All posts by SteveB

the fog chronicles…

Wednesday’s midweek after work session on the SF Bay @ crissy field was about as San Francisco as you can get. A chilling reminder that 4 days of summer heat was more than enough and the curmudgeon – aka the marine layer – was back in town.
The fog was deeply embedded through the golden gate- leaving only the San Francisco city front and Marin headlands to the north exposed to the brilliant sunshine trying penetrate through thick chilly pacific fog. As I drove into the city from Sausalito, the mid span was a fully engulfed with wind and fog. My van shifted in its lane with the each gust.
The iwindsurf app on the dash was reading 20+.
Peering down to Ft Point before I got the the toll booths, I saw nothing but white.

As I pulled into Crissy field, Tom & Soheil were already rigged their 10.0′s.
I followed suite with my 9.5.
3 identical mikes lab formula boards sit aligned ready to take on the Bay.
No chatter. Suit up and hit the water.
Its September- don’t forget the winter hat!

A few pumps and we were off blazing downwind at 20k+ in the flat water flood near shore towards the imminent fog bank lurking a few hundred feet away. Once at X- the tide line was amiss with square voodoo chop and random breaking swell.
The sheep were out of the paddock !
I flew over the backsides of the chop and waves with my back foot deeply planted in the double chicken strap for control. A quick scan of the chop in front of me let pick a decent face to carve back on.
Effortless is the only word that comes to mind when gybing a MLab in these conditions. Soheil and Tom are engaged in a gybing duel down the city front as I come fully lit in from the fog bank. Crossing ahead, I gybe in the butter smooth flood and sunshine washing the waters just in front of the GGYC.
The gods are smiling with 15-20k.
We work our way down past the harbor, past marina green and past Fort Mason in the time it takes to down a shot.
Painful but pleasant!
We arrive at the aquatic park which is bathed in a illuminating pink and orange glow as the setting sun peeks in below the fog.
30 seconds later overlapped and grinding upwind on port tack we are back in the fog.
So thick- you cant see the guy next to you 25′ away but rather listen to hear if the chatter from his board is getting closer or further away.
I look over my shoulder to see Soheil clearing a set of chop with his 70 cm fin fully out of the water. Tom is pulling to weather with his BB (aka big boy fin) from F4.
I hike harder and rail the board to get an edge and the kashy 70 I am riding finds a 5th gear- matching the angle and pulling ahead with speed.
The fog horns penetrate the marine layer from somewhere to windward.
Time to tack.
We line up again on starboard tack heading back towards the city front and out of the fog.
The voodoo chop is tamer the further we go until we reach the seawall where the flat flood tide is smooth as silk.
It quickly becomes apparent that shifting gears and standing the rig up in the lighter winds becomes advantageous. Soheil and I gain as we switch to our front hands on the uphaul vs the traditional 2 handed boom grip.
10 seconds later it’s time to tack.
The last 2 minutes of hard work and extra 2 board lengths of ground that you gained can be wiped clean if you blow your tack.
I’m a bit slow to make the transition and Tom flawlessly flops over to take advantage of the leeward position and is putting the pressure on again.
I dont have the room it takes to wind the fin up so I duck below Tom and begin with clear air.
Its not until we reach the fog bank again that I catch up with speed and angle.
Time to tack!
Our practice continues until we loose one another in the fog.
Tom bails and Soheil and I do another lap down to the aquatic park trading gybes and tacks along the city front while ducking in and out of the fog and tide line.
It doesn’t get much better for a wednesday.

Steve

USA-4

www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

2010 Bridge to Bridge race



Yesterdays Bridge to Bridge race can be compared to launching yourself full speed down a mountain stacked full moguls- only have the finish line at the bottom of the mountain- 1/2 way across the gravel parking lot!
For 99% of the race, skiffs, kites and formula boards were fully wound in 18-24k and steep ebb chop, screaming downwind across the San Francisco Bay- only to come to a screeching halt 100m from the finish line- set just in front of Treasure Island at the base of the Bay Bridge where the wind becalmed the leaders and a river of ebb tide flowed, making it nearly impossible for nearly half of the fleet to get cross the finish line.
In fact only 33 of this years 57 entrants were able complete the race- but not for lack of skill. It was just that hard of a race.

