Maui - Behind the Scenes

Maui, after all these years, remains the emotional center of windsurfing. While windsurfing's popularity is higher in Europe, Asia, Oz/NZ, Africa - well pretty much most places - than the U.S., Maui is the place that is the Mecca for windsurfers: the place they should visit at least once in their lives. There are other places that areas windy or windier. There are other places that have sweet waves (Margaret River, Cape Town, Baja). Yet, Maui and its iconic launches, especially Ho'okipa, are perhaps the most widely recognized and photographed. Just about every major windsurfing manufacturer shoots at least part of its catalog there.

If you look at the photos long enough, you know the layout, the rocks and the way that every wave is sailed on port tack and sailors go to the right on the wave. And, the wind. It's always windy. It has to be as the wave sailors are always using 4 to 5 something meter sails and just ripping down the faces of those waves. Right? Well, I always thought so until drones came along.


Before the widespread use of drones, most of us had just seen just quick clips of the best windsurfers performing their best moves. Outside the rare helicopter shot, most of what we saw was taken either from shore or in the water. If you were like us, you just assumed that windsurfers there got on their 95 l. board and 5.3 sail, ripped out through the surf, jibed and then screamed back through the waves. Probably a lot of this is how unfamiliar inland and intermediate sailors are with the mechanics of wave sailing. We associate waves with wind but in a place like Hawaii, where the waves often come from weather events thousands of miles away, that's not necessarily true.

The other day I clicked on a blog post from the Cammar's (Giampaolo Cammarota) Maui Surf Report which I do from time to time. You can see his new posts pop up on our feeds on the front page on the right hand side. He often posts shots and videos taken by himself and other locals. He windsurfs, windfoils and surfs so quite often there's something fun to see.

The previous day there had been a good swell and he posted some nice pics including the one above. By chance, I was killing time on Youtube later on in the day and came across this video by Matt Holton who shoots some good stuff in Maui. Probably one of the best things he does is just long cuts so you get to see the actual process of wave sailing there. It's not just bam, bam, greatest hits. You see people going off the shore, getting worked in the surf heading out, good moves and moves that don't end so well. Most interesting was that the video was shot the same day.

Now if you just look at the pics, it looks like a screaming day. Spray is coming off the wave tops. But, then you watch the video and realize that all that power is the wave, not the wind. In fact, the sailors that day were just shlogging, not planing, out through the surf.

Take a peek here at 1:43 in the video. Not a white cap in site and someone finally catches a ride by pumping like mad and being on the right spot on the wave. His/her buddy right beside doesn't even get going. It's fascinating.

Bonus: here's a short clip of Cammar windfoiling yesterday

Ed. note: Yes, we know that on other days, it's cranking there.

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webguy's picture
Joined: 12/31/2000 - 22:01
Posts: 8874
Re: Maui - Behind the Scenes

Jan 24th footage from Matt Holton

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bpw's picture
Joined: 12/23/2003 - 23:07
Posts: 2404
Re: Maui - Behind the Scenes

Agreed, the drone videos as great because they better depict what it's like to be out on the water trying to catch waves. The shore shots only show the guys that catch waves and ride them into camera range. The drone shots show a pack of windsurfers bobbing way offshore much the way surfers do. They're waiting for a wave to form up so they can accelerate on the forward face before it's moving too fast to catch. The drone shots also give a view of the bottom. Sailing in Maui, I've kissed that bottom and then had to swim half way to shore chasing my board as succeeding waves continued pushing it out of reach. What makes the effort worthwhile is the sheer joy of finally catching a wave and riding it in toward shore where the power of the wave melts away, leaving you hungering for another ride. And since Maui is tropically warm most of the year, you don't have to return to shore to warm up. When conditions are right, wave rides in Maui are smooth, long & warm.


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Randy's picture
Joined: 05/05/2002 - 10:38
Posts: 3052
Re: Maui - Behind the Scenes

So you mean that these guys on the windsurf videos edit out the boring stuff and only put in their "hero shots"? I'll have to try that. ROFL

There is no off season.

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arrogantj's picture
Joined: 01/24/2012 - 14:11
Posts: 767
Re: Maui - Behind the Scenes

Randy, I tried that once. My video was only 0:03 long - the duration of the intro titles. Cray 2

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

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