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USA-4 2018 Review: The year of the foil

by Steve Bodner 31 Dec 2018 06:37 PST
Fun little session learning to tack the foil board and foil kite. Eating humble pie but enjoying every minute of it © Steve Bodner

By all means 2018 was another hugely successful year on the water with 150 sessions on the kite and windsurf boards spread out over three countries.

This year, I was finally able to dial in the foiling windsurf board, adding another set of tricks for this old dog to learn after nearly 34 years with a board under my feet.

By far, kiting still takes up the majority of my time on the water with 111 out of 150 sessions. As I get older, kiting is just easier on my body vs windsurfing; foiling even more so. Out of 111 kite sessions, 79 were on a foil.

Kiting and windsurfing still remain incredibly equipment intensive despite trying to scale down the gear I use. In 2018, I used six boards, three sails, five kites and four foils. My most used board was the kite foil board taking up 79 total sessions or 52% of all my sessions. The Camet race board has proven more than reliable.

"This baby's got some rocker. Welcome to the fleet": #cametkiteboarding Steve Bodner (@usa4) January 6, 2018.

As for windsurf foiling, it's strictly a light wind affair. When the wind is less reliable and under 14k, getting out and back to the wind line is hugely important. I'm not interested in swimming with the kite so shlogging is the downside I'll take to get a good session in.

While I'd probably be better off devoting myself to one discipline, I'm still having too much fun being the jack of all trades vs the master of one. Foiling has reinvigorated my passion for both sports. It's like learning the game all over again but this time, knowing all the rules. If you can wrap your head around being a beginner again, the fun is there for you to enjoy.

While I do love me a good high wind slalom race, it really takes a lot out of me but the reward of getting a few bullets still keeps me coming back for more. This year we had 4 Friday night slalom races and I was dialed in for three to end up on the podium at the end of the season. It's probably more a testament to my past time on the water but if you're good at something, you might as well exploit it for everything it's worth.

Kite racing is still a mixed bag as my transitions are still the weakest link in my program, but that hadn't stopped me from having the most fun I possibly can. I never focused enough attention to master the foiling tack or gybe yet but I all good time, I remind myself.

As I look back at all my sessions in 2018, I can honestly say that no two days were the same. Every day is a different set of conditions from breeze to tide to equipment ridden.

I know my quiver pretty well by now but there's always something more to learn. I love the fact that I'm still in love with both sports after all these years. I wouldn't do it any different. With that said, here's a look back at the 150 sessions from winter, to spring to fall and back to winter again. The season never seems to end anymore but just blends right into the next session.

January: 12 sessions - 11 kite sessions and one windsurf session

The first session of the year ended in disaster as my favorite 89cm Mike's lab board for the last few seasons ended up delaminating under the golden gate bridge on a big ebb. I was able to limp in and at least salvage the rig. It's the end of an era is over as 15 years of sailing a formula style board is over just like that. I could probably replace it but time to move on...

"First session of the year is always the hardest TKO at presidio shoal in under water collision": Steve Bodner (@usa4) January 10, 2018

It's always easier to move on with warm waters and a good breeze as I was baja bound for 8 days of kiting in mid January. The goal was to work on my foiling transitions but alas too much fun exploring on the foil- riding bumps on the Sea of Cotez, siestas and parties at night.

" Follow the lines going south - a wind junkies guide to Baja" Steve Bodner (@usa4) January 28, 2018

February: Nine session - eight kite sessions and one windsurf session

Back to reality and chasing the clearing breeze after winter storms. There was still decent swell pumping through the gate and the slalom windsurf board was the best tool in the quiver for the job. I got a few good days of riding winter swell from Kirby cove all the way out to pt. Diablo.

"Found the sweet spot just north of marshalls beach where the voodoo chop subsided and the mid winter swell delivered": Steve Bodner (@usa4) February 19, 2018

Great data from @iwindsurf with an early spring like north pacific high.

