Category Archives: racing

Back in the Saddle at the 2014 Kona Worlds!

Tom Pace at the 2014 Kona Worlds in Islamorada, FL USA! Credit: Magi Foster

Tom Pace at the 2014 Kona Worlds in Islamorada, FL USA! Credit: Magi Foster

By Tom Pace

Sixteen years ago, after nearly two decades racing one designs, Olympic classes, and Pro: course, slalom, and wave events, I sailed in my last windsurfing contest, the IFCA Worlds in Tarifa, Spain.

A year later, my friend Nevin and his Wife Stina had their second child, a boy named Rasmus… This first week of November, in my first race back in the sport we all love, my years of dull rust met that kid – the amazing, sharp talent that is Raz Sayre, and it was eye opening: he crushed me and 107 others this week in everything from 5-30 kts, enroute to his first World Title. And I was barely competitive with him in just part of one race. 16 years ago, I missed a World Title by one point to Tim Aagesen, who took second this week. This World Championship, I was never close, but had a few moments dueling again with Tim and Nevin, reminding me what fast feels like, and what the fleet looked like from Raz’s view all regatta!

This event brought out new sailors, former world champs, pros, formula and RSX racers, and everything in between. Multiple countries and ages were well represented, and it was as much a look into windsurfing’s fun competitive past as it was a look at the present and to the future of one design windsurfing. In this class, pumping is restricted to ONE per tack, gybe, or wave to initiate planing, and this is tightly monitored. Sails are determined by the racer’s weight, and the only adjustment allowed on the rig is the outhaul. What results is tight competition, fair racing, and a surprisingly even field from the 6’4, 200 lb sailor to the barely 5′, 100 pounder.

Racers from Canada, DEnmark and the USA duking it out at the Kona Worlds! Credit: Magi Foster

Racers from Canada, Denmark and the USA duking it out at the Kona Worlds! Credit: Magi Foster

The regatta started in light offshores that quickly built to blasty 20-30 kts, leaving many unable to finish, and scores in need of rescue. Only 32 of the 107 finished that race, and it was abandoned after the 32 had finished – as much for fairness and safety concerns as for marks that moved in the lumpy water and high wind. It was one of my better races this week, but with the 12 more we did complete for scores, we all had plenty of chances!

Any event takes a ton of work to put together well, and something of this size can be daunting. The organizers, race committee, and volunteers put in an exceptional effort, and the five day event went off without any major glitch. It was great competition, fun camaraderie, a chance for me to get my feet wet again, and to rekindle old friendships with the Sayres, Steve and Marty Gottlieb, Steve Callaway, and Beth Winkler. We saw Superlight racer from 20 years ago Billy Mason, Tinho Dornellas, Dasher, and others. Old windsurfers that did not compete stopped by to check it out and see old friends – John Turecki, Hubert Baudoin, Pat LeMehaute, world cupper Andy Morrell, and long time racer and freestyler Greg Winkler. All names very well known in the windsurfing world 20+ years ago. Also there was the first ever Windsurfer World Champion and inventor of the harness, Bruce Matlack.

Camaraderie between races at the Kona Worlds. Credit: Magi Foster

Camaraderie between races at the Kona Worlds. Credit: Magi Foster

Kona ONE is growing world wide, with strength in Sweden, Holland, throughout Europe, and thanks to Steve Gottlieb, Mike Fox, and Tinho Dornellas, it’s building in the USA. It is very, very good racing, fair, and accessible to sailors that no longer want to pump and row around the course like a triathlete glued to a sailboard. Further, being a one design, you don’t need a full quiver of sails, booms, and fins to be competitive, nor can you modify any of it: it is a true one design. Kona has a dynamic that makes it possible for today’s best to shine, but also is a class that enables the old guard – in this case Tim Aagesen and Nevin Sayre, 2nd and 3rd overall this week – to show they still can windsurf, and that they have the tactical racing ability to be at the top.

This Kona Worlds has whetted my appetite, and I’ll be back in the saddle for the 2015 Kona North Americans at Calema in Merritt Island next March. I’ll absolutely earn a better spot than my 16th overall this week, and hopefully, I can better mix it up with all the Sayres – Raz, Nevin, and 22-yr old Solvig, who is doing an RSX campaign for the next Olympics.

Tom Pace in Action at the Kona Worlds! Credit: Magi Foster

Tom Pace in the hunt at the Kona Worlds! Credit: Magi Foster

For now, I’m left with (finally!) callused hands, thoughts of what I did right and wrong on the water, and that happy feeling from seeing old friends and making new ones, just as we did decades ago. I’m also left in wonder with seeing a torch not so much passed, but SHARED between Nevin, Raz, and Solvig – who all earned their spots on the podium, to chants of ‘USA, USA !’ that quickly morphed into a more accurate ‘US SAYRE, US SAYRE!!’. Proud parents indeed, Nevin and Stina.

