What to look for in a used windsurfing board and rig?
July 30, 2014 11:32 AM   Subscribe

What do I need to know about buying a used windsurfing set-up? What pieces are essential and how do I know if they are in good condition?

We've just moved to a beachfront condo and this is our first time living near a beach. For the last two weeks I've been watching people windsurf (and kite-surf, but the wife and I are more drawn to the windsurfing). The lessons nearby are hundreds of dollars for a couple hours - but the price is greatly reduced if we have our own equipment. So since we will be here a couple years I'd really like to just go ahead and get a set (board, mast, sails, etc.) and then do some lessons.

I ride a motorcycle and enjoy downhill skiing so I'm sure this kind of activity will be enjoyable even if it is in a new medium. That said I'm not ready to buy new, especially since used equipment is one-half to one-quarter the price.

So, AskMe, what do I need to know about buying used windsurfing equipment? What pieces are essential and how do I know if they are in good condition?

(I don't know if it is relevant, but we are in Puerto Rico, on the north shore, where the water is very flat and no breaking waves)
posted by zyxwvut to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First off, I highly recommend lessons, that is unless you're incredibly self-aware of how you learn and you're incredibly patient.

Now that that's out of the way, if you want the least amount of frustration when it comes to teaching yourself, you're gonna want to look for big boards.

Most windsurfing boards are described by their volume. 220L, 180L, 160L, etc. I teach students on boards no less than 200L. No matter their size. Boards that are less than 160L are going to be hard to stand on. Which you will be doing a lot of in the beginning (uphauling the sail, tacking, etc).

Sail sizes. Depends on the wind and the sailor. Small sails for high wind (and small folk), large sails for low wind (and larger folk). You can windsurf in as little as 5mph.

Sails will easily degrade left sitting in the sun and are prone to ripping when beginners try to teach themselves.

Anything that's sunfaded, or neon, AVOID. If you're getting a Miami Vice vibe from the color scheme, there's a good chance the equipment is about 15+ years old. While as a whole windsurfing equipment is pretty resilient, there are a few sensitive pieces that need replacing more than others. Universals, tendons, harness lines, etc.

Now this rule does't really apply that harshly to boards. As long as your board is a tank/tabletop, a 20+ year old board will work just fine you, as long as you're smart about where you go out.

Your previous sports/hobbies experience don't give you any kind of edge in this situation.

Additionally, those schools offering lessons around you, are overcharging like WOAH. My school charges $165 for 2 days of lessons, 3 hrs each day, with equipment.

I've taught hundreds of students and a handful of them have tried to go piece-meal together a rig and only end up more frustrated than ever. Not to say it can't be done, but just be patient with yourself.
posted by ozreiuosn at 1:06 PM on July 30, 2014

Additionally, you'll find a lot more know-it-alls (as well as your local wind readings) over at iwindsurf.com forums. Lots of folk asking the same kinds of question.

Good luck, happy sailing.
posted by ozreiuosn at 1:11 PM on July 30, 2014

This ^ is all obviously true and great advice. Probably all you need to know.

I just thought I'd mention also that although you will want to learn on at least a 180L if not 200+L, if you're out on the water a lot you're going to advance and want to move on to a 160L pretty soon, maybe 145L not that long after, especially if the water is very flat. Then, as the size of your board changes, the sail size you want to use will change - balancing and uphauling on a 160L is going to be much harder at first, so you'll want a lighter sail, but then on very light wind days you'll want a bigger sail to go out.

There's just this range of parameters in the equipment that is hard to satisfy supplying the kit yourself. This is why when you see people show up with their own gear, if you look in their trucks/vans you see a whole range of sail sizes and a couple boards. I think this is the real advantage of lessons, as you progress you can try a variety of parameters and learn new techniques on exactly the right set of sizes for your level without having to invest in a range of sizes yourself.

Especially not sizes you're likely to outgrow, which are the ones you learn on. I have no idea what I would do with a 200L board now, maybe try to persuade friends to come out with me?
posted by doteatop at 4:10 AM on July 31, 2014

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