Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018- THE YEAR OF THE FOIL



By all means 2018 was another hugely successful year on the water with 150 sessions on the kite and windsurf boards spread out over 3 countries. This year, I was finally able to dial in the foiling windsurf board, adding another set of tricks for this old dog to learn after nearly 34 years with a board under my feet.
By far, kiting still takes up the majority of my time on the water with 111 out of 150 sessions. As I get older, kiting is just easier on my body vs windsurfing; foiling even more so.  Out of 111 kite sessions, 79 were on a foil.


Kiting and windsurfing still  remain incredibly equipment intensive despite trying to scale down the gear I use. In 2018, I used 6 boards, 3 sails, 5 kites and 4 foils. My most used board was the kite foil board taking up 79 total sessions or 52% of all my sessions. The Camet race board has proven more than reliable.



As for windsurf foiling, it’s strictly a light wind affair. When the wind is less reliable and under 14k, getting out and back to the wind line is hugely important. I’m not interested in swimming with the kite so shlogging is the downside I’ll take to get a good session in.

While I’d probably be better off devoting myself to one discipline, I’m still having too much fun being the jack of all trades vs the master of one. Foiling has reinvigorated my passion for both sports. It's like learning the game all over again but this time, knowing all the rules. If you can wrap your head around being a beginner again, the fun is there for you to enjoy.

While I do love me a good high wind slalom race, it really takes a lot out of me but the reward of getting a few bullets still keeps me coming back for more. This year we had 4 Friday night slalom races and I was dialed in for 3 to end up on the podium at the end of the season. It’s probably more a testament to my past time on the water but if you’re good at something, you might as well exploit it for everything it’s worth.

Kite racing is still a mixed bag as my transitions are still the weakest link in my program, but that hadn’t stopped me from having the most fun I possibly can. I never focused enough attention to master the foiling tack or gybe yet but I all good time, I remind myself.


As I look back at all my sessions in 2018, I can honestly say that no 2 days were the same. Every day is a different set of conditions from breeze to tide to equipment ridden.

I know my quiver pretty well by now but there’s always something more to learn. I love the fact that I’m still in love with both sports after all these years. I wouldn’t do it any different. With that said, here’s a look back at the 150 sessions from winter, to spring to fall and back to winter again. The season never seems to end anymore but just blends right into the next session.


January: 12 sessions- 11 kite sessions and 1 windsurf session

The 1st session of the year ended in disaster as my favorite 89cm Mike’s lab board for the last few seasons ended up delaminating under the golden gate bridge on a big ebb. I was able to limp in and at least salvage the rig. It’s the end of an era is over as 15 years of sailing a formula style board is over just like that. I could probably replace it but time to move on...



It's always easier to move on with warm waters and a good breeze as I was baja bound for 8 days of kiting in mid January. The goal was to work on my foiling transitions but alas too much fun exploring on the foil- riding bumps on the Sea of Cotez, siestas and parties at night.
February: 9 session- 8 kite sessions and 1 windsurf session

Back to reality and chasing the clearing breeze after winter storms. There was still decent swell pumping through the gate and the slalom windsurf board was the best tool in the quiver for the job. I got a few good days of riding winter swell from Kirby cove all the way out to pt. Diablo.
Great data from @iwindsurf with an early spring like north pacific high.
March: 8 sessions- 7 kite sessions and 1 windsurfing sessions

Clearing breeze arrives- if it's blowing at 11 am on Tuesday morning you better go. More often than none, the winter breeze arrives earlier than the summer afternoon thermal breeze. I find my groove in the early spring with a few days on the kite foil and a few days on the surfboard in strong clearing breeze.
April: 15 sessions- 14 kite sessions and 1 windsurf session.
The North Pacific High and sea breeze arrive with regular occurrence again- predictable and reliable and a session almost every other day. I did an old school regatta at the Foster City lagoon racing up and down the canals with fleet 18 on an original windsurfer. It was lots of fun reconnecting with the original spirit that captured me almost 34 years ago but the real fun was getting out on the kite foil in the lighter breeze. The 13m chrono 2 is a great light wind tool but increasingly burdensome while trying to do a self rescue on the water.
May: 21 sessions- 20 sessions on the kite and 1 session on the windsurfer.






The breeze really turns on. The official start of the St.FYC Thursday and Friday Night Series. We had some really windy days with 10 sessions in 25k+ breeze and 11 sessions on the surfboard. This is where I have the most fun. After years of dedicating myself to racing, I realized I never really had the chance for back and forth sailing- or mowig the lawn. Chasing the ebb on a big day can be as rewarding as winning a race. I've dialed in my equipment on the big days that a raging voodoo chop is now really fun to kite in with a small kite and surfboard.


June: 15 sessions- 12 on the kite and 3 on the windsurfer.




I've still got it in slalom as I win the 2nd Friday Night Series race in the big breeze. The key is to win the start and don't look back.




