Weather conditions wreaking havoc for windsurfers

Dying winds mean dead in the water; Coast Guard summoned for rescue

The warm spell currently prevailing in the Bay Area is stranding water sports enthusiasts in the Bay, when wind unexpectedly dies down.

The U.S. Coast Guard used a helicopter, boats, Jet Skis and a truck to search for a windsurfer anda kiteboarder after they were stranded in San Francisco Bay in two separate incidents. Both were unable to get back to shore after the wind died down while they were out in the Bay.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Amy Marrs said the Coast Guard got a call around 8 p.m. Saturday reporting an overdue windsurfer who had launched from Coyote Point near San Mateo. Andre Volant, 66, of San Bruno, had planned to windsurf from Coyote Point to Alameda and back, but became stranded when the wind died down, Marrs said.

The Coast Guard used two helicopters, a boat and a truck to search for him, and finally found him at about 12:20 a.m., midway between Coyote Point and Alameda.

“He was clinging to his surfboard and waving to the helicopter,” she said.

Volant was flown back to the Coast Guard's San Francisco Air Station, where a family member picked him up. He suffered mild dehydration but was otherwise fine, Marrs said.

On Thursday, father and daughter Michael and Katie Fuller were kite surfing from Crissy Field in San Francisco. Kite surfing is similar to windsurfing, but instead of a sail, a controllable kite drags the surfer through the water.

Michael Fuller called the Coast Guard at about 6:30 p.m. after he lost sight of his daughter on the water. He said it didn't look like she was able to get back on her kite surfboard, Marrs said. The Coast Guard dispatched one boat and a helicopter, and the San Francisco Police Department sent a boat to aid in the search.

“Ultimately, she was sighted on the southwest shore of Alcatraz and was picked up by a SFPD Jet Ski,” Marrs said, adding that Katie Fuller was on the shore and out of the water.

“Normally you get a pretty good sea breeze in the afternoon or evening, so no, it's not normal [for the wind to die down],” National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Delman said Friday. But the high-pressure system that is creating the current heat wave hasn't allowed the breeze to come in, Delman said. “That's why there's no fog or low clouds.”

Temperatures are expected to remain high into the beginning of next week.

amartin@examiner.com

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