Kona class spreading seeds across North America
Published on October 13th, 2014
Over one hundred boardsailors from around the world are expected to compete in the 2014 Kona World Championships, scheduled for Oct 31-Nov 5 in Islamorada, Florida. What is the Kona? Who is the Kona? US Windsurfing interviews Michael Fox, event Chairman and President of Kona USA, to preview this world-class event and learn about what the Kona Class is all about…
What makes the Kona Class special?
It is a well-supported one-design class with a board that is very entry-level friendly, with body weight differences equalized accordingly with sail size and relying on true sailing skills and tactics by the elimination of pumping.
Is it for advanced or beginner racers?
It is definitely a strong class for beginner racers based on the virtues I just mentioned, but should also appeal to the advanced racers who want to see how they perform on the most level playing field in all of sailing.
How fast is the Class growing?
It is growing at a very steady and healthy rate, faster than most any other windsurfing class in many years. We are currently adding 500 boards per year with Sweden leading the wave. The U.S. is probably second, although we have yet to develop the West coast at all. With the 2015 U.S. Nationals scheduled for Cabrillo Beach, we will soon see Kona flowers west of the Rockies.
When did it first break through in the US?
It started very early in Florida, thanks to the popularity of the Calema Midwinters and our Florida-based distributor who recognized the value of a well-supported one-design class to the faltering racing scene. But it was the 2010 Kona Worlds held off South Beach in Miami that helped spread the seeds across much of the continent. The Kona flower quickly took strong roots in Toronto, the Midwest and Texas, and a year later in New England.
Why are the Worlds in Islamorada special?
If you have ever windsurfed or raced in the Keys, you shouldn’t ask that question with a straight face. We are sailing out of the Guy Harvey Islander with most of the competitors staying there and the rest less than a mile away. Islamorada offers many activities both on and off the water for non-racing family members. And then there is that Island mystique which is much more than umbrella drinks at the Tiki bar.
What conditions are you expecting?
The lightest reports from that time of the year are 8-10 knots. If we get an early season front moving through, we will have some high wind racing. At the very least, the winds should easily be Kona winds and when it picks up to planing speeds, we have a reef outside the race area keeping the water relatively flat.
Any early favorites to take the crown?
Vegas is still working on that formula. We have several older competitors with multiple world and national championships under their belt. And then we have nearly as many younger racers who have been absorbed in Olympic campaigns who should definitely make a presence on the award podium. No pumping and the sail size-to-weight balancer helps erase the age and weight handicaps, meaning more racers reaching the first mark seconds apart and close finishes throughout most of the fleet. The crown will definitely be earned.
Source: US Windsurfing