Saturday, September 11, 2004

Reflections on the Maui Trip

Back at home relaxing a bit to get ready for back to work.

On this trip. I have done a lot of long boarding, and it was really great to share the wave with some great local surfers. The feel and the vive of surfing is noticeably different here. I think I can feel that some surfers have been doing it for generations. It seems that playing and even working with the ocean is the part of the big culture here. A surfboard is used as a mean of work. I have seen a boy paddling out on a surf board with a snorkel and a float to go fishing.

I was, however, surprised about the difference in surfing equipment stores. First thing I noticed is that there are many ?surfing stores? such as Local Motion and Honoula Bay Surf Shop, and Tropics but many of the stores are geared towards selling clothing than surf boards. I looked into stores in Paia, Lahaina and Kihei. The only places that were obviously surf shop were Hi Tech Surf Shop in Kahului and another one next to it. All these shops also cater to wind surfers and that looks, rightfully, a scene here than surfing. The only other place was the Local Motion store at the north end of Lahaina with about a couple of dozen used boards (cash only). Most other shops only carried less than a dozen new boards. I was originally expecting a scene more like Santa Cruz where there are just plenty of surf boards both new and old to be checked. So I was originally going to buy a board here and bring it back but I decided not to do that.

In terms of surfing in the late August to September time frame, the temperature outside was about 90 F during the day and by 3 or 4 PM in the afternoon very strong wind blows until 8 or 9 PM at night. This all stops in the morning.

It is really true that when there are no waves, Lahaina breakwater always has some, and you can even expect to see shoulder to head level breaks that erupts just a few hundred yards from the breakwater. It was not as crowded, compared to Pacifica or Santa Cruz, even during the Labor Day holiday time.

Surfing in Maui can become dangerous as the coral and volcanic rock reef extends very far out. You can be paddling out quite a distance (may be 500 yards out) and you can still stand on the bottom. When you get off the board you can either bang the knee on the coral, in that case a deep cut is inevitable, or you can stand on it, and if you don?t have a pair of booties on that will also be painful. No locals wear booties and good number of men do not wear any tops. And all locals never get off the board. Once they get in the water, they paddle to go anywhere, never walking in the water even when they are getting out of the water. Also when they are finished with rides either they ride the wave all the way, or belly ride in. Graceful pull-out at the end of a ride is a necessity; otherwise, some rock or coral is waiting to catch you. I think that it is, in general, a good practice to ride boards that way at all times, never to walk the board or stand in the water. Even the most beginners will just sit on the board to pull out and not jump off the board and paddle right back. Most local women surf with just bikini tops. Breaks are more like you see in Santa Cruz and in spite of the size they can be rather mellow, and very long lasting so it is a lot of fun to catch and ride a long distance. Of course, once bigger swells set in, I have read that there are fast hollow sections and I cannot imagine being pounded into the reef after making an error.

No comments: