NOTE: Maui Time Surf and Sports correspondent Dave Sweedler interviews Maui windsurfer and waterman Sierra Emory in the September 1 1998 issue of Maui Time.
The allure of Maui captures an array of creative people who often migrate here to explore, discover, and settle into the ways of the island. Sierra Emory is taking his talents as a professional windsurfer and is cultivating them into an exciting alternative way of life.
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, he was lured by the wind and sea at a very young age. “When I was 12, I took a year off from school and had the opportunity to work on a boat that sailed from Florida to the Bahamas and onto Europe. Through it, I learned a lot about being independent and self sufficient.”
While on vacation on Maui, Sierra became captivated by windsurfing. “I saw people out at Ho’okipa windsurfing and knew that was it for me. At 14, we moved to Maui, I received my GED and went to work teaching windsurfing and sailing on the beach at Kaanapali.” As his natural talents became more defined, sponsorship and world travel were soon to follow. “I started working with Simmer Style doing research and development by giving them feedback on sails. I did the world tour for seven years, it was very exciting always going to new places.”
Sierra left the tour in ‘93 and was rated 12th overall in the world, the second ranked American behind the legendary Robby Naish. “I gradually moved up the ladder in my career, I really accomplished everything I set out for and felt it was time to pursue the sport in other areas.”
He is a well rounded waterman and is experimenting with all aspects of boardriding and is a presence at Pe’ahi with or without sails. “I’ve had some really bad wipeouts; one of the worst was while windsurfing. I faded too far, got to the bottom of the wave and ran out of wind. The wave was double mast high. I just stopped, the wave slammed me to the bottom and tossed me around like a rag doll. I came up seeing stars and a whole new respect for the power out there.”
To test the limits, you have to find a medium you can draw and learn from. “I’ve always thought that if you’re not crashing and falling, you’re really not going for it. you can’t progress unless you take chances and gain confidence. Through that you really learn respect for the power of the ocean.”
On a typical day, Sierra works on his computer, he is a sales rep for Windsurfing Hawaii. “I check the ocean first to see what the waves and wind is doing, then I plan my day from there. Lately I’ve been kite surfing and I’m very excited about the evolution of the sport. The airtime is incredible.”
Two years ago, he designed a signature line of waveboards sold exclusively at Extreme Sports Maui. “I was interested in making a pro model that the public could ride.”
Sierra has had some great contest results over the past few years, with a 1st place at the Aloha Classic in ‘97 in surf slalom and 2nd place in waves, being the overall winner. He was also Hawaiian State Champion the same year. He enters most contests on Maui and has found a window to keep it all balanced.
Living in Haiku with wife Angela on their 3 acre farm, Sierra has found his calling to be able to pursue his dreams and enjoy Maui’s natural gifts. “I want to thank all my sponsors: Gaastra Sails, Extreme Sports Maui, Oakley, Windsurf Hawaii and PowerEX.”
This story originally ran in MauiTime’s September 1, 1998 issue.