"SF Bay (Crissy Field) winds have arrived early in 2018 w/ spring like north pacific high. Historically Feb delivers eight days of 25k+ breeze. So far we've had four days of 30k+ breeze and 10 days of 20k+ breeze. More NW breeze this year than typical SW. Thanks @iWindsurf for great data!" : Steve Bodner (@usa4) February 26, 2018

March: Eight sessions - seven kite sessions and one windsurfing sessions

Clearing breeze arrives- if it's blowing at 11 am on Tuesday morning you better go. More often than none, the winter breeze arrives earlier than the summer afternoon thermal breeze. I find my groove in the early spring with a few days on the kite foil and a few days on the surfboard in strong clearing breeze.

"In all the world, there's no place Id rather be. Thank you @GoldenGateNPS @parks4all #crissyfield" : Steve Bodner (@usa4) March 23, 2018

April: 15 sessions - 14 kite sessions and one windsurf session.

The North Pacific High and sea breeze arrive with regular occurrence again- predictable and reliable and a session almost every other day. I did an old school regatta at the Foster City lagoon racing up and down the canals with fleet 18 on an original windsurfer. It was lots of fun reconnecting with the original spirit that captured me almost 34 years ago but the real fun was getting out on the kite foil in the lighter breeze. The 13m chrono 2 is a great light wind tool but increasingly burdensome while trying to do a self rescue on the water.

"Fleet 18 Glen Taylor memorial race in the Foster City lagoon this Sunday. Highlights include sailing under six bridges, 2' water depth, erratic winds and backyard barking dogs (note- in the 20 years the race has been run- no dog has actually ever bitten a windsurfer!)" : Steve Bodner (@usa4) April 20, 2018

May: 21 sessions - 20 sessions on the kite and one session on the windsurfer.

"I can't even... OMFG its windy" : Steve Bodner (@usa4) May 21, 2018

"Friday night slalom racing - blowing the dogs off their chains. May 18th race report and photos" : Steve Bodner (@usa4) May 20, 2018

The breeze really turns on. The official start of the St.FYC Thursday and Friday Night Series. We had some really windy days with 10 sessions in 25k+ breeze and 11 sessions on the surfboard. This is where I have the most fun. After years of dedicating myself to racing, I realized I never really had the chance for back and forth sailing- or mowig the lawn. Chasing the ebb on a big day can be as rewarding as winning a race. I've dialed in my equipment on the big days that a raging voodoo chop is now really fun to kite in with a small kite and surfboard.

"Never miss an afternoon ebb when its blowing 25k+" : Steve Bodner (@usa4) May 18, 2018

June: 15 sessions - 12 on the kite and 3 on the windsurfer.

"Lining up for my 1st windsurf foil race tonight. This should be fun." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) June 15, 2018

A new era of windsurfing is here with a dedicated windsurf foil board. It's a lot of work to dial this thing in and find the right settings for a smooth ride. I'm not entirely sure Im going about it inthe right was as Im using the kite foil and changing the angle of attack on the front wing. A foiling gybe seems entirely impossible but Im getting some good rides. It's even harder to stay out of trouble- I've fallen every which way- catapulting into my rig, going over the handle bars, and even running into the sandbar.

"Come for the flood. Stay for the ebb. Well lit on 8m kite and foil in gusty 18-28k": Steve Bodner (@usa4) June 6, 2018

I've still got it in slalom as I win the 2nd Friday Night Series race in the big breeze. The key is to win the start and don't look back.

@StFYC slalom windsurf series week two postmortem - It's all in the start!: Steve Bodner (@usa4) June 4, 2018

July six sessions - five on the kite and one on the windsurfer.

July is always a travel month with the family as we head abroad but this time we made arrangements to head to one of the most popular wind destinations in Europe- Traifa at the edge of the continent. It's amazing to see how the rest of the world does it as several hundred other kiters flocked the the beach at Tarifa as the summer sea breeze flourished. I got two days on the water in great foiling conditions and got to try out some new gear. I try out the alpine kite foil. Super easy and fun but like having a governor on your car. #notfastenough

"Found the source. Full on poniente breeze. Well lit on 10m kite and foil with a few hundred other like minded wind enthusiasts": Steve Bodner (@usa4) July 10, 2018

"Wind's up. Kites up." #tarifachic : Steve Bodner (@usa4) July 11, 2018

Back in SF, I catch the summer delight as the full sea breeze delivers the goods.

