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keving

What should I look for in buying a windsurfer?

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I am looking to get into windsurfing. I am a very experienced dinghy sailor (Lasers, Sunfish, past college sailor...) but don't have any real windsurfing experience. What should I look for in a board and sail? I am 180lbs and reasonably fit. I am thinking of buying something used and cheep until I am convinced this is something I will keep doing. I don't know of any windsurfers in New Orleans, so this will probably be watch some videos and learn as I go kind of deal. Any advise would be welcome.

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Hi keving,

 

I learned to windsurf while living in New Orleans in 1980. I had my first go at it out on Chef Highway just past the old Halter Marine yard on Bayou Savage. Real protected smooth water and the bull rushes on either side weren't tall enough to stop the wind so it was pretty easy to get the hang of it on the old original longboards. Good thing because I would see and hear gators sliding down off the banks into the water as I did my best to stay out of that water! Pretty good incentive to learn.

 

Good luck.

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It's a bit of a tough question, because the kind of board you'll want to learn on (big, heavy, wide, floaty, with a centerboard) is not necessarily the kind of gear you'll want to learn to plane on. Something like a Star-Board Start L or Rio L with a fairly small sail (like a 4.7 or so) would probably be a good place to start for the first 10 hours or so, but you'll be wanting to get into a lower volume centerboard-less board and bigger rigs pretty soon. The best option would probably be to go take lessons or rent some beginner gear to get through the painfully steep learning curve until you're pretty stable and able to sail around non - planing, and by that point you'll have a better idea of what kind of gear you want. Careful though, windsurfing can be very gear intensive and easy to get sucked into buying boards and sails and masts and booms until you've turned into a speedo wearing french guy living in the back of a van covered in windsurfing gear.

You'll probably get better advice by contacting a board manufacturer or windsurfing shop and getting their input - if you've got good balance and are athletic there may be some good free-ride boards that are stable enough to learn on as well, and I haven't been seriously in touch with where gear is in the windsurfing world for about 5 years since I stopped being able to carry a board aboard.

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What he said.

 

Kitsurfing is fun, but windsurfing is still my passion sport - you don't get the same feeling of speed and the learning curve / satisfaction of getting there is much steeper.

 

The new stuff is lightyears ahead of the older gear.

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Rent (if you can) or get something used but not too old, technology did take a big leap about 10-12 years ago.

 

Once you've learned the basics and you are comfortable planing with your harness on you'll regret not having learned years ago... After that, you can decide what kind of board you need depending on where you'll sail.

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It's a bit of a tough question, because the kind of board you'll want to learn on (big, heavy, wide, floaty, with a centerboard) is not necessarily the kind of gear you'll want to learn to plane on. Something like a Star-Board Start L or Rio L with a fairly small sail (like a 4.7 or so) would probably be a good place to start for the first 10 hours or so, but you'll be wanting to get into a lower volume centerboard-less board and bigger rigs pretty soon. The best option would probably be to go take lessons or rent some beginner gear to get through the painfully steep learning curve until you're pretty stable and able to sail around non - planing, and by that point you'll have a better idea of what kind of gear you want. Careful though, windsurfing can be very gear intensive and easy to get sucked into buying boards and sails and masts and booms until you've turned into a speedo wearing french guy living in the back of a van covered in windsurfing gear.

You'll probably get better advice by contacting a board manufacturer or windsurfing shop and getting their input - if you've got good balance and are athletic there may be some good free-ride boards that are stable enough to learn on as well, and I haven't been seriously in touch with where gear is in the windsurfing world for about 5 years since I stopped being able to carry a board aboard.

Thanks! That seems like good advice. I don't think my wife will let me get sucked into continuously buying new gear, so I am trying get a lot of bang for my buck in the first go around. The problem I have is I do not know if any windsurf shops in my part of the world (New Orleans).

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It sounds like you might not have much experience windsurfing yet. Have you thought of lessons and renting until you get it figured out? A great way to try different gear...

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sorry since the advent of kite boarding windsurfing has been cancelled

 

 

While I agree, not sure why anyone would bother with windsurfing as kiting totally pwns it in almost all ways, people are definitely still windsurfing. In Jomtien Thailand this past weekend there was a windsurf race with probably 30-40 people entered and I think 4 categories. Compare to the last kite race we had here, the 6th Annual Rayong Kitesurfing Championships, with maybe 40-50 entries... So kiting more popular, but not that much more. However, the party after the kite race totally blew the lame windsurfers out of the water!!

