Behind the Scenes

Today’s menu, some behind the scenes look into some aspects of the windsurfing industry, including some insights from sail designers Maui Sails’ Barry Spanier and Neil Pryde’s Robert Stroj & Jamie Mclellan as well as some personal perspective from Maui rippers Kai Lenny and Bernd Roediger.

But before we get to that, I heard news at Kanaha today that Severne/Starboard rider  Boujmaa Guilloul may have had a bad accident at Hookipa today. Word is that one of his trademark big air moves went bad,  he got separated from his gear and it hit him in the head, knocking him unconscious. Luckily someone was nearby to pull him up from underwater and resuscitate him. That’s a third or fourth hand report and unsubstantiated, but best wishes to Boujmaa for a quick recovery if it’s even partially true. When I learn more about this, I’ll post it here. I’m guessing that regular Hookipa bluff dwellers GP or Jimmie Hepp will have something more on this later.
UPDATE: Starboard posted some info on their Facebook page about this. Sounds like without the help of Klaas Voget and the lifeguards, it could have been a lot worse.
UPDATE 2: More info at Continent Seven and you can wish Boujmaa well at the Boujmaa “triple loop” accident support page. Check out Jimmie Hepp’s photos of the action at Hookipa yesterday.
UPDATE 3: GP just posted a bunch of photos of Boujmaa’s jump and rescue.

Now on to the behind the scenes. As part of its “Neil Pryde Photoshoot 2012, Neil Pryde’s sail designers Robert Stroj and Jamie Mclellan sat down to talk a bit about sail design.


I always find it interesting how sail designers and board shapers talk about incorporating feedback from the pro team riders, like Robert talks about incorporating feedback from Jason Polakow and Kauli Seadi. That’s all well and good, but why don’t they ever talk about getting and incorporating feedback from the 99% of people that use their gear – the general consumer? Is feedback from the people who actually purchase the product irrelevant? What if I want more low end power and a softer feel in brand X’s pure down the line sail? What if 90% of the users do too. Is that irrelevant because Johnny pro doesn’t need that extra power cuz he’s got mad early planing skills? Just sayin’… Anyway, I think I’ve digressed somewhat.

If you didn’t know that it’s the annual photo shoot season here on Maui you’ve been living in the proverbial cave. There’s been a bit of drama lately about how photos and video of 2012 windsurfing gear showing up on blogs like this and GP’s as well as Jimmie Hepp’s Facebook page and other internet and social media venues is bad for the windsurfing brands. My big rant about it generated a few comments, but mostly just from windsurfing consumers and a few retailers.  But, I just stumbled upon a kind of response from Maui Sails’ Barry Spanier about the issue:


It’s an interesting story Barry has, but the critical thinker in me has to wonder how applicable it is to the current situation where we’re talking about minor improvements in sails from one year to the next rather than huge advancements in sail design like those happening in the 80s. And, for what it’s worth (FWIW1), GP, Jimmie Hepp, Ben Jones, myself and others aren’t “the media.” We’re just ordinary windsurfing consumers who now have an voice thanks to the internet and social media. And FWIW2, when I’m at Kanaha I often see competing sail designers rigging up new prototypes in full view of their competitors. Neil Pryde’s  guys and Maui Sails’ guys and North Sails’ guys are all their in broad daylight, of their own volition rigging up and testing new prototypes right in front of their competitors. How does that play into the equation? And FWIW3, you may not have to go to Timbuktu. For development there are a lot of other places on Maui to go and I know for a fact that Maui Sails and several others do go to other venues to test in secret. But Hookipa is THE most photographed windsurfing venue on the planet. It’s absurd to expect privacy at such a venue.

Nevertheless, it’s good to hear back from someone from inside the industry and I’d love it if other industry folk came forward and weighed in on the issue. I do still feel though that the internet and social media have changed the game completely for everyone and that those who figure out how to adapt to it and deal with it are going to succeed, while those who bury their heads in the sand, wishing all this internet and social media stuff would just go away, are doomed the fate that natural selection brings to all those who fail to adapt to changes in their environment. And, isn’t it ironic. Windsurfing is the perfect example of having to adapt to changing conditions. Wind dropped and your 4.5 isn’t enough now? What do you do? Do something different. Let out downhaul or outhaul, rig a bigger sail, get a bigger board… Get the picture? Stepping down off of my soap box now…

I’m probably coming across as trying to pick on the windsurfing industry and possible Maui Sails in particular. But that’s not the case. I just feel strongly that social media and the internet is a complete game-changer. For some further reading check out: Social Networks Will Change Product Innovation and 4 Ways that Social Media is Changing Business. Windsurfing companies need to fundamentally rethink their business models. Perhaps some time spent on reevaluating your business plan vs product development might be in order. And that’s directed at all windsurfing businesses, not any one in particular.

