All posts by SteveB

The Baja expereince- winter 2012

It was billed as the ultimate showdown between kiters and windsurfers with 3 events spanning 9 days on the sea of Cortez on southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. While the kiters showed up in numbers, the windsurfers still found ways to keep the bragging rights for another year. At the end of the day- we found we had more in common than what separates us and in hindsight, I’d say it was more a gathering of the tribes- where we all spoke the same language- wind!

After enduring what seemed like a windless (and snow less) fall and early winter in northern California- I made plans for my first trip to Baja. I hooked up with our local kiting crew who use the events as a testing ground to where they stand in the off season. The Heineken van made the trip down on Christmas eve packed with 6 sets of kiting gear & 4 people. Rock star siblings, Erika and Johnny almost made it only to be delayed on Christmas morning when their front differential fell out and their 4 wheel van quickly turned in a 2 wheel van.  In Mexico- anything is possible and after a 6 hour delay and trading some beer for labor they were quickly back on their way.

I arrived 2 weeks later for the first event skipping the road trip and flying directly into Cabo.

The Lord of the Winds Showdown in Los Barriles hooked up with the Travel Channel who was featuring the Sand Masters show at the same time. If you’ve never seen it, these guys create unbelievable works of art in the sand. Their final creation was a huge sand stage for the Lord of the Winds where Johnny ‘Pacifico’ Heineken was crowned Lord of the Winds after taking the long distance race. 

(Windsurfers 0: Kiters 1)

Johnny Pacifico Heineken- Lord of the Winds

To say there is a bigger emphasis on fun vs a normal regatta would be an understatement.

We came in from racing with the race staff handing us a Pacifico as our official check in.

The windsurfers won the pre-party with Josh Samperio crushing the kiting and SUP crowd in a 42 sec binge under the beer tap bookmarked by double shots of tequila vs a meek 20 secs performance by the kiters.

(Windsurfers 1: Kiters 1)


The first day of racing saw over 40 heats of slalom run on a 10 mark downwind course. It was super exciting to see the kiters try to figure this one out as there’s still a mix of sailors using course boards, twin tip boards and even surf boards.  The windsurfers looked the most graceful in the 16-22k breeze laying down their gybes and generally staying untangled compared to the kiters. It was Tyson Poor who dominated the slalom with a string of bullets followed by Bryan Perez and myself in 3rd.

We followed the next 2 days with course racing and a long distance race where the wind never really materialized above 15k so the kiters had a huge advantage making it look easy with the course gear and 15m kites compared the windsurfers who were on slalom gear and 7-8m rigs. In one race, we had a humpback whale emerge from the water just at the windward mark as we were rounding it.

I’m pretty envious of what the sport of kite racing is doing with the gear evolution and the amount of sailors they are attracting. It’s almost as though history is repeating itself after windsurfing’s peak in the early 90’s. Several of the world’s top ranked kite course racers hail from the SF Bay and for the past years they’ve progressed as a group- training together & sharing info freely. As a result, the group has raised the benchmark much more than any sailor could do on their own.  Next year, I vowed to either come back with a kite or a formula equipment to be better matched.

Next up, we packed the van up for a short trip up the coast to La Ventana and set up camp in the arroyo. They say the Mexicans don’t enter the water from march to October and its only it’s the crazy wind starved gringos who travel from the northern US that endure the fierce ‘el norde’ winds. It was amazing to see how many wind junkies make the trip down from the northern US and Canada for several weeks or months in the winter. There are literally hundreds of sailors camping on the beach living off the grid in their RV’s or tents and enjoying the sea and the wind in southern Baja. All you really need is some protection from the wind and the sun and you’re set.  The food is cheap and the liquor even cheaper. I never once worried about my safety while in Baja. There are several camps where sailors have built elaborate structures for cooking and showing outdoors and most importantly- keeping your sails rigged up and ready and out of the UV.

It takes the meaning of beach bum to a whole new level!

This grasshopper still has a thing or two to learn as I realized a Baja fog beats the SF fog any day of the week.

We started off the racing by joining the weekly slalom series at Playa Central in La Ventana run by the legendary Alex Aguera. It was a no BS event with several rounds of slalom for amateur and professional kiters and windsurfers. I again managed a 3rd behind Tyson and Bryan getting schooled by my lack of time on the water the past few months. Nonetheless it a great tune up for the La Ventana Classic to follow.

