All posts by SteveB

Formula Windsurfers take over Americas Cup course in San Francisco

Our formula windsurfing fleet had been invited to race on the Americas Cup course as part of the AC- OPEN- a showcase of different sailing, windsurfing , & kiteboarding competitions run in parallel with the Americas Cup and Louis Vuitton race series this summer on the San Francisco Bay.

We waited until Italy’s Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand finished their first race before launching from Crissy Field and sailing down to the start off last chance beach in front of the AC Village on the marina green. The shores were packed with sailing fans on grandstands set up along the water front but the 2nd of 2 races between Italy & NZ was cancelled as they reached their maximum safety limit where the organization and teams agreed it was not safe to race- a meer 24 knots of breeze and a 4k flood tide. Your typical summer San Francisco day.

Too windy for America’s cup?

Enter the formula windsurfer!

Things were about to get fun.

If you’re going to race on the San Francisco Bay- you better have the proper equipment or chances are- you wont be coming back anytime soon. Same applies with the AC boats.

The windsurfing fleet here has been pushing the limit of the equipment and evolving the sport for the past 30 years. We’re extremely lucky to have a world class board builder and fin makers within our community. Its all about experience and this fleet has it. The average sailors age this weekend was 50 years old and most have been racing some type of board for at last 20+ years. Anyone in the top 10 was capable of winning a race.

I chose my smaller Mikes Lab 89 cm wide board, 61cm Kashy fin and 10.0 Avanti for maximum power and control. Conditions looked brutal with a steep chop and 20-25 knots of westerly breeze coming through the golden gate. If you knew what you were doing it was manageable. If not it was hell. I’d been sailing on this course for the better of 10+ years. It’s my backyard, my playground.

Full race report at www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Report from the US Nationals

I wasnt able to attend this years US Windsurfing Nationals in Cabrillo Beach last week but am taking the opportunity to post- Soheil’s report from the regatta on my blog

I think you’ll find it a good read about the trials and tribulations of sailing a regatta- the highs and lows and most importantly- the lesson of never ever giving up.

Soheil sailed one of the best regattas of his career and finished a career high 4th overall in the Formula class. Big props to him for keeping it going and sending out an report each evening.

Full report @ www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Report from the trenches- SF Classic & Ultra Nectar Challenge

They say- if you’ve got a secret to keep from sailors- put it in the sailing instructions as no one reads them anyway!
That was certainly the case for Sunday’s long distance race of the San Francisco Classic hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club where the top 4 leading kite boards rounded mark 3 of 14 in the wrong direction despite charging down the slalom course to Berkeley in just over 1 hour.

36 kite and formula windsurfing boards started the race but only 19 finished!

Its the details that count and veteran waterman, Chip Wasson, the only sailor to win the race on both a windsurfer and a kite board made sure he crossed his t’s, dotted his i’s and rounded the marks in the right direction and finished the race in 108:41

Saturday’s long distance race is actually 2 races rolled into 1 and one of my favorite races of the year. Ive done it about a dozen times, abandoned once after breaking down and even won the 2 races back in 2009. Its a 40 mile + grueling long distance race open to kites and boards that takes every ounce to finish.

The first part of the race is the San Francisco Classic which takes sailors on a full tour of the Bay with 2 triangles around the red nun outside the golden gate bridge from Crissy field, then a slalom course across the Bay on beam/broad reaches from Anita Rock to Harding Rock to Blossom Rock to Blunt to R4 buoy to R2 buoy to the top of the Berkeley pier, to Olympic circle X buoy and back to the bottom of the Berkeley pier. Crossing the finish line starts the 2nd half of the race – the Ultra Nectar Challenge- which brings sailors back upwind on any course they choose to a finish in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Johnny Heineken took the line honors on the return trip winning the Ultra Nectar Challenge in a time of 43:26

Full story & photos @ www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Lord of the Winds- Los Barriles, Baja

Eventually we all end up chasing the wind.
How far- depends on our level of addiction and our sense of adventure.

This year again, I made the migration south on highway 1.
1500 miles later I reached the end of the road- Baja California Sur where
the pacific ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Its a wind lovers paradise with
gringos from across the US & Canada making the annual winter pilgrimage
in search of wind and swell.

The el norte breeze blows down the Sea of Cortez producing rolling swell
and a solid, wrap yourself up in a winter jacket kind of breeze even when
the sun is at its mid day peak.

After a few days of kiteboarding lessons in La Ventana, (see painful learning experience) We packed up and headed down to Los Barriles where I met the rest of our crew who were flying in from SF for the Lord of the Winds event in a few days time.

