Windsurfing & Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Michigan
I started learning to windsurf this year with gear that I'd guess is from the early 80's that I got from my uncle. I'm getting the hang of it, but the tie-on mast is a pain & I keep reading how much better more modern equipment is.
The problem is that I have no idea where to find any around West Michigan. Most of what I'm seeing on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace is too old or too advanced for me.
Does anyone have advice on where to look for used beginner equipment? I live in Grand Rapids and don't mind a long drive.
I’m also from GR and would be happy to help you get on the proper equipment in whatever way I can. Where do you windsurf?
I live in GR & sail on Baptist Lake, in the Sand Lake area. It's a pretty small lake, so I'm hoping to get out to some more interesting spots once I get better.
If interested in concentrated learning, check out ABKboardsports.com. They run camps around the country and teach beginners as well as advanced. I learned to windsurf in Hatteras at an ABK camp after trying to teach myself for several years on an old board.
The new beginner boards are much wider and more stable. I have some at my cottage on Elk Lake which would be about a two hour drive north for you. If you find you can get up there I'd be happy to give you a lesson on my equipment next summer.
What kind of budget are you on for equipment? I often buy used from shops that rent out equipment and have it shipped to me. Prices are much lower than new but can still add up quickly. Being a beginner, the quality of equipment is not as important as making sure it is the correct size for your weight and skills.
I assume you don't need anything until next spring but now is when you can get the best deals from the windsurf shops. Ocean Air (talk to Ken or Brian) n Avon NC often has used beginner boards and equipment as they do lots of rentals and lessons. Also Britt at North Beach Windsurfing in St Pete Florida might have something. Tell them Pam sent you their direction. They are all good people who want to see new windsurfers have success! If you can afford it, get a newer wider board, two piece mast, boom, sail (these are easier to find used at swap meets than other items), mast base, uphaul line, mast extension.
Gun Lake is a great place to windsurf in the spring. The water is shallow quite far out and warms up quickly.
Keep in touch and I'll let you know if I hear of anything.
Pam, thank you for your kind response! I think I'll try to talk my wife into a trip to Elk Lake next spring once it warms up =]
I'm hoping to find a used setup for around $1,000, but from what I'm seeing so far I'll probably end up spending more. I'll check out both the shops you recommended! If you don't mind me asking, what does shipping usually cost?
Shipping on a board is upwards of $100. Shipping on sails can be $30-$60.
Stay in touch Alex and let me know if you find equipment. I always have something in GR that I could come sail with you and give you a few pointers. Windsurfing with others is always fun! Pam
I confess I don't know the west side windsurfing scene - especially regarding the number of sailors and quantity of used equipment. We do have a good sized group of sailors in the Detroit Metro/Windsor/Toledo area. I've hosted a spring swap sale at Cass Lake going on 15 years now after our last local shop closed. We have regular folks from Lansing, and a few from GR. Last year, in an all day rain, we had our best turnout ever - at least 60 folks showed up. Lots of gear changed hands, anywhere from old big stuff to nearly new. We usually post a notice here in March/April time frame. The event is normally done on the second Saturday in May, when most of us have returned from our annual spring Hatteras trip.
There is one guy I know selling out his stuff. About all he has left is a 140L board - used 3 times, so basically new. Not knowing your skill level (or commitment level to warrant a small-ish new board), but it would be a great deal. I had posted it on this site earlier. Can send you more info if you like.
Also, Scott Haas in Toledo had a home shop and sold gear for years. He might still have something you could use. Look up Amoka Sports on-line. If you can't find it let me know.
Welcome to the sport!
I'll plan on checking out the swap meet next spring, that sounds great! My wife's family is in that area so it would be an easy trip.
I'm 160lb, still pretty inexperienced and will mostly be sailing an inland lake without consistent wind, so from what I'm reading it sounds like a longer beginner board in the 160-200L range would be my best fit.
Thanks for the good advice, I'll keep hunting. I'm glad to see there is such a welcoming community here =]
At 160#, you could stay in the lower end of that range. I would really recommend finding one with a centerboard regardless of volume. I know BIC had a 150L with centerboard which would be a lower limit. You could get away with a shorter board much easier than a narrow one. In other words, long and skinny is not what you want, however, I am not a fan of the really fat ones either. 70 to 80cm wide (85 tops) is my suggestion.
If you do visit relatives in this area, I teach as well. Check out my page below for a short video.
Bob, your lessons sound like a perfect fit for me--I could definitely use it! Your DIY training board looks awesome!
I'll start looking more in the 150-170L and 70-80cm wide range, thanks for the advice. My current board is an ancient 66cm wide one with no footstraps, a beat up daggerboard, and a mast that likes to pop-off while sailing, so anything new will be a big help!
By "longer board" I mean something like a Fanatic Viper, Techno 185, JP Explorer, Rio or similar. I had been looking at some used Start, Easyride, Funster boards, but from what I've read those shorter wide boards are less fun in non-planing conditions--which I'll have a lot of on my inland lake. Does this sound right to you?
I am a little familiar with the Viper and Techno. I believe the older Viper is the same board as my nTrance you see on my video. I have also had a F2 Phoenix 320 (188L) that is 70 wide that I really like for myself and use with folks that are past the true beginner stage. I am on my second one over the past 20 years. As I say, it is big enough for beginners, but small enough that I have a lot of fun with it on lighter wind days - it has a centerboard too.
The really short and wide boards are nice for the first day because they are so wide and stable, but I don't like them much past that. For a cottage for visitors to mess around or to have kids use as a raft, they are fine. Once you start moving, not so much. They plane off a little abruptly compared to a longer board, but they do plane in lighter winds. Everything is a tradeoff, so I lean towards having folks learn on my nTrance before buying something they might outgrow pretty quick.
I think those models you mention are on the right track. They will become your light wind board later on after you get to planing in the straps and harness. If you run across used ones and want an opinion, let me know. Feel free to use my email instead of this forum.
Thanks, Bob! I just emailed you about some used equipment I'm wondering about buying.