The following is Google Translate's best stab at translating the article from German.
Jonathan Weston was one of the first water photographers to break into the
Hookipa, made legendary surf films, plunged into the sea with a helicopter and had deep insights into the vibrant scene in Hawaii. An interview about golden times and what's left of it.
Every windsurfer who lived the sport in the 80s and 90s knows his pictures and films. His job was to show the world through pictures how great is windsurfing. So this interview comes at least 30 years late. But better late than never, right? Jonathan, before we got gold Times and relaxed Maui lifestyle speak, first of all the question: how are you and where are you sitting the corona Lockdown straight out?
Thank you, it's going quite well so far. The Zombies still have here in California not attacked. Of course, too, everyone concerned here and the cuts into personal life are drastic.
But here in our pool (lake)Sacramento is still windsurfing - as long as they still let us (it’s a private windsurfing club so we get away with our social distancing).
The windsurfing hype of the 80s has you washed from California to Hawaii,
where you were one of the first water photographers and became a filmmaker and from there apparently also back to one Lake in Sacramento. A long story so where do you start?
Best at the front. I had in the 70s studying photography
School in Santa Barbara / California (Brooks Institute of Photography) started but when I was on some races raced quite successfully and always windsurfing took up more of my life I gave up my studies. Like everyone back then, I also dreamed of Hawaii.In 1980 I packed my home-made custom windsurfer, one of the first ever made with Gary Efferding from a block of foam dock and took it to Oahu. The beginnings there were wild. Ibought a car for $200 - no,
it was more of a traveling wreck - that took me to the beach and me at the beginning partly as a place to sleep served. You quickly learned people, then lived in their garden and slept on the terrace. No money in my pocket. If some small change in the car under the seat
found it was a great pleasure. Everything what mattered was windsurfing every day
to go, nothing else. Sometime I needed some raw materials to shape a new board for me
and ended up at Town & Country Surfboards factory in Pearl City / Oahu.
At that time there were also manufacturers of surfboards an increasing
Demand for windsurf boards, because Windsurfing was the fastest
growing sport in the world. The owner the workshop, Craig Sugihara, said:
"Bring your board over when it's done. If it looks good, we have to
talk. ”A short time later I had one Job as a shaper.
In the early 80s, they were all Windsurfing pioneers first on Oahu
At that time the material development was
not very far yet advanced. Was moderate wind an advantage, so Oahu was ideal.
And it was the time when Robby Naish, who grew up on Oahu, who
Scene dominated, that had a certain Suction effect. Maui, however, was
unknown: and also completely at that time underdeveloped, the island was totally economically suspended - nobody wanted to do it voluntarily there. One day I was standing with mine Boss Craig in the workshop and showed him my latest board creation, a
very short board (for a time when waterstarts were rare) with a wide tail and bat wings. 'Looks like the car from Batman’s, my boss said. A guy from Maui came along and
if you continue building such boards I might give him your job. ’
The "guy" was Malte Simmer (later Founder of the Simmer sailing brand
Style, the Red.) And built even wilder Stuff than me - Batman's car on steroids
so to say.
Did he get your job?
Fortunately not. But he showed me the first time pictures of Maui. That was
like brainwashing me. There surfed a few guys in high waves and jumped high into the air.
But until I jump from Oahu made it to Maui, should it still be one take a bit. (Whatinhellen?)
Robby Naish was already the hero in 1981 of the sport. Do you remember how
did you meet him for the first time?
I still remember it well. (I’m sure he doesn’t!) He was already a superstar at the time.
When he's at Diamond Head (best known Wavespot on Oahu, the Red.) (Not sure what Red means) went on the water, he usually started the garden of his girlfriend, whose
Parents had a house there. Rarely he mingled with us on the beach
Mortal. He always had an entourage around him, they rigged his
Stuff on. When everything was ready, surfed, he got out, flew through the air, took a break
a shaft and ripped it into pieces. I wondered for a long time if he
can start water at all because he never crashed. The windsurfing world existed
then from Robby Naish, then came long nothing and then sometime (not sure what the interpretation was here because there was no time of nothingness. Things were moving fast).
