San Francisco Bay Area kiteboarding lessons, learning and support.
Within the city of San Francisco, the only places to kitesurf are Crissy field (very advanced), Ocean beach (kiters have died here) and Hunter's Point (almost always offshore and unrideable).
You really need to get to Alameda or Bodega harbor to learn. For Bodega, you'll want to do it with a buddy and two cars so you can do a downwinder and then drive back to do it again. I'm trying to get this exact routine set up for the weekend.
**edit** yeah, so what kitecrazy said basically.
If you need a ride to the beach, there's plenty of people on here that would be happy to help out for gas money/beer or even just the company. There's also a beginner kiteboarding Facebook group that has some incredible people, all still in the learning phase.
Look me up here and send me a message and I'll invite you to the group if you like. https://www.facebook.com/jaron.west
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Talk to Joe about riding at Dillon once you can stay upwind. I think people actually give lessons in the shallow water at Dillon, same as Waddell. Its not a brilliant idea or anything but it happens.
Anyways point being if your plan is to ride OB eventually you will need to ride Dillon first and Joe can help you out with that. I would learn to stay upwind and be comfortable turning both directions before thinking about the ocean. It can be possible to ride the Ocean by next spring but you need to put in time at the Harbor and Alameda (and Alameda is pretty much done for the year). Get a 9m for Bodega, it HONKS up there and you will not ride the 13 much.
Realistically the 13 is big. I would get a 6,9,12.. i have 6,8,10,12 (its nice to have the right kite, and it sucks when you don't)
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Can you tell me why Chrissy and Ocean Beach are considered such dangerous places? I have to say that by basically living on the great highway, I've seen fairly windy days but not many CRAZY windy days. What factors of Ocean Beach make it such a "don't even think about attempting there" kind of spot for kiteboarders? I see kites out here all the time and they seem to be doing just fine. Were the death's during 40+ mile an hour 20 foot wave sort of conditions? Not to sound like an over confident n00b, its just that almost every piece of advice I've heard on these forums has been extremely discouraging. From the necessity to spend upwards of $5000 dollars to get on the water to having to drive 3+ hours, It sounds like I have to have been born silver spoon in mouth to even consider riding kites. Who knows, maybe i'm more broke than I think I am Can't not take your guy's advice just because I may not be suited for what your saying, but fuck it, got a lesson at bodega tomorrow and we'll see how I do, i'm too stoked on the sport to give up, just might have to work more hours on top of school.
Brian in the Sunset
First of all, 99% of the people on this forum don't live on the Great Highway and surf OB. So surfing, kite surfing etc. at OB is for advanced kite surfers and locals. I'm a beginner and I kite OB all the time, just not very well, but it's in front of my house.
To start go to Waddell to learn. It is safer and easier than OB. Take a lesson with Brendan, he just got back from Utah. Brendan can get you setup with Caution kites, which are made for surfing in high winds. They are super cheap and really, really heavy duty. I bought one kite from a major kite brand, took it in the surf, and it has damage.
Then when you are ready for OB, you can pick me up and drive me to Kelly's cove and we can do a downwinder to my house.
All the shit you have to do to learn is worth it!!!
OK, I gotta way in now, because I jsut recently went through this experience. I went about learning this sport in pretty much the same way as you are (I *think*), wanting to prioritize:
- being cheap (+1 unemployement)
- listening to experts in a sport that obviously can be dangerous, but...
- wanting to actually have fun and learn this shit.
That in mind, here's what I did:
1. Took a lesson. Sounds like you are doing this. That's critical, because I found there to be a lot of not-obvious yet very important information to have while kitesurfing. I support you could get this from a dedicated friend, but they'd have to be a)really patient b)have like 8 hours to help you c)actually be friends with an intermediate and up kiter.
2. Bought an 11M kite and a really big board (and wetsuit, harness, etc). I weigh 185 lbs. The needed kite size depends on how strong the wind blows at the locations you frequent, how much you weigh, and how floaty your board is (which holds you out of the water. Big twintiips and surfboards are both very floaty).
There are a lot of factors to integrate here, but I will guess that you will mostly be going at Alameda and 3rd. You are a pretty light guy, so the right kite for you will be a 10 or even a 9M. Don't get bigger you won't be able to control the power. Don't go smaller, it won't be enough to pull you out of the water.
Get a smaller board, maybe in the 130s? Perhaps somelse can chime in with what the right size would be. 150s are way too big, 120s is the smallest. Most people seem to learn on twintips, not surfboards.
3. Practice, practice at Alameda, 3rd Ave, doing Sherman island downwinders, and maybe somewhere in Marin? (I don't know the north of GGB spots). Seriously you need to practice for a long time before you are doing the sport. There are basic skills and water knowledge to learn that are required to ride. The physical skills you get the theory for in the lesson (and online), but you only feel it by practicing flying the kite and board control.
As you learn be prepared to be patient. you will get dragged through the water with water up in your bsuiness, get dinged up, and most terribly, have to carry your gear back to your laucnh site (sometimes over rocks, for long distances, in strong wind...) repeatedly. It's called the walk of shame. But! don't stress it. everyone does it. You should be spend at least a chunk of learning... maybe 7 days or so?.... doing this walk.
4. Bought more kites for higher wind conditions (7M, 9M). The more kite sizes you have, the more wind speeds and locations you can kite in, no question. Usually people buy the largest kite they can to accomadate the lowest wind they expect to kite in, then buy smaller kites for higher wind days (which are really fun but hard at first). For you I would start with a 10, then go 8, then choose if you want your 3rd kite to be larger or smaller. Again, you have to use the right sized kite for the condition, and beginners are particularly bad at happenning large wind speed ranges, so having multiple kites is handy (I think).
