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no joke

slalom

If you would have told me there would be 35+ windsurfers racing on the SF city front in 2015 I would have laughed at you and told you to get a to kite and join the foiling revolution.

While the San Francisco Bay windsurfing scene provided the roots for the latest kite & foil board racing, whats old is new again. 3 new slalom series are making their debut in SF this summer- proving windsurfing – a sport nearly 50 years old is still alive and well and constantly reinventing itself. This time around, we’ve learned lessons and are building the fleet from the bottom up with a focus on the B fleet and getting more non racers into the fold.

Slalom is a quick, easy to understand format with broad reach starts, 3-4 gybe marks and a reaching finish 4 minutes later. Its probably the most exciting windsurfing discipline around- as the fleet comes charging into the 1st mark lit out of their minds, laying down carving gybes.

It’s a concept even the non racer can understand. If you can gybe a windsurfer and get back upwind, you can race. No specialized equipment needed for the B fleet but the A fleet is totally open.

It started as a grass roots effort to get more people back into windsurfing racing and ended up surprising us all by the amount of enthusiasm generated. The Crissy Field Slalom Series began as a pipe dream with no RC boat, marks, anchors or even an PRO but with some modern ideas it all worked out. The idea to crowd fund the series came about with no sponsors and none of us wanting to go into debt to make the idea work if competitors bailed at the last minute with no wind. We reached out to the community- (thank you Sailing Anarchy) asking for small donations and gave racers a discount if they pre registered for the series. Soon enough we had 35 sailors signed up, paid & raised 150% of our goal. The basics were covered to run the series. 4 races are planned, once a month on Saturday afternoons at Crissy Field. With as many sailors registered for the B fleet as the A expect fleet, it was already a success.

The 2nd series is more a less a spin off from our existing Friday Night Course Racing at the St. Francis Yacht Club. In lieu of course racing, we’re trying slalom races for 4 of the nights. Even before the 1st race, we had more people signed up for the slalom racing, than the regular course racing. The StFYC has been monumental in developing and fostering the sport of windsurfing from the beginning with the Friday Night Windsurfing series, the SF Classic (run since the late 70′) and Bridge to Bridge race, just to name a few. The 2 series share the same course- utilizing a series of set permanent and set marks from Anita Rock down to the A & B buoys off the StFYC.

The 3rd series is the Rio Vista Grand Slam to be held on July 9-12th on Sherman Island in the delta. Its bound to be a great windy event with slalom, freestyle and speed disciplines.

For the lowdown on the 1st weekend of racing- keep reading at stevebodner.blogspot.com. Photo thanks to Daniel Wong. And check out the video right here.

Steve Bodner
USA-4