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The shipping channel off of Third Avenue often has very different winds than those seen near shore. Stronger winds and larger swells are found here.

Alert: Several SF Bay Spots Threatened! Take a look at these graphics.

Third Avenue lacks the amenities of Coyote Point. However, the Bay Trail path winds through the area - great for walking, biking, and rollerblading. Also, the sandy beach downwind from the launch is in a wind shadow and can be OK for a beach chair - until it gets crowded...

The Third Avenue windsurfing access was created through the persistent efforts of the SFBA - the San Francisco Boardsailing Association. Third Avenue is at risk of being severely degraded if San Francisco International Airport's runway expansion plans are approved. At minimum, Coyote Point, Oyster Point, Flying Tigers, and Embassy Suites would be lost to windsurfing, thus putting even more extreme pressure on Third Avenue as a launch site. Please consider supporting the SFBA. More info here.

Third Avenue's greatest charm is on the water: strong wind, big swell, open waters, great ramps, and long wild rides. The lack of obstructions near shore give Third Avenue strong steady winds fairly close to shore. The long fetch, shallow sand bars, and favorable currents make for spectacular swell in the 2-5 foot range. On epic NW wind days, 6-8 foot swells roll through the channel. This is a great place for jumping and slashing.

The sailing area is huge and you can go for miles. However, the side-offshore winds make breakdown way outside very serious. Sail with a buddy, carry an emergency kit with a strobe at a minimum, and consider carrying a marine band VHF radio (modern ones are the size of a cell phone) if you roam far from shore.

It can be crowded near the launch area both in the water and on land. The rigging area is tiny and you rig on sailor-supplied funky carpet or pea gravel. DO NOT RIG IN THE PARKING LOT! You launch down concrete paver ramps set into the rip-rap shore line. The bottom near the launch is soft (but not sticky) mud. If the tide is below 2.0 feet at the new launch site or 1.5 feet at the Old Third Avenue launch site (near the blue tanks) you will have problems with the mud. At tides below 2.0 feet, the four sand bars between the launch and the channel create a serious hazard. There is a bar along the edge of the channel from the channel marker towards the bridge. Another bar is about halfway from the old launch to the channel marker. There are also two bars within 400 yards of the new launch stretching upwind starting on a line between the new launch and the channel marker. All of these bars can be very dangerous at lower tides. Beginners can launch from the cove near the entrance of the parking area where the side onshore winds keep them out of trouble.

The season starts with strong NW clearing winds in late March or April. These occur off and on through June. During the summer, thermal winds continue into September but gradually get weaker. In the spring clearing winds, sail sizes can range from 4.0 to 5.2. In the summer thermal winds, sails in the 5.0 to 6.0 are more common. In the spring, a full suit is recommended. In the summer lighter weight suits will do and short sleeve suits are sometimes used on warmer days - although full suits are recommended to survive a breakdown far out in the Bay.

Beginners can practice in the cove downwind since the wind is side onshore there. In the outer waters the wind is side offshore and the swells are large so only intermediates and advanced sailors should cruise these waters.

Non-sailing family members can also check out the golf driving range next to the launch. Parking signs are enforced.
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 Season: March-October 
 Water: Warmer than Crissy and Coast 
 Ability Level: Beginner-Expert 
 Familiness: Golf, Restaurants, Bay Trail for walking, biking 
 Parking: Limited 
 Launch: Concrete ramp or beach 

From: North Bay and northern East Bay: Go south across the Golden Gate Bridge: Take 19th Ave off ramp 1 mile past bridge. Pass through Golden Gate Park and later past San Francisco State and then merge onto Hwy. 280. After several miles take the 380 off ramp heading east. Merge with Hwy 101 heading south and pass SFO airport. Then take the 3rd Avenue off ramp and head towards the Bay. Third Avenue becomes "J Hart Clinton Drive" a few blocks east of the freeway, then turns and follows the shoreline going southeast. After the main parking for the golf driving range, turn left at the middle of the range, then right into the windsurfing parking lot. From East Bay: Go across the Bay Bridge then merge with Hwy 101 heading south and pass SFO airport. Then follow the instructions above. From north of Santa Cruz: Go north on Hwy. 1 to Half Moon Bay Go east on Hwy. 92 over the coast range and at Hwy. 280 go south. After a few miles take the Hwy. 92 off ramp going East. Continue on Hwy. 92 until you near the Bay. Before the San Mateo Bridge take Hwy. 101 north. Then take the 3rd. Ave. off ramp and follow the instructions above. From Santa Cruz: Go east on Hwy 17 then north on Hwy 280. Then east on Hwy. 92. Continue on Hwy. 92 until you near the Bay. Before the San Mateo Bridge take Hwy. 101 north then take 3rd Ave. and follow instructions above.

Our state of the art telemetric sensor located on Marker 8A provides an excellent indicator of winds in the main offshore sailing area off of Third Avenue. The sailing areas offshore from Coyote Point and Seal Point may also be better represented by this sensor location than the onshore sensor locations.


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