Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 by the numbers

2013 was a good year- no matter how you look at it.  I managed to windsurf and kite 161 times over the course of the year (that's 44% of all possible days in the year but more precisely I made 53% of all possible days- given that I missed a stretch of 58 days in the fall of the year.) 
83% of my time was devoted to windsurfing while the remaining 17% went to kiting. 
I gave kiting a go this season with almost 15 days on the water learning this January in Baja and another 9 days in the summer when the wind got more reliable. I'm not hooked like I am with windsurfing but then again Ive been windsurfing for almost 25 years and kiting only 1. All good things in all good time!
The windiest months in San Francisco are in the spring and summer where I managed almost 20 sessions every month from March to August. July was noticeably cut short by 2 weeks with the arrival of a baby girl but that was indeed made up for in August and September with the help of the inlaws who arrived!
Yes- windsurfing and kiting are a family affair!
My time windsurfing (133 days total) was nearly split with 54% of it going to formula sessions (72 days) and the other 46% devoted to slalom sailing (61 days.) I used a total of 4 boards and 7 sails through the windsurfing season while I  just used 2 kites all season long. The avanti 10.0 was the most used sail with 45 sessions and the avanti 7.7 with 42 sessions. Both sails are an absolute pleasure to sail- feeling lighter than anything else Ive tried before. 
My 72  formula sessions were divided between the starboard 167 (37 sessions) and the new ML-13 mini 89cm wide formula board (35 sessions.) 

If I were to only have 1 board- the Ml13 would be it. Its so damn comfortable to ride in the San Francisco Bay where the chop and gust can make riding a 100cm formula board a real struggle.  Amazingly the ML-13 did best with the 7.7 and 10.0. I hadn't quite dialed in the fins but think there could be a lot of potential for this board once the right fin and rig can be matched.

For my slalom sessions, I rode the 70 cm wide ml board for 90% of the time.  Its a real versatile board handling the 7.7 and 6.3 rigs quite comfortably. In stupid windy conditions, I went down to a 85 l ml slalom board that handles the chop much better than anything I've ever sailed before.

I did less racing this year with the arrival of a baby + finishing my architectural licensing exams but 15 races, with the majority being in San Francisco- was enough the fill my needs. Its hard to leave SF and go to a regatta on the other side of the country or world knowing that there might not be any breeze at all.
Rule #1- Never leave wind for wind!

2014 looks like another great year as one season seems to roll right into the next. I've got a new kite course board and look forward to the challenges of learning to race in a new discipline. 

Below are some of the best moments from the 2013 season:

Friday, October 25, 2013

End of the season blowout....

Time to make room for some new gear so most of the quiver is up for sale.
I've got a ton of sails, masts, booms, bases, unis and fins available so take a look and email me back if you've got any questions-

Complete rigs:

Neil Pryde Evo3 9.5 with 490 X9 490 mast, HPL boom, and streamlined base + uni

I haven't used this sail outside a few sessions for the past 2 seasons. Its a great all around formula race sail or light wind slalom sail that has a very big wind range. The mast is in near perfect condition.

Neil Pryde Evo4 10.7 with 530 X100 masts, HPL boom and streamlined base + uni
No tears. No repairs. Fresh monofilm! Both sail and mast are in great condition with minimal use. This is a great light to medium wind formula sail with minimal use and little UV exposure. Start planing in as little as 8k!

Avanti M-1 10.0 with 530 C100 mast, Neil Pryde X9 boom, and streamlined base + uni
This is probably the nicest sail I have ever had in 20 years of racing windsurfers. It is a pleasure to sail weighing almost 30% less than its competitors. The 10.0 feels like a 7.0 due to the membrane technology. I have tuned this rig over the past season so it performs effortlessly with rebuilt carbon battens for better upwind performance & modified cams.  


Mikes lab custom 95l slalom board. 
This is a classic shape never goes out of style. This board has given me many years of great windsurfing and has never let me down. Like all ml boards- it practically gybes itself once you dial in the radius. It was built for the SF Bay with a narrow width and just eats the voodoo chop by soaring right over it. 


Neil Pryde 225cm+ X9 boom This is the carbon  boom other booms are judged against. The NP x9 is the most refined carbon boom on the market with a slim front end and wide tail with integrated pullies so your adjustable outhaul stays clear of the sail. Ive got the boom race ready with adjustable outhaul ( back end line, harken micro ball bearing blocks, stopper blocks & bungee around the front of rig) adjustable harness lines and easy uphaul. The area around the harness lines is taped with sports tape for additional grip and comfort. Boom extends up to 285cm .

