Came across this shot of my (then) 2 1/2 year old looking very old school on a Kona that Pepi at 2nd Wind had graciously loaned us for a couple days last summer in the Gorge. Which instantly reminded me of all the fun we had with that board. The reason we got it was that Jen was frustrated with the on/off sensation she had with our big wide beginner board - she loved the stability, but she'd gotten it planing a few times, and now she'd tasted blood and wanted more. And getting a 100cm wide barge planing requires a bit of active participation (especially with a 5.0). What's worse, for a beginner/low intermediate, the barge is an exercise in frustration when it's gusty (as it often is at the Event Site) - in the lulls, you're slogging (which is about as exciting as watching grass grow, and doesn't feel all that comfortable); when a gust hits, you get slammed. Until you have it planing, you never feel effortless.
Enter the Kona - still on that same 5.0, the Kona would just smoothly get going for her. In the lulls, she was happily gliding (as opposed to slogging) along, going way faster (and feeling way smoother) than on the wide board. And when the puffs came, the board would just accelerate a bit more, ever so smoothly, and if it was sustained, she'd find herself planing for a bit. The whole thing was pretty effortless. She loved it!
So now I was curious and took it for a spin as well. And yes, that gliding sensation was really nice - big time reminder of what made me fall in love with windsurfing in 1979, before there were short boards. And getting it planing, the ride was incredibly cushy - definitely more Cadillac than sports car. Overall, it was a hoot - and very pleasant and relaxing. Couldn't help but get all nostalgic. No wonder the Kona is inspiring such an exuberant following. As a racer, I spend a lot of time on formula and slalom gear. I absolutely love that on-the-edge feeling you get when you're way overpowered and just pushing it to the max. But there's something about just cruising along. It's an aspect to the sport that's long been missing - kudos to Exocet for so successfully bringing that back.