The next day we started the La Ventana Classic. This is the first lucha libre Mexican wrestling themed windsurfing Ive ever been to in my 25 years in the sport. On Saturday evening we all gathered in the city’s main square for a classic lucha libre wresting showdown. It was way better than any B rated movie you’ve ever seen and kept us entertained the whole evening. A greased pig catching contest followed with the windsurfers edging out the kiters again.(Windsurfers 2: Kiters 1 if you’re keeping still keeping count)

Bring out the gimp…(it must be a kiter thing)

The rivalry continued throughout the event as the big match up was the long distance race which pitted the kiters vs the windsurfers in an 11 mile reach from the island of Ceralvo back to La Ventana. 99 sailors packed our gear on the local fleet of fishing boats for a 8 am transfer to the island and waited for the wind to build around 2pm. I never realized how good a beach fire could feel at 11 am!

It was probably 15-20k at the start but 20 min later at the La Ventana finish it was a much lighter 12-16k.

Tyson Poor on a JP 112l slalom board and 7.8m rig had a good lead built up at the first mark with Johnny Heineken on his 13m kite in hot pursuit. Next was a 1.5 mile downwind leg and small reach to the finish. This is where the kiters made huge gains. I rounded in 5th at mark 1 and slipped to 11th at the finish as 6 kiters looped straight downwind in the finish while we had several underpowered downwind reaches eating lots of ground. Tyson and Johnny rounded the last mark overlapped with a final 10 second reach to the finish just in front of the beach. It was Nascar type racing at its finest with Tyson not allowing Johnny to pass him with several aggressive moves to keep him in front and take the bullet by a mere 3 feet.

(Windsurfers 3:Kiters 1.)

Tyson Poor – making sure the windsurfers are still at the top of the podium

The windsurfers held on this year but its obvious the sport is changing with kiters outnumbering the windsurfers almost 10:1. We still won the party, the greased pig contest, and the Classic so to say the sport is dying is simply wrong.

We completed 3 more days of course racing where I managed to finally get the top spot at the end of the regatta in the windsurfing course racing. My prize was a huge lucho libre belt emblazed with all the classic mexican mojo you could imagine.

Im not sure I could have had a better time with a better group of people. Except for Montezuma’s revenge, the Baja experience is something Im hoping to repeat next winter.


Additional photos and trip details @ www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Steve Bodner

USA-4

2011 by the numbers- a windsurfing junkies recap of useless data

By Steve Bodner, USA-4
www.stevebodner.blogspot.com


I’ve had better years with close to 200 days on the water but this year was good in all respects.
84 formula and 47 slalom session this season at 4 locations using 7 sails & 4 boards at 14 regattas.

I recorded all my windsurfing sessions this season via twitter @usa4 and then at the end of the season organized all the data via daytum
In some respects, it’s a lot of useless data, but depending on how you look at it, interesting patterns seem to emerge.

Out of 131 total sessions, I sailed formula 84 times and slalom 47 times despite spending even more money on slalom equipment than formula gear.

The best value seems to be with Formula with 64% of my total sessions. Granted, I try to sail year round but looking at the numbers a bit closer you can see Spring and Summer being the months with the most number of sessions recorded.

April & May had the most sessions with 38 for 2 months- averaging a session every 1.5 days.
In contrast, when looking at the 1st 2 months and last 2 months of the year- I only got 19 days out of a possible 120- averaging 1 session every 6.3 days. Bummer man!

When I break down the sail usage, I see I use my 9.5 in almost 38% off all sessions and giving the best value per $ spent.

Throughout the season, I used a total of 7 sails and 4 boards.
While I didn’t track what slalom board I was riding each slalom session, I  rode 5 boards in total this season:
ML10 Formula- 82 out of a possible 84 formula sessions or 97% of all formula sessions;
JP 101 slalom; ML slalom; & ML freeride
.

Racing took up only 18% of the total time I spend sailing this season with 24 total days spend on the water with 3 or more races per day.

