After spending several hours of shuttling vehicles we were at Fort Baker(at the foot of Golden Gate Bridge) ready to paddle to Berkley. The wind was howling and it was looking like it was going to a good one. Organizing 10 paddlers is no easy task especially in 4 foot seas. We were joined by John Abrahms from Deluth. John is a Think dealer. We did a short push into the wind before we turned. Its amazing the psychological difference as we paddled west into the gloom of sea fog before turning east and paddling into the sunshine.
As we left, “The Gate”, that’s a locals term for the Golden Gate Bridge, we quickly offended some sailors by cutting them off. There were yelling some sailing jargon at us. Something like, “heave to” or “create sea”. It was kind of like cursing at somebody in a language they don’t understand….meaningless. Only the sailors in our group, Paul Hansen and Shane Martin, were able to decipher the meaning. Roughly translated, “ Get the #@$% out of my way!!”
Immediately we were surfing big wave and having a good old time. We re-grouped at Angel Island where there was some discussion about the route. My landmark of the Clock Tower behind the Marina was obscured by a low cloud. The guys were saying we need to go right, and I was fairly certain it wasn’t slightly right, but was starting to second guess myself.
Everybody was working on the art form of catching and riding waves. These ones were very uniform, big and fast. So it was great practice. We had had a great discussion with Ben and Sean about surfing waves and aside from simply surviving we testing some of the theories. Ben was saying it was better to steer by leaning the ski because when you use your rudder its like putting on the break. After trying to lean my ski a couple of times I quickly realized I was pretty happy hitting the breaks.
Parking lot changing room
Paul Hansen has a beautiful wooden strip, home built surf ski and had just installed an equally beautiful surf rudder which he was testing for the first time. Better two days before the race than on race day as it turned out. He had some linkage issues and didn’t have full control, but he toughed it out. But from a group safety perspective we weren’t being as cognizant about members of the group as we could have been. Paddling downwind is like a freight train out of control, and people get left behind. So in the future we need to do more “stop and checks” to make sure we don’t lose anybody, or set up buddy systems.
Upon arriving at Berkley I met local Craig Tanner, who said conditions were “as good as they get” and I felt they were fairly similar to last years race. During the run I was hitting averaging around 15 km/hr and topping out around 20 km/hr, so the speeds are good and fast. Wind speed builds measured at 30 knots at Angel Island.
On a side note, the 300 million dollar superyacht “A” owned by 36 year old, Russian Billionaire, Andrey Melnichenko is moored in the harbour near Sausilito. 394 feet.