Monday, October 30, 2006

Surfing the Kona on Anita’s Ghost Wave

Sunday 2pm January 21st and Crissy Field is lighter than light. Both Jean Rathle and I missed the morning breeze, procrastinated and arrived to find the SF city front that's not even worthwhile of a 11.9 and a formula set up.
A quick call to Berkeley to see if the old men are out on the water today.
No answer on Sylvester and Percy’s cell: probably means they’re on the water now.
Wait a bit more to see if the wind comes up….nothing.
Jean suggests breaking his Kona longboards out and go paddle boarding.
Well, I thought, at least it’s a way to get wet
We suit up and paddle out to find a swift 4-knot ebb on the inside of Anita Rock.
I lose my balance a few times and take a plunge.
The January San Francisco Bay water is colder than I remembered and I’m back up on the board quicker than I can say uncle!
Standing and paddling a 12”+ long board with a lightweight carbon paddle takes more coordination that I expect. My attention goes back and forth from paddling to balancing.
I find the rhythm of it and Jean and I racing against the outgoing ebb towards the B mark in front of St. Francis Yacht Club. My course is erratic veering to the right 30 degrees than off the left 30 degrees as I switch hands to paddle. Jean is able to keep his bow into the current and make a steady progress.
We finally turn around after getting around hearts racing at a good pace. Both of us agree this is more work than windsurfing!
Paddling with the 4k current is a breeze and we arrive back at Anita Rock in no time at all. To my surprise, its like a river flowing around Anita Rock and the ebb is throwing up a standing wave. I’ve seen this a few times on a big ebb day at the north tower. Some have compared it to a magic carpet ride. The experience is unbelievable as you can ride an overhead standing wave with out much effort and with out moving at all.
Despite the Anita ebb wave maxing out at 24”, it did provide several good minutes of stoke for both Jean and I as we both paddled and found the Anita ghost wave. If you got your bow outside the current line- you got shot out the side door and ended up 50’ downstream before you knew what was up. A quick paddle back to Anita and it was surfs up again.
The session ended with us paddling back to Crissy Field and practicing 360’s by sinking the tail paddling as fast as we could turn. This ultimately ended up with a few more dunkings but oh so worthwhile on a beautiful sunny San Francisco winter day.

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