Ah, another annual high wind board test finished, my final thoughts on the boards committed to paper, the final de-rig and packing of wet rash guards, harness and proto booms.
Today was a casual day, blasting on an overpowered 4.7 at uppers going big and sometimes paying the price. Jake was spot on nailing everything and anything he went for. Russ must have been feeling better with a few forwards on the bad ankle. Francisco hung out for a while - always good to see his smile! Keith brought by a freestyle wave proto for 2010 that looked great, but he is making a few more tweaks before it goes to Cobra. Testers were making their final runs on the boards, and some were plotting how to smuggle their fave home.
Ray crashed big - video to come soon - and messed his knee up for the rest of his trip. Kinda like last year on the Red Rhino, eh?
Anyway, I'm committing this post to the blog, and then its off to the airport for my flight to the mainland.
Ps - and yes, I can fly. Not for very long, but I can really soar! ;-)
Sunday was awesome. Spectacular. Epic. Pick your word for it, it killed. Everyone was on fire and the winds were jacked.
Hats off to Carl for getting around his first four forward loops! He's totally stoked to be 44 and learning to go over the bars - he can claim it as Ray saw one and the GoPro's caught them all (video forthcoming).
Sorry for the lack of video - there's just too much to go through as I've been running 3-4 GoPro's on the gear generating a lot of video and too little time to go through it.
Today's my last day on the island. I'm stoked to sail, and very ready to head home back to the family. Its been another good test trip, one for the books.
Wow, what a day. The wind was looking great, and the light was perfect for photos. The crew was a bit slow from the night before, having enjoyed sake and sushi at Jacques followed by marathon sessions on the dance floor until the lights came on (gasp!). Some piled on the Advil, one jumped in the ocean and the remedies seemed to work and we hit the water to warm up before Erik and the helicopter arrived.
I gotta say, having a helicopter 15 horizontal feet off of your mast tip while you're blasting across the water is way cool. I sure hope the photo turns out. The pilot had the chopper right on top of me to the point that I could read the make and model of Erik's camera gear. Yeah, it was that close. If I would have bore off, I'm sure my mast tip would have hit the skids. (I hope there wasn't a huge booger hanging off my nose! LOL)
An hour later Erik was back to take some more photos of the team from the water with his fisheye lens. This is always a blast as you have to literally sail on top of him to get the shot. As last year, I stuck a GoPro on his helmet and got some good video that I'm still going through. Everyone was tearing it up and I know there's a pile of great shots in there.
I spent the bulk of my day on the 2010 5.3 Goya Guru, and I was super pleased with it. The new model has way more low end power (which I need) and handles like a dream on a wave and in the air. My only complaint is that I noticed that the 2010 Goya's don't have the pocket in the mast pad for your downhaul line like last year. That's it. That's my only gripe. ;-)
I'd bet that I end up on the 4.7 Eclipse today. It was already crankin at 7am - always a good sign. I've got a super busy schedule planned that includes running the entire fleet to uppers for some head to head wave testing. If I get that done before the wind quits, I'm gonna grab my favorite board and have a little personal fun time in the waves. Carl is planning to learn to loop today - which has Josh a little apprehensive. Not sure why, since Carl will be wearing his helmet. ;-)
Today there's a stirring in the trees as the trade winds return to the north shore. Everyone's pretty stoked to get back on the boards and get our testing mojo on.
We've been spending our last few windless days surfing, SUP'ing and recovering from the flu that's been having its way with a few members of the test team. Josh is back to 100% and Aaron is almost there as well. I think I've successfully fought off the yuck with the medicine bombing of my system and fingers are crossed that the rest of the crew doesn't succumb this weekend. ;-)
The coming weekend looks great for some solid back-to-back sailing days with some really decent winds that should get everyone onto small sails and give these high wind boards a real run through.
In addition to new boards being tested, I've been sailing some prototype booms this trip. Now I'm kinda particular about my booms. Specifically in diameter, stiffness and overall user friendliness with the front end, rear pulley and cleat, and easy to use size markings.
And most of all, they need to be strong. I'm a big guy and I sail hard on my gear. One summer I taco'd so many aluminum booms the manufacturer stopped replacing them and strongly recommended to rider their carbon model. (I liked the aluminum one for its reduced diameter). I have to admit that I was a bit sceptic about the survivability of these booms when I was asked to test them. But hey, thats part of the deal, right?
That said, I like these booms. So much that I forget I'm sailing aluminum. But alas, they're stiff and crisp when sailing. What's so special about them? The grip. There's a pronounced "V" on the inside of the boom that makes it super easy to grip the boom, especially when wave sailing. Take a close look at the photos, but keep in mind that we used a wide angle lens to accentuate the view of the "V". In normal sailing, the grip was less taxing on my forearms. When doing tricks, it was easier to snag the boom with a few fingers and on some near misses, I pulled it out because of the "V". I really noticed the "V when wavesailing - it was super comfy when working hard on the rig going down the line.
Items to note - the diameter was large for some of the women or people with smaller hands, but the production version of them will be about 15% smaller and with a less pronounced "V".
The locking pins for the adjustments were user friendly and beefy, but I wish they'd mark the extension with overall length cm and not just cm of adjustment. The head was nice, though I think there's a more refined version in the works.
The best thing about these booms - the price. I'm not going to disclose MSRP, but in today's economy, these booms are priced right, perhaps even below what I think the value is for them.
And if you've never heard of the brand, rest assured, while they may not be a household name in the North American windsurfing market, these guys have been around the block and then some in Europe. No worries there at all.