People like Mickey Eskimo or Pete Cabrinha (later founder of the kitr brand
Cabrinha, the Red.) (I thought he was brunetteish until later when he became blonde). Who on Oahu Robby's shadow to world-class surfers
How did you get the hang of the life artist and shapers for photography
to get? (How did I get from shaper to photographer?)
I developed a kind at the time Hate love to a guy who is packed the boards in the factory,
his name was Warren Bolster. He was a pretty crashed wave rider and Skater who hardly liked windsurfing with his provocative questions towards my shape creations
but gave food for thought. It took some time to buckle up who actually is in our warehouse
did the dirty work: I got an old skateboarder magazine in the Fingers, and spotted on many of the Images copyright "Bolster". It posed out that Warren is a photography Was legend because he had as a photographer and editor of the magazine the dead Sport skating back into consciousness brought to the youth by becoming the legendary
Surf skate gear Dogtown and Z-Boys had portrayed. Since then
Skating through the ceiling. Unfortunately he was pretty crashed (alcoholic). Sometime took
I take him to the Diamond Head and he rushed with a water camera
in the break. My boss had to pretty quickly after a new warehouse worker
look around. And with me too that awakened the love of photography
New. Until it happened, however, only went sometimes a little off ...
In what way?
I had my job in the shape Workshop already quit because of me
a job with Sailboarder (I had pitched them the idea and was hired as editor then fired before it began because some guys said I was a fraud and didn’t know how to windsurf. ok), one
of the big windsurf magazines of the back then was. That sounded like a safe one Business, but it went wrong. I stood on the street, leafed through the yellow Pages and finally applied to me
UP Sports built hangliders back then and sail and wanted too offer your own windsurf boards. The condition at the time was: I get the job as a shaper when I do it at renowned hang ten event at Cabrillo. I had to break into the top 10. Fortunately, that has
worked. And I convinced mine Boss that I had to go to Maui to be closer to the scene.
Maui is still considered “the place to be ”in windsurfing, but is also a
Place where fought with hard bandages becomes.
How was it in those days?
I came with Pete Cabrinha in 1981 there. It was tough even then School, in many ways. At my first day I ended up surfing session in Hookipa right on the rocks and destroyed
my equipment. The spot was made by Wave surfers dominated and up to the point
Defended blood. Five or more surfers at the break meant you stayed as
Windsurfers do better on the beach (not true back then, we got along pretty good. It was Diamond Head I was referring to in the interview… whatever). And it
gave windsurfers there like Mike Waltze,who didn't like the spot
becoming increasingly popular. But it could not be suppressed.
How was it supposed in the times Milk and honey flowed and everyone
could get good sponsors?
During the early days – we are still talking about the early ones here
80s - it was by no means easy. There was Robby Naish, he was the king.
And then the rest came. I personally couldn't complain, I had with
Back then, UP Sports was a good sponsor. In 1982 I asked my boss about money
to pay a hospital bill to be able to. I was over in Hookipa been driven to the pile and with
her head on the bow of a surfer
popped (interpretation… a girl bailed on a wave driving her board’s nose into my skull). My boss thought about it briefly and told me he was doing me a favor now
would do: throw me out! He obviously thought I did
would have been too easy so far and would have to bite through to discover my talents. So has
he set me tough outside the door, although we're a really good one
had a friendly relationship. Back then I was horrified, looking back
of course he was right. This experience finally got me to take pictures
and brought movies.
Back then, film and photography was one
completely different approach than today ...
Absolutely. I ordered a water case. The first day I put it in
Camera in, swam in Hookipa the line-up, looked through the viewfinder
and saw my housing up was full (laughs). I had to work part-time for a long time
punch through until I get a new one Could afford housing, oh man. The
first roll of film that I developed but it was already in itself. There were
Photos by Mike Waltze, Fred Haywood and Matt Schweitzer, who you like
You are talking about some of the here greatest personalities of the sport.
Was it your buddies back then? Or you just had to have the boys
take pictures if you have the best Wanted pictures?
