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Action Sports Maui

Action Sports Maui is certainly the most comprehensive extreme water-sports activity company to be found on the island. If you are an active person and are looking to enjoy your time on the water participating in kite surfing, wind surfing, surfing or stand-up paddling then Action Sports Maui is likely to be the place you want to be. Operational since 1996, Action Sports has been a leader in the action water sports field providing classes for beginners to advanced students in each category. Action Sports is actually three schools in one and has some of the most experienced instructors in the world teaching both novice and experts alike the intricacies of kite surfing, wind surfing and surfing (which also includes the extremely popular sport of 'stand-up paddling').

Tom Barefoot: Okay. Good morning. This is Tom Barefoot from Tom Barefoot's Tours. Read Full Transcript

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Tom Barefoot: Okay. Good morning. This is Tom Barefoot from Tom Barefoot's Tours. Today we're doing another session of Tom Barefoot's Tours live, in which we interview individual vendors that we have, of the hundreds of vendors that we have throughout the state, and get a little bit more information about them specifically, learn a little bit more about them, and just understand what they do. n nToday we're going to be on Maui. We're actually going to be off the Kihei Coast. We're with David and Suzie Dorn from Action Sports Maui. Good morning. Can you hear me?nnDavid Dorn: Good morning, Tom. We can hear you.nnTom Barefoot: I'm not hearing you. Go ahead and talk one more time.nnDavid Dorn: All right. How's that sound? Can you hear us?nnTom Barefoot: [inaudible 00:01:05], are you getting them?nnSpeaker 3: Nope.nnTom Barefoot: Is your mike muted?nnSpeaker 3: It's really quiet.nnDavid Dorn: We can check that.nnTom Barefoot: I hear you perfectly now. Whatever you just did was ngreat.nnDavid Dorn: Okay.nnSuzie Dorn: Okay.nnTom Barefoot: Sorry about the confusion on that, but I can hear you great. Welcome. I see you're in Kihei. I actually thought you guys were probably going to be doing this from Kaneohe this morning, but I'm guessing partially, it's too windy there in the mornings. Also, I know you're surfing first, which is more in the calmer side, which would be Kihei. Right?nnDavid Dorn: Yes, that's correct Tom. We're all over the island. We go to all the best spots. The South Shore is fantastic in the mornings, as you know, for a number of activities, and the surfing starts about 8:00. That's where we usually are in the mornings. Then we head over to the North Shore for our wind sports in the afternoon.nnTom Barefoot: Okay, just to set the table here a little bit, Action Sports Maui, you do a lot of things action-wise on the ocean. You do surfing, and you do standup paddling, you do windsurfing, and you do kiteboarding, all those things. We're going to get into them a little bit, as we go along here. But first of all, the very first thing I wanted to get a sense from you guys is, I know that Maui is the ideal place to do this, all these types of sports, but if you could please explain a little bit about why.nnDavid Dorn: Okay. I've actually traveled quite a bit in different locations around the world, chasing ideal conditions for different sports, especially wind sports, of windsurfing and kiteboarding. Maui always ends up being the best place. We come back home to Maui. It has natural features. One is, we're in the trade wind belt, so that puts us to the perfect latitude. It also helps with our hot weather, which is beautiful. nn Also, Maui's geography is unique amongst the islands, because it actually has geography that allows for a funneling of the trade winds. On the South Shore, you have the surfing conditions, but on the North Shore, you have a nature-made wind tunnel, as it were. For the wind sports, of windsurfing, it's long been known that Maui is the mecca for wind sports, because we have this stronger consistent trade wind. In more recent years, last 20 years, not that recently, we've been doing kiteboarding, and it's fantastic for kiteboarding, too. nn This is well known around the world in our industry and our sports. People do come here from all over the world just to do these sports. For anyone who's just traveling here, they may not know that, but Maui is No Ka 'Oi, Maui's number one for these sports.nTom Barefoot: Right, and of the schools that are happening throughout really the world, you've got a really large expanse of classes that deal with all of this stuff. We're going to get into that in a little bit, because I want to ask you some questions about it. First I was curious. I know you guys have been doing this for about 20 years, it looks like.nnDavid