What started off as a 10 buoy slalom course on day 1 of the event ended up as a 4 buoy fiascle by the end of day 3.
6 marks drifted away and there wasn’t much the RC or the 58 registered competitors could do about it. We just kind of went with the flow- but that meant only two – 15 min course races; two 3 min slalom races & one 25 min long distance race over the course of 3 days.
The free-stylers got their chance to show off their skills in the shore break and the kiters battled it out for the hang time competition over the course of the next 2 days.

Day 1 began with course races.
I immediately went out with the only board and rig I had- my ml 70cm wide slalom board & 7.7 avanti slalom sail. I was a bit off the pace upwind riding the 48cm fin but made some big gains off the wind in the 10 board windsurfing fleet. With the wind 15-22k, and the whole fleet on slalom boards, you just had to make do with what you had. Tyson Poor was killing it with great board speed around the course taking the only 2 bullets while Casey Hauser and I fought t it out for 2nd and 3rd.

Race 2- I switched down to the 44cm fin and had better speed. Tyson went down on a gybe and I jumped into the lead but over stood the top mark on the 2nd upwind while Tyson and Casey called the perfect layline and jumped back into the lead.
With the gybe mark adrift, the RC called the racing for the day and we packed it up mid day after the last kite race.

Slalom was on the agenda for day 2 of Lord of the Winds.
The forecast called for a building breeze and the shore break was building into a pounding 4-8′ whitewater pounding at the 2nd & 4th inside buoys.

The windsurfers were killing it- displaying great form as the mark roundings were several sailors deep and the passing opportunities plentiful around the 6 buoy slalom course. Tyson, again was displaying great form leading almost every mark with Bryan Metcaf Perez in the hunt as well.
Wyatt had some unbelievable luck breaking his 2nd mast over the the 1st 2 days of the competition and not being able to complete 1 race. I had some good starts and was in the hunt for the most of the game but wasnt able to grab any bullets despite being in the lead a few times.
On the 3rd race, Tyson and I went into the 4th gybe mark overlapped but there was no next mark. The buoy had drifted away and the racing was again called for the day just as things were heating up.

The RC switched to freestyle and the windsurfers again put on the best show with 5-6 boards showing an array of new and old school tricks from back loops in the 4-6′ shore break, to sliding goiters, spocks and wylee skippers.
The crew from Pro Windsurfing Ventana really took it up a notch this year turning the heads of most of the kiters on the beach.

We woke up to day 3 with just 4 bouys left on the course so the RC decided to run the long distance lord of the winds showdown. It wasnt much of a match between the course kite boards and the slalom windsurfing boards over the windward leeward race track. The windward mark was near Punta Pescadero a few miles upwind and by the time we got there it was blowing 25-30k.
The kites dominated but I held my own just behind the top pack of kites while the rest of the windsurfers took a long flier and ove rstood the top mark, I had a huge lead going downwind and baring any disaster, had the race wrapped up in the windsurfing division.

But Ive learned never to count yourself out or take anything for granted. with the wind at 20-25k and the shore break pounding, I fell at the gybe mark and had a slow water start out and Bryan Metcaf- Perez was there to jump into the lead. With just another 500m left to the downwind finish line. Bryan and I went went into the last gybe 5 secs apart. Bryan slipped on his gybe as I went below him to try to gain some additional speed and better angle to the finish but he recovered and sailed right over me as we went across the finish line.
That’s racing- as close as it gets with every little factor counting for something!
Bryan Lake won the long distance race in the closing seconds just in front of Johnny Heineken and was crowned Lord of the Winds- a fitting title if there ever was one.

Overall- an awesome event with tons of volunteers helping on the beach & great camaraderie between competitors.
For a full report with photos check out www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race- San Francisco, Ca

I tried to run the course a few days earlier in the week and develop a strategy based on the winds and tides along the city front and in the southern shipping channel. My goal was to stay in the breeze, gybe early if needed to and stay upright at all cost in the voodoo chop. Max ebb was a 4:54 with a 3.65k outgoing tide

I was becoming comfortable with my custom double chicken strap on the starboard 167 formula board through the disorganized chaos of chop and swell on the course.
This years starboard goes especially well off the breeze and Ive learned that it doesn’t need a big fin at all to stay powered.
My cut down 64cm kashy fin made the ride tolerable and even somewhat enjoyable.
The last piece of my quiver was the avanti 10.0 sail.
Despite being a light wind slalom sail- the sail blazes downwind.
Its my go to sail for sailing in most any condition on formula in the SF Bay.

