Kitesufing through the San Francisco Bay has so far been an endless endeavor. A 58 mile journey was completed that begins to bring a finite distance to the bay, one to be conquered by kite. Along the way, variable conditions were encountered leading to spontaneous course changes and almost forced the expedition to a premature end. Arriving at the destination, the journey connected 5 bridges in roughly 3.5 hrs.
The 5 Bridges Expedition began in the central bay, launching from Crissy Beach. The flood tide had started an hr ago. If needed, I would rely on the tide to push me into the bay and then maybe I would find some wind. A few guys were out 7m’s. I rigged a 10m Cabrinha Switchblade and was riding a Mike’s Lab race board. I was expecting to be overpowered heading upwind to the Golden Gate Bridge. I was not concerned as this was the start and I was fresh.
It was going through Raccoon Strait where the wind started to die off. I was forced to follow the wind, looking for indicators like white caps, rippled waters, glassy waters, signs that kept me thinking this leg was possible, instead of leading me to a dead zone. I was working the kite like mad, trying to get far enough east of Tiburon where the wind allowed me to begin heading north. At this point, I was hugging the breakwall at Point Richmond but was finally in strong enough wind to get me planing, confidently heading for the 2nd bridge.
The was plenty of wind at the Richmond Bridge and I was momentarily lured to sail further north into the San Pablo Bay, but I re-focused on the intended southern destination point. So I began heading south down towards the Bay Bridge. It became, once again, a light-wind battle as I kept a SE course milking the shadowed wind behind Angel Island. Once passed Angel, the clear wind gave me the much needed speed to complete a few upwind tacks to clear Treasure Island. Then began the long, starboard, broad reach down into the south bay.
Passing under the Bay Bridge fully powered was comforting but I realized that the strong wind wasn’t getting light like it typically does, but increasing instead. Afraid of getting worn out, I pinched upwind to hug the city and find lighter wind, but decided to put the kite down and break instead. I ate a Nature Valley bar and drank some water. I was overpowered and afraid I wasn’t able to able to hold a broad reach course for very long. I considered landing at Alameda, in fact, that became my new destination. But as I sat there, thinking about the effort I put into making to the Richmond Bridge, and the thought of the long daylight on my side, I replaced the Alameda option with the original plan. I thought, “I got this!”
Getting up and riding again, the rest did me good. I conjured up some of that wreckless kitesurfing “go for it!” mentality in my thoughts and got pumped! I got focused on my technique and tried to limit my body’s movements and increase efficiency. This included raising my kite a bit to hang from it, and bringing my left, rear foot forward, almost abeam with my front foot. I was paying close attention to the waves, trying not let the nose of board pearl. I was tossed forward a couple times, but still found the fun and relaxation in the wipeout.
Approaching the San Mateo Bridge, I put the kite down to let my pick-up guy, Erin Loscocco, know my ETA. I texted him on my cell phone that I was about 40 minutes away. At this point, the wind had gotten quite comfortable, perfect 10m conditions. The journey was becoming a success in my mind.
Up and running again, I passed under the San Mateo Bridge. This was new territory for me. I was curious how the wind would hold up. It had gotten lighter but I wasn’t afraid it was going to die. The excessive volume of my board kept me planing. Looking east, away from shore, it looked windier and this gave me comfort as well. I hugged the west shore for a while but eventually had to tack out to clear the land.
Eyeing the west end of the Dumbarton Bridge, I began honing in on the proposed landing spot. I was expecting a shallow muddy walkthrough. With the high tide peaking, I was able to kite right up shore and sit my strained body on the sea-grass shore. Kite still flying and board still strapped to my feet, it was a perfect landing!
High five’n with the Dumbarton Bridge!
Now time to go further…