Boooom! The horn blasted through the ripping winds on the sunny San Francisco Bay today to start the 2018 Hydrofoil Pro Tour kite racing event hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. Fifty of the world’s fastest racers, hailing from 16 different countries, silently took to their foils as they crossed the starting line, their kites powering forward in winds gusting in the low to mid 20-knots. A flood tide smoothed the water for the racers as they flew around the course as if dancing above the water.
Two laps around the windward/leeward course showcased the incredible speeds and skills of these racers as they negotiated choppy Bay boat traffic and winds gusting into the thirties as the afternoon progressed. Kites looped through the air as the riders rounded the weather mark and powered up for incredible downwind runs hitting speeds over forty knots. The hydrofoils silently sliced through the water, leaving almost no wake, and competition for the lead was neck and neck.
Five races later the fleet was sorted into clear front runners, with Nico Parlier (FR) nabbing straight bullets to put him firmly in the lead, and StFYC’s Johnny Heineken finishing right behind him in every race.
“Actually getting a really windy event here is exciting,” said Heineken. “We always talk it up and then it’s not as windy as we expect. It’s definitely an advantage for the locals who are more used to this kind of breeze. It seemed to separate the top of the pack a little more quickly today.”
Guy Bridge (GBR), the Tour frontrunner, stands at third. Top female finisher was StFYC’s Daniela Moroz, at sixth.
“I’m really stoked so far,” said Moroz, who’s juggling racing this week with taking final exams to finish her junior year of high school. “I had all top ten finishes today and last year I was all just outside the top ten, so I’m really happy with that. Racing on Thursday nights and training with Johnny Heineken has helped.”
Racers, families, friends came from all over the world to participate and watch. Guy Bridge (Flysurfer, Mike’s Lab) is currently leading the tour after last month’s event in France. Last year’s tour winner Nico Parlier of France (Ozone, Lynch Associates, The Black Dog, Julbo), is back to defend his title against locals Heineken (Ozone, Mike’s Labs), Joey Pasquali (F-One, Manera, Mike’s Labs), and plenty of incredible international talent, such as Connor Bainbridge of England (F-One/Manera, Camet), Titouan Galea of France (F-One/Manera), Florian Gruber of Germany (Flysurfer, Levitaz).
Racers launch from Crissy Field and sail the City Front course of the St. Francis Yacht Club from 1pm until about 5pm, this Friday and Sunday. Saturday will feature The Bay Challenge, a distance race competition to Berkeley and back! Nico Parlier won the Bay Challenge last year in 30:12.
Come on out and experience one of the most incredible races hosted in such a gorgeous venue. The forecast is on for three more amazing days of racing. A huge thank you to all the sponsors, F-One/Manera, Lynch Associates, Mafia bags, Marine Layer, Sunski, Yeti, St. Francis Yacht Club, all the volunteers, family, and support that makes this event possible. The latest results are online and you can follow the action on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.