It all unfolded with the last moves of the game as the skiffs came powered in from the city front and the majority of the kite and board fleet sat in the bubble just west of Treasure Island.

Actually the skiffs had it from the beginning.
All they needed was to avoid disaster and it would be theirs to lose.
And they did exactly that- sweeping the podium with the top 3 positions.
In 4th was local Chip Wasson followed by Steve Sylvester in 5th taking the top board spot- and edging out a pack of boards and kites- all trying to inch their way across the line in the opposing current and light wind.

The chaos even started before the starting gun as sounds of crunching carbon could be heard as 2 skiffs got tangled up in the run to the starting line.
With no protest being heard, per the sailing instructions, everything was going to be settled on the water.

The start was pretty chaotic with kites, skiff and boards all running at different angles and speeds across the line. I made a few quick calls to duck the port tackers (yes- duck the port tackers)in exchange for staying upright and full speed.
There’s nothing as slow as being skewed on the front of an Aussie 18′s 12′ bow sprint.
Port or starboard.
You lose!

I was able to ride some big puffs down the city front before it got too light and gybed back to the outside for pressure. This is where things really heated up and Sylvester and I were still neck and neck. He eventually was able to pull away with better speed on his 60cm kashy, north 9.0 and ML10 as we went past Alcatraz in a a wild array of voodoo chop and swell. I think the difference was just being able to put the hammer down. With a smaller fin in the big chop, you can get more control with less drag.
Even with my back foot fully on the leeward rail in the triple chicken strap, I was barely able to hold on -flying across the backsides of 3-5 swell and chop in 20-25k of breeze. I confess, the 67cm kashy that I was riding was more than enough. Pushing as deep as I could, I plowed right over the top of Soheil- not knowing he was even there until I cleared him. Fortunately just a few seconds of delay but when I gybed to make the layline for the finish line a kiter went down just in front of me – spreading his kite, lines and board in a tangled mess. Another few seconds lost going upwind to clear myself and around the kiter.

Things were looking good with the guys in front not making the line and falling off a plane. I came planing in making my way through a graveyard of downed kites, trying to body drag their way to the finish! A few pumps and the lucky puff and I might have it but then in an all too sudden anti-climatic finish, I fell off a plane and was faced with a river of current pulling me away from the finish line. It took another few minutes of real struggle to make it across the line.
I had to settle for 17th overall in what was a disappointing finish but sometimes it’s more about the race than the finishing order.
That’s all part of the game.
Win or Lose.
It keeps me coming back every time!
Steve Bodner

USA-4

www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Thanks to the St Francis Yacht Club and Ronstan for the excellent race.
Photo credit: Eric Simonson @Pressuredrop

US Windsurfing National Champs- 1/2 way through

With 7 course races already under their belts, racers returned for Day 3 of the US Windsurfing National Championship in San Francisco that saw the fleet spread out across the San Francisco Bay in a long distance race to Treasure Island and back to Crissy Field before 6 heats of slalom were run in gusty but reasonable conditions.

Consistency was the name of the game for Phil McGain who took the long distance race after event leader Paulo des Rios mistook the mid course gate for the leeward mark and started back upwind.
It wasn’t long ago that McGain – a veteran in the sport of windsurfing- gave up one of San Francisco most famous long distance races- the SF Classic by sailing right passed R4 and let the local fleet slip by. This time, he had his notebook for reference with course diagrams, tides and weather info.

The long distance race started and restarted and finally restarted again under the black flag with the outgoing ebb tide pulling sailors across the line and over early. Finally in the last start, I decided enough – and I would start on port with a few others ducking the fleet- making sure to get out the the right side but this time the inside lift finally paid off at the beach with the majority of the starboard tackers getting upwind first.

