Big wave ripper Sarah Hauser made dreams a reality by riding Cloudbreak for the first time in 2019. Thanks for sharing your story with us Sarah !
I still cannot believe it really happened! I had been dreaming about Cloudbreak for a while... I have always been curious about the spot and how it compares to Ténia (in New Caledonia, where I learned to wavesail). Both places get their swell from the same storms and have a very similar set up: barreling lefts on shallow coral reef.
I was about to announce my new partnership with S2 Maui. Camille Juban was in Fiji and Art Szpunar, S2 Maui sail designer, was looking for a way to send him more equipment because he had pretty much destroyed everything in just 3 days! Instead of shipping the equipment we decided to send... me! And the only way to get there in time was for me to get on a plane that was taking off in less than 2 hours. This situation was a mix of “being in the right place at the right time” and feeling super confident because I was physically prepared, I knew I had the right gear and the desire to go on a crazy adventure! I also always have the support of my lovely husband, Casey Hauser, who helps me achieve my biggest dreams. It makes a huge difference when someone you love not only helps you pack your board bags in less than 15 minutes but also believes in you!
I have been dreaming about going on a strike mission for a while. As a professional windsurfer I want to experience the thrill that comes from living a quest like this. I believe the whole process makes me a better athlete. From the moment I dream it, train for it, save money, wait, wait, wait, take a chance, travel for 24h and use all the techniques and experiences learnt along the way to perform my best in life threatening waves under fatigue and pressure, to draw lines that I’ll never forget... it’s both so tough and so exhilarating!
Catching a wave out there was a fight! When a wave is famous like this, it’s crowded. Camille and I were the only two windsurfers amongst a pack of 20-30 surfers. The majority of the time the wind was very light and offshore, making it tricky! The biggest day was easier because it was a little less crowded and there were sets that would break further out. I really had to “channel my inner warrior” and find the right balance of aggression and politeness to make sure I got some rides without upsetting anyone.
Towards the end of the third day, close to sunset I remember this big wave coming in. I tacked on the outside, the sun was behind the wave. I felt and saw its shadow covering me and thought “oh my god, I haven’t even dropped in yet, this is just the outside swell!” As the wave shaped itself closer to the reef and walled up it was the smoothest steepest canvas, the transition at the top turn from back to front foot to dive down felt incredible and the colors of the reef with the sunset light shooting through the translucent water were magnificent.
I rode my custom Tabou Da Curve (63L) with a thruster set of custom MFC fins (9s + 14) and used a my S2 Maui 3.8 Dragon (4 battens) and 4.2 Catalyst (3 battens). Since I transitioned to S2 Maui I have been able to use smaller sizes of sails and feel more comfortable in tricky wind situations like in front of the rocks at Ho’okipa or in the inside of Cloudbreak. This gave me a big confidence boost on a spot where I really didn't want to make mistakes because of the dry poisonous coral reef and the heavy wave. Just a week before my trip, a friend of mine who works in Tavarua and surfs Cloudbreak all the time had broken his foot in a wipe out. I also heard so many stories about coral reef cuts getting infected very often because of the tropical climate. On the biggest day, when we were waiting for our boat ride, surfers were coming back to the surf camp saying how gnarly it was out there, that guys were ending up on the dry reef and would rip their shirts apart to wrap their feet so they could walk on the coral. It was pretty scary! Having equipment that I could trust was key for me to find the courage to go get some waves.
This trip was one the most intense and fulfilling experiences of my life! I am so grateful for the support from my sponsors which allows me to live magic moments like windsurfing Jaws or Cloudbreak. I really appreciate the fact that anytime I stepped into these male dominated arenas, the windsurfing guys have always treated me like one of them. Whether it was Kai Katchadourian taking me out at Jaws or Levi Siver encouraging me to go deeper in the spot or Camille and Jake in Fiji cheering me up and never second-guessing if I should be out there… The windsurfing community gets really excited whenever a woman wants to train hard and push her limits and I hope that by sharing my journey it will make it a little easier for other female windsurfer to embrace their inner warrior and go on a bold adventure whether it’s completing a jibe or chasing a swell across the globe!