Reflecting upon the most recent Aloha Classic. I wanted to offer the musings of an old blowhard who witnessed many Aloha Classics and the competitors that came before and without reservations compare. After all, I was there in the beginning as a competitor and water photographer. I rarely watched a contest from shore, most often silently offering my throwaway scorecard to the gods. I had the best view in the house. This time around, my only view was in live stream, or a few seconds delay (the countdown clock a bit off from the horn).
First off, I have to say that my body took a lot less abuse from my position (though bedridden with the Florida Flu). If you read my book, Maui Glory Days, you would know that the goods scored to survival ratio was pretty small. Contests are a hard thing to shoot from the water with so few people in the water and none interested in lining up with you for the shot. I must have dove under a thousand waves and taken a few to the head for every good shot or movie clip. One time I experimented with a remote live feed from my water camera to Casey Bennet’s TV truck. Where was my drone? So in the respect of coverage, I would say some things are better these days, unless you take into account that film rules over video. Maybe Alex, Mike and Robby weren’t as spectacular in their duels in the movie, Impact Zone, but talk about surfing style and film resolution… just an old fart’s opinion I guess. Maybe it was just that when I filmed a contest, the sun was out, the water was blue, the wind was blowing. The riders were on rollercoasters.
Slugfest vs. Slogfest
Were the conditions “all time” and “epic” beyond belief? Not in old blowhards opine. Challenging, sizeable, absolutely. But the best days at Hookipa are when the faces are bowled up with plenty of wind to power. This is when it’s logo to mast high. Anything above that and the rip plows through the wave and makes it akin to skiing the last run of a great powder day… when it’s already been chewed up. 6 to 8 feet? First one on the lift. Kudos to how these guys handled it, but I can remember going through the "dailies" of that epic, classic final between Mike and Alex. Ten minutes of solid action (no 20 minute heats bitd). How to cut it down? And Why?
From a competitor’s standpoint, I would have given a left nut to compete under the scoring system they used at this year’s AC. Best two wave rides are scored, that’s it? No jumps? Being a heavyweight and no flair for jumping, I could never advance through the light air heats, because bitd you were scored on quantity, on constant activity. Dunkerbeck would have never won a contest at Hookipa under the current scoring system. That’s what the world cup guys brought to the table with their multitude of gear for every equation - activity, big jumps - not waveriding skills. I’m not such a blowhard as to say that when it wasn’t blowing hard that I could match up with the surfing style of a Dave Daly, but there were plenty of world cup guys that lacked the Ho’okipa experience and wave riding knowledge of even the most mediocre of Mauians. With a two wave quality scoring system, even the Maui Wanna lady who sold popsicles on the beach could have had a “party on their face” li dat. Okay, that’s taking it a bit too far, but you get the point, maybe. Not saying I’m for or against it, for better or worse. the new scoring really changes the game. Where’s my time machine and can I have my can opener back off the rocks? Too bad, so sad, my wife would say. Take out the garbage.
Kai Katchedourian, who did a fantastic job of lending his enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport through the mic, said, quote: “Everybody out here is the best there has ever been in the sport.” Now, Kai’s awesome and all, but not sure if I can get on board with that sentiment, and why would I? I'm an old fart. Of course, everyone thinks their generation’s stars are the best that’s ever been, but champions have come and gone and there’s still only one King. And one King of Hookipa. Post a photo of Robby if you want a million hits. And Mark Angulo and Jason Polakow. I would confess though that if Kai Lenny put his time into it, there would be no argument. Hit hit hits, I've never seen a guy make two hits in a row so quickly, so fluidly. But Robby and my Glory Days riders? They invented those moves.
Yeah, that Sabutai Samurai kid is pretty awesome, too. But no rider today has the full compliment of the sport going. Nobody rules all disciplines. That doesn’t even exist today. Whuhappened to the Slalom event? Specialties, it's a sandwich shop in my book. Not that book. That book has Picnics and Spinach Nut Burgers.
Well, like I’ve already blown hard enough, much harder than it blew in this year's edition of the Aloha Classic, another event to fall under the curse of the contest. The rocks are well fed. As for the TV show put on by Zone Media (nice take off of Impact Zone Productions, BTW), I thoroughly enjoyed the coverage, the drone work, and mostly because Kai K was so damn ayeyiyeyieyie drum banging entertaining. He got so wound up and then let it fly like few I’ve ever heard. I hope he takes up the mic more often and does a podcast or something.
Yes, this old blowhard comes from a professional broadcasting world. I’ve produced for the NBA Magic and Thunder, and worked on shows for PGA Pebble Beach, had my own Central Coast Sports show on CBS. We had some elaborate setups, and here was Kai on his grandmas couch and blankey throw, with who’s on first Funkman (playing Dick Smothers to Tommy), and the guests like Matt Schweitzer calling his son’s heat, and Craig Yester (the Yester Days), and the many other guests that filled the sad moments of chop ripped waves under grey skies and struggling to stay afloat and off the rocks, they all made it a show. And of course, the guys that went on those rocks.
Maui Glory Days. I'll still take them.