In the summer of 2021 Maui saw a large increase in visitors, many of these were from out of state and others were from Europe. These visitors included both surfers and skiers looking to partake in some of the world’s most unique surfing action. Over the past few years, the sport of riding the waves on Maui has been revolutionized by a new breed of boardshorts known as Maui Wave Riders. These specialized riders bring a whole new perspective to the sport of surfing on Maui and have become quite popular among surfers.
The first part of the evolution of surfing on Maui was the use of traditional surfing gear including board shorts, gloves, helmets, and the ubiquitous wetsuit. But with the growth of the sport came an increased interest in the types of gear that could be used by surfers while out on the water. One of the first products to be designed for this purpose was a snorkel that was mounted on a rider’s helmet. Although this innovation provided great comfort to the rider it limited his options when it came to riding on the waves.
The snorkel changed quite a bit when the rider began wearing a “Newton flyer”. This piece of equipment had two small fins on the end that grabbed onto the back of the rider’s board and forced him to keep his balance as he approached the wave. The rider also now had the added benefit of being able to swivel the board completely around in order to gain better angles. All of these changes made riding on Maui’s waves much more difficult and resulted in a new influx of surfers.
Another huge influence on the development of surfing on Maui was the introduction of a new type of surfing helmet known as a “squeaky wheel”. This innovation provided a sleek new look for the rider while riding in the ocean. Maui wave riders were also introduced to the concept of surfing “hot” or freestyle. In order to win a surf competition freestyle, a rider must wear a helmet that fits very snugly against the rider’s skull.
As well as making it easier for riders to gain speed and keep control they helped create more challenging breaks for the average surfer. Freestyle surfing is designed to be a contest between riders. By making the entire body of the surfer move around when he enters and leaves the water (known as “stretching out”), the entire wave will be altered in its composition. The increased size and width of a wave created by stretching can provide much greater propulsion for a faster surfboard.
Off-season is often considered the best time to ride in Maui. This is when surfers from all over the world converge to try their luck at “breaking the Bank”. The amount of advanced surfboard gear available also meant more experienced surfers could participate.
Maui also introduced the first all-weather surf board. These boards were not made from foam, but out of actual wood. These boards enabled swimmers the opportunity to ride in all types of weather. As well as helping swimmers get a feel for the ocean, they made riding out of the water much easier for the rider. Many other new inventions helped to make riding more fun, including the first “tune-up” board, which simply consisted of two boards that were connected by a hinge so that the board could be opened up to reveal a bigger surface.
There is no doubt that in time, other areas of the world will have similar competitions. Surfing is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. It provides a wonderful way to relax, as well as teach children some of the basics of surfing. Maui wave riders are just another example of why Maui has become such a popular surfing destination.