The hard core of Maui surfers was back then still small, of course I knew
everyone everyone. Some were friends, others rather not. Mike Waltze was the one
Top dog and even quite angry on me because of an article I times published in a magazine
would have. It was about the fighting between windsurfers and surfers
on Oahu. I ended the article with the words: "Move to Maui, I did!"
According to Waltze, that had triggered a run on Maui.
Revenge followed in your first photo session in the water?
When I was in the line-up for the first time, Waltze came racing towards me. I was
sure that he will head me straight would leave (take my head off). Ironically, it is the picture that was created landed on the cover of my book.
What was so about your pictures at that time groundbreaking different?
I was the first photographer to look with the camera directly in the Impact
Zone of Hookipa moved. A scarce Erik Aeder came a year later
to that, but at the beginning I had this Spot for me alone, that was fantastic.
I wanted to show the world how great windsurfing is only possible
about photos and clips. The real one Breakthrough came with the first
We're probably not talking about here GoPro format ?!
No not true. The thing was like that heavy, I can hardly believe that
I didn't break my neck have (laughs). The first attempts we did in secret back then
and are for the trial shots to Outer Sprecks (spot, a few kilometers
southwest of Hookipa, the Red.) drove where there was no one back then (my test talent, Miles Valle, Malte Simmer). There were 15 seconds of videotape recorded, but that
cameras at that time couldn’t handle the shocks of the landings
and it was just picture noise to see. So it was clear that I was going to have to shoot film. But film cannisters ran only for 30 to 45 seconds of usable material. Most of the time went for swapping cartridges, assemble everything, lick the lenses clean,
around the annoying drops of water
to bead off. But even this short snippets of film were enough to
recognize what would be possible and doors
open at sponsors. Terrifying is that a lot of people at times
modern action cams still don't understand how to take good pictures
What is your specific tip?
Good recordings are not made when you film yourself, but
each other. Instead of an action cam to strap to the top, it is better them
to put on a helmet and yourself to pursue and film each other.
That was also the recipe for success back then of my first film "Impact Zone".
You also had a lot with Mickey back thenEskimo worked because of his Staging was always controversial. How did you find working with him? Mickey was just amazing creative. His graphics adorned the Boards of different brands and he did everything to get a good shot to get. Whether he stood (landed) the move he didn't care or not, the main thing the photo became good. That brought him a lot of headwind in the scene, but ultimately he was creative with his Kind of extremely successful. Although he only won few heats, he had over 200 cover shots for windsurfing Magazines worldwide and sponsors like windsurfing Chiemsee. It was that Time when windsurfing became sexy and one at boot Düsseldorf Could fill halls with windsurf stuff. Mickey also threaded (helped me find sponsors for) years later a film project called Chiemsee "Double or Nothing" with Jason Prior and Francisco Goya. This movie had a script for the first time and should Drama and comedic elements - if you have the idiosyncratic sense shared for humor - combine and of course offer tangible action – for the case that the thing about acting and not so good at humor arrived. Everything went great - unfortunately I fell shortly before the shooting ended the helicopter.
The image of the crashed helicopter in the Spreckelsville's line-up went around the World. What happened back then? I had filmed from the helicopter several times and knew it wasn't 100 Percent is safe. Therefore worked I like to be with a famous pilot together. He had messed up a lot in life and instead of going to prison he had to go as a service to the community Make reconnaissance flights, to dig illegal marijuana plantations. So he could do well in rough Flying off-road. On this day however, another pilot had to step in, that I didn't know. But it everything was arranged, so I didn't have any Choice. I hung on the side of the helicopter out with the camera in hand and filmed. The new was not lacking courage, but control. Once he almost cut off Robby Seeger's head. It was adventurous. I said: Let's break up! We flew via Sprecks towards the landing site and waited for the permission of the Towers, I discovered Jason Prior surf there. Jason actually should have been Long ago in Hookipa on the water supposed to be, he was one after all of my main protagonists - but how he was usually late and a little bit unplanned. I took the opportunity a few last shots of him too when I make a very strong gust saw coming closer. The gust pulled the Heli up, turned him over and it swung towards the side towards Water surface. I was still trying jumping out but forgot that I was was strapped on. When the rotors did that Water hit, it was the loudest Sound I have ever heard. Everything was silent for three seconds Pilot and I took a quick look at each other and a few moments later we were under water. The helicopter was on the Reef. I could see the surface above me see, but got one of the two seat belts are not on. I was under water for a long time, I guess like two minutes. Fortunately I had back then a horse lung. When I was liberated, I managed to show up briefly, but the camera with that heavy battery pack pulled me down again. Let go of the camera somehow didn't come in at that time the sense. I solved it under water released batteries (I later swam out and found them) and finally couldPop up. That I do that with easy Survived injuries was a great luck. Still was on timely completion of the film unthinkable at the time. (It was released four months late, Double or Nothing… better late than never).
