KARL INGE TANGEN is 54 years old and he lives in Oslo, Norway. He’s been windsurfing for a long time, but when he discovered the Kona concept a few years ago, it changed his whole perspective on the sport. That was a time when his children were getting old enough to get into the sport too. Now, windsurfing with the Tangens is a family affair! We asked Karl to share his story with us.
At 98 kilos, it was a new and, I would almost say, ecstatic experience to be able to compete on equal terms with lightweights half my weight!Karl Inge Tangen
Story: Karl Inge Tangen | Photos: Magi Foster, Bjørn Breimo, Tangen family.
Istarted windsurfing in the heydays of the sport, back in 1980. From 1982 onwards, I bought (and sold) a new board every year: from the Mistral Competition to the F2 Bullit Race and a bunch of other boards. It was fun to get into bump and jump sailing, trying out wave-riding and slalom, yet over the years I came to realize that the constant need for new and more advanced equipment also meant that we lost something valuable in the sport. Windsurfing used to be the most democratic and the most fun form of sailing, but along the way we transformed it into an expensive way of sitting on the beach waiting for the wind to pick up! In 2003, I got tired of waiting and dropped out completely.
I came back to the sport ten years later, in 2013, when I wanted to share it with my kids. In 2014, I discovered the Kona One concept. I bought two second-hand boards, made some repairs, and since then the Konas have been the boards I’ve used the most. Why? I discovered that the Kona was a great board to relearn everything: it’s easy to sail and very forgiving in the carve jibe. In Norway, you often have to get out of a bay or get around an island to get to the place where it is really windy. Thanks to the volume and retractable daggerboard, the Kona can be used in any spot. It’s also quite safe in the sense that I can always get back if the wind fades or if my kids need help. More importantly, with the Konas, we can have lots of fun even in light winds by doing some informal racing or simple freestyle – there’s always a new trick to learn!
So, the Kona One brought me back to the sport that I love for many reasons. Getting older, I now also appreciate the less competitive aspects of the sport, just being a part of God’s creation. In my time off, I travel to our family cottage in Fuglevik, one hour south of Oslo. It is generally windier in Fuglevik than in Oslo, but I go out on the water even on light or moderate days just to experience the beauty of nature, breathe in the smell of saltwater (and sunblock!) and let my body find its spiritual balance in the warm summer breeze. However, the Kona One has also awakened an old dream of doing some “real racing.” In August 2018, I entered a raceboard race at LBK Rolfstangen, an awesome windsurfing club near Oslo, and then to my own surprise, I made the decision to travel to the Kona Worlds in the USA in October!
I brought my 12 year old daughter Sara with me, and the two of us didn’t quite know what to expect. We were a little nervous in the days leading up to the event, but by the time is was all finished, I can honestly say that we enjoyed ourselves beyond our most optimistic expectations!
The key reason why we had such a wonderful experience was the remarkable friendliness of the Kona community there. My daughter connected immediately with easy-going kids her own age, as well as with windsurfing veterans who helped us a lot throughout the week. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to establish new friendships with interesting and generous people from other countries and other continents. If you are reading this – thank you so much for making our time in Florida such a terrific experience!
As a former pastor and now ethnographic researcher at the Norwegian School of Leadership and Theology, I was also glad to discover that the Kona community is not sectarian at all! In my conversations with Joachim Larsson, the head of Kona Windsurfing, I heard him say very good things about other brands like Bic and Fanatic. That makes it easier to appreciate Kona’s unique contributions to the sport. One of these is the finely tuned sail system with different sail sizes for different body weights. For a guy like me at 98 kilos, it was a new and, I would almost say, ecstatic experience to be able to compete on equal terms with lightweights half my weight!
In sum, Kona Worlds was an unforgettable experience, and I hope that I will be able to bring both my kids to Garda next year! I want the Kona Class to continue to grow because it has the potential to bring all kinds of people “in to” or “back to” sailing: it is quite simply more affordable than any other class, and it’s even accessible to people who cannot affort to buy their own gear.
In my book, that’s a really good thing!