My first trip to Maui, a dream come true.

by Sarah Quita Offringa

On the 1st of April 2006, I had my first Maui sunrise. It was a dream come true!

After an exhausting 18 hours flight from Aruba, I was finally on Maui. Ian Fox from the Starboard Team was already waiting at the airport to pick up my brother, parents and me. We stayed at the Kuau Plaza in Paia, which is located very close to Ho’okipa. My first day on the island was so exciting, as soon as I woke up, I was ready to go sailing. Unfortunately it was only 6:00 am and nobody sails before 11:00 am. So I decided to take a walk up the hill and check out the conditions. There were some waves and a bit of wind. During that walk, I also met Phillip Koster and Eduardo Diaz from Vargas and Nayra Alonso and John Skye. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay with them because I had to go back at the apartment until noon… I had some homework to finish. Then after that, I couldn’t wait any longer to go to Ho’okipa! I told my brother that we had to go, and then we left.

It was great to finally be there because I think it’s the most famous windsurfing spot on earth and I finally would get to see it. It was really crowded, especially because there was a competition going on: “The Maui Kokua classic” for the juniors. The day before was for the men’s and women’s divisions.

Ian encouraged me to compete, so I did. He helped me at rigging my stuff, and I had one test run before my heat. When my heat started I was really excited because I never actually sailed in waves. In my heat, I had some nice wave rides and did some freestyle in between the waves also. When I got back on the beach, a lot of people congratulated me and told me I did a good job! They didn’t expect me to do well in waves (me either). At night they had a barbecue were they also announced the winners. I was first place and so did Jeager Stone. That same day, I met a lot of pros and people that I have seen several times during my 15 days journey on Maui. I met Keith Baxter, Connor, Ashley, Karen and Kai Lenny and his Dad as well as many others!

During the next three days, we helped Ian to get the stuff ready for the Starboard’s photo shooting, and we sailed every day. The first day of the photo shooting on the 5th of April, I was up early again. We had the Starboard meeting, where most of the team was present and we got to know each other. The plan for the afternoon was to go to Ho’okipa and have the helicopter come over with John Carter taking pictures. It sounded like a great plan to me. Hi! Hi! Hi! Despite of my great motivation, I got really frightened on this same afternoon. The wind was pretty light, and the waves were huge! I didn’t know how big it was until I was in the water. I went out on a 4.7 and could just plane. When I was sailing to the beach this huge wave came behind me! I only saw a wall of water and I started pumping so hard, because I couldn’t get the planning! My heart was beating so fast! My only idea was to go back to the beach, but every time a wave was coming, I started pumping to go downwind. It took me about 20 minutes to get back to the shore because I got washed twice. When I got back on the beach, I went to sit up on the hill with Ashley and all the mothers of the boys like Zane, Baker and Connor. We watched them performing in front of the camera. Everyone cheered the kids the whole time.

I thought Maui was famous only for its great wave sailing spot Ho’okipa, but there are several other spots! You have different conditions from flat water to big waves depending on the spots you go! For the photo shooting we went to diverse places like Kihei where it was flat on water and with strong wind. If you’d go too much out in the wind line, it’d be way too strong. I enjoyed sailing there with every other Starboard guy and principally, with Nick Warmuth and Frank Diaz. We had to do freestyle for John Carter who was taking pictures from the helicopter. It felt strange to have a helicopter flying over. I also went on the tandem Gemini with Eric Girard, it was a real blast!

The other days we mostly went to Kanaha and Sprecks. Sprecks became my favorite spot because I could do freestyle and if I was going a little further out there were waves to ride. Downwind from Spreck was Camp One. There, we took pictures with Ugo, Frank Diaz and Nick, by the famous dead trees. I’ve seen it a lot in the magazines.

One day at Sprecks, the wind was so strong! Pozo style! I think it was about 40 knots (maybe not), Ian made Ashley and me go on the tandem with identical Maui sails. Zane and his dad had already done three runs before us and ended up walking back to where we were.

Ashley and I were sitting on our sails, waiting to attach them on the tandem. For a minute we stood up to help with the tandem without paying attention to our sails and in no time our sails flew over the beach. That was really dangerous. Anyway now it was our turn to get on the tandem. This is called teamwork. We were fine on our first run out but we couldn’t jibe or tack so we fell in the water, after that, it took us such a long time to get back up. Ashley was in front and I was in the back we just couldn’t get the timing right to get up. After a while we gave up and I started waving for some assistance, this was really funny, because this guy passed and asked us if we were ok and I said we needed help. He went to the beach and told the guys that we needed help as if we were about to drown. And all the sudden, Ashley and I thought of another strategy, I went in front and she went in the back. This worked perfectly and we sailed full speed to the beach. We made two really fun runs after that!

We also went to Baby beach which I also liked a lot. The waves were nice ramps for some high jumps. I sailed there with Svein. The hardest part of sailing there was trying to get out, because there is no beach. I had to walk over sharp rocks and I cut my feet.

On Maui itself, we went up the Haleakala volcano at 5 am to watch the sunrise. When we finally got there we had such an amazing view! We even saw snow on the top of a volcano on Big Island. So, this example tells how cold it was! As I was only wearing a jeans and jacket, I was very happy when I got back down the mountain!

Maui was a really great experience for me. I met the rest of the Starboard team and had a great time with them! Everyone was very nice and made me feel at home. It was also harder work than I thought. I sailed for a straight 15 days and I was overpowered almost everyday on a 4.0. But windsurfing everyday is fun work! I loved the variety of the windsurfing spots and the weather on Maui. I hope I can go there again one day!

Thanks to Starboard that made this wonderful trip possible! Thanks also to my parents who brought us lunch everyday and drove us everywhere!


text: Sarah Quita Offringa , photos: Eric Girard windgirls 2006