Circumnavigating Maui on Foil, SUP and Windsurf

Zane Schweitzer shares his story of circumnavigating Maui…

Q: Hey Zane – so firstly, what was the inspiration for your circumnavigation?

A: We challenged ourselves to paddle, wingfoil and windsurf around the island of Maui to see first hand the beauty of our oceans & coastlines while raising the awareness for the respect it demands. A friend of mine who is a marine biologist, Britt Daniels, completed what she called a, “Trash Hike”, walking around the entire island of Maui raising awareness for plastic debris in late 2020. I joined her for a short leg of her journey to support her awesome efforts and collect trash and other plastic debris along the way. This was the first time I had the thought and inspiration to Circumnavigate the island by water with the purpose and motivation being to bring awareness to the health of our oceans and encourage the citizen scientist in all of us. The first and only person I could think of that would be up for this type of a challenge was Bart DeZwart.  I was stoked to invite Bart to join me and learn from his experience and knowledge as he is one of the most hard core ultraendurance watermen, along with the only person that I know of to have completed a circumnavigation of the island. We kept an eye on the weather for a few months, in hopes to line up time off work with a transition or low in our normal trade wind patterns. It just so happened that we had an epic window of opportunity the week before Earth Day, so this was just perfect and in sync with the vision to raise awareness for the health of our oceans by embracing the beauty and grief felt for our natural environment through a challenge immersed in it.

Q: I know you mentioned on the 30×30 Starboard call that you were working with scientists to collect data on this adventure. Did you/how did you collect data while on foil?

A: Originally I had planned to use a CTD device (a tool used for coastal profiling collecting data such as salinity, Temperature, Depth and more) loaned from the University Of Hawaii Maui, and it was really cool to have the support from their marine biology team along with Andrea Kealoha. Unfortunately, by the time we saw the window of opportunity with weather open up for our journey, it was already too late to receive UOH Maui’s CTD as it was already in use by another group. This for sure was a bummer for me, as it was one of the primary goals and strategies for us to collect feasible data to collect and share with the scientific world. This was an unexpected challenge to overcome just less than 48 hours before our start, but it encouraged me to get creative using this experience to contribute to my community and environment in one way or another. The new plan was to mark locations and count/track the following categories; marine life, plastic debris, drainage pipes/run off locations along with natural waterways including, streams, rivers and waterfalls. Off course, this turned out to be a much greater challenge than pulling the small CTD device through a few mapped locations, but we did our best! Reality is, this journey was a great way for us to get familiar with the wind, currents, waves and coastlines of Maui!

Q: Which part of the trip was done on foil, and what were you riding?

A: Day 1 started on SUP from Launiupoko to Keoneo’io, we packed food and water for 3 days and with the light wind we planned to SUP as far up to Hana as we could. Although, on Day 2 from Keoneo’io up to Kaupo we hit some strong wind coming head on followed by some serious windswell. We made a goal of continuing to push upwind and upswell up to Nu’u landing then find cell service to contact Bart’s wife to see if she could drive to us and drop off our wingfoil gear. Finding cell service was a challenge and hike in itself, but 3 hours later, Dagmar, Bart’s wife, met us to trade out our SUP gear for Wingfoil gear and we started our upwind and slow journey from Nu’u up to Kaupo and barely making it in to land before the wind completely died and just before sunset! Day 3 we started again on SUP from Kaupo up to Hana Bay, then the same day switching SUP for Windsurf from Hana Bay up to Keanae, then another switch from there to Maliko back on the SUP! The last and final day we started with Wingfoil from Maliko Gulch, to Mala Harbor, then Mala Harbor back to our finish on SUP! All in all it was 3.5 days and 3 nights and a rough total of 150 miles of distance covered with two solid Wing foil legs. Our longest and most sketchy leg was for sure Maliko to Mala on the Wingfoil, as rounding the north head of Maui we were going against current and barrel powered enough to keep the foil up!

Q: How did you decide when and where to ride the foil vs SUP/other craft?

A: We had planned to cover as much ground as possible on SUP around the south and east sides of Maui while the wind was low, then do windsports around the east to north side and around the west. We had rough schedules for Bart’s wife with the windsport gear to meet us, but made sure to call her with our phones for the official meeting location and time, with hopes it would line up and not waste too much daylight with the transfer. The decision for the windsports was simple, if there was enough wind to be up on foil, without much of a risk to loose flight, we would wing foil. Although, if the wind was too light for the wingfoil or too risky to loose enough wind to keep flight, then we would choose and old school original style Starboard LT Windsurfer with high volume and a big sale which is great for light wind, but can also go upwind/downwind pretty well as it has a daggerboard option.

 

 

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