Foiling around San Francisco

The weather was warm and sunny, when one of those heat streaks hits the city, everyone goes to the beach.  The morning started out with east, offshore winds but turned to west as the typical onshore switch began to come into the bay.  Crissy beach, the only beach on the bay in San Francisco, was filled with sun bathers.  On the water, only a handful of kiters were out, only those with foilboards and with foil kites.  A few tube-kites were out, but not many.

When feeling the wind at the beach, it was super light, making the idea of getting off the beach a little intimidating.  Gusting 8-10mph on the Anita Rock sensor.  But one could tell the wind was much stronger outside.  I rigged my 15m Chrono foil kite thinking a 12m would be too light for the inside.  Good thing cause I barely made it out!  But once outside, I was frequently pulling in on my de-power.  Gusts on the outside were definitely in upper teens and with a 15m, it became a workout to hold it down!

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With the sun lighting everything so nicely, it was like a dream out there!  Blue skies, green water, orange bridge, and a magical white city, what a great way to get and enjoy the day!

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But what a day to be on a foil!  For me, these are the best days of the season in SF – with light winds and big kites, the pressure becomes so steady and smooth.  You can depend on the pull to last so much longer while you do your maneuvers.  The water is calm and flat, the windchill effect-minimal.  And afterwards, you just hang out on the beach with the sunbathers.  It’s definitely not the typical kitesurfing weather people imagine when they think “best session ever” but for a foiler, it was awesome!!

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2015 Kite Foil Gold Cup LaVentana: 20th overall, 4th in Masters

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The 2015 Kite Foil Gold Cup kicked off on La Ventana, Baja Mexico this last March 22nd – 28th bringing 44 competitors to race for world rankings.  10 races were held throughout the event.  After the first 4 races were completed, the fleet was separated into a Gold and Silver fleet.  I made it into the Gold Fleet and was thrilled to be among the best of the best!  Overall, I finished 20th.  In the master division (35yrs and older) I placed 4th. Results here  This was a big improvement from last year when I raced in the Silver fleet.

Here’s some great drone footage from the event:  https://vimeo.com/124082402

Conditions on most days were light, with winds in 8-12 knots.  It was tough racing in the light winds as I find the lighter winds require more strength and focus to hold high and tight-to-the-wind courses and involve more line trimming.  The larger kites (15m and up 18m) are more powerful even in light winds so there’s a larger “lift” force that you need to keep in control. There were a few races with medium strength winds (15-20mph) that brought out the 12m kites for many riders.

Most every racer including myself had foil kites where as last year, there were only 1 or 2 foil kites in the fleet.  These foil designs have proven to be more efficient and faster than “pump-up” or “tube” kites.  Results can clearly be seen and felt when you fly one and perform the racing maneuvers.

As for the foil and board designs, the Spotz and Sword designs continue to be the choice for most riders in the fleet.  Notable others that were present are Lift Designs, Aguera,  Levitaz, Radical, and recent bay area start-up F4.  The board shapes mostly vary in volume and bottom contour.  Most have flatten or chines rails  and thicker volume similar to the race board volume, but shorter and narrower.  Many bottom contours are taking on a “V” shape to help soften flat hits and limit the bounce-back effect.

I used a Spotz Foil and ASV board.  My kites are 9m, 12m 15m Ozone Chrono.

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They are 3 more stops on the Kite Foil Gold Cup:

  1. European location/date TBD
  2. July 30th-2nd;  San Francisco
  3. October 8th-13th; Townsville Australia

Thanks to Playa Central and the other sponsors for hosting the event.  They put in a lot of hard work to make it a great success!  Thanks to Captain Kirks Resort for being an event sponsor and supporting me through the winter season.  Congratulations to all the riders that competed.  A special congrats to the local SF Bay Area riders- John and Erika Heineken, Joey Pasquali, Steffans Viljoen, Chip Wasson, Daniela Moroz- you guys killed it!  I’ll need to work hard if I’m going to stay competitive with this bunch and make it to all 3 other stops…wish me luck!

Spex Goggles, Great for Kitesurfing!

