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Maui surfers on high alert for storm swells


    Carl Gardner, 29, left, and Raul Pacheco, 38, checked the swells at McGregor Point near Maalaea, Maui, this morning. In the background, storm clouds moved in from the east on Haleakala.

MAALAEA, Maui >> Weather forecasters aren’t the only ones carefully tracking Hurricane Lane as it churns toward the Hawaiian Islands. Maui’s surf tribe is also on high alert, following weather reports, scanning the ocean and traveling the island in search of storm-generated swells.

At McGregor Point, Kihei residents Carl Gardner and Raul Pacheco were among those stopping by this morning to check the break, which is accessed via a steep, rocky, cliffside trail.

“Is it going to get us bad?” said Gardner, 29, when asked his first reaction upon hearing Lane was approaching. “We don’t want that. But we want it to come toward us for a while so it produces a swell, but then turn away, which might be what’s happening.

“A swell is coming, we know that for sure, but when is it gonna get here and what are the local conditions going to be once it hits? We want big, nice water without the crazy wind,” Gardner said.

The gray-brown water and small wind-blown swells at the McGregor break weren’t where the two surfers wanted it to be yet, but they were hopeful. Pacheco, 38, said some “old guys” were in the water when they first pulled up, but they didn’t stay long.

“We talked to a bunch of them but they said they were just getting cold,” he said.

The two Kihei men said they were relying on “the coconut wireless” to keep track of surf around the island.

“If it comes really fast, everything could light up. It’s just a matter of time,” Gardner said.

Both Pacheco and Gardner paddle for Kihei Canoe Club and had planned to participate in Saturday’s Great Kahakuloa Race from Maliko Gulch in Haiku to West Maui, but the race was canceled.

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