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20th Annual Ronstan Bridge to Bridge at St. Francis Yacht Club

by Amanda Witherell 10 Aug 08:17 PDT 9 August 2018
20th Annual Ronstan Bridge to Bridge at St. Francis Yacht Club © St. Francis Yacht Club / Amanda Witherell

Just as the tide turned from ebb to flood, 26 hydrofoil kites, 23 5o5s and eight windsurfers queued up for the 20th running of the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge, hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club on August 9, 2018.

A downwind distance race from Golden Gate Bridge to the west span of the Bay Bridge, with a steady 20 knots of breeze at the start and a flood tide, spectators were hoping to see kiter Johnny Heineken crack the 11-minute mark or better for a new course record. Unfortunately, he didn't quite hit those milestones, but he did nab his sixth first-place finish and stands out for the most wins in the race's 20-year history.

"It was definitely my fastest time ever down to the bridge," said Heineken, who finished the course in 11:04, followed by Gabriel Wicke, then Joey Pasquali. Sailing a size 13 "was too much kite for the beginning of the race but that's how it has to be for this race," he added.

The bigger kite powered him through the light air at the bottom of the course that stymied most of the other competitors. Only seven kiters, five windsurfers and 12 of the 5o5s finished – a normal outcome for this tricky course that runs from the nuclear narrows of the bay's entrance around the corner into the wind shadow of San Francisco's eastern coast.

Among the windsurfers, Chris Radkowski won the day in 22:02, edging out Xavier Ferlet by ten seconds. Jean Rathle crossed the line third. Michael Menninger and Reeve Dunn were first over for the 5o5 fleet, with a time of 25:08.

"We started out away from everybody and keyed into a nice puff," recounted Dunn. "Michael did a great job keeping on the pressure and I just held on."

Menninger and Dunn also had a good first day in the first three races of the 5o5 North American Championship, which started earlier in the afternoon. Standing at second overall, they were awarded the Ronstan Top Performer of the Day. Mike Martin and Adam Lowry nabbed two bullets for first overall and Craig Thompson and Matthew Woodworth are holding strong at third.

Buoy racing continues tomorrow through Sunday and with seven World Champions on the course, the 5o5 North American Championship remains anyone's game.

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