The ‘Round the Rock’ Alcatraz Challenge offers two exciting and competitive courses on the central San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. Courses are designed to provide great racing; spectacular and dynamic views of San Francisco landmarks; and to take advantage of tides and currents while ensuring safety of the participants. This event is hosted by He’e Nalu Outrigger Canoe Club, a proud member of the Northern California Outrigger Association (NCOCA)
Race Day: Saturday, August 5, 2017
- 8:00am - Registration begins. Merchandise sales begins.
- 8:30am - Mandatory coaches & steerspersons meeting.
- 8:45am - Short Course race start.
- 10:30am - Long Course (Women & Coed) race start.
- 12:30pm - Long course (Men) race start.
- 3:00pm - Awards ceremony & raffle.
Approximately 5 miles. Best suited for Keiki, Novice and intermediate paddlers who are able to stretch themselves with variable conditions. The short course runs between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, offering a challenging course while minimizing the influence of wind and current.
Approximately 10-12 miles. Suited for experienced crews and steers-people familiar with challenging conditions. The long course will challenge the crews with wind, strong currents, sail-ferry-boat traffic and unforgettable views. Starting under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, the long course takes you around Alcatraz Island and along the city waterfront.
Note: Course length & path subject to change based on conditions. ALL canoes must stay a minimum of 500’ from Alcatraz Island, violators will incur a time penalty. Cutting through Aquatic Park is prohibited.
Race Start, Location, and Parking
Go to Google Maps for "Crissy Field" for the general location. We launch from the beach just west of the intersection of Lyon Street and Yacht Road about 1/2 mile east of Crissy Field.
Please follow directions from our parking guides to minimize impact on the park. Please encourage carpooling as parking is limited. East Crissy Beach parking is free. Vehicles parked on the berms will be ticketed.
Canoe trailers parking in dirt area behind the restrooms, see site map. Canoes may be rigged and stowed in the west most grassy lot of East Beach at Crissy Field Friday evening after 5 PM.
- Anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket per Coast Guard regulations.
- Spray skirts mandatory.
- Due to Coast Guard restrictions on time, any crew in the second race not completing the first half of the course within reasonable distance from the pack will be turned for an early return.
- Conditions in San Francisco Bay include strong tidal currents, wind, fog, freight, ferry, and fishing vessels, fishing lines, sailing yachts, sightseeing ships, sea lions, seals, & swimmers. Capable crews and experienced steerspeople a must!
San Francisco Bay is a world class water sports venue. Sailors, paddlers, swimmers and fishermen revel in the dynamic Bay environment. With its beauty and opportunity the Bay also challenges sportsmen with strong currents, high winds, rough and cold water and lots of commercial, sail and pleasure vessel traffic. Early on most summer mornings the Bay is calm with winds under 7 knots. By about noon on almost every day, a west wind of 20 to 25 knots will funnel through the Golden Gate stirring the Central Bay into a tempest of rough, cold water. The Alcatraz Challenge race courses are designed for varying levels of ability - but it’s imperative that crews take appropriate measures to: choose the appropriate course commensurate with their level; prepare themselves to be safe; and to understand the race-day environment before they get on the water.There is something for everyone in this race, from paddler to onlooker: great scenery, exciting water, good competition and a world-class City to experience. The pay-off for preparation and participation is tremendous, but safety is our first concern. He'e Nalu will furnish an experienced, expert platoon of safety boats who will monitor the entire course. However, we expect all crews to take first responsibility for being prepared and for being accountable for the safety of their crew. To ensure a great experience and to maximize your performance we recommend these safety measures:
- Set crews for courses appropriate for the ability of the crew and the steers-person. Novices should race on the shorter course. More experienced paddlers are welcome to try any course as long as they understand the challenge.
- Use spray skirts. Wind, waves, currents, cold water, vessel traffic and seawalls can create rough to very rough conditions on the longer courses. These conditions are well within the abilities of veteran crews and steers-people but must not be taken for granted. In some parts of the Bay along the seawalls on the City front, crews on the Long Course have reported waves coming into the boat from both sides. Ferry wakes can create confused waves of five to six feet. Strong wind and opposing current can create a short, nasty two to three foot chop know locally as "square waves" because they sometimes seem to leap straight into the air. Spray skirts must be used.
- Know your huli drill. Boats huli (capsize/turn over) every year in this race and not all of the boats that huli are novice crews. San Francisco Bay water is cold even in summer (55 degrees). You don't want to be in the water any longer than you have to be. Practice multiple times in advance of the race.
- Think clearly about how this race might be different from what you are used to. Local paddlers know our water, how to dress appropriately and how rough and cold conditions can be. In contrast, if you paddle in Southern California, it will be rougher and colder than what you're used to. If you race in Hawaii, it may not be rougher but some of the race will be upwind, it likely will be colder and currents will play a factor. Bring warmer layers than you think you'll need for paddling and street clothes, along with your regular gear. You won't have to dress more warmly than usual if the weather is not as expected, but at least you'll be prepared.
- We look forward to helping you understand our environment. We will help you paddle safely so that your crew can have a fabulous race and a terrific experience on our exciting waters.
The race launches from Crissy Field, a stunning park site within the Golden Gate National Parks. Crissy Field’s 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline, offers beautiful views, bicycle, and walking trails, abundant wildlife viewing and is a favorite place for windsurfers.
For more information, please visit http://www.crissyfield.org