Dorn: Yep.nnTom Barefoot: How did that come about? How did you guys get involved with this? How did it happen?nnDavid Dorn: We've actually been doing the sports a lot longer than that. The school's been around a little over 20 years. I had a long background actually in teaching water sports my whole life. Originally, I was in Australia, came from Australia, and we had a strong surfing and sailing background, and we're doing a lot of those sports. I've participated in and competed in a lot of these sports my whole life. I've also been an instructor in these sports since about the age of 16. nn It was a natural thing for us to choose this as a career. The career chose us. We just were doing this anyway. The business really formed around what we were doing anyway. This is our passion, what we love to do. The school's really a reflection of our lifestyle that we like to live every day. It just helps us to perpetuate the lifestyle. We get to do what we love. We love teaching the sports. If we can't do the sport, the next best thing to doing the sport is teaching it, and sometimes it means the same thing. Our school is based on our passion for the sports, and we get to share that with people every day.nnTom Barefoot: Fantastic. What a lifestyle. You guys look trim, and fit, and suntanned. It's everybody's dream to get out there and do what you want to do, but right here on Maui. It's glamorous, you guys, kind of cool.nnDavid Dorn: Yeah, we often get told we have a nice office, and we have the dream job, yep.nnTom Barefoot: Let's get a little bit more into the details of what you do. The way I see it, you do surfing, you do standup paddling, and you do the windsurfing, and the kiteboarding. The last two I think are a little bit more exotic and a little bit more refined, in terms of what you guys really do. A lot of other companies and so on do that, the surfing, but let's deal with that to begin with. nn Surfing, you have beginner classes, and you go all the way up, as you do with all your sports, into more advanced, and so on. But I'm gathering that your most popular are the beginner surfer classes for just a couple hours, or hour and a half? How does that work?nnDavid Dorn: Honey ...nnSuzie Dorn: Our beginner class is a two-hour, and that's every morning. You want to do the surfing early. That's over in Kihei. We have all levels of lessons, most popular is the beginner class. We teacher from ages five and six years old up. Kihei's a great location. It's perfect waves and definitely a great sport. Day one, you will be getting up riding waves, super fun.nnTom Barefoot: [inaudible 00:07:27]. Do you usually go out of the cove, or where is it you generally operate?nSuzie Dorn: We're at Kalama Beach Park, so near the cove. [crosstalk 00:07:39]nnTom Barefoot: Yeah. It seems like that's an area that has really consistent, almost all the time, every day, surf that's of the correct size that beginners can actually get on, and learn to stand up, and that sort of thing, right?nnSuzie Dorn: Exactly. Yeah, it's perfect waves. Like I said, anyone can come out, do a two-hour class. They'll be getting up, riding waves, tons of fun.nnTom Barefoot: But then you also have, for people that are a little bit more advanced or self-taught, and they know a little bit about what's going on, you have more advanced classes you can do. Then you also have what is called a surfari. Is that what it's called, where you actually take people out to various places on the island? Explain those a little bit.nnDavid Dorn: Yes, we do. As you pointed out, the cove, or Kalama Park, is one of those rare places that has ideal conditions and very consistent conditions for beginners. It's not very deep. It's not very intimidating. It's less intimidating than Waikiki, very friendly conditions. The accessibility to pretty much anybody, as long as you can swim reasonably, it's accessible. You can go out there and get some great waves. Occasionally, the surf gets big there, too. It's a big area. We can do intermediate and advanced lessons there. nn But for the true died in the wool surfers who come here, they have maybe a couple of years of surfing other destinations under their belt, we do the surfari. As you know, Maui has a fantastic variety of waves. Our instructors are locals. They've surfed here their whole lives, and they know all of the spots. The local knowledge is key, because you can go to the same beach on the wrong day, and not catch surf. You have to know when the swell is here, where to go, which beach has the best surf. That's what the surfari is. You actually ... We get together, we convoy out, and we will hit usually one or two spots, and get great conditions. If it's not good in one spot, we go around the corner a little bit further down the road and get good conditions.nnTom Barefoot: Right. Just