All in all, I competed in 14 regattas this year in 3 different locations- keeping traveling to minimum and racing 64% of all my races at the St. Francis Yacht Club. My performance peaked early in the season, party due keeping fit in the off seaon but almost came to abrupt stall after a period of racing 2 intense back to back regattas mid season. Note to self- pace yourself next season!


Despite seeming like its been an awfully windless fall,  there were 4 periods of time where there were 10 or more days between sessions with the longest being between 8/31 to 9/18 with 17 consecutive days off the water.


It’s It’s not how much data you have, but what you do with the data!

Until next season….
Steve Bodner
USA 4
www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

How I almost got ran over by a trian while windsurfing

I made the trek to the north bay against my better judgement, leaving a good wind at crissy field for an unknown wind 45 min away and breaking cardinal rule of windsurfing- never leave wind for wind!

The wind was dying. 20k+ on the outside but a shlog to get there.
I hedged my bets and made the trek in with 4 kiters to Zaijeck beach.
The sign at the trail head should have been the first warning but went right on by.

Honestly, I had more on my mind- with the excitement of a brand new lightweight slalom board!

A 10 min hike in down an access trail, down a dirt trail, through a locked gate, across the railroad tracks, back up the hill & finally down the bluff to the beach.
At least I had my flip flops!
My gear fit nicely in a board bag that I carried over my shoulder.
Its all about the journey I thought to myself.

The  shlog out to the wind line was like a graph of diminishing returns.
The further I got from shore, the further the wind line receded.

The kiters on their race boards and 11m kites were wizzing past me and I could hardy break onto a plane in 8-10k.
If there was any way to covert me to kiting, this was probably it.

I decided to pack it up and head back before loosing any further ground as the wind was switch more east. I knew I would be downwind of the launch but there was no real good exit from water.
The low tide exposed some nasty rip rap with exposed rebar, razor sharp shells and oh, I forgot the 10 min minute walk up to the beach in the calf deep mud- sinking with every step
All I could think of was climbing out of a power deep day at Tahoe but this was no powder- just mud and I had no epic runs, Just a shlog.

It looked to be about a 1/4 mike walk back along the train tracks.
Did I mention my feet were already cut up from the climb up and down the rocks?
I looked around- a path of thorny bushes and poison oak to the right or the train tracks.
I opted for the latter and was actually enjoying the trek getting a nice soft massage on my feet with every step on the wooden planks of the rail track.
That was until I head the train whistle from behind  and looked back to see an Amtrak train coming around the bend at full speed.
My first reaction was to drop the gear and jump out of the way.

A split second went by and I imagined my new board, carbon mast and boom all getting run over my the train.
I hobbled down the bank with about 10 seconds to spare- rig and board balancing between my arms.
The rush of wind in front of the train nearly knocked me over.
I could see the conductors face looking down at my nearly 2 stories above on the double decker train wondering who in the world is walking on the train tacks in a wetsuit carrying what looks like a surf board and a rolled up sail.
The again, This was Pinole. Stranger things have happened.
As I waited for the rest of our group to derig and drink an few beers on the deserted beach, I thought – it probably could have gone a whole lot worse.
Cut up and bruised feet sure beat a pile of carbon and styrofoam splinters along the edge of the train tracks.

Steve Bodner
USA-4

Full story at http://stevebodner.blogspot.com






Biggest windsurfing event in the US in the last 20 years

Its not often you can get the best of both worlds but this past week I think it just happened.
With 150 Techno-293 charter boards, BIC Sports set up camp at crissy field for the biggest windsurfing competition the US has seen in over 20 years.180 junior windsurfers form 29 different countries took part in the Youth and Junior Windsurfing World Championships, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

I think the average age of the St.FYC was lowered by 40 years as the under 17 and under 15 year old kids took over the starting line room and main courtyard the entire week. One foreign junior windsurfer even remarked. “not only did they let me in the club but an old guy in a blue blazer even asked me how my racing went!”

