We are looking for some guidance on which board or two to purchase for some new surfers. My wife (now 47) used to windsurf for a few years in the early 90s and had a large Hi Fly beginner board. I've only tried once or twice 15 years ago (I'm now 44). We are both now looking to get into the sport more seriously as our kids are able to enjoy water sports.
We live on Lake Michigan near Holland/Grand Haven. Winds can vary greatly, but the heavier wind days also come with a fair degree of chop. But we are on the south side of a jetty, so there also some days with high winds and flat protected water.
Our kids are 12 and 10. Although none of us has much, if any, windsurfing experience, we are all very comfortable with all sorts of water sports and have lots of sailing experience.
Any thoughts on which of your boards would make the best for learning? Would the kids need a separate board or can we all attempt to learn on one?
Windsurfing is great. I have some advice here on on the questions you are probably going to run into.
For the family / beginner board I would recommend something big and wide with plenty of volume, a daggerboard, and a rubber-covered deck. If you want to buy from Starboard, their START and RIO boards are good. Look for at least 80 cm width, and at least 200 liters volume.
For the sails, you will need an extra small and lightweight one for the kids, between 2 and 3 meters squared. You and your wife can probably learn with a sail between 4 and 5 meters squared. Visit a windsurf shop or call a mail-order retailer and see what they recommend.
Of course, more important than either the sail or the board is the LESSON. It is very hard and counterproductive to teach yourself windsurfing, but it's quite easy with a lesson, and definitely worth the money and the trip to get one from a trained instructor.
Also, when you're trying it yourself, find an area with flat water, because even 1-foot waves make it much harder to balance.
James has it right!
Look for lessons first.
There's quite a few windsurfers in your area, check out some of the local sailing sites and talk with some of the local sailors about lessons and gear that's appropropriate for the local conditions.
There may be entry level programs available very close to you.
Getting good lessons right at the start will help you to select the gear you need.
Otherwise you are buying gear that you won't really know is going to work until you actually get it on the water and find out whether it works (or not).
The skills your wife has from 15-20 years ago on a Hi Fly beginner board may be useful (the balancing will for sure) but the rigs and boards have changed so much she, and the rest of your family, needs to find out first hand how much easier the improvements in boards and rigs has made learning to windsurf.
I was at a large event in Grand Haven a couple of years ago and taught quite a few beginners just off the City parking lot (just So. of the GH State Park).
That can be a wonderful place to learn to windsurf in the right conditions, and a terrible place at other times, so pick your conditions until all of you have the skills to be comfortable in more challenging conditions.
Hope this helps,
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