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Can somebody point out where to kitesurf in Bayarea? I took several classes (about 10 hours overall) but that's it. Any tips, recommendations? I am not sure how to approach. Definitely don't want to go out there alone too.
The only beginner friendly spot in the Bay Area is Crown Beach in Alameda. It has a nice long sandy beach that you can walk back up after you end up downwind (you'll have to perform a self-rescue). The problem is that Alameda doesn't get good consistent wind so you will struggle to learn how to go upwind. It's a bit of a Catch-22. As soon as you can go upwind, then 3rd Ave is the place to go. If you are able to get up and ride, you could go to 3rd Ave on a low tide and then self-rescue into the lower launch or one of the little beaches further down if you don't quite make it.
My advice is to get a Go Joe for your board (made by Ocean Rodeo) to keep you from losing track of your board in the chop, pay for ikitesurf.com so you can know where and when the wind is blowing, and drive out to Alameda or 3rd Ave and talk to people. Most of us are pretty happy to help a beginner out.
careful with the advice "you could go to 3rd Ave on a low tide and then self-rescue into the lower launch". You need to know the place or talk to the locals to get the timing right. If the tide rises you might end up in the rocks, if it is too low you can't come in cause there is a huge mud area in the wind shadow. Really we have lots of funny videos of beginners ignoring that fact Alameda is probably your better option if you can't go upwind
When I started I kept going to Alameda and getting skunked (this was late June and July) so I started going to Third. At the time, I could sort of get up and ride to my right, couldn't get up on my left, and forget about upwind. It was frustrating going downwind and quickly having to get out, wind lines, walk back to the upper launch, and start over, but I felt I didn't have much of a choice because the alternative was not to ride at all. I never paid attention to tides and guess I got lucky because I never had to deal with the mud field. One time the tide was pretty low and I was able to walk around in waist-deep water for acres and acres so I would ride and then just walk back upwind in the water and start over. I was able to extend my session to over an hour this way and made a lot of progress.
I would say go to Third and do what you have to do to make it work. You need wind. One note: if you can't ride well to your right, it would be tough because you need a way to get back in.
yes sounds like you did get lucky. Really, we see this all the time, beginners drifting to the lower launch and if the tide is high they never make it in and end up in the rocks or if the tide is super low, they crawl through the mud. The lower launch is in a huge wind shadow. You definitely need to pay attention to the tides.
I think the sherman idea and pay for a boat support might be a super efficient way to learn to go upwind. Way more efficient than walking at 3rd
It's tricky to get to the point of being self reliable.
Go to Alameda with a big board and a 12-13m kite (something relatively powerful and safe like an Obsession, Rally, Rebel). Get comfortable body dragging, board dragging, self rescuing (I cant tell you how many kiters I see that don't know how to properly wrap a set of lines, taco, and get themselves back to the beach), downwind slogging, walking the beach, and just having good/safe kite management so you don't show up at third looking like a complete kook. Don't expect to stay upwind at Alameda, the wind is always just a little light.
Go to Third, if you know how to self rescue tides don't matter, get used to the fact the bay and ocean are deep... don't get dependent on shallow water spots because there are only a few and tides and wind have to align to make that work. Stay close to shore, remember the golden rule that you don't go out further than you're willing to swim in. if you lose your board you should be able to body drag back to it, or Sonny will bring it back to you . He did for me 7 years ago.
You will float in to the rocks at third, everyone does. Its like that scene in the Matrix where Neo takes his first jump. Its just part of the process. good luck and talk to people, we keep an eye on each other out there. If someone does rescue you, the payback currency is in beer. the quantity depends on the degree of difficulty. Board returns are a 12pack, bars are 6pack, harness and wet gear is a 22oz. A full kite return has to be some really good stuff, no domestic crap.
2010 UG FLX
2012 Firewire Flexfire Strapless
I think I was able to make it work because even though I was a newbie and couldn't go upwind, I was able to get up on my right and edge enough to make it to the lower launch. And I had enough self-restraint to know that when I got close to the right-turn into the lower launch, my session was over and I had to head in. I suspect that a lot of newbies either can't correctly assess their relatively small window of opportunity for getting in, or they push it to the limit and beyond because they've only been in the water for 15 minutes and they're already downwind and have to stop, so they convince themselves against all logic that there's another tack or two left in their current ride.
The picture below is an approximation of my path when I was still mostly going downwind. Admittedly, someone who is a rank beginner and floundering a lot will find it a challenge getting the angle right to ride to the beach and then dealing with the wind shadow is a whole other issue. But better to have the kite plop down in the water by the lower launch then end up on the rocks, I say.
Boat support is always good. The only argument against this is that depending on where you live, going to Sherman can be a lot of driving. And of course, there's a cost, though I understand it's reasonable. If money is no object, there are a bunch of folks who will take you out to the windy middle of the bay on a jet ski. I had a friend who spent about $1k doing this--he didn't want to deal with the Third Ave. beginner's slog, he just wanted to ride and it was worth it to him. (Even after all the jet ski sessions, he still couldn't get up on his right, though. )