“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

If you’re kitesurfing Crissy, be careful out there

Posted by direwolff on August 15, 2006

Bill Tai had a good post today describing his recent “kitemare” out at Crissy Field. Fortunately, one of the Crissy veteran kiters (and event coordinator for the St. Francis Yacht Club Thursday Night Cabrinha Kitesurfing Races), was out there to make sure no harm came to Bill, but things could have become very challenging under different circumstances. Riding from Crissy out to the Golden Gate Bridge requires one to be constantly alert as the waters are rough, the winds can be gusty, the tides are strong, and the boat traffic intense at times. Even working on basic kitesurfing tricks can be challenging at Crissy given these conditions. It often looks like a fun place to the uninitiated since they see so many people just take off and have a blast, but the core group at Crissy has been riding that spot for a long time and have learned (most of them the hard way) that riding the mouth of the Bay must be done with quite a bit of respect.

Just this past Saturday, I was also called into action after seeing a rider-less board pass by me in a 4 knot ebb out by the south tower. There was no kiter to be seen in the vicinity and the board was heading out to sea. Fortunately, I was able to go grab it and bring it back to shore, much to the relief of the kiter who had lost it and his friends. The ride back to shore was harrowing in and of itself given that carrying another board while flying a kite is no picnic, but it felt nice to be building up my karma account.

In Bill’s case, fortunately, Johnny Gomes had a VHF radio and was able to call into the Coast Guard but with the tides there, Bill could have had a different fate, and for no other reason than him trying to do a good deed and helping a friend who had lost his board.

One other noteworthy comment on riding by the Golden Gate Bridge. There are a few wind shadows which most accomplished riders know about but newbies often learn the hard way. One is on the eastern side of the south tower of the bridge. It can be a few hundred yards away, but the wind tends to get blocked and kites will either fall from the sky if you’re too close, or behave uncontrollably for a little while which can result in sporadic pulls where the kite can tug the rider off their board. The other wind shadow occurs again on the south end of the bridge, between the south tower and shore (Fort Point) where the Fort blocks the wind even before the rider notices it and drops the kite close to the rocks. Many a kite has been taken through the ringer there and torn to shreds. In some cases the danger is that it may get in the way of surfers who often ride in the cove where the shadow lies.

Anyway, riding the mouth of the Bay can be a blast, but if you’re new to the spot definitely ask around to get the scoop on riding there as it can be very dangerous very quickly when mistakes are made. There’s nothing like riding here, and I can guarantee that becoming a good Crissy kiter will enable you to ride pretty much anywhere else with confidence.

Thanks to Bill for reminding us of these dangers. Now go out there and SEND IT!!!



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