HPL 240cm+ This blue series HPL boom is a proven winner. Ive upgraded the head with a streamlined and have extra straps as needed. Boom comes race ready with with adjustable outhaul, adjustable harness lines and easy uphaul. It can extends up to 310cm and Ive got an extra wide back end Ill throw in for free that works for 11.0+ rigs so sail doesn't touch back of boom on downwind sailing.

HPL 190cm+ This is a blue hpl boom with reinforced carbon wrapped front end and maui sails boom head. Ive trimmed the back 30cm off the boom arms so it fits a 6.3m2 (190cm boom sail). With 60 cm of extension it goes up to 250cm which will fit a modern 10.0. This boom is race ready with adjustable outhaul, adjustable harness lines and easy uphaul.


45cm Z carbon slalom fin- great light air & flat water slalom fin for medium sized board- $250
39cm c3 carbon slalom fin- great for high wind & chop on medium or small slalom board- $200
39 vector g10 fin- great all around medium air fin for slalom board   $150

Other stuff
Streamlined bases + unis 
Neil Pryde bases + unis
40cm North carbon extendor
2007 North 7.0, 9.0 & 11.0- make me an offer!
2010 North Warp 10.0
2012 North Warp 10.0
2012 North Warp 11.0
North platinum 520 mast
North platinum 550 mast
North gold 520 mast

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race

Run with what you've got and as fast as you can!

photo credit: Eric Simonson @ pressuredrop

It what has become a uniquely San Francisco sailing competition, the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race pits kite boarders, windsurfers, skiffs & cameramans against each other & mother nature in an epic 7 mile downwind sprint from the Golden Gate bridge to the Bay bridge. It's a celebration of high performance sailing that never stops innovating.

This year’s running was no exception with foiling kite boarder, Johnny Heineken taking the line honors in front of 69 other sailing craft and shaving almost 2 minutes off last year’s record run.

It what may be the only trickle down we see from the Americas Cup, foiling is finally coming of age!

You may not even recognize it as sailing with the riders levitating almost 4' above the water & being pulled by a kite 25 meters away but that's the reality of high performance sailing today.

 In what started, almost 15 years ago, the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race has evolved from a 27 minute downwind run set by Charlie McKee & co in a 49er to Micah Buzianis' long time record on a formula windsurfer and finally the Aussie 18's holding dominance for several years. More recently, the kite boards have surpassed every craft out there in terms of down wind speed. Foiling is just a further extension in the evolution of kiting and sailing.

Here's a record of the winning teams & times over the last 15 years:

1998 McKee brothers- 49er 27'18"
1999 Bill Wier- windsurfer 25'20"
2000 Vlad Moroz Windsurfer 21'20"
2001 Rob Hartman, Windsurfer 20'20"
2002 Chip Wasson, Kiteboarder 18'04"
2003 Micah Buzianis, Windsurfer 16'12"
2004 Seth Besse, Windsurfer 27'10"
2005 Anthony Chavez, Kiteboarder 17'54"
2006 Jeff Kafka, Kiteboarder 20'28"
2007 Chip Wasson, Kiteboarder 16'30"
2008 Howie Hamlin,Mike Martin, Paul Allen, Aussie 18 22'25"
2009 John Winning, David Gibson, Andrew Hey. Aussie 18'19"
2010 Michael Coxon. Trent Barnabasa, Aaron Links Aussie 18 19'41"
2011 Bryan Lake, Kiteboarder 16'15"
2012 John Heineken, Kiteboarder 14'14"
2013 John Heineken, Kiteboarder 12'00"

It’s a free for all on the starting line with a fleet spectator boats, upside down skiffs, kites and windsurfers all charging downwind to cross the starting line set just outside the Golden Gate bridge.
photo credit: Eric Simonson @ pressuredrop

I chose the fastest set up I had- a custom mikes lab 89cm slimmed down version of a formula windsurfer, 61 cm kashy fin and avanti 10.0 rig. That kept me on pace with the front of the pack as I ducked in between skiffs and kites moments after the start.

Everyone has different angles so it takes a few minutes after the start for everyone to settle into their groove and avoid any major collisions.

photo credit: Eric Simonson @ pressuredrop

Windsurfer, Soheil Zahedi had a close call with the 49er who nearly took of his head but somehow escaped unscathed as both crafts charged on downwind without missing a beat.
photo credit: Eric Simonson @ pressuredrop

I errored on the side of caution ducking a few sterns so as to just stay alive and make it to the finish. 

Mike Percey, longtime Bay area windsurfer was just ahead of me 1/2 way down the run as we made our way through the boiling waters between Alcatraz and Pier 39. I could tell he was a bit more comfortable on his 57cm fin and similar 89cm mini formula board as he was able to go just a bit deeper with every puff and slowly walk away.

