Information about San Francisco Bay Area kiteboarding locations and guidelines.
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3rd Ave, San Mateo
3rd Avenue Guidelines can be viewed here.
Third Avenue is known for two things, great wind and, well, you will smell the second thing when you get there. Kiting Third Ave. is great, but make sure you can go upwind comfortably before venturing out here as the beach access is small and there is only one place down wind to beach, which is surrounded by rocks. Some people learn to kite at Third, and there is a kiting school, but the winds are typically strong in the afternoon during the season, and there is no wide beach to land on when you get in trouble.
There is ample parking at Third Ave but don't rig in the car park. The windsurfer have a rigging area at the end of the car park which kiters can use, but most just take their stuff to the two beaches. The main beach is down wind of where the windsurfer launch. This is a small beach so don't lay out your lines if you are not going out. Lay your kite on the edge of the beach by the rocks so kiters can get on and off the beach. Getting off the beach can be tricky and dangerous. Because the main beach is protected from the strong winds, the wind on the beach can be erratic; lulls and gusts. Be very careful of the gusts when leaving and entering the beach, they have a tendency to lift you towards the rocks, where many a kiters have had scary experiences. Keep your kite out towards the water, so if you get lofted, you get dragged into the water, and not over the rocks. Typically, most kiters stay down wind of the windsurfers and do their jumps on the inside.
The upwind launch north of the driving range is the the preffered launch. You park at the very northeast end of the lot and walk about 5 minutes to a mudflat with plenty of room to setup and launch. There are usually plenty of riders at this launch and it is much safer than the carpark.
Looks like it gets mostly offshore wind WNW.
I am solid intermediate planning a couple of weeks of kiting in the Bay Area. Things do go wrong (equipment/wind) to the point where you can't relaunch and have to do some sort of self-rescue. Looking at Google maps for 3rd Ave it looks like you are going to get dragged into the bay if you can't make your way upwind. Everyone is suggesting 3rd Ave as a great spot (I see that it gets awesome wind), but it seems quite unsafe. Am I missing something?
Specifically, how do you avoid having to ditch the kite and/or getting dragged into the bay?
3rd is a great place to kite. As with any kiting spot, it's recommended that you do not go further off shore than you are willing and able to swim. That said, one of the best things 3rd has is a great community, so if something were to go wrong, you would probably have help near by long before you drift far down the bay. If your kite has air in it, I can't imagine a scenario where you'd have to ditch the kite altogether. Don't ditch your kite, use it as a sail to get you back to earth. If something goes wrong out on the water, and your kite will not relaunch, wrap up your lines and sail back to shore. One thing at 3rd that is less than great are the rocks that line the shoreline. Yes there are a few beaches, but if you're bodydragging in a long way, there is a great chance you will miss those beaches. That means you climb out of the water and walk of shame back to the parking lot. No big deal. If you're smart you kite with a buddy, but at 3rd, you'll have lots of buddies! So come to the beach and ask all the questions you can. Maybe even just watch for an hour to learn the lay of the land. If you're solid intermediate, or even lower than that, 3rd is a great place to kite.
Thanks for the advise. Where I kite you can find an onshore launch spot on any direction so we don't do a lot of upwind battles. I'm perfectly fine with the walk of shame, but I've never tried sailing upwind on a downed kite (I sailed across the wind). Is that relatively easy?
Sounds like I may invest in a private lesson on local survival from someone on a jetski :-)
WNW at third is actually side on-shore. So super safe.
Come to the lower and upper launch and ask questions to regulars, folks are super friendly there.
Also a good idea to come at low tide to see what's underneath. And unless you ride boots, it's a good idea to wear booties since there is a lot of crap ready to cut your feet in the mud.
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