like real surfers do.nnSuzie Dorn: Yep, exactly.nnDavid Dorn: It is exactly what real surfers do, but you're with a local instructor guide, and that saves a lot of time, a lot of missing ... It's the search, basically. You're [inaudible 00:09:59] on the search for the perfect wave, and we help out with that process tremendously.nnTom Barefoot: Yeah, so you do that on the fly, for sure. Let's move on to the standup paddling. Now that actually ... All these sports to me seem like they came together at the same time. Maybe the standup paddling a little bit later than the windsurfing and the kitesurfing, but it really took off. What a huge thing, I guess because you don't have to have a wave to catch. You can be on a lake somewhere, and also, it's incredible for your health and for being physically fit. I guess your mid-torso area gets really worked, so it seems like it's really, really popular. But this is something that you guys will offer, and I'm guessing you probably do it on the Kihei side in the mornings when it's a little bit calmer. But this is something that you offer to your clients so that they could learn and maybe take this skill home with them, if they want.nnSuzie Dorn: Exactly, yep. Standup, that's a great sport. Like you said, you go out, catch some waves, or we just do tours on the nice flat water. We go out and look at the reef. Sometimes there's turtles out there. It's really fun, so that's something you can do on just a nice calm day. Then we also do offer, if people want to learn to catch waves on the standup, we can offer that, also. A couple different options for the standup, we have really big floaty, stable boards. Definitely anyone can get up on the standup. That's fun, relaxing. That's another great activity.nnTom Barefoot: I know people that go out every morning and just go out for the exercise benefit of it. I've always just liked the notion that, you're on a surfboard, you're laying down on the board primarily, but you stand up on this, and you really got a view. You can see more. You can see right down into the ocean, the coral formations, or see fish. It's a little more pleasurable in that sense. You get a little bit more perspective.nnDavid Dorn: Yeah. Sometimes people refer to standup paddleboarding as standup snorkeling, because if you have a good pair of sunglasses, polarized sunglasses, when you're doing the standup, you can see everything that's going on. It's a great point of view or perspective of the reef. It's a lot of fun. You don't even have to snorkel. You can just stand there. You'll see turtles, and you'll see coral, and the marine life go by. nn With regards to your comment, all these sports coming about at the same time, the thing is with standup paddleboarding, it is a phenomenon. It really has caught on around the world. It's one of the fastest growing sports in the world. In some ways, it's overtaken surfing. Surfing is huge and won't be overtaken, or it won't be eclipsed. But standup is huge, because it's an access sport. You can do it on rivers, and lakes, and the ocean. You can do it in the calm bays. You can do it in inter-island. We do things called down-winders. The advanced guys, they'll go inter-island here in Hawaii. It's not recommended for the nonprofessionals. We have a big competition scene here in the islands, and there's international competitions. It's a really big deal, but standup is a lot of different things to different people. nn Definitely, if you try it here, it is something you can take home and do in a lot of places. There's some sports maybe you can't do in your hometown. If you're here on vacation, like surfing, you want to check that off your bucket list. Do the surfing, and even if you don't ever do it again, it's great. But if you're looking for a sport to take home and do almost anywhere, standup paddleboarding, you can do it.nnTom Barefoot: Yeah. We have a visitor. He's coming from New Jersey, or Georgia, or somewhere. He can come on his vacation, and take a class, or two classes, with you on the standup paddling. He's going to have enough knowledge to be able to go back home, if he chose, if he had a lake nearby or something, to know what type of board to purchase, and actually go out and do it?nnDavid Dorn: Yeah. Well, with any ocean sport, the more training you get, the better. I'm an instructor first, and I'll tell you just get lessons whenever you can, as much as you can.nnTom Barefoot: Okay.nnDavid Dorn: Yes, you know the basics, for sure. Our guys are teaching you safety, and you'll know what a board is, how to use it, the fundamentals. But we say after one or two lessons with us, you're qualified to go back to the same beach where we taught you and maybe continue riding there unsupervised on your own. That might be the case, because when you go home, you want to check in