The Bridge to Bridge always seems to have some kind of catch – last year it was the giant ebb tide chop, this year it was no wind down by the Bay Bridge. But before I get to that, let me explain what the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race really is.
This is a race that has been going on every year for about twenty years now. Ronstan’s local rep Alan Prussia together with the StFYC sponsor this race that includes sailboats, windsurfers, and kiters. The race would start just outside of the Golden Gate and finish just upwind of the Bay Bridge. It’s just one long downwind about five miles long.
This year, there were 31 foil kiters, 7 regular kiters (including a few twin-tips and surfboards), 11 formula windsurfers, 9 18ft skiffs, a J/70, a kite boat, and a vanguard.
In the end, only 6 foil kiters, 4 windsurfers, the skiffs, the kite boat, and the vanguard finished.
Last year, the race was very different because of the conditions. It was super windy and gusty, and I was on a 6 meter Edge, which was the same sized kite Stefaans Vilijoen was on (and he’s
much bigger than me). The ebb tide didn’t make the race any better, and the chop was no doubt the biggest I’d seen at Crissy. The water around Alcatraz was like an extreme whirlpool, and when I wiped out there, it took forever just to get back up. But the important thing was I finished (under the time limit) my first attempt of the Bridge to Bridge, and I even made it back to Crissy.
This year was a totally different game. I went in with a 7 meter R1, a kite that I’ve gotten super comfortable on. Launching the kite and getting off the beach was a bit of a struggle because it was super gusty, but once I got out, it was fine. The water was smooth, and the 7 felt like the perfect size – the polar opposite of how I felt last year heading up to the starting line.
At the starting line, my goal was to keep my kite in the air, not tangle with anyone, and not get speared by any of the skiffs. It was a pretty busy line with all of us starting at the same time. The start got delayed due to passing ship traffic (2 tankers went by), and we all could feel it getting lighter with every passing minute.
When we started, I was a little underpowered. I had a mediocre start and just tried to go fast. The wind was super southerly, so I was comfortably able to point towards the foot of the bay bridge. I could see Sebastian Sponholtz, Kevin Growney, and Geoff Headington all in front of me, and I managed to get ahead of all of them by the time we passed Alcatraz. At this point, I was between fourth and fifth. Chip Wasson had gone closer to Alcatraz, so I figured he wouldn’t have to point downwind towards the finish line as much as I would. When I was passing the city front, I saw Nico Landauer drop his kite because he went too close to the city front (he got it back up a few minutes later and ended up finishing 5th). I was headed straight towards him. I gybed, but it was not soon enough. I dropped my kite and there was no hope in relaunching it with no wind. The only good thing was I got to practice packing up an R1 on the water, which wasn’t as cold as it normally is.
Congratulations to Johnny, Chip, Geoff, Joey, Nico, and Sebastian for finishing this incredibly tough race. Thanks to StFYC’s race director Lynn Lynch and the rest of the RC for the rides back to Crissy. And of course, thanks to Ronstan and the StFYC for hosting this regatta every year!