Kona One Design racing was introduced into Ireland this year, and it was a massive success, with the final race of the season being the best yet…
A very successful first year of Kona One Design racing in Ireland culminated last weekend in the first Kona Nationals held at Malahide Yacht Club. A perfect day more akin to summer greeted the competitors with sunny skies, warm temperatures and most important a breeze of 8-12 knots. Perfect conditions for Kona racing.
Kona brand owner Joachim Larsson had travelled to Dublin from Sweden to witness the growth of the fleet in Ireland, which has expanded from an initial 5 to nearly 20 in one year. After registration and rigging tips from Joachim the 14 competitors hit the water for 3 back to back races to decide an inaugural national champion. Race officer of the day Graham Smith set a 3 lap course, with races of around 30 minutes that had positions changing all the way up to the final leg.
Shifty changeable winds made for really tactical racing and in a fleet of 14 boards of identical performance getting a good start was vital. Winds just below planing strength meant the boards flew upwind, but were very tricky to sail downwind. Martin Waldron and Stephen O’Brien used their previous longboard racing experience to good effect and after two races Martin was leading with a second and a first. A slow start in the third race left him needing to come through the fleet for the event win, but a tangle at the very last gybe mark slowed himself, Stephen and a number of other sailors down allowing Cormac O’Brien away to win the final race and with it the National Championship. The close racing right up to the end of the last race proved the value of the Kona concept where skill and tactics (and a little bit of luck!) decide the winner rather than who can afford the best equipment or who can pump the hardest.
The event was followed by a BBQ dinner at the yacht club clubhouse where Cormac O’Brien was presented with the Alan Harris Memorial Cup. Alan Harris was the owner of Surfdock who sadly passed away in 2010. Alan was always hugely enthusiastic about windsurfing in Ireland and with the beginning of a new national series we thought it would be fitting to create a perpetual trophy in his name. Hopefully it will be awarded for many years to come.
After a successful first year of Kona one design racing in Ireland our goal now is to spread the fleet to other clubs around the country and continue to grow. All are looking forward to next year’s Nationals with hopefully an even bigger fleet and more great racing.
Special thanks to sponsors Surfdock, CLOUDMASTER and to the Irish Windsurfing Association for their support. Thanks also to the Malahide Yacht Club for being so welcoming running a great event.