Late season windsurfing in the SF Bay area

Late season windsurfing in the SF Bay area

Post by Ken Poult » Thu, 19 Sep 1991 17:35:53

> This was my first season windsurfing and I'm reluctant to stop
> until the waters get really cold.  I just bought a 3/4 mil semi-dry
> suit (brand new for only $125) and am wondering how long into the
> fall/winter I'll be able to stand the cold and whether there'll be
> enough wind to make it worthwhile.

Last year I graduated from Shoreline (a lake by the SF Bay) in September
and sailed thru October at Coyote Point (in the Bay).  At the time, ~15
mph winds was all I could handle with my 5.7 sail, and that is mostly
what I found then.  (Now, of course, I can't be bothered with only 15
mph - sigh.)  A 3/2 mm suit was (barely) suffcient.

After October, we rely on storms for wind - the day after a storm is
most often the best.  I used a 5/4/3 steamer, mostly at Shoreline, and
mostly on days with air temps above 55 F.  Booties seemed necessary, plus
some kind of head covering (I recommend a helmet).  I never did find
useful gloves that didn't make my arms get tired faster.

> I'd like to learn to water start.  Can anyone recommend places to learn
> this technique this time of year?  

Two recommendations:  1) rent a video  2) try it in "overpowered" conditions.
I was only able to waterstart a few times ever at Shoreline, but picked
it right up this spring at Coyote.  Part of it was just better sail/harness
handling, so my definition of "overpowered" winds grew, but it also seemed
that the water-level wind at Shoreline is awfully flaky.

Finally, a word of caution: bay-sailing in the winter can be dangerous -
if you break down or can't sail for some other reason (overpowered,
underpowered, too tired), you have to derig and do a self-rescue
swimming cross-wind, in fairly cold water.  A wetsuit that works fine
for sailing may not be sufficient for extended swimming.  At your level
(and mine, for the most part), I recommend sailing at Shoreline during
the winter.  The winds are flakier (more nearby obstacles like trees)
but there is not the big difference in average wind that is common in the
summer.  And most importantly, you can't get lost at Shoreline.

Ken Poulton