Wanderings: Maui Movements.

Wanderings: Maui Movements

By Nathan Lockwood.

Cover Image: @Doomphotos

‘I believe Hawaii is the most precious jewel in the world’ Don Ho.

“Brah, if you don’t see a turtle, I’ll give you 100 bucks” chortled my cousin Robert as a blood orange sky signalled the end of another outer island day. Spurred on by the trade winds, we meandered up the Honoapiilani Highway from old Lahaina town, past his family’s house in Kapalua and towards Napili Bay. Sure enough, as soon as I put my head in the water, I noticed three large sea turtles leisurely loitering below.

Robert kept his $100.

With Oahu’s, and specifically the North Shore’s tendency to dominate the vast majority of surf media that makes it out of the Aloha State it is easy for outsiders to overlook the other islands that make up the Hawaiian archipelago.

Maui is worlds apart from the urban sprawl and bustle of downtown Honolulu and retains a unique sense of beauty, purpose and mystery which entices locals and visitors alike.

From Hana to Haiku and back around again through lush forests, waterfalls and mountains the ‘Valley Isle’ certainly lives up to its name and then some. The island possesses a litany of world class waves with everything from big wave behemoths to pristine points along with numerous others which will not be named here.

Maui’s bodyboarding scene is a force to be reckoned with. I implore you, take a trip to the amphitheatre like setting of the cliff at Honolua Bay on a solid swell and you will see a level of riding, precision and skill not found in many other places on earth. Prone, Jack-stance, stoogie with keiki (children), unko’s and kupuna (grandparents/ancestors) all blend into a litany of consummately stylish bodyboarding.

Jacob Romero. Image: @Doomphotos.

The vibe in the water can be heavy but this is commensurate with the respect that the incongruous and shallow reef demands. Visitors must pay their dues first in order to play, but patience is rewarded. It is possibly the finest wave I have ever had the privilege to surf.

When my cousins asked me at dinner how my first session was, I genuinely could not find the words. Local rippers have set the bar ridiculously high and there seems to be little sign of any holdup if the local groms are anything to go by.

I spoke to Jacob Romero, possibly the most stylish, versatile and accomplished rider the Valley Isle has ever produced to see what he had to say about this most special of places.

Maui is my home. My family is here, we have some of the best waves in the world, our beaches and mountains are beautiful and pristine. I can go on and on. Maui is everything to me. The bodyboarding scene here is insane. We have so much talent from the Groms to the OGs. Everyone rips and just loves to ride waves on the boogie. Whenever you are in the lineup you can see everyone just having fun with big smiles on their faces. That’s the vibe you’ll get if you ever watch us boogie at our spot called the “Harbs”. It’s like a family reunion. Everyone is out having fun and sharing waves”.

Around the island on big winter swells there is a constant and menacing buzz. Here there be monsters. Pioneered by Laird Hamilton, Darrick Doerner, windsurfing champion Dave Kalama and others (aka the Strapped Crew), in the 1990’s; Peahi or Jaws continues to show every winter why it is pound for pound, arguably the heaviest ride on the planet. Mike Stewart claimed Hamilton would not allow him to grab the rope on his maiden voyage there in 1996, fearing he would have to retrieve a body from the boulders which line the shore.

Luckily Rush Randle was of a more open mindset and Stewart’s colossal tow-in graced the cover of Riptide Issue #51.

To my knowledge Stewart was the first to ride massive Jaws on a bodyboard. Whilst larger waves have been surfed elsewhere the fact that Jaws maintains a makeable barrel at monstrous size is what draws wave riders the world over year after year.

Once considered the sole domain of tow in surfers, in recent years there has been a resurgence, with riders such as Shane Dorian and Kai Lenny leading the charge of what is humanly possible with paddle power alone. Bodyboarders have also been giving it a dig. Miles Kauhaahaa took the plunge on the knee (look it up on Youtube, absolute madness), Brazilian charger Magnos Passos hucked himself over the ledge and pro bodyboarding’s golden power couple Mack Crilley and Ayaka Suzuki have both documented rides at this hallowed spot.

Stewart. Jaws circa 1996. Image: Darrell Wong.

Bodyboarding and especially paddling waves of this size and consequence is several orders of magnitude above the experience of your average bodyboarder and requires a totally different skill set.

One standout this past winter season was Andrew Karr, originally from Pennsylvania and who cut his teeth in the icy surf of New Jersey, has been pictured scooping into some truly terrifying walls of water. This is what Andrew had to say about what paddling Peahi on a bodyboard.

Getting enough speed to get yourself over the ledge is the most challenging part of riding Jaws to me. It really feels like the wave is trying to pitch you. If you make it over the ledge it’s really important to stay connected to the face for the first few feet of the drop, otherwise you will end up in an airdrop that you cannot recover from. I think in big waves in general that is the key, to get enough paddle speed that you can stay connected for the drop”.

Andrew Karr. Image: @slaterneborsky

There you have it, sage advice if you ever are possessed enough to give Jaws a dig on the boog.

Maui remains one of the most cherished islands in the Hawaiian archipelago and for good reason. This was merely a taste of what it has to offer.

The rest is to be discovered.


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