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.