Posted on May 7, 2012

SAILING ON NEW GEAR

April is always the craziest month for me… Racing around between windsurf lessons, photo shoots for the new 2013 JP/NP gear and family life. This years JP-AUSTRALIA’s shoot was as manic as ever with last minute calls to different beaches around the island, the pressure of weather not cooperating and helicopters hovering, waiting for no one even if the wind dies and you’re busting a gut to get miles upwind.  It’s not unusual to arrive at the beach and be given a 100 liter board and a 5.5 sail when any sane person would have chosen a 4.0 and way smaller boards.

Actually doing windsurfing photos shoots pretty much guarantees that you’ll be sailing maxed out as they only mock-up a certain amount of sails for shoots and they are more likely to be in the bigger sizes.

Sailing overpowered in a straight line is manageable, it’s when you have to unhook for a turn and wave riding that it becomes near to impossible!

There was never a worry about wind this year as we had more than we ever needed. It blew a steady 4.0 practically everyday. Winter swells came to an abrupt end by mid april. Fortunately we squeezed a quick couple of days of waves at Ho’okipa with a helicopter right at the beginning and got the photos we needed. The rest of the month had perfect conditions for freeride sailing! Which reminds me of a funny story…

I had a classic moment with Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers. We were shooting the All Ride together way out in the middle of Maalaea Bay. I’m alway nervous here as it’s pretty sharky. It’s the side of the island where sharks breed and whales give birth… Need I say more. ‘IF’ I go down in these waters I am usually waterstarting before I even get my toes wet! Andy and I did our customary smiles and waves at the camera while sailing side by side as the helicopter buzzed over head. I was way maxed out on a 5.5 and Bubble could barely hold down the 6.1 as the winds were blowing a gale as funneled through the valley between Mount Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains.

Abruptly a horn blew from the helicopter signally for us to stop and Martin Brandner, our team manager, made the gesture of two fists punching together,  Andy and I looked at each other completely perplexed. The best we could decipher from this sudden use of a foreign sign language was that he was either telling us to get some ‘nooky on’ or to put our hands closer together.

We opted for putting our hands closer together on the boom and sailed off into the horizon… The horns shrilled again from the helicopter to signal us to stop once again.

I realized Martin was signally for us to swap sails… F@%$ that. There was no way I was changing those huge sails out there in these deep, dark murky waters miles off shore.

Thrashing around out in the bay, mucking around with sails was not an options for me and sailing all the way back to the beach was not an option for the helicopter, as it cost a gazillion pennies a minute. I started shaking by head in that ‘no, no, no,’ hysterical female kind of fashion, only to have the horn blasted again calling my attention up to the heli where Martin was giving me the ‘Martin look’… The ‘you will do it’, expression. So I took another tact and feign complete ignorance and pretended I thought he meant change our whole equipment. I started freaking Andy out with my freaking out (though he would never admit to it).  Though he sure swam as fast as I did, to make perhaps the worlds speediest equipment exchange. I could just barely contain control of the power of the 6.1…. “Why did they want me on the bigger sail? I’m a girl? Is Martin a sadist? This makes no sense…” Are the thoughts which crossed my mind as I got catapulted on every jibe. It turned out though that they did not realize it was a bigger sail and that the stickers on the 5.5 were just slightly stuck on wrong… Once the yellow machine is flying, there is no room for error, if you rigged your sail incorrectly, chose too big a sail or forgot your harness on the beach in your haste to get on the water… Then that’s how you were going to have to bear your session.

We’ll see what the photos look like later…. Probably something like a strained smile feigning complete relaxation while every muscle in my body popped just shy of a super explosion. Keeping my eyes and head directed at the cameras instead of looking where I was going added to the Russian Roulette vibe of the shoot.  Fortunately the orange gold light of a Haiwaiian setting sun lended a gorgeous back drop and texture to a rather stressful event. Regardless the 2013 photo shoot weeks were a ton of fun and we got some epic shots. It was great catching up with Olya and Maxime and working on some new creative ideas. We had fun days surfing SUPs in small waves… Jason Polakow kept running into me and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. One time we were doing a group shot on the waves and Jason ran me over yet again, but this time he ditched his board and jumped on to mine, we were laughing like crazy while I held on to him for dear life trying not to fall in! That’s why I love SUP… The goofing around factor. It’s such a fun sport to do in so many different conditions with friends and family.

P.s. The photos on this page are of last year’s JP-AUSTRALIA shoot as this year’s one’s are still under wraps!

May is now here. All the pros have packed their bags and headed home. Life has returned back to it’s normal rhythms and Matt Pritchard and I are looking forward to running our already fully packed Aloha Windsurfing Clinic at the end of the month.

Windsurfing aside I’m always pleased when new good music is introduced to my life. I really enjoyed these tunes that my friend Maggie played for me the other night. Beautiful art…. Music and videos. I love this kind of intensity in any kind of medium.

 

 

 

Aloha,

Shawna