Sailing windsurfers, especially wrapped to my eyeballs in wind that usually sends the leaners and yachties running for the club bar is just as much fun for me now as ever, and the Kona One Class makes it possible to race in just about any wind strength, and to be competitive with anyone – from a 17-yr old kid to his ancient Dad, who is my age… So, for my first big time race in 16 years, this was as good as it could be, and is shaping up to get better still!

Kona Worlds 2014 Full Results

Kona Colors in the Florida Keys. Credit: Magi Foster

Kona colors in full bloom in the Florida Keys. Credit: Magi Foster

My Ode to Kona Windsurfing!

Start Line at the 2014 Kona Worlds in Islamorada, FL USA

Kona Fleet, with different sail sizes differentiated by color, on the start line at Kona Worlds in Islamorada! Photo Credit: Magi Foster

By Jim DeSilva
Sandy Point Progressive Sports, Miami

Although I have participated in a number of Kona races, including the Worlds in Miami a few years ago, we had never gotten 100+ Konas together in one place before. This was certainly a unique experience. The question you have to ask is, before these Kona Worlds and the RS:X Youth Worlds a couple of weeks ago in Clearwater, when WAS the last time we had a 100 person One Design Windsurfing Race of any description in the US? A bunch of the kids we teach at the Miami Yacht Club were at all the huge Techno events in Europe this past summer, including the Worlds with 350+, but it has been a LONG TIME in the United States.

What was fascinating about this event was the even level of the racing: everyone was going the same speed. Of course the winner seemed to have a little extra squirt, but the winners in all sports do. Although I was only there for one day, every race was the same: wind shifts were a huge deal, getting a good start was a huge deal, mark roundings and positioning on the legs was a huge deal. Hitting laylines correctly was a huge deal. But speed was not such a huge deal because everyone was going the same speed. Normally OD windsurfing events are very weight sensitive: light guys going fast in light wind, heavier guys dominating when it is hammering. Kona is unique this way in that they have the weight breaks for the different sail sizes. Smallest people on 6.6, next smallest on 7.4, 8.2, 9.0 and even 9.8 for the bigger guys. What is interesting is that it actually works: you see every size up at the front, and every size in the back and everywhere in between. It has completely eliminated the weight penalties that have plagued the sport since OD windsurf racing began, and made for the most even windsurfing racing I have ever been a part of.

The other thing that has changed is younger sailors are quite competitive with their older parents and vice versa. This is unique in windsurfing. Raz Sayre, who won the event, was battling straight up with his dad, Nevin, a longtime windsurfing legend. At 53 years old, I was battling with a couple of the kids I teach at MYC, duking it out in multiple races, even though I am close to 200 lbs and they are 85-120 lbs. The sail size differences, proportional to the weights of the sailors, make it really even. In the lighter winds, they would have crushed me with the same size sail, and I would have had a huge advantage if I was there on the windier days. But in Kona, everyone is underpowered the same and overpowered the same. And don’t forget about the women: they won multiple races OVERALL in the gold fleet and had 3 finishers in the top 11, because they don’t have to be in a pumping contest and can just use their skill and knowledge. You cannot pump in Kona: you just sail. There is a little gray area currently in the rules but that looks to be getting cleaned up, but for the most part, you just sail. And this lets a really wide range of sailors compete against each other on a very fair basis. Skill, technique and smarts instead of hyperactive aerobic activity. Everyone likes it too.

Steven Cramer, 14 years old, 95 lbs, 6.6 in 25 knots, first day of racing

Steven Cramer, 14 years old, 95 lbs, 6.6 in 25 knots, first day of racing. Photo Credit: Magi Foster

 

The other aspect of it is the simplicity. You have one board, one fin, one rig, and you are totally even with everyone else. Not “Oh, I hope it’s windy so I can be competitive” or “I hope it is light wind so I can plane off before everyone else.” None of this exists in Kona, it’s totally even, all the time. The board, while very low tech, works in all conditions very nicely and you can still teach new people on it. Light winds, 1-5 kts, it sails great, no cambers, just full battens, and it will sail upwind with the dagger up when it is windy like an RS-X, Techno or Prodigy. And for fully lit beam reaching, it is actually pretty fun and easy to gybe due to the round rails. It’s not fancy at all, but it works pretty good all the time. Simplicity is good: you should not need a giant van full of gear to be a windsurf racer.

The Kona Class solves a lot of problems in windsurf racing. I know there will be a lot of people who poopoo it because it is kind of low tech (no carbon!)(no cambers!)(no 1500 dollar fins!)(it’s got a rubber deck?) But if you want to see more grass roots racing, it’s the way to go. I think most of the people who were at the event would agree that it was the most evenly raced windsurf regatta they had ever attended: more even than any Mistral OD Regatta, more even than any RSX regatta, more even than any Windsurfer or Superlight regatta back in the day. Anyone can join, compete, win AND just have a board that works for fun sailing and messing around the rest of the time. And they cost less than most Optimists.

