Anyone who has been windsurfing over the last 20 years has seen endless videos and pictures of the likes of Robby Naish back in the day, up to Kai Lenny and these other young guns riding perfect waves in stunning locations on Maui. For me, like most windsurfers, it has always been on the bucket list to sail there and I finally managed to tick it off thanks to my amazing new sponsors. At the end of last summer I joined the Goya family and was invited over to Maui to meet the guys. This is the most excited I have been about a trip for a long time and it didn’t disappoint.
I always like to check out a new location before organizing a clinic there to get a feel for the place, find the best spots and figure out the kind of level its appropriate for. So I just took a few guys who’s sailing is solid, we had Steveo from the Channel Islands and the two Northern lads, Dan and Al. It was great group, we were in tears laughing everyday and they did the UK proud on the water.
We stayed just above Ho’okipa in Haiku, a very green area just back from the coast (Maui is expensive and staying away from the coast helped to keep cost reasonable). The accommodation was lovely, there are 3 or 4 blocks together so perfect for a larger group next year! Everywhere we sailed on the Maui North Coast is within 15 minutes of where we stayed.
As soon as we arrived we are thrown in to the Maui lifestyle, “Maui midnight” is 8pm so we were early to bed and early to rise at 6am, like kids on Christmas morning. We headed straight for the Goya/ Quattro shop to collect my kit and within 30 minutes we bump into Riccardo Campello with Pio the owner of MFC fins (another exciting new sponsor), met the shop staff; Pasko, Jay and Vicky, then Gollito rocks up with another awesome freestyler Amado, whilst Keith Taboul is kicking about shaping some boards! It’s like a surreal windsurfers dream! I get my kit, the guys grab theirs and we start to check out the beaches.
Of course we start at the famous Ho’okipa Beach Park (also the closes spot to our accommodation), Ho’okipa is a unique break, it looks epic on videos for sure but they don’t really do it justice, the wave is super powerful, even head high if you get it wrong you know about it! If you lose your kit it’s on the rocks and that’s no fun. Full. On!
Next beach along is mini Ho’okipa, then Sprecks; onshore wind, great for jumping and nice safe bay. Just down the coast from Sprecks is Camp 1 (only accessible by water), this is where most of the photo shoots form the kit brochures takes place.
Finally we hit Kanaha, this quickly became our favourite spot. Kanaha Beach Park has a massive grassy rigging area, showers and BBQs and 150 metres of flat water before you hit the outer reefs. The sailing is divided into two breaks. The upwind break, the aptly named Uppers and the downwind reef, Lowers. Uppers is quietly gnarly, big and inconsistent. There is good jumping, not so good riding but worth a go just to get the adrenaline pumping! Lowers is pretty close to wave riding perfection, cross to cross off, line after line of nice sized, peeling waves (up to 10 turns on a wave).
We also explored a bit of the South Shore, meaning we got 14 days out of 14 on the water. When the wind was too light to sail on the North coast, the South coast has a local effect where the wind is funneled between to mountains so we still got to sail on 4.2 and 4.5, some flat water and some waves.
My most memorable day was the massive swell day. I got to the Goya shop to get myself a small board and bumped into Levi Siver and Marcillo Brown, as you do, who were both super excited talking about the swell, that’s when you know its on! We arrive at Ho’okipa and it is pumping, double mast high. In Maui you are not allowed on the water before 11am so everyone is ready on the beach, chomping at the bit to get out there. It’s a bit too fruity for us but we stayed and watched for an hour, long enough to watch Jason Polakow smacking the lip and get washed on the rocks twice!
We went back to Kanaha and had the sail of our lives at Lowers with some mast and half sets coming through. I can’t lie, I got a few rinsing but nothing compared to what it would have been at Ho’okipa. We broke ourselves sailing for three hours and decided to go back and watch the pros at Ho’okipa.
When we got there, there were cameras everywhere, helicopters overhead and so many big names out there ripping, all the JP boys, Goya and Quattro team, Levi sending wave 360s and takas and Browzinio as well. It was really unbelievable to watch so much talent.
Then we heard that Jaws was working, which is such a treat as it only works about six times a year. We had to make our way down a little track, then over a hill we glimpse a crumble of white water and the first thing we see when we get to the look out is Graham Ezzy dropping in on a triple mast high beast! Bubble, Van Broekhoven and Ruennes are watching too (they’ve been to Maui 6 times and never seen it working). From the top of the cliff the wave looks huge but once we walked down to the bottom is almost impossibly large and sounds like thunder. The swell was unexpected so there are no jet skis and no rescue cover, the guys are having to launch through mast high shore dump, breaking on to man-size boulders!
Out on the water is Thomas Traversa, the wave world champ and winner of the Red Bull Storm Chase, he’s hitting the lip of Jaws so late, making proper aerials back on to the wave, its insane. The guy only weighs 63kg and his balls must weigh 5kg each!
This was only day 4! We’ve already met Robby Naish, Jason Polakow, seen Jaws, sailed some over mast high sets, been gunning down the line! What more could you want? Oh yea, sail Ho’okipa….
We had been watching Hookipa for about 10 days and had rarely seen it less than mast high, but I could not come to Maui and not sail it and the boys were keen. As I mentioned, it’s a powerful wave and it is also a tricky place to sail because of the rip that takes to towards the rocks, of course you can not swim against it, you have to swim towards the rocks and then the rip pushes you out into the channel. Now, being on a WSC course we studied this place for many hours, watching all the good guys (and also all the guys that didn’t have a clue) and so we knew all the rips, when to wait for the sets and how to launch, we were set to go!
The key is for your first time is to get to the beach early and be ready to go on the water at 11, as there is not really much of a tide in Maui so when its windy you can sail all day. Also the locals are making boards and sails or testing so normally they wouldn’t come down until about lunchtime, leaving the water relatively empty. We saw our window and went for it: Dan set off first towards the channel and made it, Big Al was up next and made it too! It was now my chance and for sure I had to make it out because my students had done it, one lucky gust I was out back, mast high, Ho’okipa! Both boys and myself took some bombs, we sailed for a hour or so before it started to get busy.
A friend who had just joint us for the 1st day sailing there and was not on the course had just thought it was like any other beach ended up on rocks straight away and had to stump up a 2000$ kit bill, ouch! That’s why it’s always better to join us!
I was so proud of the guys not just for sailing it, but for doing it with style! Good job lads!
Maui is incredible, expensive sure, but the pinnacle of windsurfing, definitely has to be done at least once if you can.
I will be arranging a clinic there next year and will be taking advanced sailors, capable of sailing small wave boards but by no means should that put off intermediates from going to Maui, there are plenty of friendly spots that are well worth a visit.
Video coming soon, stay posted!
Flights with KLM £850 return
Maui Van Hire: £12 per day per head – enough room for all four of us with kit
Maui Windsurf Company: £500 for 2 weeks kit rental.