with the local standup paddleboardists to see what the deal is, because every area is unique. I wouldn't say just go and jump in the local river, because you may not [crosstalk 00:15:13].nnTom Barefoot: Spoken like a true teacher.nnDavid Dorn: Yeah.nnTom Barefoot: Very good.nnDavid Dorn: Safety first. Safety first.nnTom Barefoot: Very good, David. nnDavid Dorn: Yeah.nnTom Barefoot: Okay, let's move onto what I would consider the more exotic of the trips. Really, I think where you cut your teeth on and what you really made a name for yourself at, along with Maui, the windsurfing and the kitesurfing. Let's go with the windsurfing first. nn Windsurfing's been really a big sport here for quite a while. Gosh, you go out to Okipa, or anywhere, and you're going to see tons of people out there, always have. It was amazing that [inaudible 00:15:48] surfing, you see these guys they surf, but then they have the luxury of just turning around and having the wind take them back out. It looks so cool. nn But you offer a number of different ... You start off with some kind of a beginner course, where you get a sense of what it's like to be there, do I even like this kind of a thing. Then it moves into more of a beginner, but then you've got classes for somebody that goes, "Yeah, I think I like this." Then they can increase their skill set. You got a three-day course, I believe. You've got a five-day course. Then you've got these insane individual courses for people that are really getting ... want to learn how to do wave starts, or things on a short board, or I don't even know what all categories there are. It's endless.nnDavid Dorn: It's endless. I've gotten [inaudible 00:16:47] keep coming up with new activities and offer more higher levels of each sport.nnTom Barefoot: Right.nnDavid Dorn: Windsurfing, it's been around for a little while. The Europeans, they've been doing it for a long time. If you're from Europe, your grandmother windsurfed, after a fashion, but it really became ... Maui became the mecca for windsurfing, because it's just so windy. The sport actually started ... The industry here was more in Oahu, and then it shifted over in the '80s to Maui, because it was discovered that Ho'okipa was so windy. Mike Waltz discovered it. He put it on the map. It was featured in a few magazines, and then movies, and the whole world found out that Maui was the mecca. You can go to Ho'okipa any day and see some of the world's best there flying around. nn But what a lot of people don't realize, if you go to Kanaha Beach, where we have the school, there's kid's camps going on. What's funny, a lot of these kids, local kids, they're second and third generation windsurfers. Their dads might be, and grandparents might be, the legendary names in the sport. There's a real heredity, and there's a real culture of windsurfing here in the islands. It's really strong, and it's a sport that saved Paia, too. nn There was a renaissance in Paia. I don't know if you know ... Well, you know the Maui history, but your guests may not. It was a sleepy town, and windsurfing put Paia back on the map. Windsurfing shops opened, and some restaurants, and now a lot of these guys are a little bit older. They still windsurf and do other sports, but there's a lot of roots that go back to windsurfing. nn It's really a great sport. I've been involved in the sport since I was 12 years old, so that's a bunch of years, long time. It was one of my first loves with the ocean. You have a sail in your hand, you're standing on a board, and with no effort, you're flying. You're really one with the wind, one with the ocean. Windsurfing's great. nn There's two ways you can go with the sports we offer, just to bring it back to what you can do on Maui. There's the experience, or the activity, of windsurfing. You can go out for one day, and do a morning, three-hour class, or two and a half hours, and try windsurfing. That way, we'll set up, we've got the easy boards, and our instructors will give you the experience of trying it for the first time. You may never need to do it again [inaudible 00:19:25]. It's set up so you will succeed and have a great time. nn But there's also the sport of windsurfing. If you want to do this and make it your thing, and do the sport, we teach that, too, and we can teach it, multiple-day courses. If you like one day, you'll love three days and five days.nnTom Barefoot: Right.nnDavid Dorn: Then we also teach the advanced stuff, too. There's no limits to what you can do with windsurfing, especially here with our great conditions. We actually offer a greater range of lessons here on Maui, in Hawaii, than you can get pretty much anywhere in the world, because we have perfect conditions so consistently.nnTom Barefoot: Lucky we live in Maui, yeah?nnDavid Dorn: Yeah, oh yeah, we're lucky.nnTom Barefoot: Let's take it up to the next level. This came in after windsurfing, the kiteboarding, which is really ... When you see this from the beach as a first-timer, you're just awed by it, even not by a first-timer. Anybody that goes out there, it's so beautiful, the power involved, the skill that must be involved in doing all this. I think many people would believe that this is wow. This is exclusively, and I'm sure it is on some levels, for the really sophisticated and excellent kiteboarders. nn But you actually offer beginning classes in this. I guess you got to start somewhere, where I think you start on the sand with this and have a progression. Go through that a little bit. If somebody was interested, what would be the stages that they would ... They don't know anything to begin with, but if let's say, they wanted to continue on and learn how to do this, how would that happen with you?nnDavid Dorn: All right. That opened a great topic, a favorite topic of mine. Kiteboarding really came into its own here in Maui. I remember we were out windsurfing every day, and we would see these guys, the pioneers of the sport, out there flying around in the weird contraptions. The sport didn't look like too much. It looked kind of different. They were definitely the first people doing the sport here. The pioneers were extreme athletes, Laird Hamilton, to name one. Early, Dave Kalama, Mike Waltz, Rush Randle, top, top athletes. They were the only guys the sport in the early days, because it was crude, and the gear wasn't that sophisticated. But before long, they figured it out, and they were the guys, the first pioneers. They taught us in the early days. nn The sport got easier, more accessible, and better. My job as an instructor was to make it safer and more accessible. We've just worked on that for, as I say, over 20 years, teaching kiteboarding. Even though it's a relatively new sport, it came in on the back of windsurfing and other sports, so it's more readily accepted. It was taken up quickly. We had great manufacturers. We have the top athletes here in Hawaii in the sport that push forward real quickly. nn Fast forward to today, our school is part of a worldwide network of schools that have a standardized teaching system. We have schools all over the world. Currently with our system, there's 5,000 instructors around the world teaching the same way, but a multitude of languages they're teaching the sport in. You can come to Maui and get a lesson from us as a beginner with no previous experience in any board sport. nn Yeah, we start off on the beach. We teach you a little bit of flying the kite. You learn about the wind. Then we go in the water. Stage two, on your first day, you go bodysurfing behind the kite and through the water. That's a lot of fun, and you get the power of the kite. You're using a harness, so you can actually have quite a lot of power there, but you're with the instructor until you feel confident enough to go solo. If you're a little bit, taking it up quickly, you get to try the board on the first day. Day one, we call the taste of kiteboarding, or discover kiteboarding. If you like it, chances are you will, we do offer the longer courses for three days and five days. nn Kiteboarding is not difficult. It is a little bit technical, though. We want you to know how to manage the power, because ultimately, we have a lot of power. The wind has enough force to hopefully lift us gracefully through the air and get some nice jumps with soft landings. For me, the jumping part of the sport is awesome. In the beginning, we teach you how to not fly up in the air, if you don't want to.nnTom Barefoot: Right. This has been great, because I've been able to go back and review things that you do that I had forgotten about over the course of time. You've got stuff that ... You've got classes that deal with wind theory, balance skills, rope start, beginner sailing, self launch. Actually, there's too many things I think that ... Looping, and ... It's just like it gets whirling and confusing for me to even see these different things that you offer. But you really can get specific in the skills that you're asked to do, or people want to learn.nnDavid Dorn: Sure.nnTom Barefoot: You can always go as far as anybody wants to take it.nnDavid Dorn: Yeah, that's basically it. That's all you need to know when you're booking a lesson is, you can book some time with us. Don't worry if you're not signing up for the exact thing, or if you don't know how to describe what it is you want to learn. Our instructors are going to do a quick discussion with you and talk about your goals. We can teach any level. But someone who has been doing the sport for a while, they'll have specific skills they want to work on. They may come in to you guys and say, "Look, I want to work on this and that." nn