Maui Makani Classic Windsurf Tour Begins
By Madeline Ziecker
The Maui Makani Classic, a championship conjoined with the American Windsurfing Tour, kicked-off Thursday October 27 at Ho’okipa Beach with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m.
This is the first windsurfing competition at Ho’okipa Beach since 2006, and local and visitor competitors were eager to participate in the long-awaited competition which will last until Tuesday, November 1.
Waves were too small to commence the competition on the first day of the event (about 1 foot), but Maui Makani Classic founder Sam Bittner says that even with inadequate weather conditions, the opening ceremony went smoothly.
“This morning we had a beautiful opening ceremony and Hawaiian blessing with hula dancers, chanting, and conch shells. Also Mayor Arakawa came and spoke to the windsurfers wishing them luck with the contest. Then a helicopter came and dropped 1,000 orchids over the competitors. We were also honored to have Robby Naish join us for the ceremony. It was a very special moment for us, we are getting pumped up for wind and waves coming soon.”
Bittner expects waves to rise and wind to remain constant this weekend, ensuring an exciting championship ahead.
Windsurfing competitors participating in the event hail from Maui and 20 other countries including Argentina, France, Chile, China, South Korea, Morocco, Ireland and Japan. There are five divisions for each event: expert, amateur, youth, masters and women.
Neil Turpin moved to Maui from Ireland five years ago to take advantage of living in one of the premier windsurfing locations on the globe. He now instructs wind-surfing with HST at Kanaha Beach. He plans to compete in the Maui Makani Classic and was proud to fly an Irish flag in the flagpole line up at Ho’okipa for the occasion.
Aurelien Nicoul from France will compete in the expert division of the championships against some of his fellow countrymen who also have chosen Maui as a place most suited to a wind-surfer’s lifestyle. “I’m very excited for the competition. It’s going to be so fun when the waves pick up and get at least head high.”
Competitors Yoshimi and Takahiro Yatani flew from Omaezaki, Japan just to participate in the championships. Yoshimi will be a participant in the women’s division and has been windsurfing for 17 years. Her husband Takahiro has been windsurfing for 10 years, and will compete in the expert division.
Traffic is anticipated at Ho’okipa and parking is restricted on the sides of Hana Highway, so free parking will be provided at Old Maui High School. A free shuttle bus service provided by the Maui County Veterans Association and the Disabled American Veterans will run throughout the days of competition.
- Thursday 10/27 Goya & Quatro Party at Pauwela Cannery in Haiku 6-10 p.m.
- Friday 10/28 Fourth Friday in Paia 6-9 p.m.
- Saturday 10/29 Maui Ultra Lounge party at Neil Pryde Maui in Kahului 6-10 p.m.
- Sunday 10/30 Pizza with the Pro’s at Flatbread Paia
- Tuesday 11/1 Maui Makani Classic Closing Ceremonies at Maui Tropical Plantation at 5 p.m. There will be a beer garden, traditional Hawaiian entertainment, and awards given to the Maui Makani Classic AWT Champions.