Mixed Plate
Saving the Racetrack at Ma'alaea

Save this dream wave!

Ma’alaea. Surfers and bodyboarders alike revere this mythical surfspot, dubbing it "the world’s fastest right." For 20 years, Maui’ s fabled racetrack has been under threat of a proposed harbor expansion. However, it’s all coming to a head as publication of the final environmental impact statement by the Army Corps of Engineers draws near.

The intent of the harbor expansion is to create more berths for boats and to better protect them from ocean surges. Unfortunately, this would completely eliminate a popular bodyboarding spot known as "Off the Wall." Moreover, because of the jetty extension and changes in the reef configuration, it could even affect "Freights," Ma’alaea’s premiere break.

"Currently, everything is at a standstill," said Kurt Apel of the Surfrider Foundation, Maui Chapter. "The final environmental impact statement will outline in detail the expansion plan and the effects it will have on the environment. After that is published, the public (including the Surfrider Foundation) will have 90 days to submit challenges. Court proceedings would follow, if necessary."

A hearing was held on June 23, with nearly 300 people voicing their opposition to the expansion project. Of course, surfers and bodyboarders, led by Surfrider Maui, were all against the destruction of the surfspots. The Sierra Club, a national environmental group, saw the harbor area as a marine sanctuary and opposed the proposed dynamiting of 4.8 acres of reef. And Hawaiian groups were worried that traditional fishing grounds would be destroyed.

Sadly, the concern does not stop at Ma’alaea. There is serious talk of expanding both Kahului and Lahaina harbors on Maui to accommodate cruise ships, among other things. This would adversely affect or destroy several other Maui surf breaks.

No one understands what’s at stake more than locals like Jimmy Hutaff. "[Ma’alaea is] like a machine--it breaks the same everytime. The sections are just pure hollow and is just a sick bodyboarding wave. But once you change it, it'll never be the same."

How can you help? Get involved by writing to show your support. At this stage, it will take a miracle to save Ma’alaea. But if you don’t voice your feelings, we will continue to lose our precious surfspots to big business. Write to: Mayor Linda Lingle, County of Maui, 200 South High Street, Wailuku, HI, 96793.

Aloha from Paradise,