Just call us. Pick up the phone, and we'll make sure that they get the right lesson when they show up. That's our specialty, is matching the right lesson and the right instructor to the student. We're going to make sure they have a good time, and they learn the skills. If could be a bit daunting, if you look at all of the different things we offer, but it's actually pretty basic. Just sign up for the sport you want to do for the amount of time you want to do it, and we'll help you land in the right place and get the right kind of lesson.nnTom Barefoot: Good ahead.nnSuzie Dorn: It's also turned into a really fun family sport. We have a full range of kites. We can teach from eight years and up. It's not something extreme, or you don't have to be real strong. We can tailor the lessons to anyone wanting to learn. We have a great teaching for kids program from, like I said, age eight all the way up. We've had some 80-year-olds come out, so anyone that wants to try should definitely come out and give it a try.nnTom Barefoot: The one thing that amazes me about this is that you can start from the beginning in windsurfing or the kiteboarding, just without knowing what's going on. You can continue with the levels. A person can decide, "Yeah, I think I'd like to do this sport," and you're really there for them all the way through, presumably, presuming they're going to have enough time to be here to do it, which actually leads me to the question. nn It seems to me that this would be a great thing for somebody that lives on the island and decides they want to take up the sport, instead of just a visitor coming in, to have the opportunity and the time to extend out these lessons and practice over time. Do you have a lot of people that are on the island that do that sort of thing, as adverse to just tourists that are coming?nnDavid Dorn: Oh yes, definitely. It's funny. We teach a lot of locals, because if you live on Maui, you've got to at least try kiteboarding to see if you like it. If you like it, just learn the sport. Someone who lives here, we say try the sport, but then be prepared to sign up for a five-day as a complete kiteboarding course, because then you'll know enough to be what we call independent, the point where you don't need our instruction anymore. You can always do a ten day, too. nn Then the locals, when you live here, it's just such a great fit, kiteboarding, ideal conditions. Even if you only have weekends off, if you work nine to five, chances are, it'll be windy on the weekends, so you get lots of opportunity to drive the sport. Yeah, we teach a lot of locals. We also teach a lot of tourists who end up living here, because they love the sport so much. It's a little bit of that, too. People come here to retire, and they say, "I'm just going to become a full-time surfer or a full-time kiteboarder," and they just do that.nnTom Barefoot: Any idea what percentage of people that you have that use our services that live on the island on a permanent basis?nnDavid Dorn: There's a lot. I'd say, 25%, 30%.nnTom Barefoot: That's pretty good.nnDavid Dorn: Yeah. Also, what's interesting is all the neighbor island guys, our buddies who kiteboard on the other islands, they will send their friends here to Maui to learn with us, so they get proper schooling, and they're safe, and everything. Then they say, "Look, do all your basic training with Action Sports Maui, and then come back to our other islands." Then the buddies help them out after that.nn Inter-island, too, we have people coming from Oahu, and Kauai, and Big Island. They come here to learn, because Maui is the place to learn.nnTom Barefoot: You guys have a great school, very comprehensive, many of the different sports, and you've been doing it so long. You guys are amazing and a real credit to the community here. We're glad we have you. In winding up here, is there anything else you want to say before we stop?nnDavid Dorn: No, no.nnSuzie Dorn: I think we covered it.nnDavid Dorn: I think we covered everything. We're here all year. If you have unusual requests or anything, never hesitate to pick up the phone and call us. We live and breathe these sports, and we like nothing better than to share our passion. We want you to have a good time when you come out, so we're going to make sure that happens.nnTom Barefoot: Okay, thank you.nnSuzie Dorn: Thank you.nnTom Barefoot: This has been Suzie and David Dorn from Action Sports Maui. They thankfully gave us some time this morning to go over a little bit about what they do, and thank you so much for that. It's been very, very informative, and I'm sure our guests learned a lot more about your company, what you do, what you could do for them. Thank you very much.nnSuzie Dorn: Thank you.nnDavid Dorn: Thanks very much

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