HBS Surf Club Travels to Maui

After this year’s dramatic hurricane surfing season here in New England, the Surf Club felt prepared to take on the Hawaiians at their home beaches in the sport that brought them worldwide fame.

A crew of 13 fearless individuals traveled to the Hawaiian island of Maui during EC Hell Week to see first-hand if Hawaii’s claims as the surfing mecca and tropical paradise were justified, or if the islands are just a chain of overdeveloped tourist resorts and golf courses. Our “field study” work had the invaluable assistance of Maui resident and local celebrity Keiki Pua Dancil (OE), Keiki proved a terrific hostess to her native home and gave important tips to help us mix in with the local crowd: 1) Speedos may be cool in Brazil but not in Maui 2) Use the surfing lingo appropriately and extensively (see separate text box) 3) Never steal someone else’s wave.

So, it was important to look the part. No problem. After a half-dozen trips to the local surf shop we were kitted out in the latest Quiksilver, Billabong and Rusty surf gear and ready to hit the breaks. Ollie “Mate” Corlette’s (OC) disguise was so convincing he immediately won the admiration of local female surfers. On the first day out at Maui’s North Shore, we had a solid Northern swell, delivering well overhead plus sets. Avid surfer Joao “The Prince” Santos (OG) quickly realized that surfing in Hawaii was no joke as he was spat out of the ocean by a larger set.

Once you reach the line-up, life is peaceful. Some surfers chat in small groups about epic rides (or wipe-outs) but for the most part surfers sit quietly on their boards, eyes fixated on the horizon enjoying the spectacle of the ocean and the three-foot sea turtles that regularly emerge from the depths to get some air. A fellow surfer (though not belonging to our HBS crack squad of boarding athletes) reportedly fell off his board as a sea turtle emerged from underneath him.

But then you see your wave, and to the battle scream of “Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!” you push away. Time to get up and ride. The size and depth of the Pacific Ocean means that waves in Hawaii offer long and powerful rides. From absolute beginners to those more experienced, we all had that one memorable ride. In the subtle words of Pipeline Master Israel Niezen (OJ): “Did you f!*#ing see my ride? I am the King!”

But Maui is more than just surfing. With two volcanoes, the highest over 10,000 feet, there is a full range of climates from the tropical and wilder North Shore to the dryer South. In fact, the island is better known for its world-class kitesurfing and windsurfing. Consistent and strong trade winds make for ideal conditions, and the presence of waves only makes the show even more exciting. In this department we also boasted a strong line-up of athletes with Alex “SpeedDemon” Wit (OA) on the kiteboard and Javi “WaveHopper” Rigau (OD) on the windsurf, strutting their stuff on Maui’s windiest beaches.

The friendly and relaxed locals surprised us. Alex was aided by a World Kitesurfing legend after tangling and losing control of his kite in a freak air gust that “exfoliated” his legs on the local reef. Keiki’s boyfriend Scott, Maui icon, big wave rider (30-plus feet) and former professional surfer, guided us to the best spots and gave us his surfing wisdom and equipment. Did you know that if you get caught in the middle of a 40-foot wave your best bet is to dive to the ocean floor and hold on to a rock?

In true surf-trip fashion, night-time activities are very important. Ricardo “Fearless” Chamorro and our very own gourmand Luis “CapEx” Pescarmona led the charge on the entertainment and gastronomic fronts. Enquiries about what exactly happened should be addressed to these individuals.

Ready to relocate to Hawaii? Surf every day, no need for a gym to stay fit, tropical climate, fresh food from the ocean? Be warned, however, that there is limited presence of hedge funds, PE houses and investment banks, so unless you are ready to move away from these fine institutions Hawaii may not be your place…

Editor’s note: Surf Club is planning another top surf trip to Costa Rica at the end of the Christmas break. If interested, please contact Christa Bowdish cbowdish@mba2006.hbs.edu for more info.

Look like a surfer, talk like a surfer.
Key lingo helps you sound like Kelly Slater:

Shakka: Hang loose, cool, done, how are you?, ok… Hawaiian greeting now in the hands of surfers and kooks across the globe. To perform: Close fist, extend thumb, extend pinkie, rotate fist clockwise and then anticlockwise, repeat last step.

Kook: A poser or wannabe, looks the part and has all the equipment but just can’t surf…

Swell: Wind generated during storms in the Ocean will create small waves, as these travel far towards land, they gain strength and result in good waves for surfers.

Sets: In any swell, the larger waves will travel in sets of 4-6 waves. Surfers wait at the line-up during a swell for the next set.

Line-up: Located behind where surf-able waves break, surfers relax and wait for their wave here.

Duck dive: To get to the line-up you must get past breaking waves, in most cases this is best done diving underneath the waves as it approaches you.

Getting munched: Equivalent to being inside a washing machine, this is result of bad duck dive or an impressive wipe-out.