From there it was a slow but steady downwind run in 16-22k and over some short steep chop along the city front that had racers gybing through multiple lanes of ferry traffic and fishing trawlers and then through 2 gates: one stationed in front of the StFYC and the other off Blossom Rock on the north east side of the city and finally down to a leeward mark stationed north of Treasure Island before heading back upwind- in reverse order through the Blossom Rock gate and to the finish in front of the StFYC.
The pecking order was pretty much established with the top 10 staying pretty much in that order.

Finally with an hour rest break, the slalom fleets were established and 6 full rounds of slalom were run in 12-18k before the wind diminished too much on the inside of the course- set just off Crissy Field.

Racing in both course and slalom will continue Friday and Saturday with old and new school freestyle set to start Friday afternoon from the east beach at Crissy Field.

Steve Bodner

USA-4

Photos Credit: Shawn Davis

Nothing less than Classic for the SF Formula fleet

What can be said about the San Francisco Classic and Ultra Nectar Challenge that hasn’t been said before.
The longest running long distance windsurfing race in some of the toughest conditions imaginable!
A 40+ mile trek taking the formula boards and kiters (for the past 5 years) out the golden gate and 8 times across the SF Bay, down to the bottom of the Berkeley pier for the SF Classic and back the the StFYC for the UN Challenge.

Seth Besse dominated both races in the 25 board formula fleet with an elapsed time of 1 hour and 46 minutes while kiters Johnny Heineken and Joey Pasquali each took the upwind and downwind portions of their race respectively but still were well off the pace of the top boards with best elapsed finish time by Chip Wasson in 2 hours and 2 minutes

The wind readings off Angel Island on Saturday pretty much sumed it up.
35-40k at Point Blunt.

Multiple blow ups on the way downwind and upwind had me thinking about about stopping to retire at Treasure Island at least a few times as that was our designated safe spot- guaranteed for a ride back to SF with the RC.
Each time, however, I was able to dig a bit deeper and hang on a little bit longer.
The reach from Blossom rock to Point Blunt was pure hell.
Somewhere between a beam reach and a close reach on a formula board is pretty much the most uncomfortable position you would ever want to put yourself in with a 67cm and 9.5m rig . Add 4-6′ breaking swell and the wind now gusting above 30k .
Im not sure how the others coped but I found just how far I could push myself to the limit without going over.
Survival was the name of the game.
It was a respectable 5th for me in the SF Classic and just happy to have made it back home across the finish line for the UN Challenge.
Ive sailed in 8 or 9 SF Classics and can say this was one of the windiest and most challenging I’ve ever done.

The return trip home for the UN Challenge was equally as brutal.
Port tack towards Angel Island seemed an eternal punishment for all the bad things I had done in my life.
I was getting pounded never able to put the hammer down.
Wave after wave- the board was flying well out of the water across the top of the 4-6′ swell.
My muscles are still sore thinking about it.
The guys that sailed up the city front had a bit tamer ride and a noticeable advantage once they reached the finish in front of the St. Francis YC.

The timing for this years event couldn’t be better with the 2010 US Windsurfing National Championships off Crissy Field in San Francisco from July 20-24.

Steve Bodner
USA-4

Results and report @ www.stevebodner.blogspot.com
Photo credit: Don Albinico

2010 Ronstan Challenge


The Ronstan Challenge is billed as a comfortable tour of the San Francisco Bay taking the formula windsurfers and kite boarders down to Berkeley and back to the SF city front. Unlike its older sibling- the SF Classic (with 18 downwind gybe marks) run next month- it’s a straight shot downwind and back. The biggest thing you need to take into account is the tides.
Line them up correctly and you could be riding a magic carpet straight to the finish while your competitors fight it out in the flood tide.

For a while it looked like it might be a full on reaching race with the wind from the north at 20-25k Saturday morning. Predictably, the westerlies filled in but hardly in SF fashion. The RC shortened the course to Treasure Island and back as it was still 8-13k at the 2pm start. Most racers choose their 11m rigs and big kites for the hour plus tour of the Bay.

