ALOHA CLINIC, AWT EVENT AND HALLOWEEN
October flies by with the intensity of roaring jet engines. Endless waves, solid winds and full Aloha Clinics rockets me through the atmosphere of teaching windsurfing into the space of competition. The American Windsurfing Tour Event goes off and of course there’s a flurry of costumes and parties to attend in this Halloween month.
Matt Pritchard and I were happy that our October Aloha Windsurfing Clinic ran so smooth Elvis would have been impressed. It was a full week with wind everyday, windsurfing T’ai chi in the morning to trigger our muscle memory and hours of fun on the water with some great social nights out on the town. It was such a fun group with the women out numbering the men..
We also had a few guest who’d only been windsurfing for 9 weeks to 4 months and all of them were doing beautiful waterstarts and spent the week working on their turns. Who said you can’t learn to windsurf quickly! In the right hands with the right advice and with some time to dedicate anything is possible.
There’s not even a skip in my step as I torpedo from our Aloha Clinic through a few Halloween parties into the American Windsurfing Tour Event. I was thrilled to take part in a Ho’okipa event as it really is the Pipeline of windsurfing and it never made any sense that the ‘Grand Palace” of wavesailing was left unattended for years. It was amazing to see her court filled up once again to show case windsurfing’s legendary acrobats. I was even more thrilled when I found out there were a record number of fifteen girls competing in the waves at Ho’okipa.
It was cool when the next day all the guys were patting us on our backs with a certain level of respect saying the girls were ripping. I was super stoked when Josh Stone said to me that he’d never seen such a high level of sailing in a ladies heat before at Ho’okipa ever…. ” All you girls were charging at the lips and smacking them silly… It was awesome”. For me, that truly is the feeling of winning!
As for the finals… I fluffed it. Lol. The conditions were marginal at best. Tiny waves with winds that were so gusty that in one heat the sailors soared like eagles while in the very next heat the sailors sat like ducks in the water. A few nights before the competition Matt and I were enjoying a meal with our Aloha guests when the subject of ‘getting into the zone’ came up. I asked Matt what was the secret to being at one with yourself and the elements. I was expecting some deep philosophy of spiritual head space for tunneling into the ‘zone’…….
I felt the sound of air hissing out of the popped tires of my illusions. “WHAT????? That’s all you’ve got for us Matt,” is exactly what I said and everyone laughed back down from the edge of their seats.
Gusty winds shutting off and on in a minute was a game changer or a game loser…So after numerous runs out before the ladies final heat, I still chose the wrong equipment. I had a total temporary moment of insanity when I chose my small board ( because it turns better ) and a big 5.0 which just ended up feeling too heavy in my hands with harness lines that were way too short for comfort when the winds shut down for the heat. As I struggled to get upwind I could hear Matt’s voice resonate in my head like the ghost from christmas past….”Shawna… Shawna… 70% of getting into the zone is the right equipment……”
The last day of competition held over mast high waves and light winds. I would have loved to be able to redeem myself and compete in these conditions but there were not enough hours in the day. Instead this day went well deservingly to the Experts. The Expert’s final was like watching the ancient sport of Gladiators with the waves storming in with massive clubs batting the mere mortals into the rocks in front of her Majesty Ho’okipa and a jeering crowd.
At one point Kai Katchadourian in true Hollywood fashion found his inner hero as he was being relentlessly beaten on the rock. The spectator on the hill all stood up at once to view the waves toying with him like a game of cat and mouse when the anticipation of gore was perversely denied as Kai suddenly tore his gear and himself off the rocks… The crowd let out a collective rush of held breath as he sailed back out to sea to challenge the beasts once again.
Yes people won and people loss… But that all falls short and fades away with the positive surge of tidal proportions in the windsurfing community of Hawaii and america. It’s like a new breath has been breathed into the gasping life of a waining spirit. Joy of all joys windsurfing is not dead. In fact it’s alive and pulsing with more expectations and future pulse than ever before here on Maui.
Thank you to Sam Bittner and all her hard working people for making Sam’s visions come true and not listening to the doubters. A big applaud to the the contest winners: Junko Nagoshi, Camille Juban, Jehyug Jay Lee, Morgan Noireaux and Jeff Henderson!
More than anything I learnt something more about myself, the competitive game and the joy of windsurfing. It was a fun family friendly vibe with super high level sailors. A venue for kids to get inspired and women to join in on the action. At the closing night two young girls in their twenties asked me a load of question about my path in windsurfing and how they were now so keen to learn how to windsurf. So we’ve all won when it comes to the bigger picture. We all live an amazing lifestyle that inspires others to following their dreams.