68 other high performance sailing craft joined the fun for a 5:30 start.
Rumor had it 2 Ac 45′s were going to race plus l’hydropture- an amazing experiment in fluid hydrodynamics and all out sailing power. To give you an idea of what the hydropture is capable of- take the record they broke earlier in the week practicing speed runs on the SF Bay.

In winds just above 20 knots, the boat reached 44.5 knots driven by skipper Alain Thébault and with the CEO of America’s Cup team Artemis Racing, Paul Cayard, aboard. That’s more than 20 percent faster than even the bay’s high speed ferries (which run at 36 knots). In heavy wind the boat has a top end potential of 61 knots (more than 70 mph.)

I tried lining up with her earlier in the week and got spat out like a water melon seed in the turbulence of wind and water wake as they passed me like I was standing still.

During the line up during the pre start- it became obvious the boat wasn’t in a safe position with all the other kites and formula boards jetting in every direction. The took the wise move and started 5 min early for the safety of everyone around. No sight of the Ac45′s :/

That however still left the Aussie 18 skiffs and kite boarders to content with as well as a handful of other foiling trimaran powered kites, extreme 40 catamarans, and what not’s on the starting line.

The start was postponed as we waited for in inbound tug and an outbound freight to clear the starting area. The start line was set between the red nun buoy west of the south tower and a start boat set just north of mid span. The line was broken up into 3rds with the kite and formula boards starting in the most northern section of the line.

I knew there would be a mid line sag with the ebb and the fact the 2 mid boat lines were not sighting the line. I had Johnny Heineken just below me as we both squirted out from the pack 5 seconds early  and got a good jump on the pack at the start. I’ve sailed enough against Heineken that I know I can trap him, at least temporarily, by sailing beneath him and limiting his kite but I wasnt looking for any battles. I was just looking to go as fast as I could downwind 7.5 miles to the finish line set beneath the eastern most span of the Bay Bridge. Besides Ive given up on trying to beat the kites downwind while powered. They can go super deep. The only chance is when it lightens up and the formula board is back in the game again.


I continued on starboard tack off the line till around the St.FYC where I gybed back and could tell the top few kites had much deeper angles and I crossed just in front of the first skiff and held a good lead on the rest of the windsurfers. The pressure was starting to drop in the middle of the Bay so I gybed back and had a nice line just above Alcatraz.  There was a lot of disorganized chop and I was going between the chicken and the double chicken strap as the pressure went from 14-22k.
The tug that delayed our start was now bearing directly towards the finish line with the top few kites weaving around it. I choose to stay north where the pressure was as I didn’t want to get trapped on the south side of the tug where the city front winds could be lighter as we turned the corner towards the Bay bridge.

The move paid off as I was still in the hunt in the top 10. Gomes went down hard just in front of me as he dipped his edge of his kite in the water while trying to stay alive on his slalom style kiteboard.
A ton of different strategies on what works best on a strictly downwind course.
Sylvester used his 9.0 and 61cm fin for maximum efficiency.
Heineken, who was using a course board, 13m Ozone edge kite but smaller fins had walked away at this point and was nearing the finish line. I was making some gain on kiter, Adam Koch on his course board in the lighter stuff but one or two puffs carried him 100m deeper and out of reach. Nearing the finish the top skiff just crossed in front of me but I had better speed bearing away for the finish.
It was going to be really close.
We were overlapped at the finish with the skiff finishing at the pin and and myself at the boat end.
I looked around and was happily surprised I was able to get all the other windsurfers and about 90 seconds back from the winner.
With the kites taking the top 7 positions, the first skiff just edging me out, I sat in 9th overall.
Johnny Heineken a new course record with a time of 14 minutes and 14 seconds blazing deeper and faster than anything else on the course.

Steve Sylvester was the 2nd windsurfer about a min back from me with Eric Christianson following close behind.
You can always count on the St.FYC to throw a good party and awards after the final competitors are picked up, boards put away and sails rolled up.

Johnny’s secret- go fast and don’t look back!

