Posted on May 25, 2014

IMG_4096With May came a quick trip to Canada to enjoy spring flowers and the first tickles of a mainland summer. Big open blue skies, sea breezes and a new bounce in everyones footsteps. In between running clinics, photo shoots and visiting family I enjoyed some much desired quiet time painting and finishing up personal projects.IMG_3683IMG_9303 - Version 2

The month comes to an end with our May Aloha Windsurfing Clinic.

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….. As I think back to this last week a Rolling Stones tune comes to mind. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes- Well you just might find… You get what you need.

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The first day of our clinic started out with small waves and wind which petered out to a calm flat sea state and light winds for the rest of the week. We actually started our clinic a day early to get that first day of stronger winds.

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I understand when people are on holiday they want the wind to blow at a perfect 15 to 20 mph so they can step off the beach and onto their windsurfers with minimal amount of fuss. They desire a wind so perfect that they are neither underpowered nor overpowered. Conditions that allow them to hook in and sail easily off into the sunset while getting away with not having to really worry about techniques that will stop them from losing control in high winds or getting frustrated in light winds.

IMG_9997IMG_9999 Off course we all want those perfect conditions. The problem with windsurfing is our perfect conditions are always changing. The goal post seems to get further and further away the better we get as we are in constant desire for even more specific conditions. Those perfect days for our own personal level are like the carrots on the end of the stick which keep us awake lying in bed dreaming of those moments and desiring more… But to experience a glimpses of perfection we need to get through a whole lot of imperfect days.

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Imperfect days are actually the days we really learn and move forward with our skills and technique, so that when perfect conditions walk up on your doorsteps we won’t be held back by our skills. As frustrating as it is perceived to be- A bad day/conditions- really are our good days. They are some of the most important days to be on the water for fine tuning our abilities so we can go eventually play with the ‘big boys’.

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Lighter winds force us to be absolutely present and in the moment. The planing winds may only last a couple hours- a planing gust can race right past us if we are not paying attention and lining up your angles to the winds correctly. If our stance it not absolutely perfect we will sink the tail end of our board and waste our opportunities to get planing. We have to force ourselves to keep our eyes on the prize- the wind, and read it like a novel in order to engage the correct body responses (stance-angels to the wind). Yes it’s difficult, yes it’s subtle and we need to be light footed and graceful…. But it’s more than possible.

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We are never too good for light winds. Light wind skills are important for many of the future paths the sport of windsurfing offers- racing, freestyle or waves. LIght winds slow down the jibe so that we can spend more time perfecting the correct footwork, hand work etc… freestyle tricks can be learnt and understood more easily in light winds and … It’s true… Wavesailing is a light winds past time.  Wavesailors purposely sail around slightly underpowered so that once they have the energy and speed of the swell underneath they won’t get too overpowered on the wave face. Most of the best waves sailing venues in the world have squirrelly unpredictable offshore winds which makes launching off the beach tricky as you need to time a puff with a breaking shore. Rescue stance and timing is everything and light wind waterstarts are a must…

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As an instructor I personally favor the lighter winds. Here is when core skills can be slowed down enough to be truly understood and really worked on. If we do not achieve mast foot pressure we simply do not plane. It’s a lot more safe than not achieving mast foot pressure in high winds where you tear across the water out of control, catapulting through jibes and sinking tails and skidding out in front of a breaking waves- Which are all pretty hairy experiences that I’d rather everyone avoided.

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For those who worked on their waterstarts, footstraps, harness connection and jibes… It was a perfect week!

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Whatever our  level- our idea of a perfect day changes… And here lies the problem. Our expectation, our desires, our fun factor might not match what we actually need to work on so that we don’t waste a perfect day being frustrated or missing it.

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I guess what I’m saying, it’s rarely the about the conditions unless it’s dead calm of course (And even then we can surf or SUP which improves our all round board balance and wave awareness)… Conditions rarely work to our favor in multiple levels or our lives. But how we decide to approach challenges speaks volumes about where we will be going. Most likely if we take on a challenge- we will come out much better for the effort.

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Light winds challenge our skills and mental head space. But once we accept it as a gift rather than a curse we will unwrap our inner skills, push our limits and simply become much better sailor with skills that will allow us to move forward more easily in any chosen direction of the windsurfing sport.

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And even when the winds do shut down completely. We are on Maui!!!!- With glassy surf at our fingertips and perfect visibility for snorkeling for visiting marine life.

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There are secret cool waterfalls and tips of volcanoes sitting high in the clouds just waiting to be discovered…. You are always surrounded by beauty.

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Review – Aloha Clinic  – Shawna Cropas & Matt Pritchard

Location – Maui, Hawaii

Date – 17th May 2014

Wow, Wow and Wow again. I’ve only just got back into windsurfing after quite a few years bumbling along and have just had a fantastic time in Maui with the Aloha Clinic team of Shawna Cropas and Matt Pritchard. If I hadn’t made myself clear, the weeklong clinic was absolutely fabulous.

 

The weather gods had decided to bless us with light winds and low swells. It was light wind time but that’s not to say there wasn’t any fun to be had.

 

I had a blast. It was high time I had a decent amount of tuition and being kicked into shape. I had been wanting to seriously embark on my windsurfing apprenticeship and here in Maui I gave that journey a hefty reboot, thanks to Shawna and Matt.

 

I arrived in Maui, grabbed my rental car and windsurfing rigs for my weeks stay at a north shore beach front rental. I turned up, at what would be home for the week. Great sand, spitting distance from the beach and hot sunshine. Matt and Shawna gave a warm welcome; so did the rest of the gang who had assembled for the week. Our first day, everybody just wanted to get onto the water a.s.a.p. The first thing that struck me was how relaxed Matt and Shawna were to prodding us all in the right direction.

 

Over the next seven days, I found my sailing standards and maneuvers improve in leaps and bounds. The combination of being motivated by the Aloha Clinic team and my peers was incredibly inspirational. The opportunity to learn from everyone else making their breakthrough successes and also mistakes; makes for a powerful learning tool. Both Matt and Shawna have quite different but complimentary teaching styles. And there is time to find your own style amongst the wisdom being offered. Remember it’s a holiday/vacation, so if you do not want to sail and do your own thing, there is no pressure for you to be on the water if you do not want to. It never felt like boot camp, but I think everyone at the clinic wanted to improve and get better. So the commitment and spirit of the group was incredibly high despite some lighter winds at times. In fact the weather gave plenty of opportunity to improve our stance, our tacks, gybes, core technique and some freestyle. With photo and video analysis almost every day, there was a chance to get better at almost every aspect of sailing. The critique offered by Shawna and Matt was excellent, not too harsh and not too soft either. A good prod in the right direction, with a hefty dollop of technical coaching when it was required. All interspersed with encouraging motivated comments.

The Aloha Clinic team was always on hand throughout the day so that regardless of the conditions, everybody felt safe and under control. Both Matt and Shawna were constantly taking turns to be out on the water or taking photos. I was pretty stoked all week that both of them put all their energy into guiding us like apprentice wizards to become masters of our sails.

I had never been to Maui before and found the island amazing. Words and pictures barely do it justice; it is a captivating place on land and sea. For a vacation, not much beats it. Swimming amongst pristine coral reefs with some of the planets most beautiful sea life and also some great new friends. A chance to SUP on some great shoreline, snorkel and swim in warm seas.  All topped off with very very happy memories recounted in the good bars and restaurants of nearby Paia.

When can I come back???? A massive thanks to both Shawna and Matt. Truly inspirational athletes who are genuinely infectious in their enthusiasm for the oceans and windsurfing.

 

Christian

B767 First Officer