The following interveiw is from FUNBOARD magazine from Italy, Volume
2, March 1996 . This is not the complete interveiw.
(Fb) What is exactly
your role at Hot Sails Maui, and what kind of job do most of the time?
(Jh) My role is simple. Define the direction of the company and react to
current market conditions. I run the company.
My job is based in three areas: communications, design, and concepts.
Communications is important both with customers, suppliers and development
people. It keeps me informed on a global scale and maintains general control
of what is up on the water, in the marketplace, and what my competition
is up to.
Design is the core of Hot Sails Maui. I started this company on new ideas,
and I personally appreciate good design in all parts of life from art to
fashion. I am invoved in all aspects of product design and do all the graphic
design as well.
Concepts are what separates Hot Sails Maui from other sail companies. I
keep new ideas in my head and in the loft all the time. Only some of these
ever get produced commercially.
(Fb) What is your typical day like?
(Jh) Nine months of the year I am on Maui. I will describe a typical day
here. Wake up at about 6:30-7:00 and walk out to the beach (I live between
Kanaha and Spreckelsville beach on Maui's north shore) to check the waves,
look at the mountains, and wake up. I then go into my office in my house
and check through my faxes and e-mail. If the surf is not good I spend two
hours responding to the 10-20 messages. If it is good surf I go next door
wake up my buddy and go surf our private peak about 1km offshore.
Then breakfast is in there somewhere, maybe a run to the sail loft in Haiku
to check a sail, perhaps to town for meetings or whatever. Around 12:00
if the wind is up I will sail from my house for .75 -1.5 hours then back
to the office for a few hours, then back out for another sail around 17:00
or 18:00. Then a long dinner break in or out, and then a last late night
fax and e-mail session before bed.
That is typical.
(Fb) What do you like most about your life and your job?
(Jh) Life on the beach with great friends nearby. Surfing and or sailing
6 days a week. Traveling to amazing places and never staying in hotels-
the benefit of life in the international windsurf community! The fact that
my life is my job, and my job is my life makes for very low stress and good
health. And of course, eating great food!
(Fb) And what do you dislike?
(Jh) I never stop working. My life feels easy, but I work 7 days a week,
350 days a year. Sometimes it feels strange, especially around people who
can't understand what I do.
(Fb) How many times do you go windsurfing a year?
(Jh) I figure about 150 days a year, 1.5 times each of those days- so what,
(Fb) What are your favorite windsurfing conditions and favorite spot?
(Jh) My favorite conditions are with my best friends, messing around, trying
new things. My favorite spot is anywhere new that is challenging or has
exceptional scenic beauty and makes me feel alive when I am sailing.
(Fb) How are the design and production schedules set for different parts
of the year?
(Jh) These are really set by the biggest sailmakers who control the market
timing. Deliver late and there goes all your business........
(Fb) Where are the different sail lines developed? Who are the designers?
(Jh) Most of the sails are developed here on Maui. Once I have approved
the design for production, we make about 50 of them and send then out around
the world for input. This does not affect the basics like shape, or boom
length, which is part of the performance. We are looking for problems the
final owner may have like, the sail bag is too small, or the foot is wearing
on the deck of the board, or the vario top doesn't fit X brand mast.
We have a loft in the Gorge, but are using it less and less, as the wind
there is really not that great. It still is good for the small sail though.
I design the wave sails myself, and Mike Danielson my head designer does
all the other sails. Of course I am very involved in all the sail designs,
but Mike does a great job, so I can do other thing too.
(Fb) Do you use CAD systems for R&D? And for production?
(Jh) We use Cad in a small way. Actually, very few sail design programs
are what most people think of as "CAD", or 3D. The design programs
are nearly all 2 dimensional, not three. Also they are based on static design,
or design while the sail is not sailing. It is really usefull for record
keeping and testing, but very LIMITING from a creative design standpoint.
My best designs may be on a computer, but I give the computer NO credit
for the design, it just records my work.
In production we do not use CAD at all. All our sails are made just like
we make them on Maui- hand made and very labor intensive.