Like many sports enthusiasts, I am always on the search for the next best thing when it comes to the gear I use.   As a Kitesurfer/Instructor, many elements are combined and endured in a session-wind, water, temperature, and sun.  Sunglasses have recently become a regular addition to my kitesurfing session check-list and I really don’t like to head out on the water without them.  Not only do they temper the sun’s brightness but certain models also add wind protection keeping my eyes relaxed and comfy all day.

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I have been using Spex Goggles and am super happy with them!  They have a variety of lenses tints including polarized which is a must when it comes to watersports.  We all know how glare gets in the way of reading conditions on the water.  Keeping multiple lenses allows you adapt to the light conditions, using lighter lenses for darker light for example.  There is even a clear lens that comes in handy in extremely foggy or low light conditions.  Changing the lenses is no biggie, as you only have to use your hands to pop them off and swap them out.  
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I have been especially happy with the seal the goggles make around my face, preventing wind from running behind the lenses and drying my eyes.  It’s not an air-tight seal like snow goggles, but about 90% of the air flow is stopped.  Other more recreational sunglasses actually increase wind flow around the frame corners and across the eyes.   As an instructor, high wind exposure comes with the territory especially when you’re on the beach in observation mode with a student and facing dead into the wind.  If it’s a strong wind day, these goggles are on my face at the start of and throughout the day, in and out of the water.
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During water use, water drops do hang onto the lens but not in excess.  I don’t think there’s a water goggle out there that completely and immediately sheds water drops.  A water repellent cleaner (think Rainex) can be used to add repellant performance.  I use a soft buffer cloth to clean up the lens and remove water stains from the previous water session.  After every salt water use, It’s important to rinse your Spex Goggles in fresh water.  The lenses can scratch so be careful to not let them contact anything potentially
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Also, the strap will wear out.  This means that you’re getting a lot of water time-nice!  These can easily be replaced.  It’s also possible they will fall of your head during those extreme kiteboarding wipeouts!  I’ve added a goggle leash to my pair that keeps the goggles attached during high speed foiling wipeouts.
Check em out! www.spexgoggles.com

 

Foiling in Cabo

DCIM100GOPROEver since the foilboard became my favorite craft to ride, many new kiting venues have shown up on my radar.  It’s become a sight-seeing venture to get out at spots where motor crafts are usually required and the wind strong enough for only a pleasure sailing cruiser. When foiling, you can cover long distances in a short amount of time and can head out on your own schedule. It’s a great way to get away from the tourist crowds and take in the moment from an extra special point of view.

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The bay in Cabo is normally busy with touring sailing/motor boats, jet-skis, para-sailing, cruise ships, fishing charters…etc. The wind rarely reaches above 10mph. The spring break atmosphere filled the beach resorts giving the bay a stage-like presence awaiting a performance. It was so warm and sunny with so little breeze that minimal windchill occurred.
When I went out, my 15m kite felt secure enough to allow for confident transitions and exploring the bay out even beyond Lands End. I was carful not ride into wind-blocked areas, like next to the cruise ship or too close to the Arch. I came in as the wind was dropping and had to loop my kite a few times to get pulled towards the beach.

DCIM100GOPROThe sight of the Cabo Arch was definitely the highlight! How many times have you seen it in travel mags and vacation scenes? I even had a bonus moment with a whale surfacing then diving, flipping its tail just before disappearing! The magical moment had turned extraordinary!

 

Baja Update 2015, March is here!

We’re in the final stretch of the winter windy season in La Ventana. It’s been warming up over the last few days, keeping temps between 70 and low-80′s F. There’s a bit of a norte in town today which brings more moderate temps with the chillier, stronger winds. The veterans are saying that winter never fully took over again this year and for me, I’m glad to keep things a little extra warm rather than little extra cold.

The La Ventana winds have been good. Not as ultimately consistent as the bay area when in season, but it’s nice to enjoy the Sea of Cortez with lighter breezes. We’ll get 4-5 days of upper teens-low 20′s, then a few days mixed in that only reach the low-upper teens. If you’re foiled up, then you won’t have any lull days, which has become my secret joy; kiting without wind…only foilers understand… :)

The Baja Peninsula has been a great place to explore. It’s a great release to drive a car without traffic and through desert scenery. Ocean surfing is just one such drive away, and a nice break away from the wind-town! The warmer Pacific waters makes me contemplate heading away for a random day trip more and I only have to wear a top or shorty!

