City Sailing: San Francisco Bay

City Sailing: San Francisco Bay

SoCal may be Surf City, USA, but if you’re looking for wind, the best of the west is clearly the Bay Area. From the tidal flow of the Rio Vista Delta in the East Bay, to gybing under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area offers up every kind of windsurfing there is – right next to world-class dining and drinking in one of America’s hippest cities. While parking your giant windsurf-mobile in the crowded city streets won’t be easy, you’ll be pleased to know the Bay Area offers more fantastic windsurf launches that you can count on two hands and both feet.

So, what do you need to know about sailing the Bay Area? Even though it’s a bay, it’s got current, baby. Plenty of current. Enough to kick up overhead swell when the wind’s blowing against – or haul you out to the Pacific Ocean should a fickle wind decide to shut off for the day. It’s easy to track the flood (current coming in, with the wind) or ebb (preferable – going out, against the wind) but our advice? Find the saltiest looking local you can and get the goods on what’s happening that day at that particular spot. Each one has its particulars known no better than by the sailors that ride there, but here’s the gist on a few of the good ones.

3rd Avenue (Foster City)

A South Bay hotspot for sailors and kiters that offers great swell on an ebb tide out in the channel. Sometimes a little bit of a schlog out to the wind line, and you’ll be glad you have a rental car, because occasionally golf balls come flying over the fence of the driving range next door. Grab kit from Helm Watersports right at the launch – great for tacking on a day or two of sailing to a San Francisco business trip.

Berkeley 


This East Bay launch is home to the Cal Sailing Club, a rowdy group of windsurfers known for sailing till dark and drinking till it’s darker. You’ll find a welcoming crew, and often a bit of sunshine along with your helping of wind.

Formula blasting at Crissy Field
Formula blasting at Crissy Field

Crissy Field

Simply put, one of the most iconic places to windsurf in the world. Brave the channel currents and barge traffic for a few reaches under the Golden Gate Bridge – just make sure you hustle back to the beach before the wind dies and the fog rolls in. Every year there’s dozens upon dozens of windsurfers and kiters rescued at Crissy Field by the U.S. Coast Guard – don’t be one!

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