Aloha Classic - Then and Now with Nik Baker - Boards Windsurfing

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Aloha Classic – Then and Now with Nik Baker

Boards catches up with former Aloha Classic winner, Nik Baker, to get his views on the return of the big event and what the competitors will have in store..

It’s been a while since I competed in the Aloha Classic and things have certainly changed since then…

The really good guys to watch now are the likes of Brawzi and Victor, although on a good day nobody really beats Jason (Polakow) for me still! Compared to when I was competing it’s a lot more about all the aerial manoeuvres now. Before we used to focus really mainly on the bottom and top turns, but now to do well you have to have a lot more in the bank. Jumps wise back then we were consistently doing pushloops, one hand one foot back loops, table top pushloops and a few people had their doubles dialed, but now you have to get a double to make it anywhere in a competition.

Action from the 1993 Aloha Classic…

I think it’s great the tour is heading back to Maui; to me, it’s imperative for world cup windsurfing to have an event in the mecca of our sport. It’s always frustrating to only have port tack events on the tour, that’s what it was all about.

Koester is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but if you can win a world title in a whole range of tacks and conditions then that, to me, shows a real champion. If he can still win with Hookipa that really means he will deserve the world title. Koester might not be the best in Hookipa, but he is still charging there. Now we’ve got Maui and Chile on the tour it’s really opened things up, if we get good conditions in both it will show we have a real wave tour now.

Marcilio ‘Brawzinho’ Browne

If I had to choose someone as my one to watch, well I’d love Victor to do it, he could do well in Chile and Maui, but you’ve got to look at Brawzinho. He’s really the one to watch in a wide range of conditions. The best thing is now it’s really up grabs, not the same old competition.

I would absolutely love to be there and competing again, but I don’t think I’m quite ready for it at the moment! With work and everything here I’ve only been on the water three or four times this year, I’d like to think if I spent a bit more time in Maui I could do alright, I always loved starboard tack!

Check out this event report from 1999 when Baker won!

I’m not sure if one of the more ‘old school’ guys can come back and take a top position, it’s a tricky one. The guys like KP will do their thing and they will do it very well, but when he goes up against someone who has all the latest moves we will have to wait and see.

It’s totally different sailing in a heat at Hookipa as opposed to freesailing, the guys like KP know what they’re doing there and know what what to do in all eventualities there. This means if someone’s falling off on their tricks or not getting their dream heat it gives the guys with a plan and the competitive history a chance. But saying that’, it’s seriously hard to beat all the new school manoeuvres; I’d just love to be there to watch.

You have all the big names like Levi, Francisco, Brawzi (to an extent) that are absolutley capable of winning anywhere, but they can’t put together heat after heat and not being able to put together one heat can mean disaster. Consistency is key, in all competition, but especially at Hookipa. You also have very, very good contest sailors who are just waiting to pounce on these inconsistences. Brawzi is just an incredible freesailor but in a heat he’s just not as consistent, out of a heat it’s incredible to watch him, he just needs to keep it together.

Nik Baker at Hookipa

Hookipa is a really tricky place to sail and local knowledge can have a massive affect on the results. If it’s ‘proper waves’, with mast high sets coming through, and a local sailor gets two good waves and just goes for it we could see some upsets. You just can’t have the local knowledge unless you live there, whatever the conditions there you have to sail it day in day out to really to dial it in, it’s the one place as a windsurfer you have to be seen to dominate.

If it’s half mast high it’s a very different place to sail than when it’s bigger, if it’s big and you hit the lip and go down on the first turn then you’re done. Hookipa is a lot about one hit wonders during freesailing, but contest sailing is very different you need to link the turns and sail it all the way from middles and down.

The consequences of wiping out there big, it means minutes and lots energy swimming for kit, it’s not a place to take a chance otherwise you’re out. It’s definitely a tricky place to compete. Don’t let go of your kit, that used to be my number one rule, there was no chance I was going to let go, especially not in a heat! Everyone has their own approach, but let’s face it – it’s gusty, it looks good and easy from the beach but it’s a whole other matter on the water. Low to high tide changes where the wave breaks, and that’s another reason local knowledge is key. We could really see some big upsets here, I cannot wait.


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