"Afternoon delight. 8m kite and surfboard in 20-30k as ebb tide peaks". : Steve Bodner (@usa4) July 25, 2018

August- 17 sessions- 14 kite sessions and three windsurfing sessions.

The new 12m Ozone hyperlink arrived after great success on the smaller 9m hyperlink. It's not to much of a performance race foil kite but an easier to use foil kite. The bridle system is less complex and has all the advantages of a full on race kite with out the hassles. I like to compare the foil kites to a sharp knife vs that of a butter knife when sailing a tube kite. If you can keep it out of the water, it's one of the best kites Ive sailed.

"Managed about 30 sec of foiling before the shit hit the fan. Self rescue with tail between my legs. #itsallgood": Steve Bodner (@usa4) August 24, 2018

On the foiling windsurfer, it all comes together as I finally dial in the settings and things become easier.

"It all clicked today. I went from porpoising on the foil to long steady foiling runs on windsurfer. Lit on 7.6 rig in 10-16k and smooth flood tide. Like rediscovering the sport.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) August 30, 2018

I get the whole family out sailing for the first time. It wont be the last.

"Got the whole family out sailing. All smiles": Steve Bodner (@usa4) August 12, 2018

Summer breeze continues through the golden gate as I find my sweet spot on the surfboard and small kite.

"Best session of the year as summer breeze goes nuclear. Mounds of epic swell and big bre3ze at yellow bluff. Spasticly lit on 8m kite and surfboard in 25-35k." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) August 12, 2018

I line up for the annual bridge to bridge race on the foiling windsurfer but Im still not even in the game. Half way down the bay, I see the fleet in front all go down as the breeze diminished near the finish line. I bail early and make it back to the beach on my own. Sometimes I'm amazed at myself and the wisdom that comes with age.

"18th running of the ronstan bridge to bridge race. 5:30 start @GGBridge midspan with an all out downwind sprint to the finish at the Bay bridge. Foiling kites, windsurfers, skiffs and 505s.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) August 9, 2018

It's never a dull day on the water as I continue to eat humble pie on the kite foil in the breeze.

"Spasticly lit in gusty, shifty 10-25k on 8m kite and foil. Better wet than not.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) August 5, 2018

September: 18 sessions- six on the kite and 12 on the windsurfer.

It's all about the foil as 16 of 18 session were on on a foil.

"Found a resplendent flood tide outside the golden gate. Pleasantly lit on 8m kite and foil from Crissy field > China beach >Alcatraz > Crissy field in sheets of smooth Pacific bliss.": Steve bodner (@usa4) September 18, 2018

It's the first month in almost four years I put more time on the windsurfer than the kite.

"We round in a tight pinwheel formation carving through the gybe and getting shot out to the next leg. Those that don't commit fully, go down hard and are left swimming at the mark.. I make it through the remaining two gybes, hang on like hell and get the bullet for the second race.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) September 4, 2018

I finally dial in the foiling windsurfer after trying endlessly different settings.

I humbly get around the race course on the windsurf foil but think Im still going about it the wrong way as the rest of the fleet has much longer fuselage and steadier rides. I'm running my windsurf foil setup with the same foil as I'm using on the kite but shiming the front wing to get more lift. Im slowly learning it's possible but not the most efficient.

Last race of the season and disaster strikes again- I round Anita rock on the Friday night race and hit a seal. The foil is almost lost but luckily is embedded in the the bottom of the board. I limp in again and save face.

"Last race of the season. TKO after a very close encounter with a seal @ Anita rock." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) September 29, 2018

"Never underestimate a day at the beach." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) September 6, 2018

"Five races in fukitsnukin conditions. Enthusiastly lit on slalom 7.6 in 25-35k. Third for the night and series": Steve Bodner (@usa4) September 1, 2018

October: 18 sessions- 12 on the kite and five on the windsurfer.