To see it growing like it is, and happening like this, young and old, men and women, all racing together… What a huge positive for windsurf racing. 13 countries and 105 competitors in the Florida Keys: that IS just like the good old days that many remember, but it is here, right now… and growing.

Winner Raz Sayre leading the fleet

2014 Kona Worlds Winner Raz Sayre leading the fleet. Photo Credit: Magi Foster

2014 Kona Worlds in Islamorada – an Interview with Event Chair Michael Fox

In exactly three weeks (Oct 31 – Nov 5), 100+ competitors from around the world will come together in beautiful Islamorada, Florida for the 2014 Kona World Championships. We thought this would be the perfect time to sit down with Michael Fox, event Chairman and President of Kona USA, to preview this world-class event and learn about what the Kona Class is all about!

Michael, a Kona racer himself these days, has been involved in organizing windsurfing events in the US for nearly 30 years, and the task of organizing the 2014 World Championships for the Class couldn’t be in better hands.

Enjoy the interview!

Michael Fox - Portrait 01

Michael Fox, Event Chairman

US Windsurfing: What makes the Kona Class special?

Michael Fox: It is a well-supported one-design class with a board that is very entry-level friendly, with body weight differences equalized accordingly with sail size and relying on true sailing skills and tactics by the elimination of pumping.

Is it for advanced or beginner racers?

It is definitely a strong class for beginner racers based on the virtues I just mentioned, but should also appeal to the advanced racers who want to see how they perform on the most level playing field in all of sailing.

Can you race in 3 knots?

Yes and we’ve done it. Two years ago, we were forced to race in barely 3 knots of thermal wind generated by a highway running next to the lake. The wind pattern reached out a quarter mile and ran a half mile down the beach. The competition was tight, but the qualifier was that the water was absolutely flat. I wouldn’t want to race in 3 knots if there was a swell or boat chop.

Can you race in 30 knots?

There are definitely those who can race in 30 knots. I was on the RC boat at our first Worlds in Miami when the winds were peaking at 30. But the majority of the starters sailed in survival mode or didn’t finish at all. If it is not a major championship, I have always preferred to switch to a slalom format in the higher winds if it will help get more people off the beach and across the finish line.

How fast is the Class growing?

It is growing at a very steady and healthy rate, faster than most any other windsurfing class in many years. We are currently adding 500 boards per year with Sweden leading the wave. The U.S. is probably second, although we have yet to develop the West coast at all. With the 2015 U.S. Nationals scheduled for Cabrillo Beach, we will soon see Kona flowers west of the Rockies.

When did it first break through in the US?

It started very early in Florida, thanks to the popularity of the Calema Midwinters and our Florida-based distributor who recognized the value of a well-supported one-design class to the faltering racing scene. But it was the 2010 Kona Worlds held off South Beach in Miami that helped spread the seeds across much of the continent. The Kona flower quickly took strong roots in Toronto, the Midwest and Texas, and a year later in New England.

Why are the Worlds in Islamorada special?

If you have ever windsurfed or raced in the Keys, you shouldn’t ask that question with a straight face. We are sailing out of the Guy Harvey Islander with most of the competitors staying there and the rest less than a mile away. Islamorada offers many activities both on and off the water for non-racing family members. And then there is that Island mystique which is much more than umbrella drinks at the Tiki bar.

How many countries and athletes do you have registered?

At this point, we have 12 nations and over a hundred racers registered. I believe we have the charter boards to reach 115 or a little more.

How hard is it to organize such an event?

For 28 years, I was fortunate to lead a dedicated group of volunteers in putting on the Mille Lacs Crossing which was basically a high-risk, long-distance race that took an afternoon. I often said that it would be much easier to plan and run a national championship regatta than put on the Crossing. I won’t use those words again. My experience in running major events several hours from my home base provided for some false confidence. But fortunately, while I faced various obstacles that confront a World championship, I was regularly rewarded with the excitement from registrants. And while I have had a smaller team than I had for the Crossing, they have provided great support and input.

What conditions are you expecting?

The lightest reports from that time of the year are 8-10 knots. If we get an early season front moving through, we will have some high wind racing. At the very least, the winds should easily be Kona winds and when it picks up to planing speeds, we have a reef outside the race area keeping the water relatively flat.

Any early favorites to take the crown?

Vegas is still working on that formula. We have several older competitors with multiple world and national championships under their belt. And then we have nearly as many younger racers who have been absorbed in Olympic campaigns who should definitely make a presence on the award podium. No pumping and the sail size-to-weight balancer helps erase the age and weight handicaps, meaning more racers reaching the first mark seconds apart and close finishes throughout most of the fleet. The crown will definitely be earned.