July- 6 sessions- 5 on the kite and 1 on the windsurfer.
July is always a travel month with the family as we head abroad but this time we made arrangements to head to one of the most popular wind destinations in Europe- Traifa at the edge of the continent. It's amazing to see how the rest of the world does it as several hundred other kiters flocked the the beach at Tarifa as the summer sea breeze flourished.  I got 2 days on the water in great foiling conditions and got to try out some new gear. I try out the alpine kite foil. Super easy and fun but like having a governor on your car. #notfastenough







Back in SF, I catch the summer delight as the full sea breeze delivers the goods.


August- 17 sessions- 14 kite sessions and 3 windsurfing sessions.

The new 12m Ozone hyperlink arrived after great success on the smaller 9m hyperlink. It's not to much of a performance race foil kite but an easier to use foil kite. The bridle system is less complex and has all the advantages of a full on race kite with out the hassles. I like to compare the foil kites to a sharp knife vs that of a butter knife when sailing a tube kite. If you can keep it out of the water, it's one of the best kites Ive sailed.


On the foiling windsurfer, it all comes together as I finally dial in the settings and things become easier.




I get the whole family out sailing for the first time. It wont be the last.



Summer breeze continues through the golden gate as I find my sweet spot on the surfboard and small kite.



I line up for the annual bridge to bridge race on the foiling windsurfer but Im still not even in the game. Half way down the bay, I see the fleet in front all go down as the breeze diminished near the finish line. I bail early and make it back to the beach on my own. Sometimes I'm amazed at myself and the wisdom that comes with age.




It's never a dull day on the water as I continue to eat humble pie on the kite foil in the breeze.




September: 18 sessions- 6 on the kite and 12 on the windsurfer.

It's all about the foil as 16 of 18 session were on on a foil.




It's the first month in almost 4 years I put more time on the windsurfer than the kite.




I finally dial in the foiling windsurfer after trying endlessly different settings.

I humbly get around the race course on the windsurf foil but think Im still going about it the wrong way as the rest of the fleet has much longer fuselage and steadier rides. I’m running my windsurf foil setup with the same foil as I’m using on the kite but shiming the front wing to get more lift. Im slowly learning it’s possible but not the most efficient.

Last race of the season and disaster strikes again- I round Anita rock on the Friday night race and hit a seal. The foil is almost lost but luckily is embedded in the the bottom of the board. I limp in again and save face.











October: 18 sessions- 12 on the kite and 5 on the windsurfer.



16 of 18 session on the foil but now this month the kite gets all the attention. We get a few days of diablo breeze from the NE and I get the out on the 12m hyperlink finding good range from 12-16k. Above that, the 9m hyperlink works great up to around 20-22K. I dial in a new ml foil with better range that works well on both the kite and windsurf boards. The tilo windsurf foil board is finally starting to find its place in the quiver and I get comfortable going in 8-16k on both the 7.6 & 9.2 rigs.






Disaster strikes again on the foil. This time it's my own damn fault as I forget the most basic thing ever- fin bolts. Somehow my foil falls out just off Crissy Field. I search endlessly for 2 weeks, scouring the underwater contours off the beach to find the lost foil.  It's a lost cause as the current seems to have carried it away. I search in a grid pattern, use a fish finder, even get an underwater drone but alas- no luck. Im devastated but realize that it can be replaced, just not so easy. 







November: 9 sessions-8 on the windsurf foil, 1 on the windsurfer.






I’m officially a non kite foiler again and spend all my time except for 1 breezy afternoon on the windsurf foil. I manage to borrow a dedicated F4 windsurf foil and it’s a godsend as I find a new grove with the 100cm fuselage and 90cm front wings. I’m slowly beginning to appreciate the bigger setup but just when I thought I was done with all this big equipment, I find myself back on a 100cm wide board. The 9.2 rig is great at getting going in next to nothing and shloggimg to and from the wind line. The 7.6 rig is much easier to make the transitions with and my gybing radius is slowly getting bigger and I’m staying foiling through most of the turn. The bigger wings have 2 advantages- slower foiling speed and earlier liftoffs.




December: 2 sessions- both on the windsurf foil
Full on Diablo winds and if it’s windy on a Tuesday morning, you better go as it may not be windy again for a week. I can’t believe how little wind you need to stay foiling as I able to get my range down to 8k with the help of a big flood tide.






2 comments:

James Douglass said...

Looks like a great year! Interesting to see those foil windsurfing experiments, like the formula sail cut to a higher aspect ratio. I might have asked this before, but is windsurf foiling now faster than traditional formula windsurfing on a windward-leeward course? I'm desperate to try windsurf foiling ASAP but I kind of squandered by spousal good will for the year on a surfski kayak purchase, so I might have to wait another season.

Steve Bodner said...

Hey James
Yes- the foiling windsurfer is faster than a formula board around the course.
Of course, it depends on a lot of things but apples to apples the foil is faster.

You'll love it. Its like rediscovering the feeling of falling in love with windsurfing again.