I finally passed Steve Sylvester for the lead below Alcatraz and rounded the leeward mark in front but failed to protect my lead as the top 3 squeezed by playing the inside ebb tide on the city front on the upwind ride home. After 55 minutes of racing and nearly 16 miles to show, only 13 seconds separated the top 2 with Sylvester edging out Eric Christanson for the bullet. The kites lined up for their start 25 minutes after the boards and course winner, and current world Champion- Adam Koch showed some amazing VMG with an elapsed time of 49-1/2 minutes beating local Chip Wasson by 2 minutes across the line.

If racers felt cheated from the lack of a full long distance race on Saturday, the course more than made up for it on Sunday with the windward mark set near the presidio shoal buoy and the leeward mark set off Pier 39. 3 course races were run for each fleet in a building 20-25k breeze.
The long down winder was brutal flying over the short steep chop at 25K+. If you could just hang on it was all good!

In the last race I found myself near the top again and gybed with the leaders but immediately went over the handle bars as I accelerated right into a 3′ wall of voodoo chop. I lay spread out like a yard sale in the middle of San Francisco Bay. I slowly picked up the pieces trying to uphaul, then water start. 30 seconds later later and the leaders were gone.

Local racer Seth Besse dominated the Formula fleet with 3 bullets in convincing style while Koch and Wasson battled it out in the kite fleet with neither finishing worse than 2nd. In the it was Koch taking the line honors again.

As always, the St. Francis YC deserves huge props for well run regatta.
Photo credit Chris Ray.
Complete report, results and photos at www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Steve Bodner
USA-4

Elvestrom- Zellerbach regatta

Some valuable lessons were learned at this weekends Elvestrom- Zellerbach regatta hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club on the San Francisco Bay.
With 4 dinghy classes and the Formula windsurfing fleet on the city front course, the RC managed 7 races for each fleet over 2 days in sunny conditions ranging from 15-20k on Saturday to a breezy last race on Sunday with the wind up to 30k and some serious voodoo chop on the course. Watching the dinghies tack up the city front where there was some relief from the 4k flood tide was a great lesson but the boards still choose to maximize their VMG and bang the corners.
After all- speed kills
Xavier Flerlet GBR-451 cleaned up the formula fleet with 6/7 bullets.
The only race left was for 2nd seeing US-44, Eric Christanson and myself, USA-4 tied on points going into the last race
Leading the final race in EPIC conditions, I held out until the last downwind on the double windward leeward course before exploding within spitting distance of the finish line.
The big lesson for me was no matter your lead, it’s not over till you cross the finish line!
At the end, Xavier stole the last bullet with the SF Formula fleet clearly in awe.
Great sailing mate.

Steve Bodner
USA-4

Full report at www.stevebodner.blogspot.com
Photo credit: Erik Simonson: www.pressure-drop.us
Results: stfyc

Caviliga Regatta Day 3

Things didn’t look too promising on day 3 with the forecast for getting another race in and drop for the series but somehow a few sailors managed to make it around the course with out an abandonment flag by the RC.
Conditions were sketch at best with an offshore shifty and variable breeze. Just like Saturday we were overlapped with several other fleets running a course in the same waters on the Biscayne Bay. With the windward mark set close to shore, it was anybody’s guess on how to best get there. The top boards planned off the line leaving the rest of the fleet parked.
Both left and right corners failed miserably and patience was the name of the game to get upwind with such wide upwind reaching angles. BRA3333 set the pace on his custom north 12.0 and new PD formula board with some blazing speed and angle keeping a commanding lead the entire race with local Fernando Martinez on north and PD board keeping pace just behind.