 

2014 National Slalom Standings Taking Shape After Hawaii State Championships!

(Drone video courtesy of Daniel Barreiro)

By Tamara Bockius

Thank you to all the sailors and their families who traveled to Maui to race with us this summer! The Maui Race Series (MRS) enjoyed beautiful trade winds and a smoothly organized set of 5 events run through June and July with the 5th event, the Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championships, in early August. Enjoying its 30th year, the MRS is like a mini Olympics of Windsurfing because of all the different nationalities in attendance. The Japanese racers are seriously fast and train hard. A large group of Kiwi Sailors (New Zealanders) show up ever year well trained and equipped. We have racers from the Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands, Australia, France, Germany, Canada and Argentina, a 15 year old Russian Jr. girl from Moscow competed this year, Italy was well represented with Luciano, several British racers show up every year to devastate the fleets as well.

Hawaii State Champs - Harry Wiewel

Racers from all horizons converged on Kanaha for the Hawaii State Champs – credit: Harry Wiewel

Sailing at the Maui Race Series events will expose you to a very high level of competition (it’s Maui, everyone and their mom is an old Pro!) but at the same time, it is relaxed, just for fun. Every time that you show up to compete, you will enhance your sailing skills. You learn from watching the other racers, checking out their various equipment and individual sailing styles. You can become a better sailor if you want to. It takes training and familiarity with your equipment and all the conditions that you can take it in. Racing pushes you to sail better, faster, longer, and with a purpose. Recreational sailing is always fun also, cruising and playing with friends. We want to encourage you to take your Windsurfing to the ‘next level’ though, get out on the water and train towards a goal, competing at one or maybe all of the NRT windsurfing events offered around the U.S.

See you at the Races-
Aloha from Maui,
Tamara Bockius (Tammy)
US Windsurfing – Pacific Regional Director

A magical backdrop and great playground at Kanaha for the MRS - credit: Jimmie Hepp

A spectacular backdrop and magical playground at Kanaha for the MRS – credit: Jimmie Hepp

Like those drone videos? Here are a few more from this year’s Race Series in Maui (credit: Mauizoom’s Reinhard Elischka):

Maui Race Series, Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championships Aug. 2. 2014
Maui Race Series, Meanline Slalom July 5. 2014
Maui Race Series, Carbon Art Challenge June 7. 2014

The US Windsurfing Association has been working hard this year helping cross promote regattas around the country. Along with a new, updated website to keep track of all the events around the country, US Windsurfing has created a national Slalom ranking on its National Racing Tour (NRT). The title in 2014 is calculated from the points from four select regattas in the US. Those four events are: 1) the slalom portion the US Nationals that took place in Worthington in June; 2) the Gorge Cup event held July 19-20th in Hood River; 3) the Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championships on the MRS held August 2nd; and 4) the final event, yet to take place in 2014, is the Miami Slalom Open, scheduled for November 8-9. At this final event US Windsurfing will crown its first US National Slalom champions!

All US Windsurfing members attending any of the above four slalom events get automatically ranked on the NRT. With the finish line clearly in sight, here are the standings after event #3 in Hawaii (click to zoom in):

2014 Slalom Standings After 3rd Event

MacRae Wylde Wins Event #2 on the 2014 Slalom NRT in Hood River!

Top 5 Overall:  from left:  Casey Hauser, Bruce Peterson, MacRae Wylde, Sean Kelly - not pictured:  Bryan Metcalf-Perez

Top 5 Overall: from left: Casey Hauser, Bruce Peterson, MacRae Wylde, Sean Kelly – not pictured: Bryan Metcalf-Perez

The 2nd event on the 2014 Slalom NRT (National Racing Tour) took place July 19-20 as part of the Gorge Cup series in Hood River, with fast and furious competition in all categories! In a breakthrough performance, MacRae Wylde won the overall title, with Bruce Peterson and Casey Hauser close on his heels.

Overall winner MacRae Wylde in action

Overall winner MacRae Wylde in action

We asked MacRae to put this amazing experience into words:

The Gorge Cup Race Series has been going on for years. The National Race Tour generally brings out the best competition of the year. New faces and top racers make the event both challenging and fun. This year featured the new Slalom Tour. In any given race there are ten guys and a couple of women who can put it all together to have a great race. My goal has always been to be competitive with the top sailors. To place in the top five is always a victory. Racing at this level means that one mistake can cost you three or four positions.

