I’m sold on Kona One
John Darling (CAN) is as much of a legend as he is an inspiration to the quick growth of the Canadian Kona fleet. At the age of 77, John is still one of the most active sailors,- traveling around to events in both the US and Canada. Let’s just say we are privileged and honored to be able to cater for a spirit of John’s magnitude. By curiosity we asked for a “short background”, but as it naturally turned out to be too extensive – we will just summarize it as follows; John has been a key factor and catalyst for Canadian windsurfing during the past 32 years, serving as everything from Club President to WC's national President with
the job of organizing annual Canadian Windsurfing Championships.
I began my racing on an original (US) Windsurfer back in the early 1980s, holding the centerboard by its strap over a shoulder in planing
conditions, but I was already pushing 50 years of age. I competed regularly in earlier years and we then graduated to Mistral Superlights and SSTs, and soon everyone had a bigger pumping 7.5m2 camber sail. By 2010 the big 9.5m2 sails and near-300 l boards dominated Wednesday-night racing at our club! For those of us staying with smaller sails and original boards, we
performed rather well against the bigger gear, but the 'writing was on the
wall.' The time for the Kona alternative had come.
|To counter the 'open equipment war' of the 'open raceboard fleet' Andree
Gauthier of Toronto set up the foundation for a new KONA fleet in Toronto
in 2009, in order to "return to our roots" in windsurfing competition --
no pumping competition, meaning restoring the primacy of tactics and
strategy over brute strength and expensive gear. This was also a return to
one-design racing, modified to accommodate the range of sailor weights
with a range of sail sizes.We had a great fleet of 13 Kona’s at last years
It’s back to the future for me. Back to no pumping
with non-camber sails and classic style board with soft rails and swept
back fin, making tacks upwind fast and easy, as against standard pumping
raceboard drag racing to the lay line – with as few of those slow tack
as possible. With the no-camber Kona sail, I think it is actually easier
to “read the wind” and I believe the Kona track to windward better than
For seniors and beginners, the Kona is a cheaper and more basic board, less physical and perhaps a better trainer board (teaching kids to tack often on every gust and shift, and gybe more often downwind)
For seniors, gone is the endurance test, so I am able to sail full competitions, and the senior fleet expands – our future – that’s important. The kids on Kona also get to race more tactical races with the cunning old experienced racers.
Retired for a decade now, I find I am busier than ever, with most summers
taken up assisting with our local club's 'Learn to Windsurf' program and
meeting the public at our club near a popular beach in downtown Toronto.
We have considerable success in getting new youth onto longboards, joining
the 100-strong annual enrollment of adult learners. We will be adding a
Thursday Night Kona racing feature in 2012, as coaching sessions as well.