By Tinho Dornellas
The 2015 Calema Midwinters and Kona North Americans took place during the first full weekend of March, and marked the first major multi-class competition of the year in the USA. More importantly, it’s a windsurfing “family reunion” that has faithfully taken place over the last 29 years.
As organizers, we face a yearly paradox. It is honestly a dreaded moment when we reach November and December, and are faced with the monumental task of running a large and complex event with limited resources. It is at the same time a “must do” event for us, as we have known so many over the years who have the Midwinters as a special mark on the year’s calendar, something not to be missed. And so we continue the tradition. Our kids have grown up from the time of diapers to full manhood, we have seen old friends prosper and disappear on the horizon of life, and are now witnessing a new resurgence of young windsurfers, just as keen and full of energy as our fellow competitors of 30 years ago.
Think about this. A 40 year old stallion of windsurfing back then is now 70. The best part is seeing this 70 year old kick butt among much younger competition. Old tricks and treachery, meet raw talent and energy! The result is not always predictable. This is thanks to the Kona One design class which used the event to run its North American Championships. As it was 30 years ago, when we ran the Mistral One Design Midwinters, we have gone full circle and are now witnessing great competition on a much simpler board, yet way more fun when the wind pipes up.
According to Steve Gottlieb of Kona USA, “We had a ton of fun this year. The event was so well organized both onshore and on the water, and we had such unreal competition in all sorts of conditions.” The Canadians showed up in force, Andree Gauthier representing and walking away with the North American Champion trophy in the Women’s class. The master of old tricks and treachery, Dave Stanger, who has never missed a Midwinters, his once-a-year stint in windsurfing, proved he still has the goods to walk away with the Kona North American Men’s title. To be sure it was not all handed to him. He had to fight and scrape every inch of the way. The mark roundings looked more like Nascar in the oval, except all would be abreast of each other!
The Kona Fleet is now the most exciting to watch, the mark roundings are so busy and tight, and the leaders constantly changing. Sure you can see the usual faces winning the starts, but the order of rounding at the weather mark and then at the leeward mark is always full of surprises. Much of this is thanks to the clever division of weight ranges with their corresponding sail sizes. The really big boys sail with a 9.8 while the small guys and women sail a 7.4. It all evens out at the end of a regatta. It pays to be consistent and not make mistakes.
Kona had the largest fleet with 33 competitors, but the Midwinters is not just a Kona race. Among other classes, The RS:X Olympic Class is certainly growing, with 17 racers this year, and ever more competitive.
We experienced new growth in the Sport Fleet this year with 10 racers as opposed to 4 last year. The Formula Fleet had 12 racers, and the Techno had 6 juniors showing a sharp increase in competitiveness among the juniors.
The action on the water is only one part of this event. Many people join the event as non-racers just to hang out and soak up the good windsurfing vibe. A special atmosphere of camaraderie on shore, sharing a nice meal (yes Midwinters is famous for some really good food!) and just catching up with what has happened since last Midwinters. We are very fortunate to have had the support of Kona Windsurfing, Steve and Marty Gottlieb of Kona USA / Aerotech, Eduardo Owen of Fanatic USA, Dakine, Ronstan, Calema Windsurfing, Mark And Marina, Dr Albert Ferrer, DC, Dr Debbie Ashcraft, The Brevard Parks and Recreation, Radisson and the Space Coast Sports Commission, and a huge thanks to our Volunteer Team: you all made our event possible!
Full Results are here.
“I had a lot of fun at Calema in Cocoa Beach,” said Hallie Muller, a 16 year old Kona racer from Clearwater, FL. “I was not sure of what to expect because I hadn’t gone to a windsurfing regatta in over a year. I ended up loving the challenge of getting around the course and had a lot of fun being surrounded by other windsurfers. I am really glad I participated because I learned a lot about racing and it got me excited to improve more at windsurfing. I also learned how nice and supportive the windsurfing community is. I am looking forward to the next one!”