In late September, the Swedish Kona fraternity got together for a weekend of wild conditions in Viken, Skåne County. The Øresund, the strait that separates Sweden from Denmark, is barely 5 miles across there, and there’s a ferry nearby connecting the two countries, so their Danish friends from Nivå and Rørvig were quick to join the fun. It was a chance for everyone to get together again after a long time apart due to the pandemic. Magnus Lindstedt tells us about that weekend, and reflects on what makes Kona such a positive force for change.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really happy to be part of a community where I can do the sport I love while feeling good that I’m doing my part to be a good steward for our planet!

Magnus Lindstedt

Hittarp, Sweden

Story: Magnus Lindstedt | Photos: Svenska Kona One Förbundet.

The COP26 U.N. climate summit is wrapping up in Glasgow, and seeing all the youth on the streets demanding that we all rise to the challenge of global warming, I’m energized to look to our sport and see what impact we’re having on the planet. As I’m looking back to the event in Viken a few weeks ago, I think we can all feel proud that we’re doing our part. Of course, our sails and wetsuits need plastics, and we use gas to get to the beach, but our footprint is very small compared to other sports, or even other windsurfing disciplines.

If you’ll allow me, I’ll share these thoughts with you in this article. But first, let me recap a bit what happened!

Viken is a great coastal community on the Southwest coast of Sweden, with houses dating back to the 17th century. Sometimes, the wind on the Øresund is calm and the water is peaceful. This wasn’t one of those times! When everyone arrived, we were met with a strong breeze and 3-meter waves, and we weren’t quite sure that we would be able to run any races. There was a small dip in the forecast for the early afternoon, so we stayed ashore a little to wait things out. When we finally got out, we were met with challenging conditions. While some were clearly competitive and aiming for the top, many of us simply aimed to finish the races—or even just do one lap around the course to get some points on the board.

The race officials came up with the terrific idea to start all races in the lee of the local breakwater. There, the wind was only half as strong, there were no waves, and we could simply sit on the pier with our sail in our hands until the races started! No dancing around and getting exhausted in 3-meter surf between races! It was great for the officials because they could set the start and finish line near the breakwater and actually stand there with flags in their hands instead of bobbing around on the water in a little boat. And it was awesome for spectators who could see all the action from the breakwater.

After a much needed break for lunch, we went back for more racing! By then, the wind had decreased a bit, and the sun was piercing through the clouds, which made it a bit more manageable for the majority of the fleet. The battle at the top was fierce between Joachim Larsson (SWE) and Brian Guhle (DEN), with Joachim taking the win on a tie-breaker! Third was Kenneth Eriksen from Nivå, Denmark. The best girl and sixth overall was Fanny Vinberg from Varberg. Noa Sågerås was best junior and fourth overall. There were 33 of us registered, but only 24 decided to race due to the tough conditions.

Everyone reading this will know that getting together to windsurf with a group of friends is a recipe for physical and mental wellness. It gives purpose to our training, and yes, meaning to our lives. But in the Kona community, there’s one more fulfilling dimension to our get-togethers: our carbon footprint is pretty small. Let me explain:

  • One-design. We’re a one-design fleet, with one board and one sail for each competitor, and that means that we don’t go out and buy new stuff all the time to be competitive. You can perform at your best in a regatta with the same equipment you’ve used for several seasons. Less equipment means less carbon emissions to manufacture it and distribute it halfway around the world.
  • Charter system. At many events, we bring a fleet of equipment in one truck or trailer for all sailors to use. We live in a sharing economy, after all. That means that people can travel light, or pool into the same cars to get to the event because the car isn’t filled to the brim with sails, masts, and booms sticking out from all the windows. Some came to the Viken event by train. The 10-strong Varberg team showed up in one small bus.
  • Honor system: We rely on an honor system on the water to judge possible protests. No need to have jury boats following us around – and guzzling gas in the process. In Viken, we even did without a race committee boat because we were able to supervise the races from the breakwater. Kona races can take place in very little breeze too, which means that more races can be set up close to shore instead of far out to a distant wind line, and where there’s no other option than to have race committee boats and safety boats on the water.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really happy to be part of a community where I can do the sport I love while feeling good that I’m doing my part to be a good steward for our planet. In Viken, more than half of all participants were under the age of 21. I’m not a young kid anymore—I just turned 60—but I love being around them because they’re the ones inheriting the planet, and they’re not sitting on their hands. They demand that we do better. It gives me real hope for the future, for our Kona community, and for the world!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This