DT: From the moment I opened the book, the past leapt out of my old Maui Glory Days and shook me like a rag. You have produced a fantastic body of work about a galaxy of time filled with windsurfing stars!
JW: Dude, can I quote you on that?! Man, you are some writer. You should have written the book.
DT: Nope, you nailed that era. This is a prodigious work, a real testament to the incredible history of the sport so many of us, and me in particular, have and will always love.
JW: You had me at prodigious. I don't even know what that means.
DT: Colossal, amazing, beyond the imagination.
JW: I have an imagination, let's leave it at that.
DT: Imagination, but I know the events you spoke of were real. I was there for many, and your photography truly brings that world to life. But what do you mean in the book description by “Fictitious dialogue?”
JW: I meant, it’s a story unlike my first book, Impact Zone. That book was a bit more creative than your typical non-fiction book. But what I‘m alluding to is, you can’t accurately recall dialogue from decades past. That’s not saying that the conversations didn’t take place. I just can’t remember them word for word. Actually, some I do, like the conversation with Craig Maisonville, because his words were powerful and stuck. “You surprise me.” I never understood but can never forget something like that. I think he just thought I'd never amount to more than DweebMeat.
DT: Not surprising. The book is definitely for windsurfers and old school at that, but it seems to be the first ever to have a chance at crossing over to a general audience. To me, probably the best writing in the book is the RomCom (romantic comedy). Give me an example of something RomCom made up.
JW: Awe, man, you’re pressing me. Well, I didn’t ever really have a Kelby crush. I met her when she was quite young. I guess I was young too but she was much younger and Matt’s girl. Same with Rhonda Smith (Sanchez). She was Jesus Cort Superstar’s girl, so my mind never really went there, at least not until I saw that she was married to someone else and I missed that dreamboat. Believe it or not, I was more attracted to her sailing brevity and personality though the looks, okay, I’ll stop there.
DT: Any of the girls in the book, have they reached out to you?
JW: Well, Kelby did when Peter Boyd died, but I haven’t heard from her since I wrote the Prologue. In some things, I stretched the truth. I’m a storyteller by nature. But in other cases, I can’t begin to put into words the intensity of the moment. When Kelby looked at me in full freak mode, that was one of those indescribable moments. I rewrote that section a hundred times, and still barely scratched the surface. Kelby and I talked about it when she called, so I know it stuck with her as well, but she’d may not have wanted the world to know about it. And the God Squad stuff, touchy subject, but I tried to portray people as truthfully as I’m capable. I certainly held some stuff back about others, but it’s no secret about Kelby’s devotion. She’s actually quite the gospel musician and I love her voice.
DT: Held some stuff back. Give me some dirt. Come on, man.
JW: Sleeping dogs, let them lie.
DT: What about the local girl, “Lisa.” That must have been an intense moment, her parents about to take you to the cane field. "I thought you were a good boy, Jonathan!"
JW: Lisa. Yeah, ha. I saw her one day in the Wailuku Library. She had turned from Hawaiian Goddess into well, a bookworm. And the Eveready Bunny, she FB’d me out of the blue and was one of the first buyer’s of the eBook. She said what I wrote hurt, and that she didn’t know about what was happening at the time. So, I rewrote that part and took a lot of stuff out regarding the highest and lowest of times. I made up the North South dialogue, and it’s actually my favorite. Anyway, the Eveready Bunny asked me to recall “our” song. Sadly, I could not. It was “Every Breath You Take.” I thought that song was about three wave hold unders.
DT: What did your wife think about writing a story about all the girls you slept with before her?
JW: Well, I didn't really write about any sleeping. She’s a good sport but my harshest critic. She told me my writing was disjointed. I'm like, You're Russian, what do russians know about writing? Maybe it was more disjointed than Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, but the same paragraph she quoted as being poor writing has been highlighted in more than one book review quote and a few FB quote pulls as well.
DT: Which one was that?
JW: The first paragraph of the Intro. “I was fourteen. The first redneck to step foot on one.”
DT: You were born in Georgia, right? What happened to your accent?
JW: The waves knocked it out of me I guess.
DT: So, speaking of stepping onto one, you wrote about boards having "Mana," instilled with energy and spirit of the maker. Do you really believe in that?
JW: I know it sounds a bit crazy and I don't go in for much hu hu stuff, but in big surf I would rather ride an asymmetrical made by the hands of Craig Maisonville than the lightest production board from a factory. Though heavier, it sticks to the water in choppy conditions and carves, whereas my RR carbon board just skipped out and sent me for a trip on the rocks. I know that doesn't scale and I'm plenty happy riding my Windsurfer LT which of course is made in China, but back in the day, if you were lucky you rode boards with Mana.
DT: What about sails? Is there Mana in sails?
JW: Any object. I loved my Maui Sails made by the hands of the same guys I was on the water and friends with, same with my Simmers. Then I tried sails made by someone whose energy was not in sync with mine, and to this day I try them and can't get them to work for me. But I think it's more about the board. Larry Bertlemann gave me his world championship winning surfboard to convert, and I think that board had more Mana than anything I ever rode or even shaped myself. I wish I still had pictures of it and all the other boards I made at Town & Country, but they're gone with the wind.
DT: We share the same bad luck with photos being destroyed or stolen. What happened with yours?
JW: Most of them were tossed in the Makawao landfill by my ex-girlfriend's mother. The mold in Haiku was eating away at them so I stored large boxes in her dry attic. I also had a bunch of magazines I'd been published in, including French Photo and Playboy, so I guess she didn't like them competing with her daughter and threw them out. She said all the slides looked the same. You've seen one windsurfing off the lip you've seen them all. Luckily, I had one box in my bedroom which contained the slides you see on this site and in the book.
DT: At least you have those.
JW: Yes, be thankful for what we have. The ones I regret losing the most were stolen before that by my first local friend. There were boxes of slides I had packed inside of my surfboard box when I moved to Maui. Not the earliest Kailua days but 79-80 there was a lot happening and I had much of it documented. I have a few local friends I'd go to war with and I thought this guy was one of them, but he was ripping me blind. Gave me a ride to the airport and nabbed my board out of the baggage line. Not much security in those days.
DT: What is your biggest regret in your career?
JW: Hands down not going to the award ceremony for Sports Photo of the Year. I think I touched on that in the book, where I had already booked and paid for my travel to Boot Dusseldorf. My career had moved into filmmaking and that photo was a lucky shot. I thought I'd never look back but I am now. If I had gone I would have met some incredible connections. Bronwen Latimer, the photo editor for SI that submitted the photo, now is the same for the Washington Post. Maybe it wasn't in my cards but sometimes you deal your own deck, and that was taking the wrong fork in the road.
DT: What was the highlight of your career?
JW: Probably the same, winning that award. There were 36,000 entrants, and the incredible photographers and their photos I was competing against, it still boggles my mind. But sailing wise, aside from that giant day of slalom racing, any good day at Hookipa with friends out. Friends like you, Dave Terry.