WELLNESS // Tips to Safely Kite Foil Beneath the Golden Gate & Product Review
June 24, 2018
You've seen it. You've read about it. You know the hashtag #loyaltothefoil. But, alas, you have yet to reign in the foil skills. The truth is, it's difficult, time consuming and painful- but the benefits make the struggle well worth it.
I was luck enough to score a rare 80 degree day in San Francisco, where the heat shut almost every windy beach down except Crissy Field.
A little background- I am well versed with kite surfing at Crissy Field. I spent two years racing there in 2007, back in the day when my dad and I were so eager to get wet we would ride in anything- rain (literally) or shine. These days, I consider myself a "fair weather" kiter, and I ain't sorry. That being said, it is still a location that reminds me how dangerous this sport can be.
Moving forward- Whether you are a kitesurfer learning to foil, or a foil border dreaming of the day you can silently buzz beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, here are a few tips to help you on your journey.
1. Learn How To Kitesurf. You'd think this goes without saying, but apparently it does not. Crissy Field is NOT beginner friendly. It is one of the most temperamental, challenging locations- so before even thinking about anything foil related, get your lessons in. Put your water time in. Basically, don't even touch that body of water until you are a self-rescuing professional (trust me, it will come in handy. Coast Guard does not work for you).
2. Don't go Alone. The buddy system exists for a reason. Have someone ride out with you, preferably more experienced, who can help guide you through the various wind patterns, currents and boat traffic. As someone who often kites solo and knows this bay, it is still relieving to have someone else with you. Mine just so happens to be my boyfriend and professional foiler, so basically if anything goes wrong I can just blame him, right :) ?
3. Study the Wind. If you think you are effortlessly going to just get out there and hop up on the foil, you are wrong. There is a massive wind shadow by the beach, and if the tide is low you are going to have to drag out a ways before attempting to get up. Spend a few days watching the local riders go out, look at the kite sizes they use with reference to the texture on the water.
4. Learn how to Foil Elsewhere. Again, it should go without saying, but I still see some scary things out there. Do yourself a favor and learn in calm, warmer conditions. That way you are not constantly wondering if a 500 ton ship is about to cruise through the channel or if someone who shouldn't be sailing might tack right downwind of you...Welcome to the San Francisco Bay. Do not attempt to bring your foil out to Crissy until you are more then proficient foiling upwind AND downwind (if you are learning you know the struggle is real), know how to body drag with it, and know how to carry it.
5. BE SAFE. This year has been tragic for our kite community. Ask questions. Be aware of the tides. Talk to the locals. Please know when to say no, carry your Radio or Phone with you, and respect the elements. This is a no-joke kite spot. Again, "Sit Down B****, Be Humble".
The pocket foil is new to the lineup this year, and it is exactly what I didn't know I needed. It is small, compact, with a sliding plate to personalize the mast placement depending on your needs. The ride is friendly, and takes the scary out of foiling- I'm talking easy take off and maneuverability. Even the crashes seem a bit more slow motion...and I've taken enough tumbles to preach to the choir here. Once you have graduated from foil newbie to foil-er, it is easy to simple get a longer mast and smaller front wing when you need more speed. Basically, it's everything you need if you're aiming at foil free-riding (I.E. Cruising underneath the bridge, watching the birds and smiling from ear to ear).
The real star of the show was the new Eclipse – Adaptive Hard Shell Harness. I currently have the Manera Exo waist harness, but am sold on this new release. It is the perfect width, with far more lower back support- which is basically what most people (Especially women) have trouble finding with the waist harness. The rigidity of the harness is centered, and softens as it reaches the edges. It is a snug, cushy feel- Enough strength to keep you feeling safe and locked in, with the right amount of flex to keep you comfortable when twisting, rotating or shifting your center of gravity on the board. Finally, It does not ride up (again, necessary for women- if you know, you know). I wore an XS and it was delightful. Now we just need to wait for the turquoise color edition to come out... #coloryourride.
A big thank you to Manera America, F-one America and Joey Pasquali for leading me out under the Gate and snapping some A+ shots of me riding in dream-land San Francisco.
Need more gear? (We all do, always) Check out Bay Area Kitesurf for your new foiling needs.