KAHULUI --- The Maui Race Series begins its 25th consecutive season Saturday, and nearly 140 windsurfing events and more than 7,000 heats haven't curbed race director Rick Vetromile's enthusiasm.
The 64-year-old Vetromile is an Aspen, Colo., ski instructor in the winter months. He's been the race director since the third event of that initial summer season in 1985.
''It's fun, I enjoy it,'' he said. ''I like being around these people, I really like being a part of this.''
The five-event MRS starts at Kanaha Beach Park with the Neil Pryde Slalom.
''People want to compete in our races,'' Vetromile said. ''We put on a really good program. We're well organized. We don't change the rules from race to race. Our race crew has always been reminded, we're working for them, they're not working for us. We're very accommodating.
''Let's face it, a lot of the success of the race series is they get to race with their friends. It's an extended family kind of thing.''
Vetromile's family is part of the racing family. His wife, Denice, an Aspen schoolteacher, competed until she was pregnant with their daughter, Nique, who was born in August 1992 at Maui Memorial Medical Center --- the race that weekend was one of the few Rick Vetromile has missed in 25 years.
Denice started racing two years after giving birth, but quit again when Nique turned 10.
''She retired from racing to be the race crew for Nique,'' Vetromile said. ''She was the gopher for Nique.''
Now that Nique can handle her own equipment and rig her own sail, Denice is part of the race crew.
The MRS has been such a draw that visitors and residents plan their summer around the race dates.
Dick Ashenfelter, a retired lawyer from Wilmington, N.C., has been practicing on Maui since mid-April.
''I was actually out here for a winter tuneup from mid-January to the end of February,'' Ashenfelter said. ''I've been coming early for the last five years.''
At 68, Ashenfelter is the oldest competitor.
Even though Wilmington is on the Atlantic coast, Ashenfelter doesn't sail at home.
''The conditions here are so much better, it's not worth the effort there,'' he said.
''I come out here because of the races. Sailing daily in Maui's demanding conditions does wonderful things for your sailing ability. By the end of the race season, I am really in good shape.''
Elon Wong, a teacher at Haiku School, makes sure he's on Maui during race weekends. The 42-year-old Haiku resident has been competing since 2000.
''I want to be here when there are races,'' Wong said. ''My in-laws are in Honolulu, but I try not to schedule a visit when there's a race.
''I like the high level of competition, it keeps you motivated because there are so many good guys. Because of the format, you get a lot of racing in with the time you have.''
The Neil Pryde race will start at 11:30 a.m., with a skipper's meeting scheduled for 10 a.m.