Last weekend something happened to me. I had a great day on Saturday of the two day National Slalom Tour Gorge Cup event, winning one race and picking up a couple of thirds to finish the day in fourth. Sunday was an out of body experience for me. Every choice I made seemed to work. Every time I moved to a puff of wind, it was there. We did eight races and I won five and was second in three. Sunday’s results were enough to secure the win for the weekend. I can’t say what I did differently than any other day, but I was focused and really enjoyed racing.

Windsurfing is my passion and Sunday everything just clicked together. I will always remember my day in the light. Thanks also to all the racers, old and young, who came out to push the limits and see how far you can go.

With the 2nd event on the 2014 Slalom NRT in the books, here are the updated standings:

2014 Slalom Standings After 2 Events

No overlap in the fleets between the first event in Worthington and the second in Hood River, but this might change with the third event coming up this weekend at the Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championships. Stay tuned!

Grand Master Toshi Kato showing how it's done

Grand Master Toshi Kato showing how it’s done!

Slalom Standings after Event #1 Are Up!

Slalom Action in Worthington (credit: Larry Reed)

Slalom Action in Worthington (credit: Larry Reed)

Event #1 on the 2014 Slalom National Racing Tour is in the books!

It was part of the US Nationals last month in Worthington, Minnesota. With furious storms rolling through the area, the conditions were literally electric but race director Jeff Hegwer and his team of daredevils found an opening in the weather to complete a full round-robin schedule and make the results official (for a full recap of that event, see Experience Prevails at the 2014 US Nationals in Worthington).

So, how did we score the event? For this inaugural slalom season on the US National Racing Tour, we chose to innovate with the points system: in a nutshell, first place in each division gets 1000 points, last place 100 points and every other finisher gets equally spread out between 1000 and 100. Some math is involved, but hopefully you won’t find it too overwhelming! We picked this system because it gives an advantage to a top finish in a larger fleet, yet it also levels the playing field at the very top to give equal importance to all four events on the schedule this year. Using this system, here are the standings after Event #1:

2014 Slalom Standings After 1 Event

We’re now turning to Event #2, coming up this weekend (July 19-20) in Hood River!

Lisa Kremer Milbrandt (Women), Niels Zaunmueller (Juniors <18), Magnus Zaunmueller (Men 18-34), Christophe Waerzeggers (Masters 35-44), Xavier Ferlet (Grand Masters 45-54) and Guy Miller (Super Masters 55+) have a leg up on the competition, but there’s lots of racing left before it’s all said and done.

Who will win it all?

(Details about this year’s slalom schedule on the National Racing Tour may be found here).

Experience Prevails at 2014 US Nationals in Worthington!

Enjoying the Action on Lake Okabena in Worthington (credit: Noah Keitel)

Enjoying the Action on Lake Okabena in Worthington (credit: Noah Keitel)

Lake Okabena in beautiful Worthington, Minnesota is barely two miles across, and yet on June 11-15, in the span of five days of intense competition, it threw an amazing display of conditions at the racers gathered there for the 2014 US Windsurfing Nationals: 0 to 40 knots, wind from all directions on the compass, 45-75 air temperature, sun, rain, flooding and enough lightning in the air to literally fry a wind turbine!

We're not kidding! Storms roll in on day 4 of the US Nationals

We’re not kidding! Storms roll in on day 4 of the US Nationals (credit: Tea Storm Chasers)

This marquee event on the US national racing calendar had it all: challenging conditions and tight course racing action for the raceboard, kona, formula and sports fleets featured at the Championships; free windsurfing instruction for dozens of onlookers, courtesy of Roger Jackson and Ellen Faller (thank you!); mad slalom heats on the days when the wind was at its fiercest, marking an auspicious start to the recently announced 2014 US Slalom National Racing Tour; thousands of spectators; live television coverage; and an amazing arts and music festival in the evenings!

It was sunny too! US Nationals in Worthington, Minnesota

It was sunny too! US Nationals in Worthington, Minnesota

Free Windsurfing Instruction at the US Nationals!

Free Windsurfing Instruction at the US Nationals!

Artist Shawn McCann in front of the mural he created for the event (credit: Ron Kern)

Artist Shawn McCann in front of the 52′ x 20′ mural he created for the event (credit: Ron Kern)

In a great display of racing skills, tuning mastery and experience, Xavier Ferlet won both the slalom and formula National Titles in Worthington. We asked Xavier to take us inside the ropes:

The first day of regatta was a bit light but we had three Formula races. Losing some weight over the last few months paid off. I found it relatively easy to pop on the plane with the 12.0. The skills acquired by doing Formula at inland venues in the UK was put to good use! (…)

Read Xavier’s full testimonial here: Inside the Ropes at the 2014 US Windsurfing Nationals!

Rock Band Narrow Vines on the main stage at the US Windsurfing Nationals!

Rock Band Narrow Vines on the main stage at the US Windsurfing Nationals!

