Maui SUP Surfing on a south swell

Maui Stand UP Paddle 2011 southside

This is the first of our stories from a recent trip to Hawaii. Frank Forbes talks us through an epic South Side swell in April 2011, when he and some friends scored amazing waves, with some thanks due to Facebook.

Living on Maui I quickly realized that south swells rarely live up to the hype. The formula seems to be “the more you hear the less you see” of south swells. Mauiʼs south swell window is blocked by several islands Hawaii, Kaho’olawe, Molokini and Lanai limiting the punch south swells have here.
Many summers of driving to the south side chasing so called “Big south swells” that never arrive have left me unexcited about south swells and summer surfing on Maui.

When I heard about the new south swell arriving. Not only did I not get excited about the swell, I did not even go look. The day the swell was due to arrive I arranged a downwind run from Maliko with Simon (SUPGlobal Technical Editor). He was in visiting from England so thought I would escort him on a on a coast run. We had a great paddle ending the downwind paddle in the back yard of the house Simon and crew were renting on the North shore. After loading up my board and paddle I get in my truck to drive home. I notice I have several voice messages. The first voice message was a friend who called and said the south swell was cranking. Still so used to south swell disappointment I disregarded the message.

The very next voice message and the 3 after that, all different friends claiming that the South swell was cranking. Four different people said you must see the photo of Peter SUP surfing a Maui secret spot today on Facebook.

When I got home That’s the first thing I did. I was shocked at the size and quality of the wave in Peterʼs facebook photo! Many more friends checked Peterʼs Facebook photo and word spread across Maui and the world of facebook friends and friends of friends.

After many of us studying Peter’s photo placing ourselves in his spot. The Facebook inspired SUP surf trip was on! Kaleo, Alfredo, Hilda, Deb, John and myself decided that we had to go to a remote south side secret spot and give it a go on our SUP boards. Peterʼs photo had us all drooling with envy excitement and anticipation.

Dawn welcomed us to another day in paradise. We drove for over 1 hour through lava fields so vast you thought you were on another planet. Upon reaching the parking area John and Hilda had to carry their heavy camera gear for 40 minutes across the sharp desolate black lava fields to get to where they could see the elusive wave.

Kaleo, Alfredo, and myself standup paddled down the uninhabitable looking coast instead of walking the uneven and jagged lava to get to the Peak. When we paddled around the corner of the first lava outcropping we saw perfect 6′ Hawaiian scale waves peaking up outside with offshore winds.
We were still about 10 minute paddle away from the peak but we were all frothing from the sight of perfect south swell that FINNALY lived up to the Hype. We all wanted a photo like Peter had from yesterday.

The wave is predominantly a left but has a very shallow steep right section. The left runs across a shallow reef and very unforgiving shoreline. You CANNOT make mistakes here!!!! There is razor sharp lava sticking out of the water everywhere. Youʼll be sure to find some if you don’t take the high line through certain sections or you get greedy and try to sneak in one more turn.

I tried to sneak in 1 more turn and I was dragged across some lava and cut my foot pretty badly. Both Kaleo and I on different waves managed to avoid a head on collision with the same serrated chunk of submerged lava that shows up in the inside of the wave.

Surf was so good that we surfed for a little over 4 hours. We stayed on the inside of the main peak to show respect to all the surfers. We wanted to make sure we represented SUP the correct way. There were no hassles, no stink eye and seemed as though everyone was sharing and scoring incredible waves. We surfed until we could barely paddle back to where we had parked our trucks.

Surfed out with smiles on our faces and photos of our journey. Food was all we could think about. While driving back to town right next to the road we saw Peter on a wave so flawless that we had to stop and take a closer look. We sat in awe watching the perfect A-frame peak. It was a SUP dream wave. Best wave I have seen on Maui!

Kaleo, John and myself could not believe what we were seeing.

None of us had the energy to paddle out again without refueling first. As we ate lunch and talked story about what great waves we had just surfed. We each kept saying how we wanted to surf the place Peter was surfing. We raced back after lunch to where we saw Peter and the lineup was almost empty and the surf was still firing. A slight texture to the wave now as the wind was slowly creeping onshore. Yet the surf was overhead. Left and right peak and even more fun then where we surfed the morning session.

We went back and scored 3 days in a row on what will now be our new south swell go to spots. I now have a new perspective of south swells on Maui. To think it was all inspired from a photo on Facebook. Thanks Peter for the inspiration Big thanks Hilda and John for working so hard to get photos of Kaleo, Alfredo, Deb and myself. Aloha