I made one more gybe as we approached the bay bridge and the pressure was dropping and came in hot to a line starboard tackers of skiffs, kites and windsurfers on the layline to the finish.

A quick gybe back put me just shy of making the finish line but I was able to get out of the harness and pump for the last 30 seconds and squeeze into 2nd behind Mike as we rounded out the top group.
As expected, the kites dominated with 9 out of the top 10 spots and foilers taking the top 2 spots. Tom Siebel's MOD 70 Orion was the only multi hull to keep pace with the kites finishing an impressive 5th while Smart Recruiters, an Extreme 40 catamaran and YAMAHA, an aussie 18 skiff just edged Mike and I out and the rest of the windsurfers who took 13-19th place.

Overall- one of the funniest races of the year with a great awards ceremony at the St. Francis Yacht Club following the race to a full house of sailing enthusiast. 

Full results here

A huge thanks to Ronstan and Alan Prussia for putting on the event as well as the race crew at the St.FYC. And the biggest thanks of all to our local board builder- Mike Zaijcek who has built almost everyone of the windsurf and kite boards in our fleet. In the last few years, his boards have won almost every major windsurfing and kiteboarding competition, including the bridge to bridge, world championships, speed championships and now open foiling championships.

In Mike we trust!

And finally- more video of the Aussie 18s, with bridge to bridge highlights starting around 3:50- enjoy!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blazing saddles

Our formula windsurfing fleet had been invited to race on the Americas Cup course as part of the AC- OPEN- a showcase of different sailing, windsurfing & kiteboarding competitions run in parallel with the Americas Cup and Louis Vuitton race series this summer on the San Francisco Bay.

We waited until Italy's Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand finished their first race before launching from Crissy Field and sailing down to the start off last chance beach in front of the AC Village on the marina green. The shores were packed with sailing fans on grandstands set up along the water front but the 2nd of 2 races between Italy & NZ was cancelled as they reached their maximum safety limit where the organization and teams agreed it was not safe to race- a meer 24 knots of breeze and a 4k flood tide. Your typical summer San Francisco day.

Too windy for America's cup?
Enter the formula windsurfer!

Things were about to get fun.
If you're going to race on the San Francisco Bay- you better have the proper equipment or chances are- you wont be coming back anytime soon. Same applies with the AC boats.

The windsurfing fleet here has been pushing the limit of the equipment and evolving the sport for the past 30 years. We're extremely lucky to have a world class board builder, sail makers and fin makers within our community. Its all about experience and this fleet has it. The average sailors age this weekend was 50 years old and most have been racing some type of board for at last 20+ years. Anyone in the top 10 was capable of winning a race.

I chose my smaller Mikes Lab 89 cm wide board, 61cm Kashy fin and 10.0 Avanti for maximum power and control.  Conditions looked brutal with a steep chop and 20-25 knots of westerly breeze coming through the golden gate. If you knew what you were doing it was manageable. If not it was hell. I'd been sailing on this course for the better of 10+ years. It's my backyard, my playground.

Race 1 - beautiful start!
Just ducked below the one starboard  tacker on the line and squirted out in front of the pack on port with a good lead. The ML 13 has superior speed upwind though the chop and the Avanti 10.0 feels as light as an 8.0. You've got to have an efficient set up if you want to go fast!

Unfortunately I overstood Anita rock and let Tom Purcell, Eric Christanson and Jack  Lundquist sneak in there to round in front of me. We charged downwind and I was able to peel past Jack on the first gybe. That kid is really sailing fast and consistent for a 18 year old and the youngest kid in the fleet. We had a quick reach from A buoy to B buoy just in front of the St.FYC where there where still hundreds if people at the club cheering us on.

Time for the hero gybe!
Luckily I didn't blow it.

Tom Eric and I all charged deep downwind through some if the roughest voodoo chop Ive sailed in all summer. I went down but made a quick recovery and then saw Tom go down just at the mark. I caught up again and narrowly avoided the collision as I tried to pass Tom to leeward and at the same time Eric came into the leeward mark rounding the wrong way!

I rounded just in front of Tom and called room to tack at the sea wall and we both grinded upwind on port tack keeping pace with each other. Tom's got me by a good 30 lbs so he can hold down his own and with the north 9.3 he's wicked fast.  I lost track of the finish line and let Tom tack and failed to cover as he took the win while I got 2nd and Eric in 3rd for a nice recovery after re-rounding the leeward mark.
Always stay between your opponent and the next mark.
Simple rule but easy to forget especially at the end if the race.

Race 2 start caught the fleet by surprise including myself as I was still trying to adjust my boom height on the starting line and didn't completely engage the cleat so 30 sec after the start my inhaul line let go.  Pro tip- always tie a knot at the end of the line so it doesn't slip all the way out.  I did a quick fix during my tack & lost a few boards in the process but had it set for the rest of the race.

