Michigan Windsurfing

Windsurfing & Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Michigan

I'm new to the sport and want to know where to start! All help welcomed!

Hi everyone-

Windsurfing is something that has looked so interesting to me for a long time, and I'm finally ready to take the jump and get started in the sport here in Michigan. My biggest question is where to find gear, and more importantly, where to find someone that can help me get the basic information when it comes to buying and starting out in the sport. I grew up skateboarding, snowboarding, and even taught myself how to ski, but I'm ready to take it to the water now as Michigan has so much of it!! If anyone out there can help me or point me in the right direction for starting out, I would very much appreciate it. I should also note that I've sailed a one-person sailboat a few times and am somewhat familiar with the basics of how wind works with a sail, which I think is a good base moving to a sport like this.  

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    You did not explicitly state your goals for the sport. Some are attracted to windsurfing just as an excuse to cool off during hot summer days. Therefore, competence only interferes with a nice cool swim!

    I will assume your goal is (like many) is - at a minimum - to be competent performing planing carve jibes.

    If so, the fact that you already participate in a variety of board sports and that you have sailing experience gives you a firm foundation for learning. Even so, you could end up going down frustrating "blind alleys" without:

    1) Quality instruction

    2) Appropriate equipment

    3) Appropriate venue and opportunity to practice

If you can manage it, it is hard to beat a high-quality, immersive learning environment in a location with consistent, predictable wind conditions, using instructor-provided equipment, at a beginner-friendly venue and surrounded by like-minded students.

I recommend ABK board sports - who have a travelling "windsurfing camp" format. Unfortunately, the closest they currently come to Michigan is North Carolina.

A second option is to find quality instruction/gear rental at your popular windsurfing venue (so long as that venue is beginner-friendly), and seek to purchase out similar at a swap meet (caveat emptor). Others will have to make specific recommendations, possibly based on where you live/expect to sail.


HTH and good luck -- larry

Thanks, Larry! I am currently interested in pursuing this as a regular summer activity just for fun and some excitement beyond laying around at the beach and my skim board! I'm not looking for the best equipment around or top notch lessons, or classes. Just some basic things to get me on the water and having fun. I typically enjoy the learning curve with new activities like this, so i figure if i can find some decent second-hand gear, or some (not too expensive) beginning stuff, I'd really enjoy taking on the task! All tips and tricks are welcomed! Our hints on where to look for used gear! Thanks again.


Used gear in Michigan can be hard to find.  Have you considered taking a drive down to the Cass Lake Swap that is coming up on May 13?   Craigslist is the other option for used.  A friend of mine is selling some used beginner gear in Northern Michigan, let me know if you want me to send you links.  

Hi Scott-


Thanks for that helpful info! I haven't looked at the Cass lake swap yet. But I did have a look at what Redsky in Toledo has on their website. Though I wasn't sure how good they were for equipment as I haven't visited or spoken with anyone there yet. I'm also still trying to find out what exactly I need to start out for sure, and then sizes of things. I have a rough idea from the internet's many resources hah, but would like some more insight still. For what it's worth, I'm about 5'8 and 155lbs as far as size goes. Also, what could or should I expect to actually spend (ballpark) to start out and purchase a full setup? I'm not even sure what is reasonable yet. But I would love to look at the link to your friend's gear. You can send it to my email if you want: dayneh@umflint.edu Thanks for the help!!

Sent you an email.

Hi Dayne,

Here is the flyer for the swap meet. I've never been but understand it generally gets a pretty good turn out.

To start you have (2) basic options. Long boards, which are generally older but are still in use and are excellent for light winds, lakes and racing or short boards which are generally newer and are better for higher winds, speed, waves and tricks.

You could look for a long board over 200L probably 225L-250L. These very in price quite a bit based on age and what they are made of but older ones (late 80s early 90s) can be had usually starting around $100.

You will also need a complete rig, including mast, sail, boom, mast extension and mast base. Often these older boards will be sold with an older rig that might add $50-$200 to the price. You'll probably want around 5m-6m sail to start learning with and may progress to where you want a 7m-8m for lighter days or more speed. In general older rigs will be heavier and more difficult to set up than newer equipment.

You will also need a fin and centerboard which typically will come with the board.

If you decide to learn on a short board you'll want something at least 150L in my opinion and up to 175L. These will typically be newer (2000s on) and run more $$$, usually $200-$600 for a used board with a fin or 2.

The rigs that accompany these if available, would also typically be newer and cost more, I would guess add another $200-$600.

At times you can get lucky on craigslist and find items for free or a package for a cheap price. If you decide to buy new your probably looking at around $2000 to get started. the-house.com and isthmussailboards.com are a couple good stores.

Good luck, windsurfing is a lot of fun and a great way to spend a windy day on the lake. Your sailing skills should help a lot getting started. You could also check out the tricktionary app on apple or android, it's pretty good.

Hope that helps some, Eric




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