Back in the early 90’s Tom Krebs and I camped and windsurfed at the same beach out in the desert north of the town Los Barriles in southern Baja, Mexico.
Tom mostly hung out at the camp of two my friends Darin and Jimbo and that’s where we first met.
While having beers and chatting around the camp fire we discovered that we had quite a few mutual friends in Colorado. Tom left Los Barriles before we really had a chance to get to know each other very well.
Later our paths crossed again on the slopes of Vail Mountain in Colorado and then again while we windsurfing at Aurora Reservoir also in Colorado. We had couple more brief encounters in the Columbia River Gorge over the next two years as well.
It wasn’t until August of 1997 that we really connected. It was at the North Shore Bar and Grill in Bengen, Washington. We were playing darts and having way too many beers with Christie the bartender and some other local girl till way late. In fact we were there long after the place closed.
I suggested that he park his truck in the driveway at Kurt Von Rudden’s house on the bluff in White Salmon, Washington. I was remolding the place and living there at the time. It was only a casual half mile up the hill.
As you would expect, Tom hit it off well with Kurt the rest of our gang and stayed with us for the rest of his stay in the gorge.
We had a great time windsurfing, mountain biking, rock climbing and party continued the whole time he was there.
I ran into Tom in Vail several times over the next couple of years but we were really following different paths in those days. I was busy rock climbing in Colorado and the Utah desert and windsurfing on the Oregon Coast while Tom was spending allot of time in Hawaii.
We lost touch with each other for several years.
Then one day, I was looking for a pen in the kitchen junk drawer at Kurt’s place in the Gorge, I came across a scrap of paper with Tom’s name and a phone number under it,
I said to my buddy Dave Farmer, “Look Dave, this is Zippy’s number. Do you think it’s still good?” Dave suggested calling it to see.
I smiled when Tom’s voice was on the recorded message.
The next morning Tom called us back.
We had a great conversation.
I explained to Tom that I was traveling allot and looking for a new home since the situation that I had going in Pistol River in had collapsed.
In that conversation Tom suggested that I come over to Maui for the winter wave sailing season. I thought about it for several days and then I contacted Tom again and I asked, “What do I do?” His reply to me was, “Just come!”
That seemed simple enough.
I arranged for windsurfing equipment and bought the ticket departing from LAX
I arrived on Maui in the early afternoon with no checked baggage and no place to stay and with only one personal contact, and that was ‘Tom Krebs’.
Tom picked me up at the air port in his old Datson diesel pickup truck and it was packed full of my new windsurf gear.
We headed over to Kanaha Beach Park.
I unpacked all my brand new gear.(Fortunately there was a dumpster right where we parked.) There was quite a bit of packaging to dispose of. It was a scene somewhat like a little boy opening all his Christmas presents.
We sailed the lower break at Kanaha until dark.
While de-rigging our sails, I asked Tom the same question.
“Do I have a place to stay?”
I got the same reply, "No."
We got some beer and started catching up.
I hadn’t seen Tom in almost three years.
At this point, it's dark and I have no idea where I am or what this place even looks like other than the beach that we sailed at. Realistically, it could have been a sandy beach anywhere in the world.
We dropped in on Dave “The Wave” Muccino his wife Jen, and their daughter Sarah chatted and we drank more.
I was nearly exhausted after waking in California at three a.m., the long flight, wind surfing till dark, and the libations. I was going down and fast!
I woke up alone in the most quaint little beach house.
The cob webs were so thick that I felt as if I were still sleeping and having the sort of magical dream that you never want to end.
I followed the smell of coffee from the kitchen and poured myself a cup.
I stepped outside and walked out to the cliff above rocky beach where I found Tom and his friend Elissa sitting on the rocks and chatting. Out at sea the largest waves that I had ever seen were crashing on the outer reef about a quarter mile off shore.
