Today we’re chatting with Griffin Freysinger . Griffin and I have been sailing at the same spot for quite a few years now and I have watched him develop into a very respectable water man and person. Very few people that I have known have openly expressed the passion to excel in the sport as Griffin.
WM: So here we go, Griffin, can you tell us how, where, and when you started windsurfing?
GF: I'm 25 and I grew up just outside of Milwaukee WI on the shores of Lake Michigan. The first time I windsurfed was on a small lake in Michigan on an old school longboard with an aluminum mast. I not sure exactly but I would guess I was 12. So that makes 13 years of windsurfing, although windsurfing was pretty off and on for me in the beginning seeing as no one else in my family windsurfed nor did I know any other windsurfers. Windsurfing was a logical step for me though because I was always into wind power and sailing and surfing waves in a sailboat, windsurfing was and evolution of that for me. I picked up some gear at garage sales and acquired an old Mistral imco board with not only a kick up dagger board but kick up fin as well. When I was maybe 16 my dad bought a slightly more modern set-up with the intentions of learning to windsurf but never did so I started windsurfing a lot more on with free reign of that thing.
WM: Griffin what are your favorite windsurfing spots?
GF: I really haven't windsurfed that many spots, when I used to live in Rhode Island I liked sailing a spot called Matunuck, it was pretty epic seeing as I lived right on the beach. I windsurfed The Gorge for 2 days... learned to water start there but never went back after that. I'd have to say my favorite is Maui. I went windsurfing for a day when I was in South Africa, it was really good, but I didn't have my own gear with me.
WM: Griffin what is your single greatest highlight of your windsurfing career?
GF: It would have to be just a few days ago actually on 3/15/11. I sailed up to Pe'ahi from Maliko gulch by myself. I had done this once before and it took an hour and fifteen minutes to get there, I got a few shoulders of some waves and then sailed back to Ho'okipa. This time it took 2.5 hours just to get there, I planned less than 5 minutes of the entire sail up there.
I arrived around 3:30pm pretty exhausted from the sail. After resting for a few minutes I went out and caught just 2 waves and only one of those two was memorable, but the one good one I got was probably the best wave of my life surfing or windsurfing. It was full slog and surf conditions out there for me. I caught my first wave pretty quickly but was too far on the shoulder and got kinda blown out of it although I did look up wind in to a barrel big enough to drive a bus through. Something that you miss when watching jaws from the cliff is the scale of the tube. You can see that its happening but you really have to get up close to appreciate how big it is.
It took me a long time after that first wave to get another one, there are lots of waves that come through that you try to pump onto but you just don't build up enough momentum and they pass you by. To get one you really had to be in the break where the waves were getting steep. I tried to pump onto the first couple of waves of a set and missed. Then I finally got a gust on the third wave and was able to hook into it. It’s almost better not to be looking back at that point because seeing the biggest waves of your life feathering behind you is a bit disconcerting especially knowing what it’s going to do when it hits the reef. Anyway, off I went to the peak and as the thing stood up I began my descent down the face. My focus was solely on making to the channel.
At that point all I can really remember is seeing this perfect half-pipe wall in front of me and my rig making a noise that I have never heard before from the speed. After that it was just flying out into the channel and there was no wind in the channel so I just floated in the water for a bit. After that I started heading back down wind which was not the fastest trip. I slogged a good bit of the way. After the light house in Haiku it started getting a bit windier so the trip got easier. I ended up doing a few tacks outside of Maliko. I was hoping to hook up with a jet ski for a ride in. I could see that my car was there but I didn't see any one coming. However I did see Kauli coming down wind so when he passed me I just followed him down to Ho'okipa. After carefully timing a set I made it back to shore around 6pm after almost 5hours of sailing. I still had to hitch back to Maliko to get my car. What a day that was!
WM: Wow Griffin that is a great story! I know that you didn’t just sail up to Jaws without preparing yourself physically and mentally. Can you tell us what sort of preparation you went through to prepare yourself for Pe’ahi?
GF: Since getting out there I've had a lot of people telling me how they want to give it a go as well. I am no expert (very much the opposite) nor am I recommending trying to sail Jaws but here is what worked for me. The thing I will say is that the sailing is not technically that difficult. All you have to do to survive is make one bottom turn, going really really really fast. However you have to accept dealing with the consequences if it all goes wrong. To get comfortable with that not only do I try and do some cardio fitness on the road bike but I also spend as much time in the ocean as I can. Including free diving which is direct training for holding my breath and going surfing on the big days. Even if I only catch a couple waves or end up just taking 10+ footers on the head for an hour, it's all about increasing the awareness and comfort level in substantial surf. Plus sometimes you get lucky and catch a bomb. I also try and windsurf big and light days when only a few guys are out at Ho'okipa as well. Sailing a big day of Kona Lanes where it is double mast is maybe even technically more difficult than Jaws. Another important aspect for me was having a buildup. That included a big day at Ho'okipa the day before. Realistically though I started long before that. On a trip to Fiji this summer, I was lucky enough be there for the biggest swell in a long time at Cloudbreak.(Dave Scard's ride from that swell link is neck and neck for the XXL prize with Shane Dorian's from this Jaws swell). I didn't even surf the biggest day of that Fiji swell. I just watched and learned a lot. I rode a pretty large wave over the falls at Cloudbreak during that swell! It shook my confidence at the time but strengthened immensely it in the long run. In the beginning of the year I also got caught in the power zone of the cave at Honolua on a solid 10ft day and got smashed so hard I almost puked, once again confidence shaking at the time but building in the long run. Just getting out there when it is big is paramount for preparing for Jaws and then from there you have to just evaluate each day on an individual basis just seeing how you feel and how much you want it.
