Depending on where you take your beach trips, windsurfing may not be something you see much anymore these days. However, there are still plenty of spots around the globe where the sport flourishes. South Africa is one of those places, and one young lady did her part last year to put the sport back on the map! Karo van Tonder set a couple of world records last year by becoming the first woman to not only complete but also win, an 80km windsurfing race.
The Mauritius Challenge is an excruciating 80km race that pushes windsurfers through Mauritius’s Pointe d’esny. When Karo spoke of the race she won, she commented that most of the men dropped out around the 40km point.
Windsurfing for a distance that long puts a tremendous strain on the body and Karo’s back leg started to give out after about two hours of racing. Contrary to what many people would expect, the power in windsurfing isn’t reserved for just the upper body. The entire body must work to control the board and sail. Karo said that it was like being in a squat position for hours on end, and after a while, the chop of the ocean started to take its toll on her legs.
To compensate, Karo changed her position so she didn’t have to rely so much on her back leg. The real strength needed, though, was in her mind. Karo believes that mental strength supersedes physical strength and that a strong mental state can help overcome most physical challenges. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Karo also believes that she can’t have any “bad” days on the water—windsurfing is the ultimate hobby for her, and as long as she’s on a board, she’s having fun!
That kind of attitude has really helped Karo throughout her career, as most of the events she races in are against men. Karo takes pride in the fact that her physical and mental endurance allows her to push further than many of the men in the sport. While they fall out, she pushes on and just happens to set some world records in the process.