By the time I rounded the top mark I was deep and took off in the opposite corner as the fleet ahead and by the bottom mark was rounding comfortably in 3rd as the right side sat parked.
The lesson is never give up.
Soon enough on the 2nd upwind Micah was back and tacked in front of me at what was the port layline.
As another puff approached we split tacks and I headed even deep to the left corner, overstanding the top mark by miles and coming back to round planing as the USA34, BRA999 and K all sat parked on the right side.
I held on to 3rd but with Fernando finishing in 2nd he got the last laugh to get me by 1 point in the overall. Schurman and Micah both got their drops with the fifth and final race and closed out the top 3.
Best performance goes toBRA3333 Paulo Des Reis with 3 bullets never out of the top 2.
Impressive. The new Norths looks like they’ve got lots of power again.
Also it was great to see a Micah back in the fleet with the new JP board and some innovative sail changes from NP.
As always, a huge thanks to the Shake A Leg Sailing Center in Miami and the Alex Caviliga Blue Water Foundation for a great regatta. It was great to see the other classes actively represented as well with a strong junior 293 , kona and rsx fleets.
More @ www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Steve
USA-4

Caviliga regatta day 2 report

Micah Buzianis

Micah showing off the new JP Formula Board

With a fast approaching storm this morning, the 3 fleets rushed to get a race underway but unfortunatlly the squall caused some huge chaos and the fleets were sent back to shore. Once everything passed, race 3 got underway with the rsx and kona/techno 293 fleets starting and finally another race for the formula fleet. I had the chance to port tack the fleet but didn’t quite pull the trigger in time and ducked the first 3 guys at the pin. Off to the right side I banged the corner and was looking good until I sat parked in a lull as the left side crossed ahead. From there it was catch up trying to gain as much tactical advantage over the next 3 legs picking off 1 board at a time to finish a strong 3 just catching Fernando at the last gybe in front of the finish. Schurman was OCS with Micah and Paulao taking a commanding lead.
By the time race 4 started the breeze was down to 10-12k and I was looking for all the power my 12.3 had and 72xxs kashy would give me. Booms high, outhaul bagged and harness lines long. I even tried my mast track back to 42″ from the front fin screw.
Again a port start with the whole fleet charging the line except for Micah coming down fast on starboard. I gor off the line well and off to the right corner with speed  but backing down 2x to clear the weeds on my fin  In the light stuff it’s important to remember that your laylines are further than normal. I tacked and came up short  having to tack another 4x to round the top mark. At that time the top 3 were gone and I struggled to catch the 4 boards who rounded just in front of me to salvage a 6th, pumping hard all the way to the finish.
So with only 4 races complete I find myself in 3rd as we need 5 races for a throwout. Both Micah and Schurman are sitting deep both carrying an OCS.
Paulao and Fernando have sailed the most consistant and thus are in the top 2 spots.
Mondays forecast looks dismal but anything can happen.

Results and photos @  http://www.cavigliafoundation.org

Steve
USA4

Caviliga regatta day 1 report.

The first regatta of the year is always the toughest as its been several months since the last serious sailing and the hands are pretty tender come January. Nonetheless, a trip to Miami in the middle if winter is exactly what any sailor needs.
A quick report from day 1 in Miami @ the caviliga regatta.
All the usual characters + some new faces at the first regatta of the season.
The formula fleet got off to a late start but managed 1 race in the breeze with Schurman BRA999 taking the bullet just infront of fellow Brazillian BRA3333 and Buzianis in 3rd. I managed to stay in front if the rest of the rest of the fleet with the winds building up to the mid 20s.
A quick break for lunch on the barrier island was all it took for the breeze to calm down as sailors began to shift gears into light wind mode. Most of the fleet was still on their 10s and 11s struggeling for power. I managed to sail pretty fast but in the wrong direction as I banged the right corner, tacked and game over. Not enough time for a recovery with just a 2 lap race.
Buzianis got the bullet but was osc.
Finally we tried to start a 3rd race in little to no wind and it was abandoned as most of the fleet never got planning.
Tommorows forecast looks decent with 15-20k.
More @ www.stevebodner.blogspot.com
Steve
USA-4