JH: Hi Graham! Wow, welcome to the Tabou team for 2015! You've been riding with Quatro for many years, this must be a big step up for you?
GE: The right board can make a rider, and the wrong board can break him just the same. Every year, I turned down well-paying offers from big brands because I did not want to sacrifice my access to a Maui shaping room and a Hookipa based shaper. Stupid me.
But now, I'm no longer just a Hookipa guy. I want to take Hawaii to the European stage. And for that, I need the right boards. Fabien is a European shaper with Hawaiian roots. Although based in France, he actually learned to shape during an apprenticeship with Jimmy Lewis on Maui. Fabien still spends a lot of time on Maui, and he is the only shaper in the world with one foot in Europe and the other at Hookipa. I can't think of a more perfect partner for me.
JH: You are clearly an incredibly talented wave sailor. With growing up in Maui a factor, I'd say that you have a slightly different perspective of wavesailing to a lot of modern day pro sailors. Would you agree?
GE: Thank you.
I come from the Hawaii school of wave riding, which is actually the first school of waveriding in both surfing and windsurfing. Guys like Mike Waltz, Gerry Lopez, and my dad (David Ezzy) strapped sails onto surfboards with the intention of vertical carving in big waves. For years, this was the heart of wave sailing.
But more and more, onshore dominates modern wave sailing. Maui still matters but not nearly as much as before. Freestyle entered too, changing what can be done on a wave. And in this growth, the Hawaiian riding somehow separated from the world cup riding. I want to combine the two again.
Some people might think I want turns over tricks. Not true: I love tricks...and I love good turns too. Rather it's a philosophy of approaching waves that combines power and flow and confronting fear. For me, a perfect wave ride is a single flowing radical movement. With unlinked tricks and turns, a lot of waves nowadays are ridden like skateboard ramps, and I hate that. Speed, carves, flow, and fitting into whatever the wave has to offer: that's what I love.
JH: There are not many guys born and raised in Maui and competing on the PWA world tour anymore. Why do you think that is?
GE: I'm the only Hawaiian dumb enough to travel across the world to compete in onshore small waves. Maui offers near perfect conditions and the opportunity to be a Pro windsurfer without too much travel.
To travel to the other side of the world to compete in completely different conditions is to risk your pride and soul. If you're going to take that risk, you better have a bloody good reason. Mine is that I don't want to be labeled as just a Maui guy.
JH: I know that you are friends with Fabien, but what were the mains reasons to your decision to sign with Tabou?
GE: The food in Marseille is surprisingly amazing. I'm keen to head back for more time in Fabien's workshop.
JH: What direction are looking to go with your sailing and board designs with Fabien?
GE: In a word: bigger. Thomas is 64kg and I'm 85, so I need a different beast of board. I was just in Marseilles for a busy 2 days working with Fabien on new boards that should have the ability to link carving turns but also to quickly plane off the beach. I need boards for Hawaii-style riding that also work in Europe.
JH: You've been part of some great video projects over the years from working with Umi Pictures and now Kevin Pritchard. How do you enjoy the film making process and this part of windsurfing?
GE: In contests, consistency wins over flashes of radical; and in photoshoots, flashes of radical are all that matter because no one sees the landing. Film requires a rider to be radical but also to land his tricks and flow his waves. I like the challenge.
JH: You like to do things a bit differently on the water, whether it is back-dooring the west bowl at Jaws or landing the first no handed push loops (back loops). What do you have in your mind for 2015 in terms of new moves? Or if you tell me will you have to kill me?
GE: I always have new moves, but the problem is that they might kill me. The double push loop is a bruiser but one I want to land.
I love the feeling of being the 1st to do something-- like the back loop off the lip at Jaws or the no hand push loop. But for me, successful innovation is more spontaneous than planned.
JH: Not tempted to join Gaastra?
GE: My dad was one of the very first people to windsurf Hookipa and he is the only one left from that 1st generation. They were a lot tougher than the guys out at Hookipa now. So, I don't want to piss him off.
JH: Good luck for the rest of the year and looking forward to seeing you out there representing Tabou around the globe!
GE: Danke shon! Happy to be on the team.
The ICFA worlds slalom was held in the Azores Pria de Victoria in a big bay / Harbour . The conditions in the first few days were impossible to race with the gusty and shifty winds at that time. But at least we could get out and sail a little . On day 4 the sun came out and as the locals said the winds came with the sunshine!! With a poor forecast of wind it still blew from 12 up to 27 knots in the gusts.
We managed to round off a full slalom elimination in these conditions and it was difficult to pick the gear as we were racing on the other side of the bay and with the winds varying as the it was I took my 8.6 GA vapor for the 1st round with my 135 Tabou Manta and a 47 fin. I was a little rusty after not doing much the last 5 days but after a bad start and a really overpowered 1st reach I was in 2nd behind Andrea Rosati and stayed there to pass into round 2.
I took my smaller board , the 116 Tabou Manta with 8.6 GA-sails and a 40 fin and that was feeling really good !! after getting a little stuck behind the start line in a little wind hole I did not get the best start but I had very good board speed and managed to already be back in 5th by the 1st mark and on the 2nd reach I managed to pass to 4th to pass on to the semi finals .
Round 3 semi finals
The gear was feeling great so I stayed on the same setup with a start a little higher up on the startline I did not get to the 1st mark in the best position but rounded top 5 but I needed to be top 4 to pas to the final !! After a little battle with Ludo Jossin who I managed to pass on the 2nd gybe I was back in 4th and finished the race like that to pass to the final.
Final the winds were getting a little more shifty but still good . All the guys were down at the pin exempt for me and gonzalo that decided to start a little higher up on the line . I had an ok start not amazing but being on top off the fleet gave the advantage to get the gust 1st and go more downwind and with really good board speed I managed to pass everyone and arrive 1st at the 1st mark and stayed in 1st the whole course and win the Elimination .
With no wind on the last day the World championships were done .
Top 5 of the IFCA World 2014
1. NED-57 Benny van der Steen GA-sails, Tabou, Mystic, Different, Malabau
2. ITA-140 Matteo Iachino Northsails , Fanatic
3. GER-1 Vincent Langer P7 , RRD
4. ISR-1 Dagan Arnon Neilpryde , RRD
5. FRA-916 Pascal Toselli P7 , Starboard
Photo by: Sofie Louca
Sarah Delaunay wins Koa Bowl Stand Up Paddle Surfing Event (Ho'okipa Beach Park)
"The KOA Bowl was a local Maui SUP competition on the spot of Pavilion last Sunday, which is at Hookipa, just upwind from the main windsurfing break. The event was more informal compared to the world tour first stop on Oahu 2 weeks ago, but the level of competition was still very high and I was excited to surf a wave that I had never tried before on Maui, the island of watermen and waterwomen!!!
I am very proud to have won this competition. It is an amazing experience and proof that my confrontation with the world's best at Turtle bay made me grow technically and mentally. The goal in 2014 is France championships!"