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Old 31st December 2009, 08:17 PM   #4
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 234

The most promising development I have seen for a long time is the Kona One project in Sweden. It is about the combination of social and family fun, and one design racing. There is the horizontal integration with one-design rigs, with different sizes for weight groups (with 7.4 being the mainstream adult sail, complemented by 9.0, 5.8, 5.0, 4.2, 3.5).

I think this kind of horizontal integration works with consumer segments that are entering the sport, or re-entering it with their kids. It does not work that well anymore with seasoned users, they are already too specialized, and have preferences that cannot be met by a "one size fits all" concept. Can savings be done? Not so much in production as in marketing, product development (not much in one-design), etc.

And we have to remember that it is quite expensive to keep a one design class running. That needs management, events, promotions, racing, community, etc.

The supporting web sites are unfortunately in swedish, but I think you can understand the concept:

It is about kids and youths, about sailing and competing in all winds, about families. It is windsurfing centers focused on "windsurfing for everyone, in any wind".
There are KONA windsurfing schools around the country, and training for the windsurfing teachers.
It is the building if a community. Of reaching out to those in Sailing Clubs, and those that like to be on the beach. To systematically look much further than those who regularly visit windsurfing forums.

I believe that it is more or less impossible for a windsurfing brand to do this by themselves, by employing people. It has to be done locally, maybe using a franchising concept that helps the local enthusiasts and entrepreneurs to succeed.

And all this, one the structure is in place, can of course be marketed towards travel agencies, airlines, etc.

It is not easy. It is really hard work. It requires a lot of patience, and to be able to resist continuous development. But it is surely the way to go.

Will Starboard be willing to walk down this path? I doubt it. Starboard is so committed to development, to creation of cutting edge products. One-design and patience is not in their genes. But lets hope that Kona can make it big. That would inject a lot of energy into windsurfing.
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