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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hookipa is serving up fun surfing with a side of wind

The trades have been detoured the past few days as a late season cold front approached the Isle of Maui. It never made it all the way here, this being May after all, but it did manage to push our trade producing high far enough away to leave us in SE winds and big Island vog. Julia and I took advantage of the lull in the windsurfing scene to get our long boards into the Hookipa surf.

It was not exactly like there was no wind at Hookipa all this time. In fact on Saturday it seemed to be gusting to at least 20 or so out in the lineup. Very irritating if you are surfing! Damn wind. Hookipa protrudes a bit out of the Maui north coast, which I believe contributes to it's ability to optimize both wind and waves, and even with the SE slant of the trades the wind line wasn't all that far away. But the inside was pretty much a dead zone, so any potential windsurfers had to deal with that. Nevertheless, just after we paddled in on Saturday we noticed a sail on the horizon, which eventually turned into a windsurfer who eventually sailed/slogged all the way back to the beach at Hookipa. I never saw him launch, but he apparently had been out there most of the time we were surfing. He had a 6.2 Hot Sail on an old skinny looking slalom or speed board. Actually I have no idea what the board really was. It was plain white and looked skinny for a slalom board, but maybe that's how they were back whenever. Or maybe it's a new secret prototype. Hmmm? Anyway, he said it was damn windy way out and we could see all the white caps while surfing so that wasn't surprising. So no complaining about the recent lack of wind because it was there if you were willing to slog out at Hookipa.

And despite that irritating wind, Julia and I caught some fun rides. There was a fading NW swell maybe 2-4 ft with occasional head high sets every so often. We started in middles for a change, and the wind actually blew us up toward the point/bluff. Normally we don't surf that side because it's a more advanced spot and usually crowded, but on this day no one was out. Too small for the short boarders but just right for us!

Now for a quick follow up on Julia's rescue back in March (which now seems so long ago).  Jeff Silva, the Ocean Safety Officer (lifeguard)) who operated the jet ski and performed the amazing rescue of Julia along with her shredded sail out of the gnarl of weird wave, was working at Hookipa on Saturday and I finally got a picture of the two of them together.

That would be Jeff on the right in case you were wondering.  So supposedly Maui county, via the mayor's office, is going to give Jeff some kind of recognition for his outstanding actions in very challenging conditions - that is weird wave breaking hugely while Julia was clinging to the back of his sled.  Hopefully something will happen before we leave in two (short it seems) weeks.  We'll see...

So that was Saturday. Sunday was showing a bit more surf and was way more crowded at Hookipa.  Also much less wind and a lot more haze/vog to go with it.  We went to our more typical "girlie bowl" just inside and west of the more popular pavilions point break and managed to catch a fair share of left over waves.  We're still a bit shy about going into the big boys lineup when it's so crowded, but at one point I spotted a girl catching some bigger waves with a Costco WaveStorm - same board we were learning on last year.  In fact we saw quite a few of those at Hoo along with the Costco short board version.  I already mentioned that those boards are not bad for beginner boards, though I'm happy to be riding the 8'6 glass board now.  Guess I really like the smell and feel of surf wax, what can I say.

Today, Monday, the trades were scheduled to pick up late. We returned to Hoo to see what was up.  The SurfLine Hookipa forecast was calling for 0-1 ft waves, but it was clear that something much much bigger was showing up.  In fact, here's the updated afternoon forecast from the NWS, which I saw only after we got back from the beach...

... Surf along north facing shores will be 7 to 9 feet, lowering to 5 to 7 feet Tuesday ...

And that was much closer to what we experienced at Hookipa.  On the other hand, Glenn's Surf Forecast for Hookipa was calling for 1-2 waves.  So is this the Hawaiian vs "real" wave height discrepancy, and if so why don't the forecasts call out what their units really mean?  Actually the NWS is very explicit about how they measure and forecast wave heights...

Surf heights are forecast heights of the face or front of waves. The surf forecast is based on the significant wave height, the average height of the one third largest waves, in the zone of maximum refraction. Some waves may be more than twice as high as the significant wave height.

Not to mention that Pat Caldwell describes every detail of the weather  events which lead to the corresponding surf conditions.  Which I really like as it helps me understand how it all connects.  Much better than seeing 1-2 with no idea what that means or how they came up with that.  Whatever!  So I'll continue to use the NWS surf and marine forecasts as my main wave and wind info, with everything else as filler.

Now there was clearly a rising swell showing in the afternoon (Monday) at Hookipa.  We initially watched from the railing before paddling out and I thought there was occasionally a 5ft wave or so. Then we made it out to middles where the crowd was thin.  Right off the bat, a bigger set then expected came in and took us out.  OK, so we were inside and not in a good position.  And I wasn't expecting anything that big.  After that we paddled a bit further out and stayed closer to the shoulder.  And with that adjustment we both were able to catch several long rides, which for us at our long board level is really all we want.  That and not getting crunched!

One thing I discovered is I can switch my feet mid-ride, going to a goofy stance, which doesn't feel that strange.  I've seen other long boarders do this and thought it was sort of cool.  Anyway, I'm guessing that with all the windsurfing we do, which depending on the reach is goofy or not, makes it easier to do that on a surf board.  So maybe that's my big surf accomplishment for this season . Woo-hoo!

Meanwhile the sets seemed to be getting bigger.  Jeff and Val showed up (team "Hot")  on their short boards, and Julia rescued another short board for a girl who forgot to tie her leash (doh!).  Middles gradually filled up as the waves got bigger  By the time we came in, it looked like 7ft with occasional 9ft waves at the peak of middles, with a good crowd to go with it.

And the wind started coming up.  At this point three guys launched from the usual spot, and though the inside was brutal slogging, once they got past the break they were nicely powered up and on the way in got some decent rides.  Which bodes very well for tomorrow's (Tuesdays) conditions, as the trades should continue to return, and this new north swell should still be hanging around.  Could be fun!

Lastly, I've got pics from our first Hookipa windsurfing session.  Not of us sailing, but pretty much every one else.  First there was a constant rainbow giving us a thumbs up that we should sail Hookipa ...

Later our friend Olaf Sutor showed up with his brand new Maui Ultra Fins Hot sail, and I promised to take some photos. Note the nice back loop he threw for us.

And now everyone else who was windsurfing more or less with us. These pics should provide a better idea of the conditions then the video I took, which makes all waves look tiny (a friend suggested we **not** use this camera for any adult vids LOL). In the first picture note the quad fin board with only one thruster. IOW - asymmetrical thrusters. Pretty innovative? Or someone forgot a fin?? Not sure...

1 comment:

Catapulting Aaron said...

That looks like a ton of fun!

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