The Techno 293 class is doing something right- charter boards, social activities after racing and even an unofficial ‘round the rock race‘ after the official course racing was done on Sunday for the complete Alcatraz and San Francisco Bay experience. They also made sure to have a professional videographer to document the whole thing. The result- a professional looking media package that went out to thousands of viewers every day.

day 6 video

day 5 video

day 4 video

day 3 video

day 2 video

day 1 video

The opening ceremony saw a special appearance from the visiting prime minister of New Zealand who greeted his fellow country men and wished them luck at the competition. After a full flag procession of 29 countries through the yacht club, the regatta was open and the big breeze followed. For 3 days on 2 different courses, the fleets battled a big flood tide and winds up to 25k. Local San Francisco Bay 15 year old windsurfing prodigy Marion Lepard (US-143) led the charge with a string a bullets in the U-17 girls fleet. Her biggest foe was about to come as the the last 2 days of the regatta saw a lighter and more flukey breeze.

At the end, it was the British team of windsurfers who swept almost every class from the U15 to U-17 placing at least 2 sailors in the top 3 in most of the 5 classes. Twin sisters- Imogen Sills (GBR 561) and Saskia Sills,(GBR 956) managed to get between Marion on the last day and the US star had to settle for 2nd. In the boys U-17 fleet, it was 1-2 for the UK Team placing Kieran Martin (GBR 926) and Adam Purcell (GBR 62) juat ahead of Bell BAZ (ISR 619.) In the U-15 girl class Emma Wilson (GBR  961) overtook Shai Blank (ISR 951) and Emily Hall (GBR714) to take home yet more hardware for the UK team. The U15 boys saw Mattia Onali (ITA134) above Artiom Javadav (BLGR 766) and Mikita Tsirkun (BLG 714) on the podium. The French team led the open class with sailors over 17 sailing the same BIC Techno 293 one design board and rig. Julien Bouyer (FRA 192) and Marc Lavaud (FRA 434) took the line honors above Alejandro Monllor (PUR1.)  Despite the raceboard class having a small fleet, it was Vincent Uegenin (SUI9) on top above Fernando Consorte (ARG 155) and Jean Asia (FRA 171)

Win, lose or draw, Im betting you’ll see most of these windsurfers competing for years to come. The grin on their faces was ear to ear and thats something that hard to wipe off an impressionable 16 year kid in a wetsuit surrounded by 179 of his new closest friends.
Kudos to the 110 volunteers and professional race crew at the St.FYC for pulling off one of the best regattas Ive seen in a long time. Hopefully a sign of things to come!
Event website
Photo credit: Shawn DavisDavid Wells

Steve Bodner
USA-4
www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

2011 Elvestrom/Zellerbach regatta, San Francisco, CA

70+ dinghies and boards packed the San Francisco city front course for 2 days of racing at the St. Francis Elvestrom/Zellerbach regatta. The 5 fleets saw a building breeze and foggy conditions both days with racing in 15-25k and a raging ebb tide along the San Francisco city front.
The lasers saw a big turn out in prep for this season’s masters and 4.7 World Championships in San Francisco.

With just 6 board sailors in the formula windsurfing class, our fleet saw the core racers in action but it was Seth Besse who showed the most consistency to walk away with all 6 bullets.

I thought I might get the first one- leading around the course but failed  to cover on the last 2 legs and let Seth and Crad slip into the top positions. CRad and I rounded the bottom leeward mark in a pack of lasers on the outside of the pinwheel. Despite the dirty air, the formula boards are traveling so fast compared to the dinghies that it only takes a few seconds to clear and get through any bad air.   We tacked and were overlapped heading into the finish with CRad edging me out by shooting the line at the just the right moment.

Race 2 started with a true sportsmanship from our fleet. Rather than start with just 3 guys we abandoned the sequence in order to wait for the guys who went to rig down in the building breeze. Im not sure- Ive ever seen this happen but it sure is a lot more fun to win when you’re racing against all the competitors.

Seth and I were close midway through the race. I tacked just below him on the 2nd beat up thinking I would be able to squeeze him out with better angle from below but he had enough speed to roll right over the top of me.

Ouch! Speed kills. No strategy required.

In the high speed racing we do on formula boards, its not often you get more than 1 or 2 chances to make a move on the course. You’ve got to see it coming and when it happens capitalize on it immediately. When racing is tight, you’ve got to be able to utilize your best asset otherwise its waiting for the guys in front of you to make a mistake.

Race 3 saw more of the same in a building 18-22k breeze. All of the fleet was on the 9.5 or 10′s as the ebb increased and racing took it’s toll.   Consistency  paid off for Seth as he scored another bullet with Al and I rounding the top 3.

