crowds as they are right now, probably not likely.  I feel that at Kanaha, even with the generally smaller waves (plenty big this week though) at least I'm throwing forwards, trying the occasion back splat, wave 360's (not really on the wave, but there was a wave somewhere), tacks in front of waves (occasionally dry), etc.  Also often catching the best of what waves there are, and sometimes sharing these same waves with friends (but only if they wave first).  At Hooks there are no friends - if you're on the wrong wave at the wrong time you will be run over, and that's that. Then it's the rocks for you! OK, maybe it's not that bad, and I hope to sail Hooks again in the future, maybe once I start landing backs (cause forwards just don't mean anything anymore).  And there's also the possibility of trying Kuau (which I was told was also super crowded on this day).

And finally I really enjoy surfing!  I was actually somewhat disappointed to see the first windsurfers launch at Hooks because I knew this meant the wind had come up and the waves wouldn't be as smooth. Surfing is still a new enough experience that catching a wave, making the drop and the cutting the first genuine turn is a thrill unto itself.  I actually look forward to the very occasional non-wind day as long as there's enough waves to wax up the boards.  And I'm convinced that learning to surf will make me a better windsurfer (note that the word "surf" is part of the sport).  It's no coincidence that most of the best wave sailors in the world are also top notch surfers - the skills are very complementary.

After our surf session, we walked up to the bluff to watch the pros.  Keep in mind that the wind was really light on the inside and never more then 20 outside.  Even so these guys (and gals) managed to put on a show.

We spent the evening of festivities in Paia, which has been gradually taking the place of Lahaina as the  Halloween semi-naked drunk location of choice in Maui.  This year Lahaina continued to refuse to close their main drag, which in the past provided a large and safe stage for the all the Halloween-ers to put on a grand show.  The logic for letting cars endanger lives is that this revelry had became too crazy and popular and was not "culturally sensitive".  OTOH recent economic studies have indicated that the town (and Maui) has taken a 30 million hit in tourist revenues with the diminishing of the occasion.  So in time the streets there will probably be closed again in an attempt to bring back the lewd and lascivious, as dollars and jobs long ago trumped cultural sensitivities as the driving force in Lahaina (why else would they need a hundred outlets selling "It doesn't lick itself" t-shirts).  Meanwhile Paia had the mis-fortune of getting a fair dose of rain on this evening, driving everyone indoors, and with Jacques now closed (and the only free large parking as well) there was little choice but to jam into Cafe Moana and dance to the cool grooves of Pio Marasco (MFC).  We got there early enough to avoid the long line to get in and danced before the crush of hot sweaty bodies became too much.  Actually it was a lot of fun (and a good chance to see more windsurfing pros shake their booty) - I didn't have my camera handy but others did so in time I hope to post some pics).


(to be continued - I will be updating this post with description and pictures of Jaws breaking, etc.  But for now it's time to go surfing!)

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