Richard Whyte and Suzanne Gedayloo. I felt crushed for Richard.
Suzanne Gedayloo. Photo Darrell Wong?
Suzanne, photo Darrell Wong.
Angus was always going big.
Angus from my book dedication, Impact Zone.
The mast mount photography of Angus Chapter with a heavy camera still rules today.
Sierra out riding the Sierras all by himself.
One of my first watershots of Julie DeWerd.
I always found it amazing that nobody died windsurfing at Ho’okipa, at least not on my watch. In the Prologue to Maui Glory Days, Kelby Anno definitely came close. In many cases, I should have been the first to go. Still, some left us too soon from things other than windsurfing. Suzanne Gedayloo, one of the most friendly faces of the sport, went from one day gracing the covers of magazines and in many commercials, to suddenly gone from cancer. It was almost unfathomable to think of, and the windsurfing world grieved.
Angus Chater committed suicide on the cliffs of Pauwela Pt., turning the exhaust of his car upon himself. While surfing at Sunset Beach, he had been held under a few waves and was found unconscious attached to his leash, revived after minutes without oxygen. People thought that his brain had been damaged and perhaps it attributed, or compounded to his sadness, but I was with him the night before, buying photos for my book, Impact Zone. He seemed agitated over something, but otherwise, seemed fine. It is my belief that he took his life like some people do, over the loss of love. We lost a great human. Yes, gone too soon.
Rene Baumann was gone far too soon as well. Rene, one of the best Swiss sailors, became my good friend when we were one of the first handful of guys hanging at Ho’okipa. And he could hang. I was always amazed at his fearlessness in big waves. He was also a very interesting and insightful guy. But one night while cruising around he confided in me a death wish. I couldn’t fathom why a guy with such good looks and charm, who had it all, could go from happy go lucky to deep depression in the flip of a switch. When he told me he was going to go back to Switzerland, buy a Porsche and roll it, I thought he was just kidding. But that’s exactly what he did.
Brad Lewis, who I don’t mention in the book, was the best surfer Maui had ever seen, far better than any of the big rock star surfers. An affable guy, his nickname was “Buttjammer,” from the backside jamming style he displayed on the waves of Hookipa. He was the only guy who could get ten turns in on one wave. Always there giving me and others tips on how to master that wave, something only he could do, he watched us for a long time until he finally took up windsurfing. Not long after, while taking a shortcut through the cane fields to his work in Lahaina, a cane truck crushedhim. Rigging up at Hookipa was never again the same without him there.
Warren Bolster took his own life by way of shotgun after a long struggle with painkillers, amplified by a car accident.
I already mentioned the sadness we all felt at the passing of Suzanne Gedayloo, and later, Julie de Werd. Cancer took both their lives. There was nothing we could do about that. Diseases like cancer were out of our control. But Janie Hunt died in 2018 from drugs. This was a huge shock to many of us, as she was the icon of beauty, of purity, or what is good in the world. People shook their heads, and wondered what it was we could have done. After Pat, her husband, committed suicide from their broken relationship, she was removed from all of us. While not a disease, the pandemic of hard drugs had taken sweet Janie away.
“Jalama Jay” Laswell and big wave rider Sierra Emory; more incredible people, more lives self-taken. If we could only have intervened, and had knowledge of the hidden signs…yet it’s too often that people (like Robin Williams) who seemed happiest on the exterior were experiencing the depths of depression. Tom Pace told me the story about how he had seen Jay out windsurfing at Kuau Point on his way down the coast. Jay waved, smiled, then went to his shaping room and shot himself.
Peter Boyd, one of my closest friends in and out of windsurfing, died in 2018. He died doing what he loved, found face down in the waters of Huntington Beach after suffering a massive heart attack. True, Peter had crossed me many times and I had forgiven him always. It was hard not to, him being such a lovable creature. But I found out from a man who shared his Oliver Twist childhood, that just before Peter died, he had become a saint-like figure, forming an orphanage and doing great work for Greenpeace. Rest in windsurfing peace, my friend.
And who on Maui can't forget Darby Drewyer, a good friend and one of the Impact Zone 11 (softball team), who passed away from a brain tumor. In the end, we will all take that last jump without footstraps, but until then, I’m glad to have known these great people.
In my movie, Wind Legends, there were a few I regret leaving out, and one of those few was the Boyd Wonder. Part of the reason for is omission is that he really didn’t work with me much or at all, so I didn’t have the footage to tell the story. The scene of course, was Ho’okipa. Every cameraperson had their clan they worked with, and I worked more with the Neil Pryde, Simmer and Gaastra riders. I missed out on 40 covers.
Why that was I can’t recall, but the larger reason was his sudden disappearance from “the scene,” opting to be King of Jalama on the wild Cali coast. At the top of his game, he went to school. I’m not sure which one. But he took his experience performing in front of a camera, and worked his way behind it. He started his own San Francisco-based interactive design studio, Cosmic Planet, which later morphed into video production agency, Reel Fresh, Inc. As head of both these content agencies, Boyd worked with a number of colorful brands and high-profile clients such as Red Bull, GoPro and Lego. Lego my ego.
I believe Ian’s working as content director for a big ad agency now, but who knows. He’s somewhere not called bum city. The point is, he traded in brief fame of athletic fortune for a life after windsurfing. Look at many of the other guys who’ve failed to achieve such.
The first time I met Ian was at the Hang Ten World Cup in Cabrillo Beach, CA. It was 1982 and I drew him in my wave heat. He was just this little kid, maybe 12? Could barely reach the booms. It was fortunately the only time I would draw him in a heat, mostly because I would rarely advance that far.
When he arrived at Ho’okipa the following year, he was (I believe) fostered by the Wetters or one of the Kihei Kids families. Kelby became his sister mom figure, or was it den mother? Anyway, the bunch of them were inseparable, and Ian started going off (performance wise, in the waves). According to Dan Cohen, he would go on to win the O’neill Invitational, which during Robby and Mike’s reign, was an extremely hard thing to do.
I’m not sure why Ian sailed naked that infamous day or any other. I’m not going to lower to any shrinkage jokes but the water at Jalama Beach is definitely colder than a George Castanza pool party. Perhaps he was trying to keep everyone off his wave or at least throw their timing off while he snaked it. Wow, should not have gone there, either. Perhaps he just left his suit at home or lost a bet; I don’t care if I’ll ever know. Let it be one of the greater windsurfing mysteries of our time. Okay, there it is, a photo shoot for a manufacturer by the famous Glenn Dubock.
Now, Ian has come full circle and has just taken ownership of a new Windsurfer LT. Hopefully the other sailors in Cali, where the “sport” of windsurfing began, you know, the Class, just so I don’t get any arguments off topic… will take a look at Ian and want to jump on the bandwagon. It’s a pretty small wagon at this time, but it was really small in 1968. It just take a few of the right good people to pump up the volume.