Day 2 saw 3 more races for all fleets + the chance to sail in the flood tide before the ebb really kicked in strong at 2pm. The usual pecking order established itself quickly as Seth got out to an early lead again with great speed. I had 2nd all but wrapped up again in front of Al coming into the finish line but had to duck below 2-3 lasers and barely eeked out across the line salvaging 2nd in what could have been disaster.

Race 5 saw the tide switch and the committee board swing from straight downwind to straight upwind despite a fresh 18-22k breeze I realized what was happening but failed to take into account the relationship of the starting line. It was now a slalom start and I was over early. Clearing myself I decided to get some separation from the fleet to get any advantage I could. When your behind, you really don’t have too much too loose and your risk can be bigger. I separated form the fleet during the next 4 legs and clawed my back but charged a bit too hard and went swimming on my last gybe to the leeward mark.

Total yard sale!

Race 6 started in 22-25k and a big ebb. All of the fleet was on either 9.o’s, 9.3′s or 9.5′s and 64-67cm fins. Anything else was just too big to handle in the chop and breeze.  Control was the name of the game. Seth jumped out to an early lead while I got buried at the start.  I kept going despite the bad air and made my moves when I could, finally powering over CRad on the final downwind to get another 2nd.

Overall another  great weekend of racing on the San Francisco Bay!

Steve Bodner

USA-4

www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Techno 293 Charters for 2011 World Championships in San Francisco, Ca

For any junior sailors who are on the fence about coming to the T293 World Championships this summer in San Francisco- act quickly as there are only 20 of the 150 charter boards left.
April 15 is the last date for National Teams to reserve charters and then it opens up to individuals on first come/first serve basis.
There is also the option to purchase new gear at discounted price delivered to StFYC.

More information is available at http://www.techno293.org/page0143v01.htm

2011 Junior, Youth & Masters Windsurfing World Championship in San Francisco

The St. Francis Yacht Club, in coordination with US Sailing and US Windsurfing, will be host to the 2011  TECHNO 293 Junior, Youth and open class  World Championship & Masters raceboard class World Championship  from July 17th to July 24th, 2011

NOR LINK

CHARTER EQUIPMENT LINK
Housing details:
There are fourteen nearby hostels, one within walking distance from the St. Francis Yacht Club (located at Fort Mason with beds from $22 and run by Hostelling International). The Club has been working with the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien on some special housing arrangements too. There are a number of hotels in the Marina District of San Francisco, which is walking distance from St. Francis Yacht Club (for example, The Coventry Motor Inn).

Coach Boats:
Several companies on San Francisco Bay charter out boats suitable to coach from. You are welcome to contact Bryan McDonald for more information. His email is sailing314 at yahoo.com

More info @ http://2011worldchampionship.blogspot.com/

DoubleTree by Hilton At Berkeley Marina Signs As 2011 Title Sponsor of US Nationals

It’s been a while since Windsurfing has signed up a large out of industry sponsor to support its premiere US racing event, the US Windsurfing National championships but times are a changin’.

As companies have come to realize however there is almost no more effective advertising spend than one that truly compliments and supports its patrons. We all know windsurfers are a nomadic bunch crisscrossing the globe in search of the best winds and the folks over at the DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina know this too. So it was no surprise when National Championships lead organizer, Jane Morson, announced the signing of the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Berkeley Marina as this year’s title sponsor.

“Organizing, and also being behind the scenes help at Windsurfing events for a number of years, I have tried to listen and learn from what attendees have had to say. ” says Morson. “There always seemed to have been accommodation problems, and this year we have solved this for everyone”.

The 2011 Windsurfing National Championships are set to fire off in Berkeley July 11th through the 16th of this year and with DoubleTree by Hilton having one of its own hotels sharing the land just down the road it made perfect sense that the hotel would want to be in on the action. The hotels picturesque resort-like setting is accentuated by the stunningly appointed facility and the hotel is ideally situated at right at the Berkeley Marina (pictured at right). These racers can look forward to a plethora of discounts in the form of discounted room rates, discounted food and beverage, and even free parking. When combined with the hotels panoramic views of the San Francisco cityscape and astonishing Golden Gate Bridge views it’s going to be an event to remember for those taking up the DoubleTree on these generous offers. (pictured belo left an example of the rooms racers can look forward to.