(Fb) Do you develop every single sail?
(Jh) In concept, yes I do. But many things get changed from the original
concept to the finished product. I may think a 3.0 Spiderlock looks great,
but when my best woman tester in the gorge says it need work, I listen to
her. If the question is do we test each size, yes- of course.
(Fb) How many prototypes do you build, as an average?
(Jh) This depends on the sail. Some times a new sail may have just a few
improvements from the previous year's model. In this case we make only a
few, before the factory test sails are made. In the case of a totally new
model, we may make up to 30 or 40 prototypes of the line before factory
(Fb) What are the most important features a wave sail should have according
(Jh) A flat head for control. A mild twist for a blend of power and control.
Stong rip proof sleeve material. A lot of window to see the wave and other
sailors. Well reinforced load areas. The right clew height for a good boom
position. Power down low. Very few gimmicks to break. No extra weight in
the head and clew areas. That is the recipe for a good wave sail !
(Fb) Why are your sails so different than other brands? What makes them
(Jh) They are different because we see things from our perspective. Sure
we look at what everyone else is doing, and sometimes draw on those ideas,
but we do not believe in anyone more than ourselves. Originality comes from
the people at Hot Sails Maui, we are not the most conforming people. An
example of this is the original gridlok construction. No one who make a
hand laminated material for each size sail, it would cost too much. But
we figured it out and no one has anything like it.
(Fb) Do you think the bigger sail companies stay on the conservative
side because they don't want to take risks?
(Jh) Yes that is a factor, but we can't go taking too many risks and making
lots of mistakes or we would not be in business for over 10 years. I think
they are conservative because that is their persona style. Most of those
companies are run by men in their 40s and 50s working in cities. That pretty
much explains it in my veiw.
(Fb) The Gridlock and Spiderlok sails appears to be a kind of single
panel sail. Do you think this is efficient or does it compromise the sail
(Jh) Because this sail does not use full length battens to support the sail
shape, it works on a totally different shaping system than a regular wave
sail. The sail shaping system is based the downhaul tension changes during
sailing (mast deflection), and the use of POSITIVE outhaul. The sail actually
has much more shape than other wave sails ! The panel layout is designed
for this sail, not the other way around.
(Fb) From Gridlock to Spiderlok, is the change only visual ?
(Jh) No. At first I wanted 2 things, more reinforcing below the boom, and
a new look. I tried a tighter gridlock pattern, I tried spirals, I tried
triangles. Then it hit me- a web, nature's system for containing rips. I
put the center of the web where the nose of the boards hits, harness hooks
dig, and knees fall into. Then spread the web out from this point. Our team's
damage at Ho'okipa has again been reduced. Also the twist in the sail was
modified for better high wind control and a quieter ride.
(Fb) You are a good wavesailor, in sail development do you trust your
feelings more or the feedback from the team?
(Jh) Both equally. I find that I am better at finding new ways to fix problems
just by sailing every day, looking, feeling, listening, and thinking. The
team however is better at finding new problems ! Together we continually
improve the sails.
(Fb) Who are the Hot Sails Maui team riders you work most closely with?
(Jh) The locals work with me the most because they are always around. Carter
Skemp, Scott Wuertz and Jenifer Gately are the most demanding and constantly
pushing for better gear. Lately I have been working with Matteo Bof, but
his help is most useful on the race sails with Mike.
(Fb)What is your opinion of your team riders like: Scott Wuertz, Jessica
Crisp, Brian Talma, Matteo Bof?
(Jh) Scott- Disiplined, straight kid not into drugs, my best bet for the
next overall world champion, say in 3-4 years. We just signed a 5 year contract
which is unheard of in this sport. You will meet him this summer when he
comes to Italy.
Jessica- The best racer I have worked with. She knows more technical stuff
about her gear than any of the guys I know. Very smart and disciplined.
She is going for the 96 Olympics, so I don't see much of her these days.
Brian- A true soul surfer. He is a great ambassador for the sport and I
am proud to work with him. He is the king of good vibes.
