Windsurfer, Surfer, S.U.Per, Windsurfing Coach, Photoshoot model, Maui Mother… life has certainly been an adventure for Shawna Cropas since leaving Vancouver many years ago. She honed her windsurfing skills and coaching while living in Irelands windswept Brandon Bay, but in the next chapter of her journey, she traded the green waves and fields of Ireland for somewhere just as lush.
Boardseeker catchs up with Shawna as she gets into the festive mood on the valley isle.
“It’s been a busy but super exciting adventure since moving to Maui and becoming a mom, running windsurfing clinics, and getting on the water as much as the other previously mentioned, lets possible.
Days are spent running after my three year old, playing dress up, face paints, cars, glide bike or lying down under the zillion stars of the night sky and pretending to launch our home made rockets into the ‘real’ outer space. Besides bribing my son into a bath, clapping fiercely for poops made, flushed and explaining the finer points of the human anatomy – December brings us big wave surfing, dinner parties, X-mas shopping and upcountry jaunts to buy a small Cook Pine to decorate! This island is full of craftsmen and artist who sell seashell decorations, Koa wood sculpted wares, homemade Maui Onion mustards (a must try) and if you’re a really really good boy… there’s always the beautifully crafted custom boards to buy from local shapers.
Xmas lights twinkle in the corner in the early dark evenings on Maui. Yes, even on Maui the days get shorter and slightly colder. Sweaters are taken out of the far corners of the closet and dusted off. My fingers are icy to the touch sitting here writing, even though I’m wearing jeans and something warm. Grey clouds loom over Haiku as it strikes 11am (windsurfing allowance time). I’m thinking it’s so cold today it might be snowing at the top of Haleakala, which it has been known to do. It’s a strange sight to see while wave-sailing in a warm tropical breeze at the base of the 10,000 feet dormant volcano. It can snow so hard on the big island – locals actually go snowboarding. Things I did not know before moving to Hawaii!
Today should be a good day for sailing though, hopefully over head high waves and some stronger winds. Winter sits hard on our shoulders this year. Going down to the beach everyone is complaining about the unusually cold conditions. Josh Stone sits in his truck dry, chatting away as I try to rig through the drenching squall in a hurry. I actually opt to wear a wetsuit, which I usually avoid as they normally roast me alive. On Maui winter is announced, not by the first snowfall but rather the return of the Humpbacks. As I was sailing out through the gloom of stormy seas and mast high sets, I saw my first breaching whale of the season and immediately registered: ’tis the season to be merry fa lala la la …
Winter is up on us when smoke comes out of up country homes where their fires burn bright to keep warm, as it’s bitter cold a mile up the mountain from us, and when rains soak Haiku like a power shower. My lawn is so waterlogged it squishes underfoot until Spring, and my soggy vegetable garden rots and blooms a mushroom patch. But to the to the beach to the beach we go, where the sun always burns an ‘on vacation’ warmth. Ho’okipa being our closest and favorite spot. I only have an hour or two to sail in-between other responsibilities like me, so it’s wonderfully convenient to have a world class venue only ten minutes drive from the house! This time of year it’s a good idea to keep a surf board in the back of the truck as on more days than not when arriving at noon to go windsurfing the winds still haven’t kicked in and the conditions are more favorable for surfing. If you’re on a tight schedule, you may miss your windsurfing window. Luckily, I’m just as happy to surf! Hawaii after all is the birthplace of surfing, as it used to be the sport of ancient kings. It’s also why I don’t mind when on weekends the surfers don’t get out of the water in the lighter wind conditions. Most people don’t have the opportunity to windsurf, but almost every Tom Dick and Pitbull (If the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is Hawaii’s state fish – the Pitbull is Hawaii’s state dog) owns a surfboard, and your average gas attendant can pull Kelly Slater moves all around your head. No worries though, as there are ten miles of north shore with plenty of windsurfing to be had.
My other responsibilities see me sitting here at this desk answering emails, writing articles and organizing 2012’s Aloha Windsurfing Clinics that I run on Maui. I created these holiday week opportunities for windsurfers who wanted to advance their skills while having fun in a social environment. Unlike most warmer climate windsurfing destinations, in Hawaii there are no windsurfing centers, permanent structures, bars, catered holidays with ready rigged gear on the beach. Hawaiian law forbids it. So Matt Pritchard and I decided to team up to run windsurfing camps to give visitors the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, sail confidently with us in a group where we all meet new people and share a fantastic holiday experience while improving their sailing skills dramatically. We also wanted to create a friendly environment for both male and female of all level alike. The key to our success is work together and Maui is our nugget of gold. Maui is a perfectly unique venue where flat-water sailing can always be enjoyed on the inside of the reefs even when waves are crashing over them. We teach using a method where we introduce ‘core skills’ through muscle memory exercises (something like windsurfing tai chi) to everyone at the same time yet when we get on the water each individual will use those skills for their own individual goals. For example a ‘core’ exercise on stance can help one person learn to get upwind while it also helps another to stay on the wave face.
Enough about work though. December on Maui is the season for ‘chasing giants’. Which is exactly what I’ll do as I see huge ocean ‘stormtroopers’ marching in outside my window. Time to wrap this up as the sea is calling.”
Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka