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Athletes & Explorers

Jan 21, 2019

Mega Swell: Big Wave Windsurfing at JAWS.

With conditions too radical and dangerous for competition, the world’s top windsurfers sail down the biggest waves ever at Jaws.

WRITTEN BY

Rudy Castorina

On November 26th 2018, The WSL Canceled the “Peahi Challenge,” a Big Wave surf contest at Jaws, a world-famous surf spot on the island of Maui, Hawaii, due to too heavy winds. Some of the world’s top windsurfers in Camille Juban, Kai Katchadourian and Rudy Castorina seized the opportunity to windsurf one of the biggest days ever ridden at the far-famed big wave break. Without water safety support,  they laid it on the line during every ride in a session to be remembered for all time.

AN UNEXPECTED OPENING:

The WSL Big Wave World Tour “Peahi Challenge” was on orange alert. We were on the lookout for promising weather and sail conditions for several days. It was a very big swell with light wind, but doable. So the question was:  “How are we going to be able to sail if the contest is taking place?”

Kai Katchadourian. Photo by Si Crowther

The chief commissioner of the WSL gave the green light 48 hours before the day of competition, which made it impossible to sail. Of course, we thought, “There’s going to be all the WSL circus on the spot – 15 boats, 30 jet skis, all the best big wave surfers in the world waiting for their turn at the end of the contest to hope for a wave of this mega swell.”  

We turned the problem around from every angle and we still did not see how to carve out our own moment to sail. So, that morning we went surfing another outside reef. Then, around 11 am the wind picked up. I started to see boats and jets returning to the harbour. I wondered what was happening. Around 11:30 am, I called the office where everyone was watching the Live contest and Bella (my partner) told me that the contest was cancelled. I immediately felt exhilarated! I asked her if it looked windy and she said, “Yes, it looks light, there is only Kai Lenny doing tow-in.”

We had never thought that the contest could be cancelled, but the conditions had become too radical and dangerous for the competition. At noon, we were at a leeward spot about 45 minutes away from Jaws by the calm sea, but the wheels were in motion to arrange our own epic session.

Kai Katchadourian. Photo by Lyle Krannichfeld

With 15 meters of swell and 15 knots headwind, it took us an hour to make it halfway up and recover the windsurf gear. The bay where we come in and out of the water with the jet ski to get the gear was closing out, so it turned out to be a very difficult and hairy situation. We arrived at the channel at 3 pm, ready to rig. All the boats and jet skis for the contest were gone and the spot was empty aside from Kai Lenny doing his own tow-in festival. The wind felt very light as we rigged our gear.

PICKING UP MY FIRST WAVE:

It was really not easy to catch a wave with this light wind. After about three or four attempts and getting blown off the back, I told myself, “It’s late, it’s been a long day, the wind is not going to stick around much, energy is running out, it’s time to go deep and get one!”. So, I positioned myself on the north peak in order to get a bit of a roll-in. With the wind updraft that comes up the face of the wave, you can start moving a bit (that’s when I started pumping) and hopefully transfer your forward momentum into the wave energy, then fight that updraft wind that wants to kick you out the back. This is exactly what happened and it allowed me to get into that enormous wave.

Rudy Castorina. Photo by Erik Aeder

GEAR CHECK:

My equipment is a mix of production line and custom. That day I had a production 5.0m Black Tip SimerStyle with a 370 top and 400 bottom mast, which gave it a bit more on the low-end. My board is an 86L Tabou Jaws Custom board with almost 2 pounds dive weight screwed on the board in front of the mast track and a Production Quad Fin K300 MFC set up. I like to sand the end tips of the fins to make them really sharp.

As far as safety goes, I wear a Patagonia inflatable pull vest. As the session turned out to be last-minute that day, we had no proper water safety that could come get us in the pit – only a regular driver that would come get you before you would end up on the rocks on the inside.

Rudy Castorina. Photo by Erik Aeder

BIGGEST WAVE OF THE DAY

The award for the biggest wave of the day definitely goes to Camille Juban. That was certainly one of the biggest waves ever ridden at Jaws.

Camille Juban. Photo by Lyle Krannichfeld

PERSONAL LIMITS PUSHED

That session pushed my personal limits to the next level. It was really dangerous if you would happen to fall at the impact zone of the main peak. I’d rather not think about it, to be honest. I didn’t have much time to warm up or reflect on just what I was getting myself into. It was just “Go” time. For me, the mental challenge of convincing myself to go over the ledge was the hardest part. Riding any big wave is a risky situation. A couple times after missing a wave, we ended up passing over the next one only by a hair. Luckily, none of us crashed that day.

Film Credits

Riders name: Camille Juban / Rudy Castorina / Kai Katchadourian

Filmed by: Jace Panebianco / Si Crowther / Aerial Video Maui

Music by: Sleep / Track: From Beyond / Album: Holy Mountain

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Athletes & Explorers

Apr 21, 2019

Jess Roskelley, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer: How the World Reacted.

On Friday, the world was forced to come to terms with the passing of three climbing pioneers. Perhaps the biggest loss to the outdoor community in decades, respects were paid from around the world.

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WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

On Friday, news outlets from around the world reported that three world-class mountaineers who were climbing Alberta’s Howse Peak on Tuesday, April 16th were caught up in a large avalanche, that carried them to their likely deaths. Those mountaineers were 28-year-old Austrian David Lama, 36-year-old American Jess Rosskelley, and 35-year-old Hansjörg Auer.

Loved and admired by many, people from all walks of life have paid their respect. A few of those messages that have been shared on social platforms can be found below.

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David lebte für die Berge und seine Leidenschaft für das Klettern und Bergsteigen hat uns als Familie geprägt und begleitet. Er folgte stets seinem Weg und lebte seinen Traum. Das nun Geschehene werden wir als Teil davon akzeptieren.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Wir bedanken uns für die zahlreichen positiven Worte und Gedanken von nah und fern, und bitten um Verständnis, dass es keine weitere Stellungnahme von uns geben wird. Vielmehr bitten wir David mit seiner Lebensfreude, seiner Tatkräftigkeit und mit Blick Richtung seiner geliebten Berge in Erinnerung zu behalten. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Die Familien von Hansjörg und Jess schließen wir in unsere Gedanken ein⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Claudia & Rinzi Lama⁣⠀ ____________________________________⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ David dedicated his life to the mountains and his passion for climbing and alpinism shaped and accompanied our family. He always followed his own path and lived his dream. We will accept what now happened as a part of that.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ We appreciate the numerous positive words and thoughts from near and far. Please understand that there will be no further comments from our side. We ask you to remember David for his zest for life, his enthusiasm and with a view towards his beloved mountains. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Our thoughts are with Hansjörg’s and Jess‘ family⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Claudia & Rinzi Lama

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I will walk by your side forever.

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We all go to the mountains because there is some innate part of being human that seeks challenge and there is endless challenge to be found in our wild places. I’ve always seen mountains as a blank canvas that lets me be an artist by choosing my unique path when amongst them. It’s freedom in its purest and most simple form. But, like many things in life, what you originally set out to do isn’t always where you end up. It’s the unexpected adventures along the way that create the true magic. There’s so much more to this passion than just the climb or the ski, there are the human connections created along this journey that have been some of the deepest and most profound friendships of my life. There is also tragedy. The mountains are both majestic and fierce. They give so much and they take so much. It is with profound sadness, frustration and even anger that this week we have lost so much passion, kindness, ingenuity and unadulterted talent with the passing of these three human beings. *** My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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It hurts to feel the crushing magnitude of losing people you not only really care about, but also that are such iconic figureheads of our community. My heart breaks and I am praying for the direct family members and loved ones involved. Jess was one of the most driven, positive, humble, goofy, and kind friends. He accomplished daunting mountains with a smile and inspiring ability to encourage you to see no limits, too. Despite the magnitude of his accomplishments, he wasn’t “above” anyone. He was a genuine, radical guy and husband to an equally inspiring, kickass woman, @alliroskelley David Lama- who in our direct community doesn’t have a story…? Soft spoken, genuine BADASS. Footsy (@magmidt 😭) It’s been some time since the three of us hung out together but I will never forget how you have always been the number one climber I have looked up to’s career…the childhood prodigy turned all-rounded mountain climbing technician. He was the guy that could probably come back from a long expedition and still fire 5.14’s like he never left the gym. Hansjorg; an Austrian legend, I didn’t know you as personally so well but man, your accomplishments were so damn legendary. It’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around this except for the fact that the mountains are at once beautiful and merciless. These guys knew what they were doing in the mountains. They were straight legends. That’s what is terrifying to me. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your resume is: extremely unlucky circumstances can still happen. 💔.

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🖤💫🙏🏻 no words.

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No sabemos ni como empezar este texto, son momentos tan duros que no nos salen ni las palabras. La pérdida de Hansjorg Auer, David Lama y Jess Roskelly es tan grande que nos hemos quedado vacíos. Son tantos los amigos perdidos en la montaña qué se nos encoge el corazón. Muchos ánimos a las familias y amigos. Conocíamos a Hans desde hace mucho tiempo. Le queríamos y admirabamos mucho, era una gran persona , muy entrañable y fuente de inspiración para muchos de nosotros, con el cual tuvimos la suerte de haber compartido mucho tiempo y aventuras. ¡Siempre estarás con nosotros! Tus latín brothers Eneko & iker. We do not know how to start this text, they are such hard moments that we do not even get the words. The loss of Hansjorg Auer, David Lama and Jess Roskelly is so hard that we are left empty. There are so many lost friends in the mountains that our hearts shrink. Many encouragement to families and friends. We had known Hans for a long time. We loved and admired him very much, he was a great person, very fond and a source of inspiration for many of us, with whom we were fortunate to have shared a lot of time and adventures. ¡You will always be with us! Your latin brothers. Eneko & iker

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Read Next: Hansjörg Auer: No Turning Back

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