Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Home at Treasure Island

Treasure Island is probably the best and most consistent windsurfing on the San Francisco Bay, ESPECIALLY late in the season. My friends have been religiously going there for years in August and September because when other spots start shutting off or becoming more intermittent, TI becomes the "epicest*". The fetch at Treasure Island is 4 or 5 miles. The swell has that same amount of space to organize, space out, and otherwise become beautiful.

But before you wipe your drool and grab your gear from this description, I must inform you of dear old caveat emptor. Treasure Island has the worst launch of the whole bay. A 25-30 yard u-shaped wind eating jetty from which you launch in the downwind armpit. Launching goes straight downwind in annoying fickle wind. Thus, coming in requires going directly upwind in garbage wind. Also, if you're sailing TI, you'll probably want to be on a pretty small board so you can make the most of the conditions beyond the shadow. Most of us choose to doggy-paddle home at the end of our session, but a handful feel as though they must SAIL their SAILBOARD in. I've never seen a shadow sailor beat a swimmer, but they sure are fun to watch:

Untitled from Aaron Vieira on Vimeo.

The other thing to note is that if something were to go wrong, it could go pretty darn wrong. A couple days ago a few guys went out at TI, then got swallowed up by fog. They all made it home, but they all also had pretty scary experiences finding their way back.(Link to those stories) If your gear breaks down between Treasure Island and Angel Island, it could potentially take you a very long time to get back to dry land in any direction. Not to mention the large tug boat traffic, bridge construction traffic, and 25-knot-traveling commuter ferries.

TI is the best spot in the bay, but ya gotta respect it.

*epicest is a term coined by the German Shepherd for "most epic". Pronounced with a hard "c".


Sergey Menshikov said...

What a performance! I need to take lessons from Kevin.

rathokan said...

Not true! The "sailors" beat the "swimmers" in most of the time. But, like anything else, you have to pick your battles, and sometimes it makes more sense to swim... after you've tried to sail in of course. It's actually pretty easy to sail in when the wind is filled in and the tide is high.

My 81l board has been feeling especially small lately trying to come in at TI. Seems like there is no wind near the island or in the cove lately.

Unknown said...

Next time I race you in. You slog, I swim.


Unknown said...

Worst launch in the whole bay? Have you sailed North Tower yet? I think it beats TI in that category.


Catapulting Aaron said...

Sergey, agreed. Despite my ruthless commentary, Kevin did a great job on that 4.2/84L combo in such flukey conditions. I probably couldn't sail that board normal in that windshadow, much less backwinded.

Kev -- I'm with Steve, let's race. No shadow sailors have beat me yet.

Steve, I haven't tried the North Tower nor do I feel particularly inclined to. Maybe someday I'll buck up and start sailing out there, but I don't like to sail it from Crissy... and there are enough people who sail at Crissy who don't launch North Tower, that I'm pretty happy living in ignorance. That said, I'll tentatively redact (well not literally) my statement that TI is da worst.

G-42 said...

To overcome the mid-bay angst, invest in an Aquapac and bring your cell phone, plus have a small strobe on you (both can go around you neck on a lanyard, under your wetsuit in front of your chest). That way, not only can you call the Coast Guard, but you'll also have the strobe to guide them to you.

North Tower is gnarly - launching off the rocks is fine, but coming in, anytime you're climbing those rocks and you don't pay keen attention to the waterstate a bit outside, you're likely to get tripped up by a freighter wake you didn't see coming. TI might be undignified (in terms of the doggy paddle), but at least you're unlikely to get hurt. My local winter storm launch here in Bellingham is like that - huge hole on the inside, so there's no way you can sail your small gear in or out - meanwhile it's 3.7 on the outside.

rathokan said...

alright... it's ON!!!

HD said...

Great site, BTW what camera were you using for filming the loops. It looks very professional. Am thinking of a Gopro Hero 5? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated

Catapulting Aaron said...


I filmed the loop video using a gopro wide angle camera. (surf pro?)