a first time for everything… windsurfing with HST

I’m not afraid of falling. That’s what I tell myself as I grip the rope and slowly pull the submersed windsurf sail out of the aqua water at Kanaha Beach Park. My lesson buddy, Allyson, has already begun to sail out into deeper water. “Don’t go too far,” our instructor shouts from the shore.

Like a newborn doe, my legs tremble as I try to stand up straight on the wide beginners windsurfing board. As I bring the sail to my chest to catch the mid-morning breeze, I begin to bob and weave like an untrained boxer avoiding a punch. Just as Alan reassures me that I’m doing well, the slight winds catches my sail and I fall backwards into the shallow water. It’s all-good though: the water is warm, the sand is soft, and my instructor is a patient man. “Try it again,” he says, as he steadies my board. I proceed to hoist myself back on and begin the challenge again.

While I’ve lived on Maui for 20 years, I must admit, between my lack of coordination and sea legs, windsurfing always intimidated me. I also hate to look like a fool. But today, I don’t care – I’m taking a beginning windsurfing lesson with Alan Cadiz, owner of HST Maui. And while I do look uncoordinated, Alan assures me I’m doing okay. His gentle nature and welcoming smile put me at ease and allows me to laugh and enjoy every tumble into the calm sea.

Since 1986, Alan and HST has offered windsurfing lessons to thousands of locals and tourists at all skill levels. Originally from O‘ahu, as a young man in the 80’s, Alan became a leader and a champion in the booming windsurfing circles. Skipping college classes to come and sail on Maui’s famous North Shore, Alan set his sights on the prized windsurfing trophy. In 1985, he won the Aloha Classic and began living the dream life of a pro-windsurfer. While spending his days perfecting his skills at Kanaha, people began to ask him for personal windsurfing lessons. Understanding that fame is short-lived, Alan realized his professional career was a perfect segway for a teaching career and HST was born. Alan’s philosophy is simple: “I want people to have success at what I love.”

While many windsurfing lesson companies have come and gone over the years, HST has staying power fed by a multigenerational following of windsurfing enthusiasts. While I may never perfect a water start or conquer a jibe on a short board, as the wind fills my small sail, this lesson fills my head with new windsurfing possibilities.

This sport is a way to rekindle your love affair with the ocean. It’s definitely an exciting way for Maui’s adventure-seeking visitors to get off the hotel lounge chair on onto the water. HST offers lessons for beginners and advanced windsurfers, as well as kitesurfing and stand-up paddleboard instruction. Non-discriminating, this is a rewarding sport for wide-eyed keiki, restless teenagers, young adults, and even seniors.

Students are directed to register and check-in at 8:30am at the HST desk located inside Hi-Tech Surf Sports in Kahului. After signing all the necessary paperwork and paying for the lesson, I’m given directions to Kanaha Beach Park. Pulling into the parking lot, the HST truck is easy to find. After the introductions, Alan hands me my equipment and escorts me to the beach. As we make our way to the end of the beach, I notice the boards neatly lined up and awaiting our arrival.

Lessons start at 9am and last approximately 2.5 hours. Instructions begin with an orientation of the rig and equipment. After Alan sets up the windsurfer for me – he teaches me about the wind orientation and how to steer the board. Next thing I know, Alan has me in the water, standing on the board and slowly sailing out and back in and practicing turning.

Kanaha Beach park is ideal for windsurfing lessons: not only is it one of the prettiest beaches on Maui, a state mandate only allows beginning windsurfers and divers in the water from 9-11 am each day.

As the morning progresses, I’m able to stand straight, hold onto the boom, and begin to sail at a fast clip, fast for a beginner that is. And while this is only a baby step in perfecting this sport, Alan and HST have opened my eyes to a new way to enjoy Maui, and the ocean. They made me feel comfortable and wanting to try it again.

— cheryl ambrozic

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