 

I was pacing a couple of the top guys on their practice runs using I think ~7m sails with my 142cm twintip board and 15m kite, and I actually couldn't keep up sometimes, so they aren't necessarily slower. However, I'm barely an intermediate kiter, and the fact that I could even come close to these guys, some of whom have decades of experience and pro-level pasts, was pretty amazing for me at least.

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While I agree, not sure why anyone would bother with windsurfing as kiting totally pwns it in almost all ways

Kiting is banned in several of the popular windsurfing spots around here (south coast UK). It isn't viewed as suitable for crowded waterways. Also the south coast harbours are important for migratory birds which are apparently spooked by kites and the bird lobby has a lot of influence here (which I fully support).

 

That aside, I'd say the kiting boom peaked here 5 years ago. You see fewer than you used to. People are still windsurfing.

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Interesting to hear that, especially about birds. Clearly they haven't seen kiting at Hua Hin, or Jomtien during a windy day. If kiting isn't suited for crowded waterways, these people here know nothing of it!

Market research I've seen shows kiting growing globally for another 5 years or so, then leveling off.

 

Yes, the "pwning it in almost all ways" is in reference to difficulty of launching and landing a kite. Many of the beaches here in Thailand that are popular for kiting are way too crowded for my liking. Fortunately, since I've lived here a while, I know where all the deserted ones are :) Also fortunately, likely due to human activities, there are few migratory birds breeding around here... few birds in general around the water here actually. Even if there were, a general populace that thinks nothing of throwing their plastic containers and refuse straight into the sea certainly gives absolutely no thought whatsoever to wildlife protection... :(

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Get something wide (80-85cm), big enough to uphaul (140-150L). Any bigger and you'll be over it in a week. Smaller and you'll not get there at all. Don't get something older than 5 years.

Houston/Galveston should have something used within range?

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Kiting in crowds does not mix, was at Orient bay in St Martin's last spring .It's a crowded beach , tons of people , swimmers, etc a few windsurfers and... Lots of Kiters. The scene was downright dangerous. A local kiter said they were close to being banned. The good kiters had issues launching and landing, yelling at people people walking across lines or under them coming down.(spectra cuts) If that wasn't bad enough newb kiters were dragging into moored boats. It was pandemonium lol... A new saying "a kiter out to sea is worth 50 on the beach"

Kiting us a high powered high flying sport, but there are more then a few Yahoo's out there, who know nothing of right of way or sharing beach space for that matter that is why it's banned so many places.

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Jeff

 

Every time I have gone to Orient Beach, it was amazing at how they were training kitesurfers sitting in an outboard RIB. There was a bouyed lane out from the beach (I think there was a separate bouyed lane as well for the JetSkis) and the instructor would have a kite surfer student sit with his feet and board over the side of the RIB downwind. The instructor would help the student launch the kite from the beach and put it up high in the de-powered zone. The instructor would let a mooring line from the windward side of the RIB go and slowly increase speed away from the beach. The newbie kiter would feel lift from the board as the RIB got up on a plane and the instuctor would help keep the kite ahead and more into the power zone. The student could get the feel for the edge on the board and then slowly rise to his feet fully planing and the kite powered up.

 

Seemed effective but so many ways this could go wrong especially with all the other activity in the water.

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I am looking to get into windsurfing. I am a very experienced dinghy sailor (Lasers, Sunfish, past college sailor...) but don't have any real windsurfing experience. What should I look for in a board and sail? I am 180lbs and reasonably fit. I am thinking of buying something used and cheep until I am convinced this is something I will keep doing. I don't know of any windsurfers in New Orleans, so this will probably be watch some videos and learn as I go kind of deal. Any advise would be welcome.

 

If you can afford to come up to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we have the best conditions to learn windsurfing and kitesurfing, and there are lots of schools and places to rent gear.

 

If that isn't an option, first thing to look for is a floaty board. Something 200 liters or even floatier would be good. Then you'll need a decent rig. If you're buying used, be sure they show you how to set it up. If the sail is dacron and the boom/mast are aluminum, walk away. Everythings gone carbon for at least the last 15 years.

 

Learning windsurfing on your own is fine. Might be a bit frustrating at first but if your board is floaty enough you'll eventually learn. Learning kitesurfing on your own I definitely do not recommend. For what it's worth, I've been windsurfing since the early 80's and kitesurfing since 1999. I still do both and love them both. It's all good!

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