What’s it like to live on Maui

I have the feeling that many of those who follow iSurf might share the same lifelong passion that has animated this brand since its inception.

We have probably all lived or still live through the dream of chasing waves in the far corners of planet.

But what it’s like to actually live in Hawaii, provided that Hawaii is one of those places where surf happens for real?

Let roll back a little and see how it goes.
I first came to Maui in 1999 to satisfy my thirst for waves and to live windsurfing at its fullest. Mind you these were still the good old days, not the peak, but still good enough. Money was pouring in and the sport was awash.

I found the experience excruciating.

My first time at ho’okipa was intimidating. Got here at the beginning of September to be blessed with the first proper winter swell and very light winds. I still remember Josh Stone’s younger brother going out in the little to no wind and pulling out a sick one hand aerial. I definitely have the picture somewhere and will look for it.

Next day, when the swell went down to 5-7 and the wind picked up it was nuclear.

All of the sudden I found myself inside one of those windsurfing videos I had long consumed as a boy. Most of the world cup was there: Bringdal, Stone, Naish, the Prichards. It was intimidating. I started rigging the sails I brought over (wild winds they would be blown to ballon size when it was strong and ho’okipa in Septmber is strong on a sportex mast, a nice 2/3 kg of epoxy resin). Then realised it was probably beyond my ability. Probably, mostly a psycological barrier. So I drove to Sprecks (it took me another 10 years to find out about kanaha) and stayed in Sprecks for most of the swell. It was terrible. Side on and most like my home spot at the time – Ostia – when it blows westerly – on-side-on with rough sea. Is this why I came to hawaii, I was asking myself all the time? Every morning I would drive to hookipa, check it out and proceed. Then one day something clicked, the swell was down to windswell probably. I got in. I survided and actually had fun. It was the first taste of the power of that wave, that has very little comparison elsewhere. I never ever changed spot and got all subsequent swells. I was a lot into jumping at the time and in three weeks I evolved my cheese roll into a proper quite high forward. I’ve always like jumps.

It took me several years to get back and the reason why is one to mentioned. I had found Hawaii too expensive, overcrowded sand overdeveloped for my taste for nature. I remember having to wait minutes just to get onto hana highway from the Stones’ property I was leasing. So I moved the next ten years the center of my attention to Mauritius. I spent every summer (austral winter) there, at least a month.

But after a few years around 2004 I think when my Mru swing was full still full on, out of thin air, this guy from hawaii – Dan Rayburn, a photographer – sends me a mail on the website. He says he’s been trying to sell Jaws shots to magazines, hadn’t managed to and had decided to make me happy. I told him my site was not making any money – it never has so far – and I had nothing to pay him with. He said he liked the vibe of the site and the fact that it was an “underdog” and we published. It was a hit! At the time Jaws was really new and having those images a rarity. Online even more.

Roll another few years to 2010 and there I am booked for a conference in silicon valley on technology, my other passion. I send a mail to Dan and tell him I’m going to his hometown California. He suggests I hop over to Hawaii after the class. I hadn’t remotely even thought about. But of course the windsurfer in me goes into planning mode and after being offered accomodation and car the offer becomes too hard to turn down. It’s now a plan. I manage to secure an extra week vacation – my employer at the time considered a self financed class in technology in SV a “vacation” – and head to maui.

Dan is kind enough on a rainy early march morning to give me a tour of the north shore. I discover Kanaha with him and blame myself for not having asked the year I had been here. Next day it’s howling. Dan was still a good name in photography for the north shore at the time and offers to take picture. I was out of my mind. A session in paradise. The conditions. A dedicated semi-pro photographer. Memories I shall never forget: thanks to Dan.

I source all of my equipment at Quatro: they have me test different boards and sails and that is the moment Quatro/Goya sticks in my brain: it means from there on Maui and fun. Great associations for a brand.

Week goes by quickly. I retain some of my best windsurfing pictures ever from those sessions. I also remember that my heart too went off at a certain moment, I had been out the wind at died and had struggled quite a bit to get back. The it went back on full force and I was alone surfing big waves for almost half an hour … tbc

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