Time to turn our attention to something that hopefully won’t inspire me to wander off on another tangent or get on another soap box. Some cool insights from a couple of Maui pros. First Kai Lenny dons a helmet cam and takes you for a spin around his backyard at Sugar Cove.

Next, Kai’s fellow Naish rider, Bernd Roediger provides the inside scoop about how Hookipa can be such an expensive place to sail.

Uppers Kanaha today

And finally the sailing report. After a couple days of somewhat light winds, the trades kicked back in full force today. Winds were a bit offshore at Kanaha, but blasting outside the break. Conditions were a bit brutal for my 5.0 but there was some fun NE wind swell-generated surf to play in making for a brutally fun session.

Looks like more trade winds tomorrow and Tuesday and then the forecasters are saying the wind will turn to light southeasterlies again. But, they’ve been known to be wrong before…

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4 Responses to “Behind the Scenes”

  1. Jamin April 11, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I’m sure you got the news that Boujmaa did a 2.6 forward and landed on his gear. Ouch. I’ve done a 0.6 forward (and even a 1.2 forward) and even that can hurt plenty. I have to admit, with the higher jumps and more extreme moves these guys are doing, I’m wondering if anyone other than Graham is considering a helmet? Even some surfers at pipeline, who are as concerned with looking cool as anyone, are wearing them (though usually just the ones who have met the reef at some point). In practically every other “extreme” sport helmets are mandatory.

    I started wearing mine right after I starting trying forwards – and just after there was a tragic death in the gorge that involved someone I sort of knew who was also learning forwards. It was enough to scare me into the bucket. I barely notice it now. Perhaps once we add music and permanent built-in helmet cam maybe everyone will join the fun.

  2. Jeff Bennett April 11, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    I’ve seen footage of Ricardo strapping on a helmet at Pozo prior to attempting some triples.

  3. Witchcraft Sailboards Fuerteventura-Bouke April 13, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    To follow up on this page:, I think also magazines will have o rethink their roles big time. As Jeff said, many who have something interesting to say can run their own blog, this will get picked up by other websites, fora, and gets spread world wide with much less commercial influence. As a very innovativ high-end but small brand, it´s very hard to get into tests. Boards magazine have been testing us before they were bought by Factory Media and the dutch Surfmagazine have been testing us too when they still could afford to do tests. So did Windsurf UK, and Windsurfjournal from Germany but those are hardly a real test, more a product review. But that´s it. Now Boards/Boardseeker are saying that big advertisers go first, no matter how innovativ a product is or how much people praise it on fora. Still people read this too, so tests lose value to the readers who are really interested. But tests will be one of the last reasons for mags to exist and at that good objective tests, otherwise they will get criticised in fora, sometimes even their own:
    And people will find out if mags are running some hidden agenda, such as bigger brands stopping mags taking on advertising from other smaller brands or stopping shops taking on products from smaller brands. Those kind of politics are very bad for windsurfing and also illegal, if the size of the market would be of any importance, they could get fined like Microsoft. But the internet will stop this in time. For the rest, a lot of info is already out there for free long before mags are printed. The internet also enables me to post reports like this:
    “Hi Bouke

    I know you get quite a few people telling you how good they find your boards when they get one for the first time. So for a change I thought I’d let you know how bad other boards feel once you are used to witchcraft.

    While waiting for my Chakra 100 I have got a Quatro Freestyle wave 105 to use in the mean time. Its horrible. Before I am even on the water, walking down the beach carrying the board the straps feel very insignificant. Jump on the board and it feels very long (strange as its only about 5cm longer). I had set the straps up like I do on the chakras ie like a wave board but then when the board is going fast you have to edge you feet out of the straps to hold the fin down, especialy the back foot. Normally I blast about in front of my house and any bit of chop that dares to peak up I’ll knock its top off with a back side turn even with a 6.7 sail but even with a smaller sail on the quatro the thought of carving about doesn’t even enter my head. Proper spin out – I had forgotten what thats like. I am sure the board is fine by average comparison, it does what its supposed to do but I am really looking forward to getting the Chakra. I am not going to sell my boards again untill I have the replacement in my hands.

    I would have put the above on the boards forum but its a bit too much of a blatant pimp.

    john “

  4. gary boates April 14, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Wowsers! lots of blogging coming out of Maui it must be really windy and everyone is tired or the topics are heating up! Ben et al 4.5 and under I wear a helmet but it still did not prevent 15 stitches from a rotating rig mast chop which happened when I released the booms on one of those high fly-away jumps (where you keep going up and start blowing away like a leaf). It was the design of my helmet and it would not have occurred if I wore the Australian bucket.

    Back to the windsurf industry and how stuck they all seem to be on the annual equipment roll-out; I stopped by the cellphone kiosks and asked if they had any 2010 Blackberry Storms on closeout – she looked at me with the cutest expression and said, “phones don’t have years…”