Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The "Stick"

While most windsurfers consider bay-sailing to be "flatwater sailing", I would like to somewhat take issue with that vague definition. It seems like somewhere between what I consider flat water (Hatteras Sound, Bonaire) and Jaws, there is a variety of flatwater that ain't so flat. I'm not sure what exactly "chop" is, or "swell" or how really to describe the nature of moving water in a place like this. I do tend to think that, for the most part, it's pretty freaking bumpy compared to the flatwater from the east coast.

Most of the sailing in the SF Bay seems to be what's considered "bump and jump". I guess that means you can expect pretty big chop and breeze on most sailable days and the technique you're using mainly involves going fast and getting air in one direction, then wave-riding "chop" on the way back.

One of the few exceptions on my side of the bay is a spot located right next to the San Francisco 49ers old stadium, Candlestick Park. Windsurfers affectionately call the neighboring launch "The Stick". There are a few different kinds of windsurfing practiced there: beginners and intermediates, slalom "power" sailors, and world-class freestylers.

Yesterday I sailed the spot in gusty 20-29mph breezes with a 5.0 Simmer Crossover lent to me by Kevin Kan of Sunset Sailboards. I felt overpowered most of the time, but that's probably because I've got the guts and strength of a 7 year-old girl. It was a really fun session though, more water-starting practice than jibing practice to be honest. Here's what I see as the pros and cons of this site.



Windier than other spots

Lots of spectators and passers-by

One of the few places good for flatwater sailing.

Great place to watch a high level of freestyle windsurfing right near shore

Good amount of parking

No kiting!

Gustier than other spots

Slightly questionable neighborhood

Lots of sharp rocks to walk over and underwater rocks to catch fin near shore

Extreme opportunities to embarrass yourself in front of good sailors.

Rigging area somewhat rocky/dirty (although grassy in spring)

Severely lacking in the shorts-over-wetsuit quota


Unknown said...

Just read your recent Blog, but one of your Pros made me curious about something and wanted to get more detail about it in the future. "No Kiting" why is this?

I'm just curious of the reason or feeling. I'm not a Kiter (yet) been thinking of giving it a try but don't see it as better or more fun then sailing just different. To me it reminds me of the ski - snowboarding. Not sure if you do that sport but snowboarders where when they first started to appear looked down on by skiers and allot of resorts would not allow them. But that has slowly changed and know they are more widly taken as part of the sport thier are still the closet haters and the name calling (my own family is still guilty of this). I'm a very accumplished Skier/racer/Instructor and Coach and took up snowboarding in 1984 as an attempt to try something new and continue my love of the sport I continue to do both.
So is Windsurfing and Kiteboarding the same? Like your opion.

By the wasy keep up the great blog I enjoy reading about your experences.


Catapulting Aaron said...


Thanks for the comment! Glad you've found something interesting here... Kiting and windsurfing are two relatively young sports eternally bound by the wind. Many of my good friends are kiters, so I was just being facetious about no kiting being a "pro". That said, kiters can take up quite a bit of space on the water. Last weekend I drove down to 3rd Avenue in San Mateo and checked out the kiting spot. There must have been 40 kites on the beach and I actually counted 50+ kites on the water! Could you imagine windsurfing through a pack of those guys with lines flying in every which direction?

Anyway, I do think kiting is cool. I've flown 2 line stunt flights and even played with some training kitesurf kites as well. At the end of the day, as long as we're all having fun and playing safe...


George Markopoulos said...

very interesting and informative post on candlestick. thanks-

Snowy Guy said...

This was an informative blog entry. I came here from I-windsurf where I saw your comment on local life. I didn't know that Candlestick Park was no longer used by major league baseball. Is it used for any other competitions or has it been condemned? Where in the photo is the launch you use?