This is my forth time here, I'm 4 1/2 weeks into my trip and I've got to say that I love windsurfing here more and more every time I come here. The wave riding here is AWESOME! Hookipa is probably the most famous windsurfing wave break in the world. It's a rather tricky break to get used to. You have to ride there and learn about the spot, for example the currents, where to position yourself to catch the waves on different days, how the waves form up while you're riding them on different days, how to work with the days when it's crowded and how to stay off the rocks. But once you've gotten used to it, you can just have so much fun there. The wave has an fantastic amount of speed and punch. Such fun wave riding. It's sometimes really good for jumping as well, but only when the wind is blowing in a certain way. And as you get more used to Hookipa, more knowledgeable about the spot and more comfortable, you can go out on bigger and bigger days. This is the forth time I've been to Maui and this time we had the biggest swell I've ever seen here. I was lucky enough to get to enjoy a big day at Hookipa with just me and about 8 other pros and locals out. It was like a dream! I was pretty nervous about going out but good old Josh Stone came bouncing up to me saying "don't worry bro, the channel's not closing out yet", which is does when the waves get real big. 15 minutes later I'm following him out through the channel by the rocks and we see a big set rolling in. As a wave jacks up in front of Josh I see that it's well over mast high and definitely about to break. Josh shouts a pretty scared "WOOOOOOOOO". I shout "F*#*:~#CK". He JUST scoots over it, and I get fully nailed!!!! Luckily I some how held onto my kit and kept off the rocks. But I managed to get straight out after that and caught some of the best waves of my life. Seeing those guys ripping right in front of me was great. It totally pushes your level. The big days are great as there are less people out and more people sat watching on the hill! Checkout the photos below. A few are of this day at Hookipa, mixed with some smaller but still totally awesome days there. We enjoyed even bigger waves at Hookipa the following day but we'd lent our camera lens to Muzza as he was going to session Jaws so we didn't get any photos. Unluckily for him, there were some issues with getting a boat to get out there so he didn't get to go.
HOWEVER, a certain Katy McAnena did make it out at Jaws. Jaws, for those who don't know, is one of the biggest waves in the world. It only breaks a few times each winter as it needs a fully huge swell to make it work. Katy became the first ever Irish lady to ride Jaws that day. Me and Mike Archer, who I'm sharing a place / places with out here (a pretty dam good English wave loving windsurfer!) went down to check out Jaws after sessioning Hookipa. It was so epic to see people windsurfing it. And the guys surfing it, paddling into the huge waves, leaning into and taking the steepest drop ins, were incredible. After getting there, Sam (a super cool lady who largely runs the american windsurfing tour) said to us "did you see Katy out there". Both me and Mike were like "WHAT? KATY'S OUT?!!! NO WAAAAAY". We were so excited. We shimmied down the steep hill to the rocks in front of the break where she apparently some how launched into the water, to find her stood there after catching some big old rides. She went out there with no boat of jet ski cover and only got back in by dumping her kit on a random boat and swimming in back to the rocks. She's one awesome awesome lady, both on and off the water. An Irish gem!! Her drive and courage to go out and ride big waves certainly made her the windsurfer that impressed me the most on the whole trip.
|Tripped a rail on this wave...|
|then realised that the wave behind it was 100% gona break|
on my head...
|and then got totally munched, over the falls desperately|
holding onto my kit so that it didn't end up on the rocks,
much to the amusement of friends watching from on the hill!
|Katy McAnena on a mission!|
Maui windsurfing certainly isn't just about rad action at Hookipa though. Maui is an awesome place to come for any level of windsurfing. When I first came to Maui I couldn't even carve gybe. It's pretty much a perfect place to get into waves. Kanaha is another spot on the north shore, about 15 minutes drive from Hookipa. The waves here break reasonably gently over several reefs that are surrounded by deeper water. This means that if you crash and either can't manage to get back up on your board or your kit gets washed away from you, then you just get washed into flat water where you can easily get back on your board and give it another go. Awesome! The waves here can be super fun for both riding and jumping whether the waves are big or small. The flat water here is really popular for just crusing around, although it's not super flat, with a reasonable amount of chop. The launch is from nice long sandy beaches and there's a big grassy park at the beach, good for chilling out with a BBQ or whatever!
Another great spot is Sprecks, also on the north shore between Hookipa and Kanaha. This place also has a long sandy beach to launch from. The waves here also aren't as powerful as Hookipa. They're ok for riding but not great. However it can be a really fun spot for jumping. There are no rocks to worry about here either.
Baby Beach is another good jumping spot. You have to shimmy off some rocks to get in the water here which is a bit sketchy. This spot only seems to be worth checking out when the waves are at least logo high at the other spots along the north shore (around 3 metre faces). If it's any smaller than that, the waves don't seem to break here.
Lanes is a break right next to Hookipa. You get into the water at Hooikpa and just windsurf down wind for a minute to get to Lanes. This wave doesn't normally break that well, only giving 1 or 2 turns, which means that no one really bothers riding there. However when the wind switches round from it's normal direction so that it's blowing from the left instead of from the right (called a Kona wind) the wave riding here can be awesome with some pretty powerful waves. This normally only happens a few times each winter though.
There are a few lesser know wave breaks along the north shore and around the island which can be pretty really good but I think I should keep quiet about these. You'll have to find them out for yourself!
As for freestyle, Maui doesn't really seem like that great of a place for it. Although there's plenty of space at Kanaha and Sprecks where the waves aren't breaking, it doesn't seem flat / smooth enough for freestlying.
The only real problem with the windsurfing in Maui is the crowds. Lots and lots of people trying to catch the same waves. If you put your mind to it though, you can still get plenty of waves. You just have to work out how! It can really force you to learn about reading and selecting waves.
We've enjoyed some truly epic days windsurfing this trip. I definitely feel I've improved my wave riding, getting harder, tighter, faster turns, getting more vertical and more in the critical section of the wave. Overall, more style! I've learnt to read waves better both with deciding which ones to take and what's happening while riding them. I've also gained a lot more confidence in bigger waves. I'm pretty dam happy!
The best times to come to Maui are definitely spring or autumn. The summer is the windiest time of year but there aren't much waves, and the winter doesn't have much wind but has loads of waves. So by coming in spring or autumn you get a good combination of both wind and waves. Maui really is a super fun place to windsurf. With amazing riders everywhere you go, it really pushes you to ride harder! Even if you don't go out at Hookipa, make sure you go up there to sit on the headland and watch some of the best windsurfers in the world right in front of you. Checkout the video below that was filmed on the biggest day at Hookipa. Some of the best guys in the world going crazy!!
VIDEO - the pros ripping it up at Hookipa on the biggest wave day of the trip...