08-Sep-2013 12:04 p.m.

That First Glide

Hawaiian Extreme Waterman Mike Waltze is in Auckland next week for the New Zealand premier of his new Stand Up Paddle film, That First Glide, to screen with a special feature wrapping up the 2012 Hyundai Tour by Greenroom Productions.

That First Glide showcases the history of the world’s fastest growing sport from its Hawaiian roots to the huge industry it has become today.  It translates into words and images the sensation of gliding over the waves; that feeling of speed, flying, and oneness with the ocean that surfers have been chasing for more than 60 years, that has now become instantly accessible to millions more through Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP).

Starboard SUP International teamrider and big wave surfer Campbell Farrell has teamed up with Hyundai New Zealand and Surfing New Zealand to bring That First Glide here.  “New Zealander’s have really embraced the sport,” says Campbell.  “The SUP surf and race scenes are developing strongly, and some of our top paddlers are doing incredibly well on the world stage.  SUP is so well suited to us geographically in NZ, being surrounded by so much water, but I think the greatest appeal is that it really is so easy for everyone to enjoy.  Be it on a beach, lake or river, now anyone can surf.”

The film is screening at the Berkeley Takapuna on Wed 28 March, 7.15pm, and Mission Bay on Monday 2 April, 8pm.  Tickets can be purchased online here.  Those who purchase tickets before the 28th March 2012 are in to win a Starboard 9’8” Element SUP Board, which will be drawn at the film night.  

Anyone interested in Stand Up Paddle boarding should also get along to the SUP Festival at Takapuna Beach from midday on Sunday 1 April.  This event will be fun for all the family, with a big SUP expo, demos, lessons, kids races and the exciting spectator-friendly slalom racing off the beach, where competitors of all levels will be lining up in 6-10 man (or woman) knockout heats to battle their way through to win the National SUP title.  The event also incorporates the King of the Harbour race on Saturday, a 25km downwind Ocean Ski Race that has opened to Stand Up Paddlers for the first time this year.

About Mike Waltze:

Mike Waltze knows the ocean well.  For the past 30 years, Mike has dedicated his life to both Extreme Ocean Athletics, and Extreme Ocean Cinematography.

Mike, a five-time world champion of windsurfing, was the original pioneer of riding waves on “short sailboards”. This trend literally transformed the sport of windsurfing and put Maui,  Hawaii center stage on the map for extreme ocean sports in the early 80’s.  This led the sleepy island of Maui into a 20 year cycle of innovation that to this day, has not stopped churning out new sports by extremely innovative watermen.  These athletes, who all moved to Maui to pursue the extreme windsurfing conditions of Hookipa, became friends and began pursuing other interests on the North shore of Maui. Their first endeavor was to windsurf at Peahi, Jaws, a break that had never been ridden because of it’s extreme size and conditions.  Next they used foot-straps on surfboards, and a tow-rope and jet ski to catch these giant waves.

  The group called themselves the ‘Strapped Team’ as they incorporated foot straps for windsurfing into the strapped in style of tow surfing on Giant waves.  Their motto was ‘we are safe as a team’ and their efforts created the new sport of Tow-In-Surfing in 1994.  The Strapped Team was: Mike Waltze, Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama, Pete Cabrinha, Rush Randle, Mark Angulo, Brett Lickle, and Darrik Doerner.  Aussie Luke Hargreaves and New Zealand’s Campbell Farrell were two more of the early pioneers.   


Mike found himself most at home and one with the ocean at “Jaws”.  His other passion had always been cinematography, and his dream was to bring the audience closer to the experiences he had known through years of being truly within extreme conditions on the water. This led to the creation of his company, Waltze Productions, and the beginning of another 17-year career of capturing extreme imagery.  He had the eye of an extreme athlete which gave him a huge advantage when working on the other side of the camera.  Mike had befriended some of the best cinematographers and photographers in the industry, including: Don King, Sonny Miller, Jack McCoy, Mike Prickett, Dave Nash, Jury Farrant, Bud Brown, Warren Miller, Steve Wilkings, Eric Aeder, and Sylvan Castinov to name just a few.  Having close relationships with these masters by being on the subject side of their work, enabled Mike to learn a great deal over the years about film.

The Strapped team also were responsible for  introducing the sport of Kite boarding to Maui, which again, introduced it to the world. Laird Hamilton and Mike Waltze were sitting in their car on the bluff at Hookipa one day, and saw a guy (Cory Roesler) with a pair of water-skis and a Kite pulling him through the water.  “Fast” was Laird’s comment in 1995.  “We need one of those kites”. It didn’t take him long to find one and Mike and Laird proceeded to teach themselves how to handle the kite but not with the water ski’s.  They wanted to ride side stance and used their new tow-in foot-strapped surfboards.  The entire strapped team jumped on board. Flash Austin, who had been using Kites in Florida with a skim board, moved to Maui to meet these guys.  It wasn’t long before 30 or so people on Maui (and in the world) were teaching themselves how to ‘Kiteboard’. Mike Waltze and friend Joe Koehl decided to have a fun competition in 1998 and 30 of the best, (and only) kite boarders in the world got together for the first ever kite-boarding event. Six month later, Red Bull Energy Drink approached Waltze Productions and together, they created what became the world’s premier kite boarding event known as the ‘Red Bull King of the Air’ which ran from 1999 through 2006. The publicity from this event launched kite boarding into not only a sport, but also an entire industry.  The rest, as they say, is history.

By the late 90’s, the Strapped team was still hard at work on their innovations.  They came across an ‘Air Chair”, which was a hydrofoil, attached to a wakeboard with a seat mounted on top. It was Strapped member Bret Lickle who decided to cut off the chair, and try to stand on the board with footstraps.  This proved a little more difficult that the thought but through perseverance, they figured out how to balance the foot placement with the Foil and voila! - another sport, ‘foil boarding’ was born and continues to hold amazing possibilities for the future.  Mike still feels blessed to have been involved in the infancy of these cutting edge sports, and his passion continues into new cutting edge styles of production and cinematography.In the year 2000, following the advice of Laird Hamilton, Mike had Jimmy Lewis shape his first Stand Up Paddle Board.  At that time,  the sport was viewed by Laird and a few others, as something to do when the waves were flat or for excercise, paddling down the coast with the wind.  Laird became enamoured with his new way to paddle and surf, and although the sport had been alive in Waikiki for over 60 years, it was Laird that took it to another level, and within a decade, another sporting epidemic was born.

 

Mike’s latest project is a documentary film on the history of Stand up Paddling titled “That First Glide”  

Legendary film maker Warren Miller sums it up nicely by saying, “Mike Waltze, who was the first to put a sail on a small surfboard, has made a most excellent documentary movie on the wonderful sport of Stand Up Paddling.  This is a must see film for anyone that has access to the water, with or without waves.”

 



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