It was time to play catch up so one by one I picked off the middle of the fleet until I found myself in the top 5 again by the slalom leg in front of the St.FYC.  2 good gybes and I was back in the game!
The advantage of the smaller board through the chop was huge- It's got way better handling than the bigger formula boards; even upwind as I had the mast track pegged almost all the way forward,  it tracked extremely well & had superior speed through the chop.
Even if you sail a bad race and have good speed- you're going to end up ok!

At the leeward mark I had my eye on 2 more boards to pass upwind. The opportunity came as a ferry came through the fleet splitting Xavier off & he tacked back to the city front. I worked hard to grind Jack down with a bit better speed upwind on port tack but he hung in there and made a great call to the layline. I was able to just edge Xavier out across the line coming in on the starboard favored tack for 3rd while Eric took the bullet & Jack in 2nd.

Last race- time to get serious if I wanted a place on the podium. I knew the race was close in points between Eric, Tom and I so I had to stay in front of them. With no throw outs it could be anyone's game if any of us made a mistake. Tom already had a 6th in the 2nd race so he had no room for error.

It's important going into the last race knowing where you stand and who has what to gain.

Good start on starboard tack but Al & Eric were right there as we all tacked over from starboard to port tack. We were all overlapped within a board length of each other. Who ever let up the slightest would get shot out the back.

Al to leeward, me in the middle and Eric to windward.

We stayed overlapped for a good 30 seconds before Eric fell back a bit. It was now Al and I grinding hard to weather. I had a slight advantage to windward and started to climb with the better control of the smaller board.
Tom reached the top mark 1st and we pushed hard all the way through the 2 slalom marks not letting up an inch. Gybe for gybe we matched each other. I was on the verge of exploding several times but kept it together. I know Tom on the bigger board & fin must have been wired. Heading downwind on port tack past the GGYC there were minefields of voodoo chop. It took every muscle in my body to keep from getting catapulted over the front of the board- even on the smaller board.

As we approached the layline, I gybed first knowing the flood would help and one could understand and still make it. What I didn't account for was running straight into the chop. It was the pounding of a lifetime as my leeward foot barely stayed in the double chicken strap.  My legs were absorbing the chop like the front suspension of a mountain bike.

I had the line laid but just needed to keep it together. I rounded in front of Tom and covered until the finish gaining a few board lengths on the long port tack upwind. I made sure to not to make the same mistake again and called the layline to take the final bullet of the series and the days racing.

We had the awards ceremony at the AC Village on the same stage the Americas Cup and Louis Vuitton trophies will be awarded to the ultimate winners of this summer's AC circuit.

Overall- a huge success at getting to showcase our class and our sport to a wider audience. Many thanks to Cort and David at 101 surf sports for organizing the event; the Americas Cup Event Authority, the AC- OPEN and the many volunteers that make it all possible.

Results here

As promised, I told the editor at Sailing Anarchy Id get some SA shwag up on the podium.
Pics or it never happed, he said.
Here you go Scotty-

Photo Credit: Ron and Sue Kern.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Formula Windsurfing on the Americas Cup Course this Saturday

The Americas Cup will be showcasing more than one type of high performance sailing during this Saturday’s final of the Louis Vuitton Series. Immediately following the races between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge, the formula windsurfing fleet will take the course for several races along the San Francisco city front as part of the AC Open and CALCUP series.
Formula Windsurfing is the high performance competitive course racing format of the windsurfing world with riders capable of reaching speeds of over 30 knots.
Not unlike the AC 72’s which will be racing before them, the formula windsurfing class is an open developmental class- meaning sailors can choose from different manufactures of boards, sails and fins to fit their body weight and specific water and wind conditions.
The event is being run as part of the AC OPEN which sees 16 smaller events staged at the America’s Cup Village at Marina Green and run in parallel to the Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup. In addition to showcasing the formula class, the events goals are to enhance the spectator experience at the America’s Cup Village as well as creating a link between users of San Francisco Bay and the America’s Cup.
Racers will launch from a specially designed ramp at the base of the America’s Cup Village and race around the city front course which takes them to Anita Rock, through the St.FYC starting line, around a leeward mark at Ft. Mason and back upwind to a finish in front of Marina Green. Awards will follow at the Village Stage in the America’s Cup Village.
Special thanks to 101 Sports and the Americas Cup Event Authority for helping to promote the sport of sailing and windsurfing in San Francisco and around the world.
More info can be found at & or come down Saturday to watch at the AC Village. The first possible start is at 2pm and prize giving at 4:30.