Steve
USA-4

 

results

Past winners:
1998- McKee Brothers 49′er 27′-18″
1999- Bill Wier- windsurfer 25′-20″
2000- Vlad Moroz- windsurfer 21′-20″
2001- Rob Hartman- windsurfer 20′-20″
2002-Chip Wasson- kiteboarder 18′-04″
2003- Micah Buzianis -windsurfer 16′-23″
2004- Seth Besse -windsurfer 17′-10″
2005- Anthony Chazez- kitrboarder 17′-54″
2006- Jeff Kafka -kiteboarder 20′-28″
2007- Chip Wasson- kiteboarder 16′-30″
2008- Howard Hamlin- Aussie18 skiff 22′-25″
2009-John Winnning Ausie 18 skiff 19′-46″
2010- Michael C -Aussie 18 skiff 19′-44″
2011- Bernie Lake -kiteboarder (16′-15″)
2012-  Johnny Heineken -kiteboarder 14′-14″

 

Pure stoke- an 8 day windsurfing bender from SF to the Gorge

32 races packed into 2 regattas over 8 days.
That’s about as much windsurfing as one can possible get without overdosing on pure stoke.

My body was on auto pilot the last few days of the bender living on power gels & protein recovery drink.
This was our Olympic games for the amateur sailor.
2 races completed & 4 sails rigged and ready by 11:30 am without so much as a drop of coffee.

The marathon started in San Francisco for the combined Formula windsurfing & kite boarding course racing North American Championships.
The event was hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club and run from Crissy Field with the golden gate bridge providing a spectacular background for the thousand of spectators who lined the San Francisco city front each day. 90 board sailors raced over 4 days in classic San Francisco Bay afternoon seas breezes from 15-30k.
Our local fleet stepped it up proving local knowledge goes a long way over international experience.
However it was Wilhelm Schurmann of Brazil who was crowned the champion of the 24 board formula fleet while Johnny Heineken took the best of the 66 board kite fleet.

The circus then moved north to the mecca of North American wind & water sports on the Columbia River for the US Windsurfing National Championships.
The ‘corridor’ as its known provides exceptional winds that funnels through the Cascade mountains eastbound while the river controlled by a series of locks downstream provides a huge water flow to the west. The combination makes for epic conditions. On my last day I saw grown men coming off the water in 30-40k & head high swell with nothing more than a handkerchief 3.2m sail saying they were overpowered. My smallest 5.8 rig would be enough for 2 people!
When it blows in the gorge- you’ve got to be ready!

The US Windsurfing Champs was actually 2 events in one with both slalom and formula racing combining for an overall championship.
Veteran, Phil McGain led at almost every mark in both disciplines while Xavier Ferlet and myself battled for 2nd as only 1 point separated us going into the last formula race.
We’d been sparing all season but Xavier usually got the best of me.
Gorge local Bruce Peterson slipped in the 2nd overall with an impressive slalom showing while the tiebreaker for 3rd was broken by who had the better throwout.
In windsurfing, every race counts- even your throw outs.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the trophies or the tiebreaker but how much fun you’re having and by the looks of it – we all won.
Pure stoke all around!
SF local junior superstar Marion Lepert won the women’s division in both formula & slalom while Jack Lundquist won the under 35 mens division in formula.
His younger brother Charlie won the junior division while I took home 1st in the masters slalom, 2nd in the master’s formula & 3rd overall (wining the tiebreaker!)

Full race report, videos & photos from the 8 day windsurfing bender at www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Formula North American Championships- SF CA

Registration is open for next months North American Course Racing Championship for the Formula Windsurfer & Kite boarding fleets hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club- http://bit.ly/OJkFpe
5 days of races are planned with the starting line just off Crissy field on the San Francisco city front from July 18-22nd.
Bring you ‘A game’ because this ain’t your normal dog & pony show.

Each fleet will be racing with their own start and a combined ‘Round the rock’ race will be held at the conclusion of racing on Sunday where kites & boards will attempt to navigate around San Francisco Bay’s most famous rock.

See you on the starting line,
Steve
USA-4

June Triple Header

Racing on the San Francisco city front course can bring plenty of surprises.
There’s the 40k+ gusts that hit you like a slap in the face!
There’s the 4′ voodoo chop that can stop a keelboat in its tracks!
There’s the 5k ebb that that makes calling any layline nearly impossible!
There’s the ferries, commercial fishing boats and freighters who go right through your course!
I wont even begin to mention the 40 degree foggy & cold summers…

But this past weekend- we had none of that.
For the first time in ages, we had a pretty civil conditions racing on the city front course with a flat flood tide, sunshine & a manageable 14-22k of breeze every day.
The Formula windsurfers and kite boarding fleet had 3 days of spectacular racing from the St. Francis Yacht Club.
Racers were treated to a combined Friday night series with the kites joining the windsurfers for 4 course races on the outside course; a combined long distance race to Berkeley and back on Saturday afternoon and 5 more course races on Sunday afternoon.