We also asked Bill Keitel, local resident, event co-founder, emcee extraordinaire, calypso guitarist (and VP of US Windsurfing to boot!) to give us a recap of the onshore festivities:

The 2014 U.S. Windsurfing National Championships are history and the city of Worthington is easing back to decompress. The UnVarnished Music Festival is of, by and for windsurfers and musicians. This year we put forth a devil-may-care attitude and started the opening night with Ray Wylie Hubbard (…)

Read Bill’s full recap here: On Stage at the 2014 US Windsurfing Nationals!

2014 Raceboard National Champ Mark Boersma shares his knowledge with local fans

2014 Raceboard National Champ Mark Boersma shares his knowledge with local fans (credit: Noah Keitel)

Xavier wasn’t alone on the top step of the podium in Worthington: Mark Boersma (above) won the raceboard national title, Steve Gottlieb (below in the red sail) leaped to the front of the standings on the last day to take the Kona title, and Kelly Johnson took the crown in the Sports fleet. You’ll find all the results here courtesy of our friends at Mowind.

Konas in Action at the 2014 US Nationals! (credit: Larry Reed)

Konas in Action at the 2014 US Nationals! (credit: Larry Reed)

A big thank you to the city of Worthington, The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Worthington, the Worthington Okabena Windsurfers, the Daily Globe, Mowind, Jeff Hegwer and his team, and all the sponsors, supporters and spectators who made it all possible. Enjoy Xavier’s and Bill’s testimonials, and start making plans for the 2015 US Windsurfing National Championships at Cabrillo Beach next summer!

Artists Jeff Adamski and Jeff Hegwer and the gorgeous trophies they designed for the event!

Artists Jeff Adamski and Jeff Hegwer and the gorgeous trophies they designed for the event!

Windsurfing's True Colors! Up and comers at the 2014 US Nationals! (credit: Ron Kern)

Windsurfing showing its true colors! Up and comers at the 2014 US Nationals (credit: Ron Kern)

US Windsurfing Nationals Get Amped Up!

Previous US Windsurfing Nationals in Worthington, MN - Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Previous US Windsurfing Nationals in Worthington, MN – Photo Credit: Dan Norman

One month to go before the 2014 US Windsurfing Nationals in Worthington, Minnesota - are you ready?

The Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival has been a mainstay on the US Tour for many years, and it’s playing host next month to its 3rd US Windsurfing Nationals, from June 10-15.

The US National Championships are a celebration of windsurfing, and a wonderful opportunity to get racers together from all corners of the country and across all disciplines, from Formula to Kona, from Slalom to Open Class. Everyone is excited to be heading to Worthington this year, on the waters of Lake Okabena, not just because of the incredible wind conditions there, but because of the vibe and support of the local community.

Near Shore Action in Worthington, MN - Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Near Shore Action in Worthington, MN – Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Racing in the Middle of Town in Worthington, MN - Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Racing in the Middle of Town in Worthington, MN – Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Oh, and there’s another reason: the music! That’s right, the event doubles up as a music festival. Have you sailed to the sound of live music before?

Bill Keitel, VP of US Windsurfing, knows the local scene very well: he lives right there on Sailboard Beach. Bill, along with the Worthington Okabena Windsurfers association, is in charge of thawing the lake each spring, stashing away the ice shanties and cranking up the wind turbines off Buffalo Ridge in nearby South Dakota. He’s also in charge of the music lineup, and is fired up about the upcoming festivities:

Worthington is excited to host their 15th annual regatta & 3rd U.S. Windsurfing National Championships. As many remember tornado warnings from 2008 Nationals made wind speeds a bit more excessive than necessary. We will moderate the wind speeds this year and hope for nothing more than small craft advisories!

Preparations have been made to treat Windsurfers like Exalted Rulers of the Universe! Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and UnVarnished Music Festival is dedicated and predicated on the notion that this festival is of, by, and for windsurfers and musicians.

We’ve gone to great lengths to put together an Event of Uncommon Merit. Five city blocks of Sailboard beach will be blocked off and only Windsurfers and musicians will have access to beachside parking. Besides hotels, Lakeside camping is also available, book soon to avoid disappointment.

Through dogged determination and a devil-may-care-attitude we have stretched our imagination and budget to rustled up some of the finest musical entertainment ever provided to Windsurfers. The evenings on Sailboard beach will be memorable! Opening ceremonies Wed. musical lineup will include Ray Wylie Hubbard. Ray Hubbard from Austin Texas has recently appeared on the David Letterman Show.

The main sound stage will power up on Wed. and there will be music every night.

We look forward to your arrival!

Go to www.worthingtonwindsurfing.com for all the details. It’s early registration until May 28, and $100 ($55 for juniors) gets you food, live music and all the racing you can handle in five days.

Join the fun and get amped!

On the Podium at the European Championships: Geronimo!

