Xavier GBR451 at the Bridge to Bridge Race San Fran
A big congratulations to our very own SDWA member Xavier GBR451 for winning the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race in San Francisico Formula division. The Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race is a multicraft downwind sprint from the Golden Gate Birdge to the Bay Bridge on San Francisco Bay. The field includes skiffs, kites, cats, trimarans and windsurfers. Here is a play by play direct from Xavier’s blog!
This was my first Bridge to Bridge race, so I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew about this famous race was that legends such as Micah Buziani had held the record for many years before the Kites smashed the record. Johnny Heineken had run the whole course on one tack last year on a Hydrofoil Kite in the record time of 16 minutes I think. With all Those histories floating in my mind It was almost a disappointment to see that the conditions were rather mild when we arrived at Crissy Fields. I rigged up a medium size sail to get some power on the downwind course. It didn’t take long for the wind to pick up form mild to wild. By the time my friend Jerper and I had rigged up the first set of sails it was time to change down already… After rigging up the next size down I went up to check the conditions. I felt that even the small sail was too big. The tide was ebbing which was causing the famous San Francisco voodoo chop! At that point I thought about changing down even further but it was too late I had to deal with what I had. That was definitely the right decision. I reached the start line with some time to spare so that I could get my bearings and prepare for the start.
The stat line was quite long as its divided in tree sections, one for the skiffs, one for the kites and one for the windsurfers. The windsurfers were at the pin end of the line so I have decided to go near the committee boat first to get to set my watch accurately. You had to keep your eyes open for the commercial traffic. A huge cargo ship crossed the start line a few minutes before de sequence adding its wake to the voodoo chop and swell. Nevertheless it paid off to be near the committee boat at the start of the sequence. I sailed back to the pin end knowing exactly when to start. It seamed like not many people knew what was going on. As I had a clear run to the start line. with just one kite in front of me. Right after the start I stayed close to the north shore were the water was flatter. That part of the course actually went quite smoothly. Eventually after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge I had to enter the choppier area of the course coming in and out of the harness to stay in control. It was a long starboard tack from Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Maison. I focused on keeping my legs flexible to absorb the chop instead of freezing it and bouncing all over the place. I was one hundred per cent focused on the chops in front of me so I couldn’t really tell where I was in relation to the rest of the fleet. From what I could see there was not many people in front of me. I think many were struggling in the gnarly conditions. I gibed in front of the city front and headed toward Alcatraz on port tack. The wind was really strong there. The chop is always big and chaotic in that area. I didn’t go to far and gibed again to head back towards the city front. I was hopping to get a bit of relief from the conditions with flatter water and milder winds. The wind was really strong near the city front. Usually eases of a bit in that area But it wasn’t the case this time. I couldn’t get to close to the docks as didn’t want to get stuck on the wind shadow so I jibed back on port reading towards Treasure Island it was super wind in that part of the bay and you had to watch out for the fast ferries going in and out of the city front. I couldn’t see the finish line at that point but I knew that it was at 200 yards from Treasure Island, so I decided to go quite far on port to gibe close to the Island. That move paid off. Just after I gibed back on Starboard, heading towards Bay Bridge, I saw the finish line just in front of me. The wind was fading rapidly at that point and the ebbing tide was against me. I pumped my hart out so I managed to stay on the plane all the way to the finish line. As I was doing so I remembered about the histories of riders getting stuck a few feet from the finish line without being able to cross it as the tide pushed them back towards Alcatraz. With this in mind I never let it go until I crossed the line. After rounding the finish boat I looked around and there were not many riders at all. None of the skiffs managed to finish the race. It was just too windy for them. Shadow, the formula 40 Catamaran finished just behind me. That’s part of the magic of the Bridge to Bridge race, completely different crafts finishing almost the same time after a hell of a ride!! That alone made the drive rom LA worth while for 22 minutes race!
Big thanks to Ronstan for sponsoring the race since inception 18 years ago and StFYC for hosting the event.
Read more of Xavier’s adventures at http://www.xavierferlet.blogspot.com/