Matteo- Only met Matteo a few months ago, and have seen a lot of him! He
is a fun loving guy who sometimes surprises people with his overpowering,
bear like presence, but once you get to know him he is really cool and a
good friend. A hard worker too.
(Fb) How do you see the future of Hot Sails Maui? Are you going to go
on in your anti-conventional way, or are you going to settle down a bit?
Are you thinking about getting married someday?
(Jh) We will continue to grow slowly world wide. We will be very involved
in getting the new sport of windsurfing going again. We will not wait for
the sport to get so small that companies go out of business. You will see,
but I can't talk about that now.
If you mean "am I" going to continue in my ways? Yes, I will.
I love living life more than money. A great lifestyle and being creative
are my driving life forces.
I would love to marry, but I am somewhat selective, desiring a sharp intelligence,
stunning beauty, and of course only the strongest love. Someday perhaps.
(Fb) And your thoughts of the future of windsurfing in general?
(Jh) Windsurfing as a sport has followed a similar path to the ski industry
since around 1965. It grew and grew, always the equipment changing every
year, and lots of excitment and growth. Then they had a huge low period
in the 70s but then rebounded with new systems for teaching and a lot of
promotion in the entry level of the sport. After about 5 years of that,
skiing was booming again. This is what windsurfing needs now, and I will
(Fb) Have you ever been to Italy? What were your impressions?
(Jh) Italia! Bella! I love Italy. It is the only place in Europe I don't
like to leave when I visit! The best food in Europe of course. As I mentioned
earlier, as a designer visiting Italy is like going home, everywhere are
masterpieces of design, some thousand of years old, some very new. The only
thing that really sucks is the traffic, I never get to see the wild Italian
(Fb) Do you feel lucky, your typical day is our dream day!
(Jh) Very lucky ! My landlord (I rent) is very strange and kicks people
out for no reason, so I live every day here on the beach as my last and
appreciate this paradise immenslely.
(Fb) Have you got any jobs for us ?!?
(Fb) What are the qualities that you like and dislike in a person?
(Jh) I appreciate people who live life well regardless of their financial
position. To live and love what makes them happy and enjoy sharing with
I dislike ignorance, closed minds, self righteousness, mean spirited, angry
(Fb) Are you a competitive person, or do you feel that just having fun
is all that is important?
(Jh) I am a very competitive person, but I do not judge myself and others
solely on success or failure. Fun is important, and I sometimes do compete
with my friends to see who can have the most of it. Most people, however,
when they meet me, think I am a very serious person, not a fun lover. I
think I am both. Serious fun.
(Fb) Are you envious of the bigger sail companies like Neil Pryde?
(Jh) No, not at all. I worked my ass off for 7 or 8 years getting Hot Sails
Maui off the ground, and was not very happy about my life during that time.
I worked too hard, did not relax at all, and burned out. Now I feel pretty
good about life. To push really hard to grow to that size quickly would
take more energy than it would return.
I have time and I work hard, if I decide to go for that level I will get
there. At this time it does not hold much attraction for me.
(Fb) Do you think your designs will become more conservative when you
hit your 40s and 50s?
(Jh) The key item is that these people live in cities, and their focus is
on the bottom line ($$$$). I have to concern myself with this too of course,
but it is second priority to me compared to putting out a better product.
After all, I have to sail it every day!
(Fb) Which is the PWA top rider you would like most on your team?
(Jh) Well, since this is not reality, I would say Robby Naish, the best
windsurfer the world has ever known.
(Fb) When did you come to Italy last time and what did you do?
(Jh) Summer of 95. Drove from Switzerland down to Milano, then to the Lake,
did not get to sail, but visited with Dylan, met Jesse in Torbole, and went
to the crazy Disco Geneux (spelling?) with 10,000 people! . Man ! that place
is unbelievable, if that was in the USA, there would be riots and it would
be a disaster. It is great seeing every kind of Italian- old, young, rich,
poor, all dancing and having a great time like mad people together!
Oh, yeah eat, eat, eat, the best food in the world!
Interview by Stefano
E-mail Jeff here