San Francisco Racing Nationals and the Big Air Wind Jam: Preparations of an Expert
Posted Tuesday Night July 24th, by Stacey Fonas
So, I'm here in San Francisco for the first ever US Kiteboarding Racing Nationals that start tomorrow, and then the Wind Jam Boardercross/Big Air event that starts on Friday, and this is our hotel. It's very Brady.
There's been no wind in Florida for the past couple of months ... the last time I had any quality kite-time was Memorial Day Weekend ... so I don't know that I really have much business being here, especially since I've never course-raced before. Nevertheless, I am here. And I'll pretty much be faking it the entire time.
Because basically, it's going to be is a lot of professionally-minded race people ... gearheads, techies, people with special speed boards and surf boards and speed kites, people who've tested out all their gear in racing situations and know what works best for them ... and then there's going to be me, who hasn't had a chance to test one darn thing, who's never raced a race in her life.
The closest I've come to actual gear "testing" is to take 2 "secret stash" proto boards to the cable park to see how they "go." They're fast and go upwind well, I've been told. I rode them in turn for exactly 3 laps apiece, and here is how they "went": kiteboards suck at the cable park! Yep, that's the result of my professional board testing ... kiteboards suck at the cable ... so I'm going into this thing cold turkey, on 2 boards I've never ridden. To complement my untested quiver of boards, I've also brought 2 kites I've never ridden, and I just really hope it's windy enough because they're BOTH 9s, earlier and later versions of the Nemi HP ... one better for racing, the other better for jumping, so I'm told. I probably have too many eggs riding around in my So-I'm-Told basket at the moment, but by the end of the event, I should have my gear completely dialed, and will then be ready to race for real.
So other than getting nervous a lot and hoping that I don't come in dead last, that concludes my preparations for the Racing Event.
My preparations for the Big Air Event, which is going to involve boosting off a 30-foot-long kicker, runs along the same disheartening lines. I went to the cable park and hit every kicker as many times as I could, but it is only now that I'm wondering how I ever could have thought hitting a 3-4 foot-long kicker at the cable was going to help me over a 30-foot-long kicker on a kite.
To digress for a moment, this kicker is the REAL reason I wanted to come to this event in the first place. At first, I'd heard it was going to be 30 feet HIGH, and if anyone was going to be pitching him- or herself off a 30 foot high kicker, it was going to be me. Plus, think of the awesome video-potential of a 30-foot-high kicker! I keep picturing all the people (including myself) getting halfway up, losing speed, and sliding back down the ramp backwards, like in the cartoons!
We've since learned that it's going to be 30 feet LONG, not 30 feet HIGH, but it still sounds pretty epic if they can actually pull it off. According to one of the event coordinators, it's going to be more like hitting a standing wave as opposed to an actual kicker. It's made of steel, it's built on a barge, and you'll hit it on an upwind reach. Somehow, water will be pouring down it, so you'll be able to edge off it for height, and it'll most likely be something you go at hooked in. The structure itself sounds grand and historical - a kiteboarding moment to remember - and ripe with the potential for epic failure, like the Titanic or the Hindenburg or the Trojan Horse. I'm just really glad I'll be here to witness it, be it debacle or delight.
Which only leaves me with Boardercross, which again, without wind, has been tricky to prepare for as well. Since I haven't been able to practice myself, what I've been doing is watching other people in boardercross situations, with an emphasis on the stylings of my favorite Kiteboarder Jay Stebbins from Nantucket. I will now take this opportunity to re-watch my favorite boardercross video, studying how NOT to jump over buoys.)
So that is how I've gotten myself ready. In other words, I haven't. I'm gruesomely under-prepared. And I'm going up against the likes of Kristin Boese. Help. I just don't want to be last.
And just for the record, when I said "Preparations of an Expert," I was being facetious.