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Tips for Windsurfing on Maui


Master Windsurfing Instructor, David Dorn, has been visiting the Islands for over thirty years and has lived here permanently for 20 years. He knows that traveling combined with Windsurfing presents its own unique set of challenges. Use some or all of Dave’s tried and proven hints and you’ll survive many of the common pitfalls that beset the Maui greenhorn.


Rent your windsurfing equipment: 
Unless you are staying for a few months then it is better to rent your gear while you are here. No hassles with the airlines, The latest gear is always available, and you can exchange it to suit the conditions of the day. You also get the chance to try all sorts of different equipment. If the wind don’t blow (which hardly ever happens) you can exchange it for Surfboards, Snorkel gear or simply take a *Lay Day

Take Windsurfing Insurance (for the gear): 
Maui is pretty tough on the gear and accidents do happen. If you insure the gear before you sail, you wont get stuck with a hefty ding repair bill.

Take a Lesson: 
Maui is different from most places you may have sailed before. There is a common phenomenon known as the “Maui Factor” where newcomers almost always overestimate their sailing abilities and underestimate the wind conditions. Maui wind can be very strong and the ocean movements and currents are different to any lake or river sailing you may have done. There are advanced lessons for all levels of rider. Every new sailor should book at least one “orientation session” to learn about the local sailing areas, hazards, and rules. The instructors can help you tune your gear, guide you, and help you stay out of trouble.

Know the Rules: 
Get to know the *Rules before you break them. Windsurfers have to share the water with fishermen, swimmers & surfers. To avoid conflicts, a strict set of rules has been established. Access for windsurfing is denied at many beaches and there many other localized conditions that must be observed when windsurfing. Did you know that there is no windsurfing before 11:00am ? Ask the guys at the shop where to go and get a copy of the *Sail- Safe guidelines.

Pick your Beach: 
The Maui coastline offers a wonderful variety of beaches. Many beaches are off-limits to windsurfing, and some beaches are best left to experts only. You will always find a beach that will challenge you level of ability without endangering yourself (or others). Remember that there is no rescue service that will ‘tow your board in’ should you break down. So take a responsible attitude when deciding when and where to sail. 

Wear Booties:
Maui is a big piece of lava covered with coral, and even the sandiest sailing beaches have many nasty sharp things that will slice up your feet, even the grass areas on some beaches are covered with Keawe (pronounced ‘Key-ahh-vay’) thorns. A pair of booties will save you feet from most scrapes and cuts. Keep your feet in good condition because you can’t sail without them. Rip Curl and O’Neill both make excellent booties with thinner soles and split toes that give you good feel and work well with footstraps. 

Know the Conditions: 
Most shops can tell you what’s happening each day. You may find that the wind is twice as strong at another beach or on the other side of the island. Foreknowledge will save you driving all over the Island looking for a spot, and will mean that you bring the right size sails to the beach.

Rig on the Grass:
If you are renting your equipment or have your own, you are better off rigging and de-rigging on the grass & out of the wind. This keeps sand and sharp objects away from your gear. This way you keep your rental guy happy and your car clean.

Secure your Sail:
Always carry your board to the water’s edge first then bring your rig down on your second trip. Attach the rig to the board straight away. (rig pointing downwind please). This way you will avoid a “fly-away rig” which is a dangerous and extremely anti-social thing to do, even by accident.

Watch your Equipment:
Boards have been known to disappear from the beach fully rigged. Windsurfing gear is expensive stuff and it tends to “grow legs” if you turn your back on it for too long. Whatever you do, don’t leave your equipment on your car overnight. If you go to a restaurant on the way home from the beach, park your car right outside where you can see it at all times. Ideally rent a van or station wagon to store your gear inside.

Respect the Plants:
A tree is not your personal clothsline to dry your wetsuit. Trees and plants are fragile so do not damage the greenery in any way. Lots of people work hard to maintain the plants at beaches and on the dunes, so please respect them.  

Park in between the Lines:
When parking your car at the local beach, please take extra care to park straight and in between the lines. This way you will not be taking more space than you need and using two stalls. This is common courtesy and is expected when you visit the beaches. parking is sometimes an issue, so do not be the one who is wasting spaces.

Lock your Car:
Always lock up your car at any of the beaches. There is a lot of theft from vehicles. Do not leave valuables in sight, better to put them in the trunk. Or not bring anything too valuable to the beach in the first place. Park in the most visible place. and never hide your key in the gas cap or on the tire. Every thief knows that. Also thieves will be hidden and watch where you stash your key, and go and grab it when you are at the beach. Even if you hide it under a rock, they could be watching. Have a spare key and tie it securely into your pocket when you are in the water. And even if stepping out of the car for a two minute surf check, do not leave the doors open or unlocked.  

Cover your Butt:
When changing in public, keep your privates covered. Flashing is a no no. Use the towel technique or use the change rooms. The community standard is no nudity no matter how brief. Because the families use the beach parks. Hawaii is very non-European in this regard. It may offend some locals and or get yourself a fine for indecent exposure (no kidding).

Go Easy on the First Day:
Many people go all out on their first day, and get hurt. This can ruin their entire trip. Hurt knees and ankles are quite common. It is always better to pace yourself and build up your strength and skills gradually. And you should learn to read the local conditions and get used to the area before attempting all your best tricks.

Sail with a Smile:
Whenever we are on the water or even in the parking lot for that matter, remember that we are there to have fun, even if you get frustrated (which hardly ever happens in windsurfing) remember that the other guy is here to have fun too. Don’t force your right of way because there are still many sailors who don’t know the rules yet. A good sailor will always give way to the novice and give them plenty of room. If you keep smiling on and off the water, you will soon meet many sailing buddies who can give you; advice, praise, smiles back (and maybe even a tow-in if your gear breaks).

Always be prepared to Swim:
Gear breaks, and it can sometimes blow away from you, so you should always be ready to swim back to shore. Also never leave a freeswimming stranded sailor alone, tow them in or stay with them. Never sail farther from shore than you are prepared to swim in.


* Lay Day = Return your gear and you don’t pay for that day.
* Sail-Safe guide = A free booklet available from windsurf shops.
* Rules = Just like driving your car, there are ‘Right of way’ rules, Flat Water sailing rules, special wavesailing rules, some sailing area restrictions, and some basic Hawaiian rules ( “Kapu”); E.g.; Don’t mess with a guy who’s trying to catch his dinner!


For more info on windsurfing lessons go to our Windsurfing Lessons Page


Aloha, MauiFun 

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