KAI HOPF

Australian former world cup winner and the mastermind behind NorthSails windsurfing, is one of the most influential sail makers worldwide. Kai also develops high-grade fin profiles for some of the best Windsurfers and Kiters in the world, still prefers to spend most of his time on the water, not only to thoroughly test the designs but to also live his passion. Kai has been the head of sail development at NorthSails for 25 years and during this time has always collaborated with MFC on windsurfing fin development. Kai’s experience and knowledge as a designer is quite simply immeasurable and irreplaceable.


Many “excellent” feedbacks are available for your designs. Are bad test results a personal insult?
— Bad test results may be more important than good results. Because the bad results clearly show the wrong direction.

Where does your motivation come from?
— The best part of this job and for this part of life is that the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.

Test results look at the performance of the product.
To what extent is a sail design influenced by other features such as board or fin?
— Modern sails do not really work on older boards. The reverse is the case. That’s why boards and sails need to be developed together. My team is involved in sailing development as well as being involved in board development. So everything moves forward.

Has windsurfing become too complicated today?
— I do not think that windsurfing has become too complicated. The sport has become bigger with freestyle and meanwhile five types of racing. But to communicate all that is another question. I rather think that a clear, easy entry into the sport is missing.

What is your approach?
— The windsurfing industry should sit down and develop a one-design concept. The board could be produced in polypropylene or composite construction and there is a template for the sail. That would be the cheapest sailing, because why not make it, for 699 euros completely for clubs and schools to offer such a package. ‘Complete’ means five-bar sail, epoxy mast, aluminum fork and board. And in the school holidays there are ranking competitions and a student is then in the Bavarian league in 20th place …