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The Fun Factor - english.konafinland.com

 
The Fun Factor

The KONA Style and KONA One (same board, different years) offer performance and fun over a very large wind range. Compared to a classic 140 liter freeride board, typically recommended to improvers, the graph looks quite different.
Fun factor picture

 Explanation of the Fun factor graph:

  • A large freeride without centerboard is totally useless in winds that are not sufficient for planing. Once planing the large freeride is a lot of fun, but when the wind increases it quite quickly starts to get out of hand.
  • A Hybrid has a centerboard and works reasonably well in lights winds. It then shows its best sides just above the planing threshold, but the fun does not last for long as the wind gets stronger. One of the fun reducing features are the poor jibing characteristics. A very wide board requires en enourmous step to the leeward rail. and still provides very stiff turning capabilities.
  • A hybrid is really a large freeride in disguise, it is a board type that just waits to be released in planing conditions. However, when the planing conditions are reached (and before it) it is hampered by the extra weight. A hybrid really requires a big sail to be fun, but that kind of big sails are not really compatible with beginners and improvers.
  • A next generation longboard with a step tail, like the KONA, has thanks to its length a natural stability and is actually better able to cope with relatively strong winds (as compared to a shorter board).
 Why Short and Wide?
The purpose of the wide and short board is planing with very big sails. The wide boards require considerable power to plan properly, and also really big fins to release from the water (and to support the outboard strap positions).
 
Wide boards (>80 cm) are not any jibing machines. In fact, they force the surfer to use techniques that are counterproductive when moving to a smaller board. In order for blasting to make sense the straps MUST be outboard (on a wide board). But in order to make gybing and carving enjoyable the straps have to be inboard. It is simply an impossible equation.
 
Wide boards are created for planing with huge sails. They are excellent tools to minimize the planing threshold. However, their design is almost the exact opposite of what makes a board fun in light non-planing winds, as well as in high (overpowering) winds.
 
Experienced windsurfers still today, just as 25 years ago, enjoy cruising in light  winds with long and relatively narrow boards. Both the 380 cm Raceboards as well as the new Serenity fall into this category.
 
A next generation longboard such as the KONA, at 350 cm long and 70 cm wide, has a natural inclination for light wind cruising. It has good gliding properties thanks to its length.

Experienced windsurfers typically enjoy high winds on relatively narrow (<70 cm) boards. The reduced width allows the board to be banked and carved. On such a board it is possible to find footstrap positions that are a good compromise between blasting and turning.
 
A next generation longboard, such as the KONA, has in fact a planing hull shape that allows both for high performance planing blasting as well as fully planing, technically good, carving jibes. In reality the KONA Style has a lot in common ( i.e. lots of overlap) in planing conditions with an Exocet S-Cross 130.
 
Width is needed for stability (more so for beginners and improvers) and for early planing. After a certain point it is a game of diminishing returns. The characteristics of a board changes dramatically somewhere around 75 cm.
 
What is versatile?
Wide is the opposite to versatile. A wide freeride board, +80 cm, without a centerboard does two things well. It planes early and it is good for blasting in light planing winds (with big sails and big fins). It provides lots of planing opportunities in real world locations.

If something is reduced from the equation: wide (and light) board, big fin and big sail, then it does not work at all anymore.

Adding a centerboard to boost versatility, and reducing fin size to make it more manageable,  is a dead end. The wide board with a centerboard does get some (but not much) additional light wind cruising capabilities, but at the cost of almost everything that was good with the original concept. The smaller fin is no longer suitable for blasting, or even planing windsurfing. The board may start to plane reasonably early, but it is no longer in its element.

Short and wide boards have never, and will never, work well in subplaning conditions. That is physically impossible (barges rather tham boats). Equipping these boards with centerboards does not change the physics. The only thing these boards to well is to be stable enough to learn sail control for absolute beginners. They can also coach the improver onto his first planing experience.

The next generation longboards with step tails work reasonably well (a little bit tippy due to their limited width) for absolute beginners, and extreamely well for improvers (thanks to their limited width). But what makes these boards unique is that they can offer experienced surfers lots of fun, also in planing conditions. It is an almost impossible idea that a good windsurfer would go out on a beginner oriented 280*90 board with a centerboard in 16 knots (or more) of wind. On a next generation longboard the same guys may be the fastest on his beach, and have a great time.

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