Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The biggest day yet

After having kite foiled most of the winter & got more proficient in the lighter breeze, I jumped back on the windsurfer in late March for a big day of wind and swell under the gate. I've been missing much of the big swell this winter choosing to remain in the kiddie pool along the city front where kite drama & rescues tend to be a bit easier than under the gate.

It had been a windy afternoon blowing 25k+ but started to decrease by 4pm when I set off. The swell however was just starting to peak with massive 15-20' sets coming in at Fort Point.
I rigged my mikes lab 70 cm slalom board and 7.7. avanti rig as I knew it would be less at the top.
Nonetheless for the next 30 minutes- it was pure joy. 4k of outgoing ebb with incoming stacks of overhead swell and an 18-22k breeze.  What made it very unique was just how fast the sets were running. 5-6 sets would be stacked up every few minutes charging through the gate.
I got to ride some incredible monsters- as they built and built and I finally peeled off before they broke. All this while the outgoing ebb pulls you backwards out the gate. There's nothing quite like riding at this place with a few close friends and seeing their expressions after riding down the face of incoming giants. Heading back out on port you really begin to see how big things really are.

The key to swell riding at Ft Point is not to get greedy & go too deep and on the inside. That's where the wave breaks & the wind stops. 

However, it was the one I wasn't expecting that got me next.  I approached Ft Point on starboard tack and gybed just under the bridge. What came next was a wall of white water that separated me from my gear. A sneaker wave breaking on the outside!
I swam up to catch it, trying to waterstart in the quickest I've ever done but all to no avail. I got smashed my the next wave which carried my gear further into the impact zone.
I again tried to catch up with my gear but the ebb tide was pulling me out the gate despite swimming as hard as I could.
At that point, I turned around and saw another huge set of waves right over my head.
Pummeled, I duck dove them and got even further separated from my board and rig getting tossed in the breaking wave just 100' away. The mast was broken and the sail was trashed.
There was little chance of recovering my gear and soon it looked the same for me.
I swam for the next 10 minutes as hard as I could trying to get shore but the current was not letting make any progress. I finally made it in getting tossed on the rocks climbing up onto the beach just outside the battery. Its not a very hospitable place as low tide makes this beach accessible just a few hours a day among the barnacle encrusted rocks. I sat and rested. Exhausted and full of adrenaline from the swim and just loosing my gear- I caught my breath as I watched my gear float even further and further away. It had now been ebbed out the Gate and had made the turn toward Baker beach.

As if fate was tempting me one more time, the gear started to change directions and began to come back towards me as I contemplated my next move sitting on the rocks just outside the bridge. 

Slowly it creeped back around and it was not until I thought I could not put myself in any more danger did I get back in the water and try to retrieve the gear, I took a few more on the head trying to wrangle the gear out of the surf and finally was able to get the board and what was left of the rig back up the beach.
Every batten on the sail was broken in multiple spots, the mast broken in 2 and the sail ripped from panel to panel. There was so much sand in every joint I had to use my kite knife to cut the downhaul and separate the sail from the board. I carried everything precariously piece by piece around the perimeter of the battery and got myself and what was left of my gear to the parking lot.
From there is was a 30 min walk barefoot back to crissy to get my car and back to Fort Point to collect the remaining gear.
Luckily- the surfers hadn't thrown it back in the water!
The sail will be upcycled via Mafia Bags and made into our season trophies for the calcup slalom series. The board continues to live another day.
As for myself- a new respect for the ocean and a chance to upgrade my rig.