Russ and Greer
1. You are sailing in the Pacific with your family. Would you like to tell us a little bit more about this expedition?
Our trip was something we had dreamed about for many years. We were inspired to dedicate a year or two to family time and adventure! Eventually, we managed to escape our land life last year with a plan to sail from the US east coast or the Caribbean to Perth over a year and a half. Our Outremer 55; S.V Tika turned up or sale in Panama, so we ended up setting sail from there, doing a quick circuit of the Caribbean in 7 months and then going through the Panama Canal to cross the Pacific. We are loving the Pacific so much we have now extended our trip so that we can spend a second season in the islands after spending summer (cyclone season) in NZ. We home school our two children; Kai (12) and Jaiya (9) aboard Tika. So far, 14 months into our trip, we have sailed 15,000 nautical miles and visited 21 countries.
2. What is your own sailing and windsurfing background?
Russ has windsurfed since he was 11, mainly wave sailing with a short stint racing Windsurfer One Designs at university. Greer has windsurfed since she met Russ. In our home town Perth, Russ just wavesails but sails longboards when teaching the kids. Russ sailed a 44′ yacht from Melbourne to Greece in 95-96 with his parents and was inspired by the lifestyle, vowing to return one day as a family. Following a few charter holidays, Greer and Russ crewed on a yacht in the Caribbean in 2003 and have chartered a number of times since in the Whitsundays, Croatia and Tonga. We have also been lucky enough to have the use of a friends small keel boat in Perth whenever we had the time to use her.
3. and 4. You have bought quite a lot of Kona gear on the trip. What was it that made you choose Kona as your equipment provider?…What Kona boards are with you onboard?
Russ got back into longboards when he started teaching the kids to windsurf. However as the kids started getting into Optimist Dinghies and seeing the incredible success that class has enjoyed, Russ started looking around again for a one design board and the Kona One was the obvious choice for a combination of simplicity, teachability (ie friends who want to learn) and performance. We also bought a couple of other inflatable boards. An Active 8.0 for Jaiya (7 yo when we started) and an Active 10.8 which we recently upgraded to the 11.2. The Inflatable kids board has been a runaway success for us and teaching other kids. It is small enough and light for any 6 year old or above to handle it easily when paddling. As a windsurfer, it is a brilliant teaching board and Jaiya can beat upwind on it and actually plane…sometimes beating her brother upwind. The Active 11.2 addition has now allowed us to get all 4 members of the family windsurfing at the same time – which is such good fun. Sometimes we don’t even put our dinghy in the water, rather we all go windsurfing or paddling as a family. We could not do this without the pack down ability of the inflatables – and the 11.2 was a surprisingly pleasant board to windsurf, even planing in 15-20 knots with a 7.8m sail on it.
5. What has been your best Kona experience so far during your journey?
There have been so many great moments involving Kona boards, it really is hard to choose. Perhaps simply just getting all 4 members of the family on the water at the same time and tacking into a deserted beach in aqua blue water to go and read a book together :). I have also had great experiences on the Kona One wavesailing in the San Blas islands of Panama, blasting down sand spits at 25 knots in Playa Serena in Cuba or paddling it onto waves in the Galapagos and Fiji. The Kona One is like our second tender and adrenaline toy all blended into one. The inflatables give us the ability to have all members of the family sailing at the same time.
6. Where are you heading next?
We are heading to NZ and then back out into the Pacific sometime between March and May – not quite sure our first stop but next year will incorporate Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia as a minimum.