This late season has me thinking about the end when I must migrate back to the bay up north and leave the La Ventana Bay behind. No! No! I will be here, with present mindedness and enjoy the time away the real world! It is a good culture to be a part of, here in Mexico, where things are simple. Wind or no wind, the world outdoors is a wonderful here!

If you find time in your schedule, catch a 2.5 flight down. Cheap Round-Trip tickets are still out there so take advantage of that!DCIM100GOPRO

KiteTheBay in La Ventana, Baja!

Vamos a Bahia de La Ventana, Baja-A Kitesurfer’s Winter Retreat!

The winter season of 2013/2014 was beautiful and warm down on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, in the Bay of La Ventana.  They say it was warmer than usual which is fine with those of us who spend more time in the water than on land.  It became one more reason to walk down to the beach and jump in.  As if there weren’t enough…like the blues and greens of the Sea of Cortez that make every session feel liken you’re kitesurfing on a postcard.  Or the excitement of a norte wind starting to blow in the pre-dawn hours making you wonder if there will be some swells to ride.  When it’s not windy, there’s time to relax and rebuild the excitement of what tomorrow’s conditions will bring…

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Come down and get into the rhythm.  Work on your foilboarding, jumps, or anything that encourages your kitesurfing progression, including learning from the beginning.  With so many options, there’s something new to approach every day.  And the La Ventana Bay provides one of the best kiteboarding learning environments.

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Plan your Kitesurfer’s Retreat for next winter season in La Ventana.  Anytime between November and April is a great time.  Bring your gear or just use ours.  All kiteboarding sessions are either quad or jet ski supported.  Pina Coladas not included but recommended as tips for your instructor :)

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A Day on the Bay…

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Well, it’s been a busy summer on the water in San Francisco.  The wind has been non-stop and the kitesurfers are not the only ones getting in on the action.  America’s Cup has been racing for over a month now, and outside of the races, their 72ft, skeletal, space-age ships can be seen reaching across the bay-scapes.  And boy do they move!

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Today, Dymtro and I were out for an afternoon session and so was the Oracle Team.  Training on two identical boats, we watched the team work on their jibes, attempting to stay up on foil, keeping speed steady.  It’s such a remarkable feat to be able to maintain balance, sail trim, all while carrying 20-40 knots of speed!

It’s like learning how to ride a board, well, at least some of it…

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Dymtro got his session’s worth, working on board skills and learning about the equipment.   It’s one thing to able to kitesurf and another be able to set it up.  Now, we’re ready to hit the water with the Oracle boats!

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Like all good sailors, you have to have your exit strategy.  When the wind dies and your left on on the water, you are sometimes left to create your way back to land.  Handling your gear in and out of the water is a good way to prepare!

Expedition 5 Bridges; 58 miles, 3.5 hrs, YES!!!

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.

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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!

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Now time to go further…

Foiling Under The Gate

Ok, if kiteboarding wasn’t addicting enough, there’s a new way to heighten your enjoyment of the sport-Foilboarding!  The technology isn’t new but many kiters aren’t aware of it’s potential as yet another watercraft pulled with a kite.  Riding the MHL Lift foilboard without straps was a recent decision and is proving valuable in many ways.  Like riding a surfboard strapless, it allows for micro-adjustment in body weight displacement over the foil adjusting for various points of sail (direction changes).  Going downwind requires more forward weight, so a forward shuffle works out nice.

The overall feeling of carrying so little drag is the feeling that keeps me up at night thinking about the continuous S-turns to perform.  Adding kiteloops are a key element that allow for linking smooth transitions, carrying just enough speed to stay lifted on the Foil.  I’ve added the Jaybar Dynabar V7 (with the dyneema slider) and have discovered another level of fluidity.  Every session with the Lift Foilboard has been a breakthrough session and I thought those days were in the past!

It’s getting windy and I’m dying to get back out on the water and work out new, foiling, turns…!  Everyone needs to get out and feel the LIFT!