WM: Griffin what events led up to your decision to sail solo up to Pe’ahi and ride that wave?
GF: I had wanted to sail Pe'ahi for a long time and when things started coming together for Jaws this spring I still didn't know how I was going to get there, I considered trying to get a ride on a jet ski or even hiring one but I don't really know anybody with a ski. I was talking to Robby Seeger and he told me to just sail up. Robbie said, “That’s how everyone got there in the beginning and is still a good/best way to get there.” I couldn't convince any of my friends to come with me, so, I just went for it. In retrospect it makes the whole experience more rewarding. Being completely self reliant is total freedom and makes it that much more exciting. It’s like climbing a mountain where you bushwhack from the foot hills all the way to the summit or climbing to the summit after being dropped off just below it by helicopter. It’s more of an experience and that what's all about anyway.
WM: This is great stuff Griffin! What direction are you heading? I mean what's on the horizon for Griffin Freysinger? What‘s next dude?
GF: Definitely try and get back out at Pe'ahi next time its going. Try and get some nice barrels surfing. One thing that I've been thinking of for a little while now is to windsurf from the Big Island to Maui. I’m gonna try and make that happen. Anything that’s an adventure.
WM: Griffin as you know Maui Ocean Sports Magazine is totally behind the AWT. Do you have any thoughts that you would like to share with us on the upcoming American Windsurfing Tour?
GF: The AWT is right on! It’s really filling a void in the windsurfing community and it’s getting a lot of positive response for that. Wave sailing pros and amateurs alike are fed up with lack of events and the conditions of the PWA. It’s great that Sam and everyone helping her have put together so many events at locations that get good conditions. I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to make any of the events but I hope they get big waves and strong wind at each stop. The AWT is fanning the coals of what was once a windsurfing fire.
WM: Well stated Griffin! Are there any other sports that you participate in besides windsurfing?
GF: I basically like any sport that’s in the water. I like longboarding, shortboarding, body surfing, sailing, paddling of any kind, free diving, and even some kite surfing, I'd like to get proficient at that. I'd like to get into canoe sailing as well. I've seen some radical videos of sailing canoes. Out of the water I bike. I also like snowboarding in the backcountry, I really appreciate it for how you can be in a pristine environment without a lot of distractions, the terrain is basically endless in western US and Canada.
GF: My main sponsor would have to Craig M of the Kuau Yacht Club. He moved back to Canada and left his kit behind so I've been basically poaching his rig ever since... Broke the base extension, tore the sail... he's still expecting to get it back, ha, I'm gonna have to work on that. On the bright side his rig has been to Pe'ahi the hard way twice and been through countless beatings on the biggest days at Ho'okipa, gotta be some good manna in there. For boards I bought a used one from Josh Angulo several years back, single fin, it is SICK! Never tried the multi-fin thing. My Jaws board I bought from Matt Pritchard a number of years ago, it goes really well up there but not so much anywhere else.
WM: What about causes? Are you involved with any environmental or social awareness groups or interests?
GF: I help old people cross the street. If that’s what you mean. Realistically I’m not a big group activities kind of guy. For me, if I see trash at the beach I just pick it up. Without sounding paranoid I am really wary of ulterior motives of activist organizations. Too often the focus shifts from benevolence to the wielding power for the benefit of a select few. With that being said, it is not that I am apathetic, I am very much interested in the preservation of open spaces, the environment both in the ocean and on land, as well as the empowerment and improvement of the lives of all people and whenever I have the chance to further one of those causes directly I try to do so.
GF: I’m currently unemployed! Most recently I have been teaching both surfing and windsurfing but I've done whatever I have to get by from washing dishes, to construction labor, to being a personal assistant.
WM: Griffin I understand your single. Are you dating anyone special at the moment?
GF: Humm, Relationships? Yea, I'm not too good at those.
WM: What about personal heroes. Who do you look up to or respect and why?
GF: There are lots of them around here; Basically I respect anyone who charges without a big ego. Kimo from the parking lot at Ho'okipa, that guy can surf drunker than anyone I've ever seen, but I think he’s taking it easy on the sauce these days.
WM: Do you have any favorite quotes or films that you especially like?
GF: There are lots of quotes I like but I can never remember them off the top of my head.
The whole Charlie Sheen “winning” interview
Any quote from the 5 elements windsurf movie.. see it if you haven't!
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