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2005 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race
By Oliver Govers
This was my first year of the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race; a quick review for those who don't know, the race is run by the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. It is a race from just outside the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge where it meets Yerba Buena Island on the city side. It is straight down wind and is contested by 18' Skiffs, Kites and Windsurfers, mainly Formula boards.
I arrived for the Skipper's Meeting on the Race Deck of the St. Francis Yacht Club at about 4:00 pm, and got the lowdown on the race. The format was about as simple as it could be: blitz downwind from the start just above the Golden Gate Bridge to get to the finish under the Bay Bridge about 75 yards west of Yerba Buena island.
While rigging at Crissy, I noticed kites ranging anywhere from 11m to 16m being pumped up. I had initially started rigging a 12m Windwing Outrage, but decided on an Outrage 14m "just to be sure." The wind was light on the inside, as shown by a couple of kites that went down soon after launching. I entered the water and dragged out the first 100 yards and started kiting up to the start line. I soon had second thoughts about the 14m kite as I was a bit overpowered on the way up, at times with the sheeting strap pulled all the way in and the bar sheeted all the way out. Once upwind of the Golden Gate things smoothed out a bit and I was confident the 14m was the right size for me.
At the start it was pretty busy with all the kiters, windsurfers and skiffs clustered about in the same area, converging closer and closer together as we neared the start time. The start was a little confusing as the kiters were to all start North of the flag boat with windsurfers and skiffs to the South, but the normal mayhem ensued at the start. I took my cue from everyone else and started off downwind as fast as I could. I started mid-pack and saw several kiters blazing downwind pretty damn fast, Chip and Anthony among them, and not really having any downwind racing experience, I decided that was the time to dial in a downwind technique, and fast!
Staying on top of my board and keeping the kite more or less overhead and lightly sining the kite from side to side I was able to kite almost straight downwind getting some nice bursts of speed on the powerstrokes. Negotiating the swell and chop was demanding and the first half of the course brought two high-speed crashes and one kite crash with a fortunately quick relaunch. That's when things got fun. I noticed many kiters had taken a downwind course towards Alcatraz, then Treasure Island and toward the Bay Bridge. I figured as long as there was wind I was going to take the more direct route. It was really quite amazing because at one point the leaders had seemed so far away, but I was closing in, setting my sights on Chip's orange 13m ZH. I was getting closer, and staying focused. I took a moment to notice many of the riders who had seemed impossibly far ahead were now off to the side and behind me. I saw some kites who had taken the traditional route across the front of Treasure Island start working their kites in light winds, oh no, what's that, Chip's kite was down in the water! Who's that up ahead? Anthony's about to cross the finish line! At that point I had been staying neck and neck with Rado who was approaching from a different tack, but I got a burst of wind and accelerated on straight downwind. Go, go, go!
Crossing the finish line under the bridge, I headed in to the beach on the left and landed, following Anthony and Chris.
Anthony Chavez placed 1st overall, winning over all skiffs, windsurfers and kiteboarders. Among kites, 2nd went to Chris (last name?) on a Slingshot and I took 3rd. Not sure where I placed overall, but 3rd among kites was fine. There was some confusion in that Morgan may have been 3rd, but Chris who took 2nd in kites and Rado who was behind me indicated that from what they could see I was 3rd.
At the tiny beach framed by cliffs, kite after kite came in, slamming down on the beach with the kiters in the water. Everyone rolled up their gear and we swam out to a couple of waiting boats to take us back to the St.FYC. Luckily the first boat that the lucky ones found their way into had the beer. Back at the Club, we all enjoyed a great pasta dinner, beer from an ice cold keg and pics and video of the race. All in all, I'm glad I went and look forward to next year's race.
Thanks to Ronstan and the St. Francis Yacht Club for putting on a great race event!
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Some guy at SI yesterday was tearing the place up on an Outrage yesterday. I didn't recognize him. Let's just say he spent most of his sesh in the air.
Sounds like you used a combo of brains and (kite) brawn to score your trophy.
Unfortunately, no trophies. There were some prizes that went to the first three places overall, which was made up of a kiter, a windsurfer and a skiff team. I just came in third among all kites, out of 18 I think. I think I was maybe 15th overall out of 32 finishes out of maybe 50+ that started...
Chip won it on a kite two years ago. Last year a kite was going to win (5 kiters made it close to the finish before everyone else but there was no way for the kiters to get across due to conditions. Kiters are faster!
sometimes Gary Bronson...
Charlie, just two LMG boards got across the finish, Anthony's and mine.
Here are the results, looks like they got the kite colors mixed up, but the results are correct:
http://www.stfyc.com/default.aspx?p=v35 ... ber&bhcp=1
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