San Francisco Bay Area kiteboarding lessons, learning and support.
When the topic of Ocean Beach comes up, my ears perk up...
I lived on the Great Hwy (between Moraga and Noriega) for 12 years. I've surfed there for 35 years and windsurfed there for 20+. I've kited there for 4 seasons now.
Ocean Beach has many faces depending on wind, swell and tide. Some days there is a nice inside area where you can blast around, parallel to the beach without dealing with a bunch of whitewater or many breaking waves. Other days it's a cat and mouse game where you're dodging bulldozer thick, overhead double-ups, which break really, really hard. Toss in 25-35 Knot wind, usually straight on-shore and it makes getting through the beach break just a little bit entertaining.
The trouble with the place is that it can be hard to see which kind of day it is from the parking lot or even the beach. With all the time I've spent in the water there, I've been surprised as I'm riding out on my first few tacks at how gnarly it can be, when I thought it looked pretty mellow from the car.
I've always said about kiting: "It's all good, until it isn't." You might see a bunch of guys riding OB and making it look relatively easy. But you have to plan for when things go wrong and it's really easy for things to go really wrong, really, really fast. Throw some overhead, slamming beach break into the mix, add some kite lines wrapped all around you and you're screwed.
OB is no place for a beginner kiter.
When you're up and riding comfortably, both directions with a really solid 95+%, tack to the other direction on flat water, you're starting to be ready to play around with surf - at places like Dillon, small Waddell, Pismo. A side or side-onshore spot is much easier to get out through the surf than straight on-shore.
I remember my first few outings in the surf with a kite - it was like the whole past experience of riding on flat water was now 2D - the waves add the 3rd dimension and it's really, really fun!
If you look at the real-time wave height, period, tide, and windspeed on OB-KC you can get an idea of what it will be like out on the water.
Small easy stuff is 6' or less, long periods, high tide, and lighter winds. (ideal for your first few times out)
The hard stuff is 9' or more, short periods, low tide, heavy winds. (do not go if you can't kite Dillon or Waddell efficiently)
2010 UG FLX
2012 Firewire Flexfire Strapless
Word, you guys give great advice, A lot to consider but I had a short lesson today and am already super stoked on it all. Learned to self rescue in some light winds, flew the trainer, also flew a 12m at bodega; got jerked around pretty good! Can't wait to get back on the water, unfortunately the wind died out before I could get on the board.
It sucks all these reccomended places are so far from where i'm living but so it goes...
Brian in the Sunset
Well said Kirk, and to the noob, no one is trying to scare you any more than necessary! We've all been there. Surf can be powerful even when it looks small. There are a million things to go wrong. My advice is to not go out in anything larger than waist to chest high until you can keep flying your kite through almost all your crashes and can re-launch really quickly. The surf is manageable UNTIL you drop your kite in the wrong place.
Word, I'm gonna hit up bodega quite a bit before I try anything like 3rd or OB. Thanks for all the great advice guys, i'm gonna have to buy a 30 pack and keep it chilled in the trunk every time I go out, you deserve it!
Brian in the Sunset
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