Check 'em out, give them a try and get a better grip on your sailing.
One thing that has everyone's attention in this year's test fleet are the number of fins on the boards.
We have a tri fin board, a quad fin board, twinzers, twinzers with thrusters, and of course, a few single fin boards thrown in for good measure. One board can be set up as a quad, thruster or single fin depending on your conditions or emotional state of sailing zen. Imagine the fin quivers you will have owning one of these sticks!
A common confusion by passers by is that one of these two boards isn't a quad. But they are - just two radically different takes on the quad concept. The Quatro in the foreground is more of a twin with thrusters and the Starboard in the background is almost the exact reverse with the main power fins up front and outboard of the rear directional fins. The boards actually have a similar tail and volume distribution shape, but the drive delivered by the fin position makes the boards handle very differently. Of course I can't go into detail about how they sail, you'll have to wait for the board test issue of Windsurfing Magazine for that, but its safe to say that this year's fleet offers sailors a diverse set of boards unlike any in past years. Check out the latest issue of WindSurfing for a great interview with Keith on the Quatro Quad!
Yeah, we've got a bit of gear to test. (and this is only one of two vans)
Damn. Maui, even when it sucks, its good.
The morning dawned with the promise (or lies - take your pick) of wind with a nice NW swell. We had laundry lists of crap to do before 11a, and I gotta tell ya... we were motivated. Big time.
As the clock ticked over from 10:59 to 11a, I launched to lowers to score some of the sweet waves we were drooling over for the previous hour. While I can't tell you what board I was on, my 5.7 2010 Goya Eclipse was treating me fine as I dug into my first wave of the sesh.
A board switch and 2 hours later, I was back on the beach after two amazing sessions in chest to head high waves at lowers. After the rain squall passed, the wind puked and I lucked out and got a puff to waterstart my ass back to the beach as everyone else swam for life with the thoughts of the 10ft tiger shark that was hanging out in the break yesterday.
Back on shore the consensus was to bail and head to Kihei and get some sailing, albeit without waves. But hey - sailing is better than sitting on the beach TALKING about sailing, right? ;-)
A quick refuel and a drive across the island and we're in Kihei where I've not sailed since my first trip to Maui back in 1987. Yeah, I'm an old fart. ;-)
Now I got to experience the 2010 4.7 Eclipse. I had a front row seat to Jake on his Eclipse prototypes this summer in the Gorge, and now I had one of the final items all to myself and I was tickled pink with it. Yeah, I know, regardless of what sail it is .. being on a 4.7 rules. Period. (more about those sails later)
Back in the day, I hated Kihei. Today, a bit past 41 years on this planet, I was loving it. Overpowered, rocking it with some friends, letting the boards run as hard as we'd push 'em and going for broke on some of the worst voodoo chop known to man. Yeah, it was a gas.
Full of Advil and knee brace tightened almost to the point of pain, I was no longer 41 years old, father of three, now CEO. I was a young sailor, stupid in all respects, going for broke with no regard to the outcome of my behavior.
I think I'll call the move the "TNT" .. after all, it was a bit of an explosion. Ask Ray, it was kinda spectacular since my gear almost hit him.
All in all, a great day. In the grand scheme of things I've had better days on Maui, but this day stands out for the unique events that made the day epic.
A quick survey of the crew proved smiles across the board, and what more can you ask for?
We have a bit of video to go through, look for most detailed posts soon. ;-)
Josh is on the mend - He's got the H1N1 at bay. Can't you tell??
We had a super nice day surfing and SUP on the southside. Waves galore and smiles all around. Many thanks to Dave and the Naish crew for hooking us up. (and to the Odwalla guys for the drinks and energy bars)
There's a big NW swell coming in overnight and wind the next two days to get some testing in before the doldrums set in mid week.
We've got quads, twins with thrusters and tri fins. These boards are just begging to be ridden. The vans are full of '010 sails, prototype booms and all sort of fun water toys.
Hopefully we'll have video, etc. for tomorrow. The HD's and GoPros' are chrged and the crew is very ready.
UPATE - Its 7a sunday morning and there's wind in the trees, and all spots are showing normalized trade wind direction and speeds. The stoke is high for some testing today. ;-)
So, I'm debating about holding off leaving for the island until things firm up. Then again, the Gorge forecast looked even worse this summer and I ended up sailing 3.7 three days in a row in truly epic conditions.
I'm not worried about sitting around doing nothing. That's impossible on Maui. There's world class surfing, stand up paddle surfing, longboard windsurfing, snorkeling, SCUBA, deep ocean fishing, hiking, and on and on and on.
Still, I'm there to sail. Specifically sail the collection of 2010 high wind boards 80-90 liters. Catapult is thinking he'll work on his schlogging - I think he weighs like 160lbs wet, and I can't imagine what I'll be doing. Perhaps a U-Boat captain impersonation?
I'm a week away from returning to Maui for a week of high wind board tests with Windsurfing Magazine and I'm already starting to get the Maui twitch. They've been enjoying a lot of great swell the past month, and I just hope that this is a sign of what we might get for this year's test.
I'll be blogging daily about the goings on, antics, injuries, etc., so check back often. There will be plenty of video and photos, and perhaps...just perhaps, some live streaming action if conditions warrant it. ;-)
If you missed last year, you can find most of the posts here, just scroll down to the bottom to catch all the entries.
Ok - time to get back to work and stop thinking about Maui. Really.