Graham Ezzy is probably one of a few great windsurfers, or even the only one, that could pull off a perfect Wave 360 whilst quoting Whitman or Cummings! Graham studied English Literature at Princeton and is a writer but with windsurfing being his first passion he became a professional windsurfer after graduating. With his skills as a writer, his website, Surf-Matic, makes for a very interesting read and you may be especially interested in the article I Windsurf Because…. Perhaps you want to add your own comments there as to why you windsurf!
Having started windsurfing pre-teens, Graham can boast a family history of windsurfing and has proved himself in his own right as one of the best sailors at this time. Over the three months I spent photographing at Ho’okipa, I observed that Graham rides every wave with a strong passion and determination, getting as much out of each ride as he possibly can.
Many thanks to Graham for this interview which makes for a very interesting read!
Name: Graham Ezzy
Nationality: Hawaiian, American, Canadian
Where are you currently based? Haiku, Maui—my birthplace and base
Sponsors: Ezzy Sails, Dakine, Quatro, K4 fins, Chinook
Why are you so passionate about windsurfing? I have no idea; it is a primal pull that goes deeper than any rational thought.
Most visited website? www.surf-matic.com
Three words you believe describe you: living to die
Three words that others might use to describe you: Graham C Ezzy
A phrase or motto you live by: Live such that I never will look back at my life and think, “if only I did…”
What was for breakfast this morning? A protein shake with ¾ cup of milk, lots of ice, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, a banana, a handful of almonds, and a tablespoon of peanut butter.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Maybe Pushkin? I love his writing and his life. No, not Pushkin. It would have to be David Foster Wallace. He is not as fantastical as many of the other interesting dead people, but I think I would have gotten along really well with him. And I was only a few years off from having a chance to actually meet him.
Favorite movie? Favorite song? Favorite song right now: “I am the Rain” by Pete Doherty, or maybe “Sedative”. Favorite films right now would probably be: Blood Simple, Withnail and I, or Pulp Fiction.
Favorite place to eat. On Maui: Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao. The food is amazing and so is the courtyard space. If you’re on Maui, it is a must. And for Europe: Confraria in Cascais—the sushi is amazing and so is the scenery.
When you travel what don’t you leave home without? A suitcase heavy with books that I won’t read.
What poster did you have on your wall growing up? I made a huge collage of windsurfing photos cut out from magazines. When I could do everything on the wall, I took them down.
Do you play any other sports? I competed in diving when I was in high school, but I started it pretty late so I was never as good as I wanted to be. And in college I rowed on the lightweight team. I love rowing, and I miss it now that I’m on Maui away from flat water and boathouses.
What would you do if you won the lottery? I would do exactly what I’m doing now. I’d probably give all the money to charities that support protecting dolphins, whales, and ocean ecosystems. Whales and dolphins are possibly more intelligent than humans when it comes to empathy and emotional intelligence. Yet, we kill so many of them.
How long have you been windsurfing? My entire life! Well, that’s not true. 12 years sounds about right. Maybe 13; I’ve lost count. I’ve recently realized that I’m the heir to the longest windsurfing legacy at Hookipa, which is strange. So in some ways, windsurfing Hookipa has been in my life for over 30 years.
Where is your favourite windsurfing spot and why? Hookipa because it is home.
What equipment are you sailing on at this current time? I’ve been sailing some amazing prototype Ezzy Sails that I’ve developed with my father. I’m pretty proud to have been part of the process.
What’s your preference? Multi-fin or single fin? Jumping or wave-riding? Tri fin or single fin. I sail with a lot of power so I need the depth. And I prefer wave riding over everything. Jumping is fun but wave riding is life.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting out in windsurfing and would like to progress in the sport? Windsurfing is not for everyone. I’ve tried to teach many of my friends, but almost none of them had the endurance, courage, and perseverance to progress in the sport. Windsurfing is hard. Windsurfing hurts. And if you’re going to windsurf, you have to push yourself. But, this means that every windsurfer has gone through the same grueling process. We are all part of a select group bonded in blood and sweat, and that’s pretty cool.
Also, this is the best time to be a windsurfer—the equipment is way better than it has ever been and the crowds are the lowest they have ever been.
Which move are you currently trying to master? Everything.
