What's in a name...June 27, 2012
In the 1980’s the Johnnie Walker Hook-In-Hold-On event was windsurfing biggest & best-known event. It was conceived in 1979 by local Virgin Island windsurfers and quickly grew into an intoxicating combination of great inter-island racing, fun parties and a yacht flotilla. As local windsurfers we were thrilled every Summer when the event took place. I mean it was like having the Super Bowl in town and we eagerly competed in as many editions as we could.
Johnnie Walker pulled the plug on their sponsorship after the 1986 event. HIHO owner Andy Morrell nailed a 1st overall that year, collected a Pan Am plane ticket at the awards ceremony and flew back to Europe to finish university. After that it was on to the pro windsurfing World Cup tour for a few years before knuckling down to get a job. Thinking outside the box he bought the Hook-In-Hold-On name and re-started the race under the acronym HIHO in 1993.
Within a few years the event was sponsored by Bacardi Rum and Morrell was banging out the race T-shirts as fast as he could. “We sold them in a basket in my mother’s store in town,” he explained. “And then we decided to build a brand.”
This year’s Highland Spring HIHO is the 20th edition of the “modern HIHO” event. It’s been a roller coaster of a ride.