The US Windsurfing National Championships, now known as the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Berkeley Marina 2011 US Windsurfing National Championships, will be celebrating the 35th anniversary this year of its return to Berkeley, and it could be the start of a rebirth that launches windsurfing back in to the limelight.

Morson continues “It has been an absolute pleasure working with the DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina’s, Director of Sales & Marketing, Brooke Meyer, and it was my complete honor when they signed on to support the event. I look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Nationals.”

Interested in attending the event? Click Here to reserve your room at the DoubleTree by Hilton at Berkeley Marina.

This year’s event promises to once again bring big winds and wild water the San Francisco bay is famous for but the highlight just may be the complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for you when you get there!

The notice of race is posted at http://www.formulawindsurfing.org/nor.php?id=129

About the Berkeley Yacht Club

Berkeley Yacht Club is in the Berkeley Marina, on the south side of the harbor entrance channel. The club was founded in 1939, and the clubhouse was built by members between 1940 and 1974. The clubhouse includes a bar, lounge, and dining facilities, and the bar and lounge areas feature a spectacular “three-bridge view” of San Francisco Bay.There is a guest dock, but the club does not provide permanent berthing. Berkeley Marina is a municipal marina, operated by the City of Berkeley.

There are approximately 250 active members. BYC was among the first yacht clubs in the Bay Area to become entirely non-smoking in 1992.

BYC runs a very active racing program, as well as club cruises once a month, formal and informal parties, dinner meetings, lectures and race clinics. The Commodore’s Ball, Halloween Party, Amateur Performance Nights, and various other special social events span the full range of party styles and tastes.

Berkeley Yacht Club prides itself on being an active participant in supporting the community in which we live. For many years we have had a junior program in conjunction with the Berkeley Boosters focused on introducing at-risk or disadvantaged youth to boating.

Berkeley Yacht Club uses minimal professional staff. Bartenders are usually members, and when there is no bartender on duty the members are free to serve from the bar themselves. Members have keys to the club, and in contrast to many other yacht clubs that are closed during most of the week, BYC can be opened any time by members who wish to use the lounge, bar, or kitchen facilities.

Interested in attending the event? Click Here to reserve your room at the DoubleTree by Hilton at Berkeley Marina.

November stoke

I knew it was going to be a good day when the fog horn woke me up Wednesday morning.

Like an old familiar friend, I recognized its voice cutting through the cold damp San Francisco morning.

The chill hit me when I walked to my van and packed up my board for the day.

Work came and went but my mind was on the water.

By 3:30 I was rigging up at crissy field as the sun peaked in beneath the layers of fog.

The ride up was as smooth as butter. Flat water and 12-16 knots straight from the west.

Perfect conditions for formula windsurfing.

Soheil and I disappeared into the white, dodging incoming freighters, outgoing ferries and this season’s first crab boats masking their way in the San Francisco Bay.

Wells and Rathle were already on call paddling their SUP boards in the outer line up- just beyond Fort Point.

In sets of 3s and 4′s, the incoming swells would punch through allowing for a decent run up and surf down their faces. At the last critical moment you could gybe off, accelerating as you carved down and shoot off to the left as the wave peels right and enters a windless zone just west of the fort point.

Its a fine line of either or…

If you gybe too late you get sucked into a windless vacuum with the next set looming and the surfers taunting.

Soheil wasn’t so lucky and had to swim his gear out twice.

I played it cautious but scored on my first run catching of huge wake of a crab boat and surfing it it for almost a minute into the Bay.

David and Jean were catching wave after wave on their SUP boards and caught a few runs on camera as Soheil and I gybed around them.

Good Times!

[vsw id="16952505" source="vimeo" width="425" height="344" autoplay="no"]

http://vimeo.com/16952505

We got great runs for at least another 30 min in 12-16k gybing between the south tower and Ft. Point catching the incoming swell. Every so often, a set would come in a surprise me as I looked back to see wall of breaking waters and Wells and I sharing the same wave on an SUP and Formula windsurfer.

Time to gybe…