BEST WIND METERS and INFO:, https://wx.ikitesurf.com/spot/54301 ; Fort Funston, https://wx.ikitesurf.com/spot/2206
SEASON: Mainly Spring-Fall but some Winter Storm sessions possible (with extreme caution)
SKILL LEVEL: High competency (i.e. well above intermediate) to Advanced. You should be completely self sufficient in terms of self- launching/landing. You should have excellent kite skills and know how to read rips/current. This is a challenging on-shore spot with not a lot of takers due to conditions. There have been deaths here. ACCESS: EASY- This is a 3-mile long beach on the west side of San Francisco. Parking lots at north/south ends overlook the beach, access via Lower Great Highway in between. Most kiters to be found on northern end in main season. You probably want to kite with other people around.
LAUNCH: Easy…wide open beach in most areas but be careful of non-kiters. Beach will be narrower south of Lincoln and earlier in the season. There is not a apecific launch site, so be prepared to self launch/land or wait for an assist.
WIND DIRECTION: Mostly STRAIGHT onshore during peak season. If you can’t stay upwind, you won’t get off the beach. Prevailing wind direction is WNW during the summer, but can be south-southeast (sideshore) in storm conditions during winter.
OBSTACLES: Waves *(often significantly larger than it looks from the beach/parking lot). Crazy rips and side shore currents which are somewhat unpredictable and impact apparent wind. Side shore currents usually flows to the north on a flood and to the south on an ebb. However, this is not always the case and can be somewhat unpredictable. Swell direction, swell period, local sandbars, etc. can influence this.Non-kiters on beach. The Seal Rocks create a wind shadow which is more noticeable the more North there is in the wind direction. This is especially the case when there is a south swell and lefts are calling (or pushing) you deeper and deeper into the shadow. If there is an open channel to the Sutro Baths your board might find its way to the north side of the rock.
CURRENTS: If you don’t know how to deal with rips, you have no business being in the water here. And the side shore currents can clock in at several miles per hour. Both can impact apparent wind/power in your kite meaningfully, which is interesting in the waves. Put your kite in the water and it just might come back at you, with slacked lines billowing all around.
TIDES: Tide will impact OB’s moods dramatically. Light and playful at higher tides become thick and ugly within minutes. Generally not as thumpy at high tide but OB doesn’t like to be taken for granted at any time.
GENERAL ETIQUETTE: With strong onshore conditions, you need to be competent at staying upwind and be especially mindful of keeping out of the way. In general, normal right of way rules apply, but with onshore conditions, it is sometimes difficult to stay upwind. Be cool to guys on inbound port tack trying to stay upwind even f they are not riding a wave and therefore don’t have right of way, and you’ll make friends. This place requires keeping a little more space between riders than most sites, and there is always a lot going on.
AMENITIES: Public bathrooms at Beach Chalet and end of Judah, Taraval and Sloat Blvd. After kite refreshments are available along north end of La Playa, Cliff House, Beach Chalet, and the ends of Judah, Noriega and Taraval. Good, inexpensive burritos/tacos at Chinos Taqueria on Balboa St @ 35th Ave. Afterwards, warm up by the fire at The Riptide’s happy hour until 7pm on Taraval St @ 47th Ave.
ENVIRONMENTAL & HABITAT CONCERNS: Wild ocean meets dense urban habitat. Snowyplover nesting area in one of the most densely populated areas on the coast. Plover area is in the middle area of the beach and usually doesn’t come into play, but don’t go thinking your kite down in any dune areas. You’re probably more likely to hit a homeless person than a bird, but keep it on the main part of the beach. OB picks up more swell than just about anywhere. Full situation awareness is required to stay out of other’s way, and as always in a wave zone, people on waves have priority. Don’t pinch people into shore! If you’re jumping, there are lots of ramps everywhere, so consider finding an area with few/no people riding waves.
RIGHT OF WAY: Stay out of the way! Right of way rule in the surf zone: stay out of the way of the person on the wave at all costs. Anticipate their line and stay clear.
Starboard right of way applies out of the surf zone, but give leeway as much as possible, and signal intent with kite high to go above, low to go below. First-person on wave has priority. Make sure there is not somebody already on the wave before you turn onto it. When in doubt, kick out.
THE GOOD: Beautiful long beach that’s usually windy from April-Sept
THE BAD: If it’s windy, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll be foggy. As Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” And OB demands respect……this is a dangerous spot that will kick your ass even if you do respect it. Don’t respect it……..pay the consequences. If there are waves, there will be currents. And there are almost always waves.
LOCAL TIPS: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you can find other kiters. And you should find other kiters. Don’t kite this place alone. If you’re new to kiting in the ocean, this isn’t a good spot to learn.
Main surf line site, webcam requires premium account. Tide, Swell, Weather
Tide, Swell, Weather
How to identify rips