Windsurfing was a hugely popular sport in the 80s. Do you believe it will make a comeback and if so how can people help this along? No. I doubt it will ever be as popular as it was in the 80’s. But it can stay a healthy exclusive sport. How can people help grow it? Easy: by teaching. If everyone taught just one other person to windsurf, our sport out double. That’s not so hard is it?
If you could do it all over again is there anything you would change about your windsurfing career? When I was a teenager, I got a lot of big contract offers from large companies and I turned them all down because I thought I was “too cool” and I wanted to stay “core”. I don’t regret turning them down, but I think I could have handled it more respectfully. Also, sometimes I lose my temper on the water; I think it happens because I need to be in a pretty agro mood to ride hard, but I don’t like it at all.
Where was your scariest ride? Tell us a little about the experience. For me, fear has no role in windsurfing. I’m not really sure why, but I’m never held by fear. Yeah, sometimes I get a little scared and don’t hit the lip, but I never have a fear that lasts more than a few seconds.
If you weren’t a windsurfer, what would you be doing? I’d live in New York City working on art—writing and filmmaking. Maui has a huge cultural deficit, so I would not be here.
Which windsurfing move do you wish you had invented? The wave 360! It is such a clean and classic rotation.
What has been your biggest windsurfing achievement to date? Every good move! Umm, maybe winning in Cabo Verde in 2009; not because I won, but because everyone said it was impossible to do a taka on that wave. I did the impossible and came up with a new style of down-the-line takas, which are now becoming common for the top pros. But that’s not my biiiiiiiggest achievement. Probably the biggest would be working now with my dad at Ezzy Sails or working with Brendan at umi—I’m really proud to be associated with both brands and to deal with such talented people.
What are you doing when you’re not windsurfing? Thinking. And reading when I have time, which is not often enough. And writing. I’d like to write for a few hours a day, but I’m not that disciplined yet. And really, writing is all about regiment.
What challenges have you encountered in your windsurfing career? And how did you overcome them and what lessons did you learn? Windsurfing is one big challenge. And existing in that tension is one of the fundamental joys of being alive.
Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? Yes.
If you could be anywhere past or present, where would you like to be right now and with whom? Would it be too cliché to say Helen of Troy? She probably isn’t even that beautiful, but I still want to see if she lives up to the hype.
What was the last book you read & what was the last movie you watched? Last Book: 9 Stories by J D Salinger. I loved it. I was late to the Salinger game after a lukewarm reception to Catcher. But now I’m nothing but a fanatic. Last movie: Ip Man.
A piece of wisdom you’d pass onto your kids? What my father has always told me: Do what you love, not what society or anyone else wants you to do.
If you find yourself getting burned out or are stuck in a rut, what do you do to revitalize yourself or snap out of it? I like to take long breaks from windsurfing so that I don’t get bad habits. I spent a couple months this winter in New York City and Princeton so that I could refresh my mind. I did a post on my blog on the topic of interval training in windsurfing: http://www.surf-matic.com/intervals-vs-10000-hours-a-look-at-windsurf-training/ .
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years from now? I have no idea! Probably still windsurfing. Maybe making proper narrative films. Maybe running Ezzy Sails. I have no idea!
How do you personally define success? Is success happiness? I’m inclined to say that happiness is success. But I also want to accomplish certain specific goals in my windsurfing and writing, and those goals seem separate from happiness. So I guess I don’t really know.
What irritates you about other people and how do you deal with it? Stupidity that harms other people or animals.
What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life? That’s kind of a strange question for me. I don’t look back at my life very much, I guess. I can’t even make a clear list of accomplishments or how much satisfaction they gave me. I’m more focused on the future.
If you had to live your life over again what would you change about it? I would be kinder. I’ve come to learn that kindness is everything. There are times when I haven’t practiced active kindness and understanding—I would change that.
I’m a big believer in….the power of art.
Call me crazy but….I live without a schedule.
My favorite place on earth is….the ocean.
My parents are….the reason I grew up on Maui.
I could never….work a corporate job.
I’ve always wanted to….make a narrative film.
Life is nothing without….a good book.
Today I will….go to Hookipa.
The internet is….the most powerful human tool ever invented.
If I had the power I would change….the declining cultural interest in the humanities.
I am….a product of windsurfing, a son of the sport.