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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kona Daze

Maui had an endless stretch of trade winds that lasted through the Fall up until a few weeks ago.  Since then we've been in a more typical winter pattern, where the trades come and go, followed by periods of light or kona wind (south to west, the opposite of the usual trade direction).  Not un-coincidentally the N.Pacific storm track moved south and winter storms finally arrived on the west coast. In fact our friends in Hood River were just hammered by a snow/ice storm but also got some great powder on the mountain.  Yeah it's all related - the storm track moves south, the sub tropical high gets shoved over the islands, we get waves and kona winds, and the mainland gets it's snow.  Also Baja gets El Norte winds making all our La Ventana friends happy as well.  The trick is to be in the right place to get whatever kind of weather you want.

I'll definitely take Maui on that deal.  But kona winds are tricky.  It means the usual wave sailing direction is reversed. Down the line means going left with the wave on the left or port side of the board.  Some call this port side wave sailing.  I just call it kona waves.  Also kona winds are off shore as well, so anything bad happens and you got the chance of being blown out to sea.  On top of that, conditions can be extremely light to nada in the inside, while very gusty out past the break.

I'm still in the "take it sort of easy" phase of my recovery, now just past four months.  I'm willing to take on the  "usual" conditions, but no kona for me. Not yet anyway.  But I did get the chance to catch some amazing kona sailing at Lanes by some of the best kona sailors on the planet.  By that I mean Robby Naish, Pascal Bronnimann, and Kai Lenny.  And soon after launching, these big three were joined by Bernd Roediger (who recently joined the Goya team), Ascanio D'Ascanio (who we've known from many years of summer Gorge sailing), and Morgan Noireaux.

Notice in the pictures below how light it was, probably 0-10 on the inside and no more than 10-15 on the outside.  Pascal was riding a 90 lt custom Quattro with a 4.3 Banzai.  Bernd was testing a four batten Guru prototype.  Check out how casually Robby up hauls his sail on the inside near the rocks.  It's almost like his board was sitting on the reef.  Despite the minimal wind these guys managed some great rides and huge jumps. So impressive!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Just Like That

It's 2012. Another year spinning around an average G2V star. What's this year going to bring? No way to know. But I've learned to not take any new year or extra day on this planet for granted. No one should. Sounds like a good resolution.

Just like that the first giant winter swells arrived. Jaws had it's season opener on Jan 4th. The lineup at Peahi is now thick with surfers paddling in, along with the usual tow-ins, SUPs, kiters, amd windsurfers. In fact it's starting to look a lot like Pipeline on a big day. But that doesn't bother Kai Lenny, who does every water sport and probably has more fun than anyone. And Brawzinho showed up on his new Goya gear (welcome to Goya!), sharing a ride with Levi. Francisco decided to take one of the biggest and scariest off the lip wipe outs ever. Check out the video courtesy of Epic Sessions.

Just like that we're past the solstice and fully into winter. And it's been a very different winter compared to last year. A year ago the trades left us in early December and we had a two month period of light wind with  long stretches of kona. We had humid days and all night thunderstorms. We surfed a lot. Our few windsurfing sessions were usually light wind with lots of slogging but there were often great waves as a reward. I was very happy to be in possession of a 92 Goya quad last year, which made those days so much more fun.

This year the trades have yet to leave, except during the Makani Hookipa Classic (of course), and the windsurfing action has otherwise been pretty much non-stop. The weather has been awesome, at least here in Pukalani.  Haiku and more windward locations were stuck in a trade shower pattern for a long time so they might have felt a bit wet. And finally, a bit late perhaps, the winter surf showed up and seems to be sticking around for awhile. Surfers might be a bit bummed with all the wind, though anyone who can get out early enough and fight the SUP crowds (or SUP with them) should still be happy.

Just like that it's been more than 2 months since my last post. I've had a writer's block, or perhaps I should call it a computer block. Once I recovered from my "big O" to the point where I could play outside longer and harder, but also work a more regular schedule, I found it difficult if not impossible to sit in front of a PC for any extra time and blog away. So now I take long breaks outside every morning, drinking my coffee, reading books, enjoying the nice weather and the warm sunshine on my face. This is very addicting, maybe more so when I consider how easily I could be missing all this. So easily. But I'm trying to overcome this blocking pattern - I really enjoy writing and I've had some nice comments, so I promise to try harder in 2012.

Just like that I started windsurfing again on Dec 22. I've managed to get out about 8 days since, each time feeling a bit stronger and more relaxed on the water. The past few sessions I started catching some waves, easing back into it carefully, trying to avoid any big take downs or long swims. This also means I finally got to ride our new 2012 Goya gear. A very quick review - the new 78 quad is just like last year's (awesome) but with perhaps cooler graphics (IMO) and a bit more carbon to strengthen certain areas (our 2011 board is still going great in the gorge after 140+ days on the water, so it's amazing the 2012 is even stronger). And the 2012 sails are lighter than last year's, but with the same quality, performance and durability.  Rock on!

Here's a video from Matt showing some of the super fun conditions we've been seeing much of this winter at Kanaha.

Kanaha Fun from Pritchard Windsurfing on Vimeo.

I can't begin to describe how good it feels to be back on the water. I'm still not 100%, I don't know exactly when if ever I'll be fully healed, and there's no guarantee against future issues, but so far so good. Things could easily have turned out otherwise. Many people never get a second chance. Some never get a first chance.  Before going into surgery my best hope was that I might recover to the point where someday I could be back on Maui, and perhaps be strong enough to go windsurfing.  In my dream I'm able to catch a wave, and I look up the line and see Julia close by on the same wave.  She looks at me and says something.  I can't quite hear her so I get closer. And finally I understand - "hey, my wave!!".  Oops, wrong dream.  Instead I smile and give her a nod, and we cross each other going down the line taking turns hitting the lip.  Miraculously, there are no kiters coming over the top trying to snake us.  When we get back to the beach we get high fives from our friends, and we sit on the warm sand drinking cold beverages as the sun slowly sinks beyond the West Maui mountains.

This dream has already come true.  Just like that!
Copyright © 2011 Jamin Jones, All rights reserved.