DIAMOND HEAD: ISLAND HOP
Marcilio Browne island hops to Oahu to get his port tack fix at the famed break of Diamond Head; he tells us more about the session.
Words – Marcilio Browne//Photos – Fish Bowl Diaries
With the Fiji event at Cloudbreak on the calendar, I really wanted to go somewhere close to home and do some port tack down-the-line sailing. Here in Maui, famous for its starboard tack sailing, we actually get quite consistent port tack jumping conditions at some lesser-known spots, but down-the-line is definitely harder to find. So I try to take advantage of the all chances I have to sail port tack by trying to stay consistent and going somewhere I can sail port tack at least a few times each month, even in the off season from competition. I am often a lot more focussed in these sessions, as I don’t get to do them as often, so I really try to maximize the days I do go. That way when summer and the European port tack legs of the PWA tour are approaching, I find it easier to pick up where I left off. Back in the day I used to go for months without sailing port tack and by the time I got to Pozo it always felt like there was so much catching up to do. Nowadays I feel a lot more comfortable as soon as I get back in the Canaries.
Cloudbreak is for sure one of the top 3 locations have ever windsurfed in, and I wanted to do some testing on what gear to bring there. The boards I had prepared for there are pretty much the same as I ride at Ho’okipa, I just tried to add some more hours on the ones I thought I will be riding the most during the contest. I also was preparing physically as well – 3 days a week training with Sarah Hauser and 2 days a week doing some yoga and a bit of cardio.
At the end of April a huge swell hit Tahiti and I knew it would only be a few days before it reached Hawaii. I wasn’t sure whether to stay on Maui and try to score La Perouse on the south shore, or head over to Oahu. La Perouse is very fickle and often doesn’t happen, even with a good forecast, sometimes the wind just doesn’t fill in – too many surfers or a swell not big enough. So I called Scott Carvill to get his take on the conditions and he not only said it was looking good, but he also invited us to stay at his place and hang out. So next morning I was on a plane with Ricardo Campello, as well as Paul and Sofie from Fishbowl Diaries.
As we landed we got our rental car and went straight to Diamond head. After a few snacks in the car we meet up with Scott and we were ready to go. It was beautiful as usual, super blue water, clear skies and not very crowded at all.
The conditions were really fun, on the first day I was on 5.0 and 89-litre quad. The swell had plenty of waves but was not too big, mostly over head high with the occasional logo to mast high sets every 20 – 30 minutes. The fact that it was only the 3 of us was awesome; we were trading off waves and having so much fun. I struggled a bit to find myself at the start, there was plenty of waves, but some were much better than others, so you really had to pay attention to what angle they came in at and where on the reef too. I watched Carvill a lot as he really knows the place and was always on the good ones. It was amazing to see how hard he rips and how stoked he still is on wave sailing. He stayed out with us for about 4 hours.
So after sailing we all headed to Kailua where Scotty lives and went for dinner together. By the end of the day we were all very tired so went to bed pretty early. Next morning the waves were a bit smaller, but there was still plenty of swell and the wind looked a lot better – stronger and cleaner. I rigged up 4,7 and we all started sailing around 9:30 a.m. that day, as we wanted to score the low tide. There were a bunch of people sailing this day, including some French guys that live there, one Italian guy, local rider Frank Bench and a few more. It was fun to see the locals there; they were super friendly and seemed stoked on the conditions also.
We sailed for another 3 to 4 hours and than called it a day. We all got a lot of waves and had such a fun time. It was still quite early in the day so we grabbed lunch and ate at ‘Toes’, a nearby break, which was kind of firing but we were all too tired at that point and had a plane too catch. So after a 20 minute drive to the airport and a 35 minute flight I was back home. It’s really special being able to have an experience like that so close to home. I really loved travelling with only 1 board, 2 sails, totally scoring and being back home the very next day!
Sailing on Oahu is a totally different vibe than Ho’okipa. Because it’s less crowded, everyone is a lot mellower, the waves are not as powerful and you don’t end up on the rocks, so you can really go for it. That combination makes it a really good training ground in my opinion and I can see why so many good sailors came from Diamond Head in the 80s and early 90s. It would be cool to see the windsurf scene get a little stronger here, but while it doesn’t, we will enjoy some uncrowded sessions ha ha!
I have watched a couple of videos of Diamond Head back in the day, but the one that made the biggest impact was RIP from Robby Naish. By the time I was coming on tour, the focus was already fully on Ho’okipa as the benchmark for modern wave sailing. I do have a lot of older windsurf friends that started coming to Hawaii many years before me and they always told me a lot of stories about Diamond Head. It’s very special sailing there, especially knowing all the history behind it, as well as all the talent that came from there, such as Josh Stone, Robby Naish and Scott Carvill.
For Diamond Head I set up my gear pretty much the same as Ho’okipa. The main thing that I learned is that in Diamond Head the wind is a lot lighter than in Maui, so even if Windguru is showing ‘red’ for the wind speed, I can pretty much always get away with a 4.7 as my smallest size. So packing is easy, I can take a 4.7 and a 5.0 with a 89-litre board and that will cover me for 90% of days over there.