The objective was to create a unique multi purpose concept, never before seen or imagined possible. Forgiving, yet challenging with excellent sub planing characteristics and high wind performance. The board should work in literally all conditions, and cater for all body weights.
Seemingly a mission impossible, but achieved by merging a subtle surf board outline, - that has evolved over decades, with a fast “raceboard” rocker and with nose lift and a step tail designed to work progressive with sailors of various weights in sub planing mode. Complicated.? Not really, as a heavier sailor benefit from a longer water line, thus compensating and equalizing their speed in relation to lighter sailors – employing a shorter waterline.
In planning conditions, the step tail “kicks in” transferring the Kona to a playful and responsive shortboard, but yet stable and comfortable in chops thanks to the “step tail stabilizer”.
The rig concept;
In order to obtain the ultimate fair racing concept, it was obvious that the rig had to support the universal hull design. The goal was to eliminate “sweet spots” or weight advantages of any kind, and the logical solution was to develop tailor made sail sizes to fit the weight groups. It became somewhat scientific to locate the accurate surface area in relation to body weights and the given hull volume, but the answer was a 0.8 sqm gap to level out every 10 kilo weight difference. Additionally, as a strict one design class allowing one sail size only – it was essential to design a foil generating power at low wind speeds as well as releasing when over powered.
For the first time in the history of windsurfing we have a class with absolute equal opportunities for all. This is significantly adding to the excitement - as it allows all weight groups to compete at equal terms in big fleets, rather than having separate starts for each division. Likewise, it simplifies the organization and boost the recognition of the overall and true champion.
The most versatile board on the market;
The Kona One, although designed to be a One Design race board – has a wide range of use. The characteristic subtle shape combines stability, maneuverability, control and excellent sub planning performance. Cruising and racing in all conditions becomes a thrill and performing classic tricks becomes a breeze. Last but not least – the Kona stands out like the ultimate school board, with its stability, soft deck and responsive rig steering. This said, it will never be as stable as a wide board – but is more than stable enough, and quickly deliver all the advantages needed for a beginner to progress.
Kona One for teaching;
Andreas Macke, USA
The reason we got the Kona was that my wife was frustrated with the on/off sensation she had with our big wide beginner board - she loved the stability, but she'd gotten it planing only a few times. Anyway, now she'd tasted blood and wanted more. Getting a 100cm wide barge planing requires a bit of active participation (especially with a 5.0). What's worse, for a beginner/low intermediate, the barge is an exercise in frustration when it's gusty (as it often is at the Event Site) - in the lulls, you're slogging (which is about as exciting as watching grass grow, and doesn't feel all that comfortable); when a gust hits, you get slammed. Until you have it planing, you never feel effortless.
Enter the Kona - still on that same 5.0, the Kona would just smoothly get going for her. In the lulls, she was happily gliding (as opposed to slogging) along, going way faster (and feeling way smoother) than on the wide board and when the puffs came the board would just accelerate a bit more, ever so smoothly, and if it was sustained, she'd find herself planing for a bit. The whole thing was pretty effortless. She loved it!
Kona bonus coverage
Windsurfing US, Eddy Patricelli
I want this board. Its simple versatility combines the best of then and now. I also like that I can teach someone to sail on it, without necessarily steering them toward the gear expense and wind-waiting that comes with high-wind sailing. They can improve on this without outgrowing it. But as eager as I am to own one and get friends hooked with it, I more anxious to see what this board will do for the sport. It has the potential to put more happy sailors on the water in more locations, more often. Good news indeed. Very stoked, and very eager to see its impact on the sport. My bet is it will be a big one.
What is versatile?
Patrik Gustafsson, Finland
Wide is the opposite of versatile. A wide freeride board, +80 cm, without a centerboard does two things well. It planes early and it is good for blasting in light planing winds (with big sails and big fins). It provides lots of planing opportunities in real world locations.
If something is reduced from the equation: wide (and light) board, big fin and big sail, then it does not work at all anymore.
Adding a centerboard to boost versatility, and reducing fin size to make it more manageable, is a dead end. The wide board with a centerboard does get some (but not much) additional light wind cruising capabilities, but at the cost of almost everything that was good with the original concept. The smaller fin is no longer suitable for blasting, or even planning. The board may start to plane reasonably early, but it is no longer in its element.
Short and wide boards have never, and will never, work well in sub planing conditions. That is physically impossible (barges rather than boats). Equipping these boards with centerboards does not change the physics. The only thing these boards do well is to be stable enough to learn sail control for absolute beginners. They can also coach the improver onto his first planing experience.
The next generation longboards with step tails work reasonably well (a little bit tippy due to their limited width) for absolute beginners and extremely well for improvers (thanks to their limited width). But what makes these boards unique is what they offer experienced surfers; lots of fun, also in planing conditions.
It is an almost impossible idea that a good windsurfer would go out on a beginner oriented 280*90 board with a centerboard in 16 knots (or more) of wind. On a next generation longboard the same guys may be the fastest on his beach, and have a great time.
Some think this board should have been named the “Kona Freeride” as it can be compared to a larger freeride board. For example, it is 70cm wide and has a tail width of 49cm (30cm from the planing part of the tail). This makes it about the same planing width as a 130L freeride board.
Where it shines is in it’s planing speed on a reach and ability to carve gybe for it’s size.
This makes it particularly good as a recreational longboard for enclosed waters where the wind is usually gusty. It can go upwind as good as a freeride board when planing (centerboard up and with the standard 46cm fin) and better when not planing and with the centreboard down. So in lulls it can climb up-wind better and therefore have more space to go down-wind in the next gust, therefore faster over-all. Many longboards will do this but few will be as much fun in planing conditions. While being comparable to a larger freeride board in performance, it obviously still has the versatility of a longboard. The ability to light wind cruise and/or explore, light wind freestyle, learn or teach and with the volume to take a passenger. It can also be raced in a Kona One design class.
Versatility however has it’s costs and for the Kona One it is early planing. It’s not an early planer, or quick to accelerate once on the plane. For this reason it needs a bigger sail than a freeride board in the same wind. Having said that, it does stay on the plane reasonably well in lulls.
One entertaining thing about riding the colorful Kona is seeing the surprised reactions of people who are not expecting this longboard to plane as fast or carve as well as it can.
Perhaps best of all is the jibing. It carves a beautiful planing jibe, nice and long, like you might perform on a bottom turn on a surfing longboard. Everything about the board is comfortable.
Over the course of the last two days I saw people doing light wind cruising, light wind freestyling, teaching their kid how to windsurf, and full tilt blasting - all on one board.