"Lined up with a few other windsurf foils in gusty 10-18k. New F4 125cm fuseloge points upwind like a bullet. Great lift.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) October 29, 2018

16 of 18 session on the foil but now this month the kite gets all the attention. We get a few days of diablo breeze from the NE and I get the out on the 12m hyperlink finding good range from 12-16k. Above that, the 9m hyperlink works great up to around 20-22K. I dial in a new ml foil with better range that works well on both the kite and windsurf boards. The tilo windsurf foil board is finally starting to find its place in the quiver and I get comfortable going in 8-16k on both the 7.6 and 9.2 rigs.

"That session restored my faith in windsurfing. Foiling pacific sleigh rides as ebb tide delights. Pleasantly wound on 7.6 and foil in 12-16k.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) October 27, 2018

"New foil with increased angle of attack and bigger front wing. Well lit on 9m foil kite in 16-22k as westerlies and fog fill the bay.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) October 17, 2018

"Flying down wind right over the voodoo chop. Pleasantly wound on 9m kite and foil in 14-18k": Steve Bodner (@usa4) October 11, 2018

Disaster strikes again on the foil. This time it's my own damn fault as I forget the most basic thing ever- fin bolts. Somehow my foil falls out just off Crissy Field. I search endlessly for two weeks, scouring the underwater contours off the beach to find the lost foil. It's a lost cause as the current seems to have carried it away. I search in a grid pattern, use a fish finder, even get an underwater drone but alas- no luck. Im devastated but realize that it can be replaced, just not so easy.

"Did a grid pattern in the water, poking around w/ 16' windsurf mast and fishing nets + enlisted the help of Bottom Bob No luck finding the lost foil but confident Ja will rise again.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 9, 2018

"Hey Twitter friends. Anybody have any ideas on finding a lost hydro foil off Crissy field? I'm pretty sure it's down there but so far like finding a needle in a haystack": Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 11, 2018

"Teathered 25m weighted kite lines drug across the bottom didnt yield anything yet. Skeptical its even there. Next step- fish finder": Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 14, 2018

"Spent an hour with the fish finder mapping the underwater contours off Crissy Field. Sadly still no foil.": Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 18, 2018

"One more attempt at finding missing foil Mapping field underwater contours with @OpenROV #searchandrescue": Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 20, 2018

November: 9 sessions- Eight on the windsurf foil, one on the windsurfer.

"Shirted the fog line and found the sweet spot. Pleasantly lit on windsurf foil and 9.2 in 8-16k as healthy ebb tide reinvigorates." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 26, 2018

"Found a whole new light wind gear today. Well lit on ML 83cm fuseloge and 83cm front wings w/ Avanti 9.2 in 8-12k." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 4, 2018

I'm officially a non kite foiler again and spend all my time except for 1 breezy afternoon on the windsurf foil. I manage to borrow a dedicated F4 windsurf foil and it's a godsend as I find a new grove with the 100cm fuselage and 90cm front wings. I'm slowly beginning to appreciate the bigger setup but just when I thought I was done with all this big equipment, I find myself back on a 100cm wide board. The 9.2 rig is great at getting going in next to nothing and shloggimg to and from the wind line. The 7.6 rig is much easier to make the transitions with and my gybing radius is slowly getting bigger and I'm staying foiling through most of the turn. The bigger wings have 2 advantages- slower foiling speed and earlier liftoffs.

"Cut down higher aspect formula sail working great upwind on the foil." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) November 4, 2018

December: 2 sessions- both on the windsurf foil

Full on Diablo winds and if it's windy on a Tuesday morning, you better go as it may not be windy again for a week. I can't believe how little wind you need to stay foiling as I able to get my range down to 8k with the help of a big flood tide.

"Never underestimate a winter northerly. Pleasantly lit on 7.7 windsurf foil in 12-16k as healthy ebb flourishes." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) December 9, 2018

"Viva la vent! Notherly clearing breeze today. Big wind line 1/2 across the central bay w/ N & W breeze lines. Heady swell at presidio shoal." : Steve Bodner (@usa4) December 1, 2018

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