Start Line Action at the 2014 T293 Europeans in Torbole, Italy!

Start Line Action at the 2014 T293 Europeans! Photo Credit: Moan

Those of you who are following the progress of our young windsurfers in the US have heard of the Nores brothers from Miami. Big brother Maximo, the reigning Techno 293 North American champion, is turning 16 this year and will represent the USA at the Youth Olympic Games in China. Younger brother Geronimo is 14 now and was making headlines long before he turned his attention to windsurfing when he claimed three World titles in a row in the O’pen Bic class in 2010-12. And yes, there’s a third Nores brother, Manu, who is doing much more than waiting in the wings of his two older brothers, and starting to make waves of his own.

Those three have been on a whirlwind adventure of late, traveling from Cancun, Mexico to Mendoza, Argentina along with their US teammates to hone their skills, posting great results along the way against the best from the Americas. The April 18-20 US Nationals in Miami gave them all a chance to catch their breath with a home-based event, but the break was short-lived: immediately after the awards ceremony at the Nationals, they hopped on a flight to Italy with their Miami teammate Steven Cramer to take part in the 2014 Techno 293 European Championships. A few hours after landing in Milan, they found themselves in a flash mob of 313 jubilant youngsters waving flags through the streets of Torbole!

Geronimo Leading the Way at the 2014 T293 Europeans - Photo Credit: Moan

Geronimo Leading the Way at the 2014 T293 Europeans – Photo Credit: Moan

At that event, Geronimo finished 2nd in a fleet of 81 eager competitors under the age of 15. This was a breakthrough performance in glorious Lake Garda conditions against some of the very best young windsurfers in the world. We couldn’t resist reaching out to Geronimo when he returned to the US to find out what happened:

“My heart is racing, there are people all around me, all with the same goal, to win. The start horn goes off and everybody is pumping away at the start, some left behind and others launched ahead.

Racing in international events, to me are the highlights of my whole year. There is just so much to learn with so many people around you and it’s an amazing experience. The T293 2014 Europeans in Garda was definitely one of my favorite windsurfing events I’ve ever been to. It was so well organized and full of fair racing and fierce competition. I can honestly say I’ve never pumped so hard and so much in my life.

I had an amazing time, both on and off the water. With over 300 competitors, friends were everywhere to be found. The venue of this European championship was amazing because Garda delivered amazing racing conditions every day, and Torbole was a beautiful town. The event was the biggest of the European championships in history of the T293 class which is definitely a positive sign. People are becoming involved at younger ages like 11 and 12 and the class is growing in all fleets of all ages. We expect over 500 people at worlds making T293 the biggest youth windsurfing class and, in the opinion of many others and mine as well, the best. I was proud to represent my country and thrilled to get a second place and stand on that podium.

I left Garda quite pleased and very motivated to train even harder for my next challenge, which is Worlds in Brest. The whole Team trained hard and to see it pay off for all of us made us appreciate all the support we receive from outside and each other on the team pushing each other to the next level.”

U15 Boys Podium at the 2014 T293 Europeans.

U15 Boys Podium at the 2014 T293 Europeans – Photo Credit: fotofiore.com

Geronimo’s feeling that the team’s hard work is starting to pay off is echoed by his coach Uri:

“We spent two seasons building up the base of the pyramid, and we’re starting to see great results. This year, we started training early in October with a group of windsurfers who had international racing experience, and we made great progress every step of the way. The Europeans in Italy were a strong test event for us. The team had a really good experience traveling for that event. We had no pressure to post a result – although in the end we got a silver medal! Our goal this summer is the Worlds, and the Europeans were a great stepping stone.”

Florencia Barletta heads the Youth Sailing Foundation (YSF) programs at the Miami Yacht Club where Geronimo and his teammates practice every week. Speaking about the impact that those results are having on the development of the team, she adds:

“The Miami Yacht Club Youth Sailing is extremely proud of their windsurfing racing team. They have had a year of great accomplishments all over the globe. This, of course, is thanks to the great efforts of the coaches who work with them, the parents who make sure they can travel and experience these unforgettable life opportunities, and the sailors who put forth the effort and the hours of training! We are very happy to be able to support our team.

Their successes have created an awakening to the sport of windsurfing for young kids around the area. We have been offering windsurfing for the past three years in our summer camp programs. I find myself as Director of YSF programs speaking to more and more parents and creating more classes and private classes. Also I speak to parents of sailors looking to add windsurfing to their sailing activities.

We offer the possibility to start in a ‘Windsurfing for Fun’ class and go through Intermediate, Advanced and then Racing Team. It’s great to see that the interest is not only in boys but in teen girls as well. We are hoping that we can have some girls on our racing team this coming year!”

