One not-too-shabby perk enjoyed by professional fashion nomads is traveling far and wide (ideally from lousy weather to good!) in pursuit of the best in world style. When in December, surfwear giant, Billabong invited me to Maui to meet the pro-surfers who promote their brand and see them compete in the Billabong Pro Maui, naturally, I accepted. (How great to escape holiday shopping frenzy for a few days, too!)
Had to get up at 3:30 AM for the crack-of-dawn flight and upon arriving at Maui airport made a beeline for the ladies room to strip off my thick leggings and sweaters and change to sun dresses. Minor inconveniences immediately remedied when Billabong rep Gina greeted us, took us to our fab hotel: The Ritz Carlton Kapalua, where we were greeted with beautiful leis-beats a wool scarf !-and delish guava punch. Aloha!
The next morning, we woke early to head down the road to Lahaina to meet with Tara and the ladies from the surf school and travel agency "Girls Gone Surfing" and some of the Billabong athletes. We each got a longboard and practiced with Tara-- on LAND first. Then we hit the water. I wasn't too worried considering they gave me a 13 foot board!! Basically, it was like surfing in a canoe. It was so much fun, I got up on my first wave and after my first couple of waves they actually downsized my canoe!
How much fun is making your maiden surf voyage with women's longboard champ, Schulyer McFerran and Sanoe Lake, one of the stars of the movie Blue Crush? And all of the sun-kissed surfer girls live in their in their brightly colored or fluorescent boardshorts and bikinis while surfing and hoodies and cute jeans when relaxing. Let's just say: The Billabong brand and these tanned athletic bodies serve each other well! Unfortunately the luau to celebrate the Pro Maui competition got rained out and was brought indoors- but it didn't dampen anyone's style. Lots of adorable sundresses, some in bright hibiscus prints and others in bright solid colors, paired mostly with flat sandals and sometimes a cute wedge. We watched an amazing video of all of the pro-surfers from previous competitions. It's insane to see these young girls (some only 14!) surfing 15+ foot waves. Afterwards, Ashley Mannix, a 15 year old surfer and up-and-coming singer from Australia, and Citizen Cope performed a concert for us. It was a "Fantasy Island" moment!
The morning of the competition we got up bright and early to head over to the site at 6:30am. Before every competition, they have a pastor come and bless the waves for the surfers. This was a new guy- their longtime minister, Pastor Lucky, upped and moved to Vegas...I guess his name says it all!
Not sure whether the prayers had anything to do with it but the waves were apparently bigger than they've been in years, more than 16 feet. Seeing these tiny surfer girls in the water with these massive waves towering over them is just crazy. After two days of competition, Australian Layne Beachley won her 7th World Title.
After the trip I realized that if I ever get to come back to Hawaii I will have to rethink my packing. All you really need is a bunch of cute, easy to pack dresses, great flat sandals, a light cashmere sweater for the mornings and evenings, and a great anorak for the occasional afternoon shower. Found that Billabong's spring line would work for summer in the city, too: chock-full of fantastic dresses, really great denim, cute mix-and-match swimsuits, and adorable hoodies...and the price points are amazing. The Hawaiian people have it made since the weather is so nice year-round But it was refreshing to see the girls so natural, almost no makeup ever, their hair flying in the wind, embracing their natural beauty.