Wednesday, December 20, 2017


I love statistics- keeping track of things and analyzing the data to see what I can learn. For many years, I've used twitter to keep track of my sessions on the water, then at the end of the year I can look back and graph everything to see the trends for the year: how many sessions, how many times on any particular kite, how many times in each month I've sailed, even how many days I've spend racing. All this data may seem like useless information but when properly presented, it gives a better idea of how I've spent my time. After all a self examined like is a life worth living...

2017 continued the trend of getting over 100+ days on the water for windsurfing and kiteboarding since I moved to San Francisco 17 years ago. This year I increased my number of sessions by 14 sessions over the 2016 stats. That averages out a session every 2.3 days- just enough to keep this wind junkie satisfied. 
I kited in 62% of all my sessions- getting more proficient and comfortable in all conditions. My kiting sessions are on stat from last season with 112 sessions- the majority on the foil where Im finally graduating from a seasoned kook to a salty grommet. For the 1st year, I expanded my kiting to hard water when I got to snow kite in Utah for 8 winter sessions.

My windsurfing numbers actually increased from 2016 when I only managed 27 sessions to this year with 42 sessions. I still get tons of joy from windsurfing- whether its exploring outside the golden gate bridge in big winter  swells of or racing around the short track slalom course on the city front. 

The season never really stops but only slows down a bit in the winter months when the wind is not as constant like the spring, summer and fall but with foiling, its becoming less and less of an issue. In the sketchiest of days when the wind is up and down, I'm more likely to get a session in on the windsurfer as it still a safer option for getting back to shore unassisted. While the foil has opened up more light wind days, it can end in disaster when you need to self rescue on the water after dropping the kite and failing to relaunch. I end up taking more risk when I know I've got the support of a rescue boat- especially during the St.FYC events.  
The best advice over the years- don't get too greedy.
I always sail with a VHF radio as I know the Coast Guard is only a short call away for the last resort rescue. 

Its been 32 years since I started this journey- hoping on a windsurfing board on Clark Lake at Camp Store in Jackson, Michigan. I really got hooked a few years later as my dinghy experience led me to racing windsurfers. Its been a wild ride- taking me to over 20 countries and 5 continents. 
While I'm still a relative noob in the kiting world, it has engrossed me just like the days of early windsurfing. The kiting experience continues to evolve. It seems like just yesterday, I learned on the twin tip board, the switched over to the directional board, followed by the race board and now- 3 years later on the foil board. One step forward, 2 steps back.  

With 112 sessions this year on the kite, I spent the 66% of my kiting session on the foil board. Its really changed the sport completely. My foiling transitions are still a work in progress but the foil kites really allow more float time when trying to pass the eye of the wind. When conditions are lumpy or nuking, I often opt for the surf board making the most of the ebb.

This year I introduced another foil kite into the quiver with the 9m hyperlink to replace the 10m edge.  It's been a love hate relationship with the foil kites as I'm finally getting comfortable managing the bridles and keeping the kite relatively dry and untangled. Sometimes, all you want to do it kite, not untangle bridle lines and swim in a wet foil kite. The hyperlink has been a great success in terms of getting the benefits of a foil kite with out all the hassles if a full on race kite. At this point, its still the rider who's holding back the program- not the kite!
All in all I still used the 8m edge the most on both the surfboard and the foilboard. Its the workhorse of the quiver with almost 50% of all kiting sessions. The 13m chrono 2 finds it sweet spot in 10-16k while the 7, is reserved for the big days of 25k+.

I still love to windsurf. Its hard not love after all these years- even with kiting taking most of my time on the water. My most used windsurfing board (still after 4 years) is still the mikes lab 89cm xl slalom board. Matched with the avanti 9.2 and a 59cm kashy fin, this combination is unstoppable when racing in under 15k. Its also the go to board for getting out the gate and exploring the winter swell. The 100l mikes lab slalom board is to go to after the wind is above 16k. On the course, it floats out of the gybes like nothing else. Finally, for those big days on the slalom course, its my 85l mikes lab slalom board- pulling in at least one bullet on the course this year!

I upgraded my 10m avanti sail this season to the smaller 9.2  as its just as powerful and easier to handle.  It's one of the best sails Ive ever had in my quiver and it show with almost 70% of all my windsurfing sessions on this sail. The 7.6 hits the sweet spot with the smaller board and last but not least- you always must have that one sail in your quiver that you only use 1-2x a year but its so worth it when you do. The 6.3 was the ticket for high wind slalom and the xs slalom board. 

I spent less time racing this year than previous years with 19 race days and 78 races- all on the San Francisco Bay. For the 1st year, I did a long distance race on the kite foil. The Bay Challenge was run as part of the Hyrdofoil Pro Tour, so I ran the course with the kites. OMGF, coming back upwind from Berkeley with the 9m hyperlink in gust up to 25k was exhausting but I finished.
I was way out of my league entering the Hydrofoil Pro Tour but when it comes to your own backyard, you cant say no. Despite alot of DNFs, I learned a ton and feel more comfortable in big fleets on the kite.
I entered the Thursday Night Kite series for the 4th year and am slowly climbing my way from the back of the fleet. Ive yet to master the foiling tack so this really sets me back. However- pushing yourself is the fastest way to learn. Its honestly more a mental thing that I havnt been able to get over but Im not giving up anytime soon.
The other local series are the St.FYC Friday night slalom and Crissy Field Slalom Series run on the city front. Both are incredibly fun and taking bullets in multiple races always makes it sweeter. It came down to the wire for the CFSS as I won the last 2 races of the regatta bumping myself up to 2nd overall for the season. No matter how many times, I remind myself, its always worth saying again- Never ever give up!

This year again, I spend the vast majority of my kitting and windsurfing at Crissy Field with 100+ session. This place has been my backyard for the last 17 years- sneaking out of work early to get a session, running the local kite and windsurfing series from here and most importantly- the community. Its like walking in to 'Cheers' where everyone knows your name. Even getting skunked at crissy is ok because its so damn beautiful.
I made it up to Sherman 2x this season, after both wondering why I dont come back more.
The kite lauch is a bit sketch especially on holiday weekends but once you're on the river, you can always find some space.
Finally- I made it to Skyline Utah for some snow kiting this year. It was a first and probably not the last trip there with a whole new world of kiting to explore, even without a proper beach.

All in all, another great year on the water with no complaints. Im still giddy getting 150+ days a year on the water doing what I love.

1 comment:

James Douglass said...

Looks like an epic year! I'm impressed that you're staying so committed to both sports. Do you think you've crossed that threshold yet where you can get around an upwind/downwind race course faster on the kite + foilboard than on the formula board?