Slalom Becomes Part of the US National Racing Tour

Slalom at the 2013 Nationals in Cabrillo Beach, CA – © dominik huber / dominikphoto.com

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re thrilled to announce that Slalom is now part of the US National Racing Tour!

The US National Racing Tour (NRT) is an exciting year-long race for points. Racers are automatically entered when they participate in some of the most prestigious events in the country (from Florida to Hawaii, from Oregon to Minnesota) and accrue points based on their results at each of those events. The points system rewards top finishes of course, but also participation, as no one who makes the effort to attend an event leaves without points. You may check out the full lineup of events on the 2014 NRT here, along with details about what racing class is represented where.

For years we’ve featured Formula on the NRT, as well as Open and Kona windsurfing, and we’re now adding Slalom to the family! Four slalom events will be included in this inaugural series: a Gorge Cup event in Hood River, OR (July 19-20, 2014); the Hawaii State Championships in Kahului, HI (Aug 2, 2014); the Miami Slalom Open in Miami, FL (Nov 8-9, 2014); and the whole series will start at the US Windsurfing Nationals in Worthington, MN (June 10-15, 2014).

See what our regional directors and local organizers are saying about those venues and their inclusion on the Slalom NRT:

Rick Randall, WindsurfingTour:

Credit: WindsurfingTour

Slalom Action in Miami – Photo Credit: WindsurfingTour

“The Miami Slalom Open is an exciting event in the most culturally vibrant city in America. Come and experience the excitement of the crossroads of North and South American culture, and some mighty fine windsurfing as a bonus!

This event has been going for 8 years, and we are incredibly stoked to be a part of the new US National Slalom Tour. Slalom is the event that brings the high speed action and athleticism of windsurfing close to the beach where spectators can be drawn into the sport, and participants are pushed to their limits.”

Andreas Macke, Northwest Regional Director for US Windsurfing:

Credit: VMG Events

Slalom Action in the Gorge – Photo Credit: VMG Events

“GorgeCup slalom is just plain fun – well organized, lots of racing, not a lot of sitting on shore. Chances of good conditions are pretty good, the venue is awesome both for racers and spectators, and the racing is tight, fun, friendly, and exciting for all levels of racers from beginners (who are welcomed with open arms) to seasoned pros (who will have their work cut out for them at the top of the fleet) and anyone in between (who’ll find spirited competition at all levels in this fleet).

Bring your family for a fun-filled vacation in one of the most amazingly beautiful places in the country, or just spoil yourself with a dedicated windsurfing trip with everything from gentle cruising to nuking swell riding and nearby coastal wave sailing available to you in one convenient region. I’ve been actively racing for over a decade and a half – and nothing beats a weekend of rocking slalom at the Event Site.”

Tammy Bockius, Pacific Regional Director for US Windsurfing:

Credit: Jimmie Hepp

Slalom Action in Maui – Photo Credit: Jimmie Hepp

“The Maui Race Series is a five event series held for 30 years in a row at Kanaha Beach park in Maui, Hawaii. June and July 2014 Amateurs and Pro Sailors race together in some of the finest slalom windsurf conditions in the world. There are multiple divisions so you can decide what level you are up for competing at.

The races at Kanaha are fun for visiting sailors and their entire families as well as serious pre-season training and testing grounds for World cup racers. Everyone wants to up their sailing game! The events are one day each, 40-50 well run heats, Awards/Beach party at Kanaha afterwards, everyone is welcome whether it’s to race or spectate.

The first 4 MRS events count towards an overall Maui county championship title. The final and 5th event of the MRS is always the Hawaii State Championships. The MRS wants to encourage Sailors of every age, gender, nationality and racing ability to join us for one or all of the events this Summer. The MRS is pleased to have the Hawaii State Championships count towards an overall NRT. Thank you to the USWA for supporting the sport of Slalom Racing. See you at the races this Summer – Aloha, Tammy”

Arden Anderson, Great Lakes Regional Director for US Windsurfing:

High Wind Action in Worthington - Photo Credit: Midwest Speed Quest

High Wind Action in Worthington – Photo Credit: Midwest Speed Quest

“US Nationals and the entire City of Worthington are excited to include Slalom Racing at this year’s event. Slalom Racing is one of the most exhilarating and accessible forms of windsurfing so everyone is welcome to enter, from Pros to First Timers. The Midwest Speed Quest in Worthington has demonstrated that this venue can produce board speeds over 40 mph, so prepare for some thrilling competition!

Slalom Racing will be an additional discipline run at separate times from Course Racing (Formula, Kona, Open, and Sport Fleets), so course racers may also register to compete on Slalom. Fleets for Slalom and sub-divisions will be assigned in accordance with registration.

We look forward to the kickoff of Slalom Racing for the National Racing Tour! On your marks, get set, Go to Worthington!”

We’re looking forward to the heated competition around the country!