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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Where have all the good swells gone?

Well it is mid April and a drop in the winter swell is to be expected this time of year. In fact, I guess we might as well admit that there likely won't be any more true winter swells. Which is a touch sad, as the last big NW swell we had at the beginning of April was so much damn fun! But it's not a total bummer by any means. We had an awesome combination of wind and waves from almost the moment we arrived this spring. And there were at least three days that rank among the biggest waves sessions I've ever experienced. It was only the most recent big day where I was becoming more comfortable and aggressive on the larger waves. You have to trust yourself and your gear if you want to hit the lip and stay close to the peak of a overhead to mast high wave.

And it helps to experience all these big days in the first place. Julia and I had traditionally spent a few weeks on Maui in both October and April (and on too many years we never made it here at all). Now those months are known for having a good chance of wind and at least some chance for waves, making it a decent compromise for your "wind" vacation. But it's also possible that you would ride only tiny waves (and we actually had a few trips with no wind - stuff happens). So the wave sailing that we did manage was usually not very big, and that was all I had to go on. This past year we stayed into December and came a bit earlier (in Feb) and this winter (2009/10), as has been mentioned before, has served up more big swells than any recently. So all our "really big" wave days have occurred in just the past few months.

And we've been lucky with the trades as well. We were able to sail 23 days last Nov, 23 this March, and 9/10 so far in April. The reality with wind here on Maui is just about anything can happen any time of year. If you want to guarantee plenty of action on the water, it really helps to visit Maui often and stay longer (or just stay). If you vaca for only a week you can be skunked for wind almost any season - not a real problem as there is so much else to do here. During the summer it's very rare to see more then a week of no wind, but forget about seeing any north swells. OTOH, this past winter there was almost no wind from Dec (when we left) until late Feb (about when we got back, again just lucky). But keep in mind that the surf this winter was off the chart, so if you have learning to surf on your to-do list, then winter time in HI is a must (especially for big surf). I should also mention that from mid April to early June last year there was a long period of mostly no wind - very strange that time of year. Again, there are no guarantees when it comes to weather.

Now I have to admit that riding the custom quad fin Quattro board that I acquired on this trip has at least mentally, if not outright physically, made me a better wave sailor. By that I mean, in order to have the confidence to drop down a large wave face and make an aggressive bottom turn, it really helps to know your board is going to stick the turn and not slide or bounce out. For sure, your skill and careful selection of fins and boards helps in that regard. I used to ride two different wave boards depending on the wind and wave size, and I had a quiver of different fins. This has all been replaced by one quad fin board. Simply knowing the board is going to allow a more aggressive (and perhaps careless or carefree depending on your perspective) riding style helps you become more aggressive. It's like a feed back loop where the actual performance helps the mental performance and hopefully you are able to move up the learning curve. I'm not going to go to far into a quad board review now, trying to save that far another post. But I do believe it has helped my wave riding - your results may vary of course.

Back to the current weather situation. I can't whine about the lack of big waves. First, the weather is awesome almost all the time here. Check out something we see nearly every day during our commute back and forth from the beach to Makawao.

They don't call it the rainbow state for nothing!

Second, the following video, beside being funny, is a reminder that weather (and life) doesn't always give you what you want, but hope for it anyway! Better yet, make it happen if you can (and see GP's Everything Is Possible story for more on that. And wish him luck with da foot.

So I think this video is from winter in Chicago, or close enough. Dedicating it to all our friends from the windy city and elsewhere who are visiting right now. May you get what you want "well and often"!

As for the future weather - I love it when the forecasters use words like "complicated" in the forecast. There's multiple highs and lows dancing around the no-pac, and it looks like very strong NE winds are on tap for most of next week (not the best direction). We could get a moderate NW swell around Tues, combined with a choppy NE swell (due to the strong NE wind I'm assuming). That plus the gusty wind should be at least "interesting".

The Butterfly Effect is on for next weekend and Julia is in it. Hopefully conditions will be nice for that (moderate wind, not so big waves at Hookipa).

Finally, speaking of Hookipa, there have been enough waves to still get some good action up there. Julia and I are considering getting our windsurf boards wet there some day soon. Also I got another round of nice pictures from the bluff. Stay tuned...


Davide Giardini said...

Nice blog, I often follow it to get some Hawaiian updates...
How long do you stay on Maui during the year? Then back to Boston?

Sick quad!

Cheers from wicked New England. ;)


(Ben) Jamin Jones said...

Hey Davide,

I'm working while I'm here, so we could possible stay a full winter. For now we're doing 3 months. Then we head to the Gorge for the summer. We used to live just outside B-town (newton) before moving to the NW.


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