The kites dominated the long distance race with Johnny Heineken taking line honors in 1 hour and 13 min on the 24 mile course and Xavier Feret taking the top board spot almost 13 minutes behind him.

Overall- I was pretty stoked with podium finishes all 3 days!
I introduced a new sail (err..Technora fiber loadpath membrane) into my program the last 2 weeks and finally got a chance to race with it for 2 out of the 3 days
The Avanti 10.0 performed really well right from the start. Despite being built as a light wind slalom sail- it’s got great stability and control in the puffs and great range as a formula rig. The biggest difference from my other formula sails is the weight- almost 1/3 lighter!
Oh yea- its pretty dam sexy too- in a twisted carbon, laminate polymer kind of way…

Steve Bodner
USA-4

Full regatta report at www.stevebodner.com
Photos by Chris Ray www.crayivp.com
Results: St.FYC website

BIG THURSDAY

5-24-12 will henceforth be known as BIG THURSDAY.

Iwindsurf’s Mike Godsey’s 7am  forecast was spot on with the pressure gradients reading off the charts @ .24!
I usually start to pay attention when they reach .07 to .09.
The “skirt alert” was quickly turned into “hang onto your car” warning!

The wind and the swell in the upper half of the San Francisco Bay went off like Ive never seen in my 12+ years of windsurfing here. The Bay was turned into a frothy mess. By 5pm the wind spiked up to a solid 30k and gusting up to 40k+.
City front gust are spastic gusts like a back hand slap to a raw cheek!
They turn whitecaps into liquid spray.
They separate the boys from the men.

The port tack ramps lined up with such precision they practically launched you into orbit.
The starboard tack swell, not to be outdone, was of epic proportions- similar to that at the hatchery on a good day in the gorge.
Did I mention sunshine.
The golden gate was at it’s finest with a warm orange twilight glow coming across the Marin headlands and through the iconic golden gate bridge.

Without a doubt- it was one of the finest sessions I’ve ever had on the San Francisco Bay.

I hesitated on what to rig when I got to the beach as it was already gusting into the low 30′s in the early afternoon but we were in a 4:30 lull that calmed things down when I arrived.
I rigged up the bread and butter of my slalom quiver- 7.0 and 39 cm fin on my 105l light weight ml slalom board.
10 min later after a few runs to the middle of the bay and I already knew I was in trouble.
I’m not ashamed to admit defeat when I’m there.

Windsurfing is no fun when you’re not dialed into your equipment.
1-2m2 can make the difference between being powered and stupidly over powered.

I came in and switched down to my 85l ml free ride slalom board with 32cm fin and 6.3 north warp.
I was still super wound but beginning to enjoy the flow rather than being at the mercy of it.
Finally I moved my booms all the way down in the boom cut out on my sail and had way better control as I carved down the 5-6′ breaking swell and flew across the San Francisco Bay.

There was just a handful of us windsurfers as the kites were off racing to leeward and only came upwind a few times to round their windward mark set near the Presidio shoal. I saw some kite mares unfolding before my eyes as the race crew tried to make their way around the course on their 70cm race boards and 9m kites in 30-40k winds.

The consensus from the windsurfing side of the beach – “the best day this season.”
The consensus from kite beach,”OMFG- I cant believe I survived. WTF was I thinking kite racing in that breeze.”
Oh to be a windsurfer!
Everyone one of stayed out as long as we could, not to be outdone by the lucky few who were ripping it up. Every time I came back to the beach to catch my breath and let my pulse drop below 150, I looked out and saw 10 locals having the time of their lives.
I headed back out for ‘just one more run,’ which turned into 5 or 6.

The stoke level was at it highest its been and the grins on our faces couldn’t be wiped off.
BIG THURSDAY will go down in the record books as a day to remember!

Inagural CISA junior windsurfing clinic

2012 CISA Windsurfing Clinic Details

CISA Windsurfing Clinic

June 20-22, 2012

St. Francis Yacht Club , San Francisco, CA

About the Clinic In February 2012 the CISA Board approved a proposal for a Northern California Windsurfing clinic to introduce and train our youth sailors in windsurfing competition.   St. Francis Yacht Club has partnered with CISA to host the inaugural CISA Windsurfing Clinic in June of 2012.  St. Francis along with other SF Bay area organizations will provide the equipment (Techno 293, Formula & RSX ) and venue and CISA will work with them to transfer attributes of their legendary Advanced Race Clinic to this event.

Application – Due May 20, 2012

More info and online application @ http://www.cisasailing.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=60&Itemid=1