5. Started hitting 3rd repeatedly. 3rd is great. The spot is funky but also cool in a dead-seal, feral-cat kind of way. 3rd lacks the big long safe beach that Aalameda has. Instead it has a few small, strange beaches farther and farther downwind that you can get out of the water at, all the way to the bridge. But the huge, and I mean HUGE, difference is that the wind actually blows. Cause there's really no way to learn that effectively with no wind! And 3rd does this reliably whereas Alameda does it once in a blue moon.
Then you'll be at the same level as me! Which is still very beginner.
Don't get bummed by all the cautionary comments. Truth is that people have died doing this, locally, so people worry about it. Also, new kiters tend to be a danger to themselves, other kiters (on the beach, mucking up launches), and passersby (who might complain and that owuld limit access). Finally kiting is still a small sport but the good windy spots get hugely crowded when the conditions are good, so people worry about having a bunch of inexperienced N00bs messing things up for everyone.
so yeah, in sum: Get a 9M or a 10M. Teake lesson. Practice at Alamedar and 3rd, prepare to be patient. Oh yeah and is FING FUN! Seriously it is a blast. I haven't been this addicted to a sport ever before. No feeling quite light carving along, jumping, sliding on the water.
Thank you, thank you, and thank you DW
That was everything that I needed to hear; realistic but down to earth in a much less condescending tone than some that I have encountered here (or maybe the voice in my head is a little F'd )
It's nice to hear the 2 cents from someone who was in a similar boat and your words on equipment helped straighten some things out. As far as your opinions on practicing and what goes down, all great advice.
All I can say is thank you and that you definitely earned yourself a beer or 3 .
Brian in the Sunset
Nice! Very glad that I could be of service. I usually drink scotch whiskey but I'll make an exception for beer tonight!!
There are many, many, many more details to be learned here. I have never found all the key information in one place. Instead I've slowly assembled clearer and clearer pictures through reading these forums, youtube videos, talking to kites, observing, and practicing, practicing... reminds me of Rock Climbing in that way.
Biggest 2 pieces I wish I had received when I was at your stage:
1. Don't go on days when the wind is too light. I did this a lot at the beginning to be cautious. But you need wind to create power and learn! So yeah, don't go out on days when it is nuking, but don't bother with sub 15 mph days. It"s too little power to get out of the water, ride, hold and edge, go upwind...
2. Used kite prices and quality vary widely. I bought everything used and there is a healthy market for used gear in the area. But it's easy to overpay. I think the Caution kites out of Santa Cruz are a good benchmark. I've never used them, but people say good things about them and you can get a new bar and 2011 kite together for $800. I paid that much for a used kite 3 years old!! Remember, the bar and kite must be compatible (ie., from the same manufacturer), but you don't necessarily need a different bar for every kite. For this reason many people buy their kites all from the same manufacturer so they can just use 1 or 2 bars for the whole quiver.
Good luck. This sport is so fun, I really can't stop thinking about it lately.
Haha, kite whisperer.
But he speaks the truth. I find that the people who have excelled at this sport have truly enveloped themselves in it and I know you already are. To many, it's more of a religion than a sport. My happiness level is through the roof every time I get out with a kite whether it be riding, just body dragging (with an ocassional power stroke) or just flying a big trainer. Every session lately has been a breakthrough one and I've been smiling non-stop for days now.
Spend tons of time learning about problems people have encountered and how they solved them. That way once you get up on a board the question of "what now?" is much clearer.
I do have to give a warning regarding learning at 3rd. You have to follow the wind and the wind is there, but it's no Alameda beach and no place to start learning, it's where you continue learning. Once you've taken some lessons, they'll teach you all about self-rescue and get out and practice practice practice it. You can even do this on a windless day at Alameda. Winding up your lines correctly to keep tension on one line while you're being blown downwind is an imperative skill for 3rd. Getting up to your kite with a cleanly wound bar and sailing into shore will keep you from ending up in the San Mateo bridge and hopefully you make it in at lower launch or last chance beach cause those rocks can be expensive when you're trying to learn kiting on a budget.
Trust me, we all want you out there riding with us and in different ways we deter and encourage. This sport is unforgiving when not taken seriously and the last thing we want is you to damage your equipment or yourself getting too ahead of yourself. We all encounter problems and having a fellow kiteboarder out there means another person able to help in an emergency situation. You're no good to us if you head to Ocean Beach before you know how to keep the kite up 100% of the time and a wave shreds it to pieces.
I already know you've got the mentality to be out in all the spots you want ride in no time, hopefully even this season. I can't even fathom how fun Ocean Beach will be when I reach that point since surfing was my original sport but it wouldn't be any fun now since I wouldn't even be able to get out with onshore winds.
Last edited by jwest21 on Thu May 10, 2012 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sold all my gear; ebbs and flows; see you next season.
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Start at Alameda. When you can get upwind you can do upper launch at third ave and self rescue at lower launch when you go out to light or full on flood. I started last year in june and got in a few 13M days at Alameda, then went to 3rd (where I learned how to self rescue and repair punctured bladders, watch those rocks!) then sherman and racetrack, then berkeley and marina bay.
I now run my 10M the most, don't like the 13M as much. When I started I was always on the 13M. So maybe start big and next season you'll pick up a 9 or 10?
Saw this and thought of you. Great older kite with good depower and safety for $300 with the bar. Not sure if you wanted to go back this many years or even pick up something a little bigger. I think an 8 and 11 would cover 90% of what you'll encounter here.
Also, this one: http://www.ikitesurf.com/classifieds.iws?db=kiteboards
A hell of a deal on a newer 9m/12m Caution quiver for less than $1000! I'm actually considering it. Caution kites are made for the waves if that's your ultimate goal.
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