You filmed all the icons of the scene Who is left in your head?
Mark Angulo and Jason Polakow. (mostly Craig Maisonville) They were just unique in their time regarding their creativity on the Water. Everything looked easier with them as if they were floating. Robby Naish was equally impressive but he was always better at Wind from the left. Mark Angulo was probably the one with the most talent. For the Angulo brothers Mark and Josh the rest did not only have good sides ... Mark could have won anything but unfortunately the creative are not always the most professional (not my words. Mark was Mark and less concerned about the professional side of the sport than pushing the limits). Jason Polakow was different there, he was more professional and is never lopsided Got caught. His problem was that constant injuries. I think there is hardly a bone in that not a screw is stuck. Would be less injured, he would have Dominate windsurfing even more can. On the other hand, it would be his kind easy to surf without injuries was not possible.
What were you then - creative or professional? I share fate to some extent of the creative. I loved taking pictures but actually I always wanted to rather be on the water windsurfing myself, underneath then of course the work and it suffers came other photographers like Erik Aeder or Darrell Wong, the big deals landed with big brands.
Why did you get the island from which you you dreamed for so long, in the end
turned his back again?
At some point there were other things more important. For example, school for
my daughter. I was concerned about this not being a good place for her. I left there in 2000 (for a NASA gig in Sausalito and then to Carmel). With it I have this chapter in my book ended for me.
Do you get a lot of feedback from the Legends of the scene, presumably who’ve
Little. Most protagonists don't want to read it, they don't want to
look back. But I get a lot Praise from people who are normal windsurfers
are and who like to look back and soak up the stories. It shows the life that many people
would have liked back then But unfortunately for most people Hawaii stayed
GoPro is children's birthday!
Helmet camera from
Side) weighed several
Kilo, the VHS recorder
he had on
with your back.
Maui in the 80s
was exciting (above
Right side: Maui
was the beginning of
Uncharted territory. You lived
in the garden or on
Secret Spot Camp
One and conquered the
with some strange ones
left), lives today
Jonathan back in
(top left) experimented
the first with asymmetrical
this pretty good grip
on the edge.
Below: Malte Simmer
on camera, Jonathan
On the staged
Cover photos, the Jonathan
once with Mickey
The aerial view
by Eskimo deep in the
Was white water
however over everyone
Doubt - she
"Sports Photo of the
Top left: Mark
but in the typical
on the World Tour.
Top right: Jonathan
Bottom left: Robby
Naish at work.
What looks like
the control center
NASA was a
normal editing room
in the 80s. today
would be a small one
A laptop is sufficient
259 pages full
and photos about
has the good old days
Jonathan Weston in
his book “Glory
Days - Return to
the impact zone "
You can find that on Amazon
work worth reading
almost 14 euros.
Above: The new guard
to Jason Prior and
Waveriding in the
90s. Jonathan was
always up close with the
Camera included (above
Below: That Jonathan
from the damaged
Helicopter with only
came out, borders
King Robby - usually started from
His girlfriend's beach house out in the break,
sometimes he mingled with us mortals.
The most creative
Unfortunately, surfers were
not always that
most professional -
Mark Angulo was
the best for that
Mickey Eskimo had a lot of envy. He rarely has
won a heat but got more cover
Shots than everyone else. He was brimming with creativity.