At that moment a rainbow manifested far out to sea and reached all the way to shore ending at the very spot that I was standing! While standing in this spectrum of living color with Tom and Elissa I realized I was in my new home. Maui!
Tom told me that I could stay in the little beach house for three days.
I had to get it together and fast!
For three years I had the job coordinating the production for the “Red Bull King Of The Air” a professional international kite boarding event put on by “Mike Waltze Productions”. I always hired Tom to be my right hand man for those events.
More recently I was hired to build a state of the art sound studio in Makawao, HI. I couldn’t think of anyone that I would have rather work with on that project. Tom agreed to help me with the demo, framing,insulation, drywall, and first coat of paint.
It was great to be working with a person that I could trust to help me put together a project as complicated as that one.
Since we were neighbors in Kuau we rode to work together every day. When we didn’t need my truck to haul materials we would cruise to work in his vintage Land Rover. That was a blast! I would have liked for Tom to finish the project with me but he got busy with his own agenda.
For quite a few years Tom divided his time equally between Maui and Colorado. That is until he met and became engaged to lovely Lexi Holden.
Although he still made his trips to where ever the ski conditions were good he spent the lion’s share of the time here on Maui with Lexi.
Tom and Lexi became members of the Maui Country Club and created a wonderful social network of friends and contacts.
I remember Tom’s fiftieth birthday party at their place in Spreckelsville. That was a night to remember! The guest list was virtual who’s who of the Maui ocean community. I had to spend the night on the couch and drive home in the morning.
Tom and Lexi eventually moved into the same little beach house in Kuau that I first stayed in on Maui.
All through the years Tom was a dedicated wave sailor.
Through sheer tenacity and ability he became a great wave sailor. Tom would go out in just about any conditions, be it very light air or giant surf.
Rarely did he let the conditions dictate weather he launched or not. He just went out and let the ocean make that decision for him.
He often didn’t make it back to the launch at Kuau.
Most windsurfers have a variety of sails and boards for different ocean conditions. Tom on the other hand used the same sail (5.0 m.) and board in all conditions year round.
Tom kept an eye out for other sailors that might be in trouble. He was often there to help when sailors got in trouble. If Tom noticed that someone hadn't made it back to the launch site he would get in his Land Rover drive down the coast looking for them. In fact Tom swam out several times over the years to help me break free of the exhausting rip current at the mouth of the Kuau channel.
Tom was awarded the prestigious “Kuau Cup” award more times than any sailor in the history of the event.
Tom was a founding member of the Kuau Yacht Club which is an informal group of friends from all over the globe that gather each winter to sail the waves at Kuau on the north shore of Maui and socialize on the rocky beach with PBR beer while sitting on “The Log” and talking story often till long after dark.
Not only was Tom a windsurfer but he was an avid SUP surfer, sea kayaker, free diver, yacht sailor, and fisherman.
The last time that Tom and I were on the ocean together was a delightful morning surf session before work this winter at Noriega’s.
If we weren't hanging out on the log at the launch the front stoop at his little blue beach house was the gathering place for friends and neighbors. These gatherings were impromptu and you never who would show up. It was always fun!
Here are some of my random images of my friend Tom.
Goldie and a host of Tom's friends painted this memorial to Tom on the block building in the cow pasture at Hookipa. The police were called!
Our entire community was in a state of shock and denial at the loss of such a dynamic personality and friend.
There was a very well attended and emotional memorial service and potluck gathering held at Maui Country Club that was brilliantly covered by Tadd Craig Photography. Tad is the KYC's official photographer.
Many of Tom's friends paddled surfboards out to the reef at Kuau Point that Tom loved soo much to say their last farewell with flowers and much Aloha.
This emotional farewell service was also covered by Tad Craig wit this video
Margret Oda hosted a pancake breakfast after the traditional Hawaiian paddle out.
Many of Tom's family and friends gathered on August 17, 2013 at Ski Club Vail to share stories and to Celebrate His Spirited Life.