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.