Ocean Beach Ė Kellyís Cove Kitesurfing Guide


For an introduction to water conditions and wind patterns at Ocean Beach, first read this.


North Ocean Beach is becoming an increasing popular kitesurfing venue for several reasons. First, the beach is expansive averaging 100 yards deep and over a mile long before it begins to narrow at Lawton. So there is plenty of room to lay out your lines or to set up clear of picnickers. And there is plenty of room on the water. Given its challenging conditions you won't find beginners here on big days. However small days are great for aspiring waveriders and intermediate Bay riders wishing to acquaint themselves with the ocean. In either case, if this is your first time sailing in the ocean, consider a lesson as OB has taken the expert inland but neophyte ocean sailor to the Great Kitesurfing Beyond.


Second, North Ocean Beach is very accessible from the City being only a 20 minute drive from downtown. Parking is plenty and several public transportation routes terminate at the beach, especially at Judah and Fulton.


Third, winds at OB, although not as stiff as other Bay area venues are often more consistent. This graph is the mean between March and September. Half the days are windier and the balance not.

 Ft. Funston mean wind graph


Finally, OB Is NOT Crissy or 3rd meaning it lacks the traffic and some of the associated hazards. However, due the predominant on-shore wind direction, it can be difficult to distance oneself from the shore. And riding close to shore might have your board and fins stumbling on hidden sandbars. Nearshore-riding can also increase one's chances of being surprised with sudden large waves that break on those sandbars. Although currents and rip are a big factor, they can be negotiated with skill and conditioning.


Ocean Beach is more favorable for kitesurfing than windsurfing largely because you have an uplift component and can pop over the exploding ribbons of wrathful wreckdom which folks with only horizontal vectors have to suffer head-on. Here's a taste:




Many OB riders prefer to stay on the inside and ride the foam. Energy is much lower in this 20-30 yard wide zone and you mitigate those wave-induced existential moments. If you venture into the break zone however, be aware that if you go down, the waves can pin you to the bottom. Especially when they are overhead (most of the time), this is not a place for intermediates much less beginners. Even during it's mellower moments, the OB wave is thick and destructiver. Be a strong swimmer and be prepared to hold your breath for at least 30 seconds while you are being rag-dolled across the bottom.



Not recommended. Because OB is an largely an advanced venue, leashes are a hazard. If you are not comfortable or skilled without a leash, stick to mountain boarding on the beach.



Right-of-way conflicts and collisions are rarely an issue at OB because itís so open, but itís good to know the rules. Starboard tack has right-of-way. This is for any powered craft including kitesurfers and windsurfers. Because winds prevail from the WNW, the starboard tack at OB is outbound over the waves. Even though the outbound sailor has right-of-way, it is a courtesy and a karma booster to yield to anyone on the wave in your path. If youíre going to get cleaned out by pinching up, itís better to jibe than bear off and risk collision or cut-off. If you have to assert right-of-way because you canít jibe or bear off, beg their pardon post sesh with a beer. The wave rides are fairly short at OB so itís not the issue it is at Waddell.



North Ocean Beach can be very busy during summer weekends and evenings with many hundreds of people recreating on this mile long section of beach. The good news for kiters is beach density is inversely proportional to sky / wind condition. If the marine layer has blocked the sun (typical late spring and summer), air temperatures will be ~55 degrees with high humidity and wind-chill at ~45. That alone mitigates crowding. At about 18 mph the fine silty sand at OB begins to blow which clears out the remainder pretty fast. However, you will always have some cross traffic Ė runners, edge/dog-walkers, toe-dippers. Casual beach goers can fall into two potentially problematic camps: The Can-I-Touch-It Curious and The Spooked. The later camp is growing smaller but will but remain as long as grandma and grandpa from Wichita are realizing their lifelong dream to wade into the Pacific. The former camp are the only real hazard on the beach as they tend to get too close at the wrong time. So bear this in mind when self-launching.


Kitesurfing Guides

Kitesurfing is no longer a new sport being over a dozen years old. So much of what really needed to be said, or SHOUTED! 10 years ago is now intuitive. But should you need to bone up on the obvious, here are a couple local user guides:




Shops / Instruction

There is nothing like knowing-before-you-go and seeking out local Ďknowersí is a good way to ensure a positive water experience. Shop rats are a great resource for helping you dial in your OB kit. And for those new to the ocean environment a lesson is good insurance as well as a way to kick up your overall game.

Here are few live-briefing + instruction ops:

Bay Area Kitesurf

Kite The Bay

Kite 415


Check out Stokereport.com for changing beach conditions and the occasional kite-surfing sunset soul picture.


See the Windsurfing Guide for post-sesh decompression.


Happy Kitesurfing!