Sunday, November 13, 2011

Maui - the big finale

Testing the one-handed sailing capabilities of the RRD Quad. Very important.

I'm sure you've all enjoyed reading this enthralling mini-series of Maui based blog posts. I hope no one fell of the edge of their seat. (Mom? you ok?) I've been in Chile for almost a week, but felt like I needed to finish my thoughts on Maui before moving on.

I must say that Maui, as a whole, feels like a dessert that's a little too sweet and rich. The air and the water are always warm. The tropical fruit is delicious and copious. When you crash, the water gives you a warm hug. It's just too much of a good thing. When I consider moving there, it occurs to me that I can't even imagine putting in a day of real work there.

Maui was spectacularly fun. The board test was, again, pretty tedious at times. I do think there is a good bit of utility in the testing of boards by a group of varied sailors. Having ridden my first multi-fin boards 3 years ago in my first test, I can honestly say they have come a long way in terms of their design. Now they can be designed more user friendly for folks that are learning to wave sail as well as be designed for the most advanced riders. These boards are often not the same ones so I think the average windsurfer would be hard pressed to find a board they will totally love without some kind of guidance from the windsurfing media outlets. Over the years the types of boards I like has changed a ton. At my first test, I loved the freestyle-wave boards that were easy to get going and forgiving through jibes.  Now I find myself wanting a board that turns a bit more aggressively on the wave, or one that is well suited for freestyle/crossover purposes. Just like the iPhone, things get noticeably better every year.

My last few days in Maui were very memorable and I hardly sailed.  The AWT competition was wrapping up and I saw windsurfing at the highest level I had ever seen. The wind was very light and flukey, and the competitors were braving gigantic waves that were over mast high. At Ho'okipa there is a channel that allows you to get out without hitting big waves, and even that was closed out.  We saw heats of amateurs and experts alike getting served large slices of humble pie on the rocks. During some of the heats, practically all of the competitors ended up getting pushed on the rocks. At times, all of the competitors were struggling to get out and no one was outside trying to catch a wave. It was very, very exciting.

Here are some photos that my girlfriend took from the competition:

I believe this is Josh Stone with an aerial. Some of the pros (and retired pros) who happen to live there but can't travel to many events were there. In some ways there were old timers vs. new timers and the old timers definitely held their own!

Also, some of the top-flight PWA guys joined in. Normally they are focused on the PWA tour (aka the European Wave Tour) so they miss the AWT events. Hopefully having guys like Marcilio "Brawnzinhio" Browne join and not get 1st place will turn some heads about the legitimacy of the AWT. Marcilio threw about 1000 of these goiters and landed seemingly 998 of them.

Is that two Marcilios in one picture? Why no, that's a goiter by the USA's own Bryan Metcalf-Perez. Bryan for sure hasn't gotten to sail this spot as much as most of the others, (or even wavesail for that matter) but you can tell that he could become one of the better wavesailors out there if he trained a bit more on the coast. That said, maybe he would be better served focusing on his Freestyle career?

Kai Katchadourian katches a juicy one. The final heat was a tough call. I think Kai placed 4th, but I gotta say I think that was a little bunk. Kai killed it with wave selection and had some of the longest rides and biggest aerials. For sure Camille Juban was the outright winner, but I enjoyed watching Kai sail these conditions more than Marcilio (who basically did one big move on the waves he took but didn't get a lot of nice looking top to bottom turns). That's the way it was though. The judges over and over scored a one-goiter wave higher than a really sweet fast ride with lots of spray and maybe an aerial. C'est la vi.

Marcilio Wave 360. I could do that. In a dream.

Lots of people were watching.

I don't have a lot of really good pictures of Camille, but he was amazing to watch. No one else was generating as much speed as he was, or turning with so much style. Hats off to this guy, I had never heard of him before this contest.

Josh Stone is such a badass.

Berndt Roediger throwing some style out there with the head toss a la Levi. Levi registered but didn't show up. I get that he's not into competition, but everyone would have loved to see him.

This was the biggest wave I saw anyone catch  all week. We were watching Berndt struggle to get over a huge outside set. He got over the first, the second, then the 3rd, just as they were cresting. Then this one came and everyone started yelling 'JIBE JIBE JIBE' from the beach. For sure Berndt couldn't have heard the crowd over the massive waves breaking, but sure enough he jibed onto this giant. There was no where to go on it but it's always great to see someone catch a wave this size, sorta like watching people surf Waimea.

Here's the same wave breaking.

And here was the penalty. A tough time getting back out with white water that goes over your 340cm mast.

I've got more pictures here and they're full sized, if you're interested.


George Markopoulos said...

very nice Aaron

rebecca said...

nice shots. looking forward to reading chile adventures. que te vaya bien - r