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  1. #1
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    Question Windsurf? I'm a long way from an ocean...

    I did a little "search Jong", but only came across a couple old threads.

    Since I am imprisoned in the Midwest, there aren't a lot of good breaks here. Lots of lakes, but not much surf. I haven't tried (and failed) to windsurf since about 1987. It would seem that the gear has come a long way since then, much like ski gear. Hopefully that would mean a faster learning curve as well. I have never surfed either, but find myself watching surf porn a lot, and it has always stirred something (other than a fear of sharks) in me.

    I spent a lot of time in high school water-skiing and knee-boarding any chance we got, so I'm no stranger to water sports. I used to really like flat water kayaking too, but it just got kinda boring, and really a lot of work.

    So...I'm looking for some summer stoke. I thought that windsurfing might be an interesting way of looking at things. We have one of the biggest windsurfing shops in the US here in the Twin Cities, so getting a hold of equipment won't be too hard.

    So I plan to take some lessons of course. Any suggestions for learning this stuff? Any gear pointers I should consider? Do's & don'ts?

    Thanks for any insight.
    Gravity. It's the law.

  2. #2
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    get one of those new age short fat boards to learn on. they float far easier - get on a plane quicker and shorten the learning curve. Don't be afraid to clip in and lean back. use your weight as a counterbalance against the wind.

    don't sweat jibing.... I would just drop the sail or slow down and tack when it was time to turn around...I never got the drop sail spin jib down but I was learing on a skinny shortboard back in the early 90's.

    Another + your windsurf board can double as a SUP ( stand up padelboard ) so you'll nail some mad chicks out in the midwest lakes.

    best of luck and late

    CAT
    POWDER SKIER
    COLD RAIN and SNOW

  3. #3
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    I'm a windsurfer. But if I was just starting out, I'd go with a kite instead.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shredhead View Post
    I'm a windsurfer. But if I was just starting out, I'd go with a kite instead.
    Same/. Can get going in lighter winds. Way less gear hassle. Get to wear baggy shorts over neoprene for style points

  5. #5
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    Dec 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    Same/. Can get going in lighter winds. Way less gear hassle. Get to wear baggy shorts over neoprene for style points
    What they said. I live in Maui where there is a lot of windsurfing and kitesurfing. I know a lot of old time windsurfers who swear that kitesurfing is the greatest thing since sliced bread. And apparently the learning curve is way faster and you need less wind to do it. So, even though I am still a windsurfer and have not yet made the change, it's a no-brainer that you should kitesurf instead.

  6. #6
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    windsurfing is much safer then kiting. watch some kiters get dragged onshore frantically trying to unclip, or take flight unexpectically, it's hilarious till it's you.

    get a big floater board and learn how to enjoy cruising.
    bf

  7. #7
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    Kiting certainly raised my interest as well, but Alpy's observation about the risk involved was one of the things I was concerned about as well, as I have seen a lot of the "shit that happens" videos, and it looks like fucking up with a kite can have some fairly serious consequences. I'm not a spring chicken either at 40, so the thrill seeker aspect, while cool for sure, is not the only thing I'm after. BTW - Most of the lakes around here tend to have more trees than beaches too. Could be a recipe for trouble.

    However, the fact that it takes less wind to kite has not escaped me either. It looks like a lighter setup as well. Getting dragged face-down might be a bad thing for my low back though.

    Ack!

    Decisions, decisions... I should see if I can get some lessons in both... Then there's always the SUP option (not ideal, but hey...) with the windsurfer.

    Keep the feedback coming - it has all been great so far! Thanks!
    Gravity. It's the law.

  8. #8
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    I heen windsurfing 30+ years and if I were coming into it now, where you live, I would Kite. The kites are WAY better than a year ago, making learning easier and safer. In light air on a big lake you can haul ass with a hudge kite, where on a windsurfer you would be poking along. Try it!

  9. #9
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    Sep 2007
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    As a former windsurfer and current skier who's seen kite skiers blasting across lakes and fields up in Quebec, I'd be interested in trying the kite.

    Yes, kite skiing. Never tried but saw it a couple of times and it looked pretty cool. And you may not have big hills around MSP but you sure do have frozen lakes and wind.

    Like everything these days you'll find vids on youtube including a pretty lame outing on Lake Calhoun (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X21ixh9amiY) and a couple of telemarkers too (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYzOv2e50vQ, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ_g_pGUU4k).

  10. #10
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    Another vote for kiting. I was hardcore into windsurfing back in the 90s. It was awesome for sure. I quickly became a wind snob and wasn't really interested in anything below low 20s which limited my days on the water.
    With kiting I am having fun at 15 knots and super stoked at 18+ knots. Kiting is superior in every aspect including: requires less wind, less gear burden and quicker set up, easier to travel, way higher air possible and much longer hang time and soft landings, accelerated learning curve, and less physically demanding, kites have larger wind range, etc. etc. on and on.
    Things can go wrong quickly and the consequences can be disastrous. Having said that, I feel very safe kiting. My biggest fear is being rolled and tangled in the lines if I fall when kiting in larger surf. Other than that I feel safe.
    Just be aware all the time. The most dangerous point is when you're first learning until you have maybe 20-30 sessions or so under your belt depending on your athleticism/awareness.

    Other than that the dangers can be almost completely mitigated by:
    don't hang around upwind of hard objects
    don't do tricks in super shallow water
    practice your safety release maneuvers and maintain your gear
    don't kite in gusty or unfavorable conditions

    Lessons are required!!!

  11. #11
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    Yet another windsurfer who, if I hadn't been windsurfing the past 20 years, would go with the kite.

    I go out on pretty big bodies of water (Lake Michigan and the bay of Green Bay), but the wind is still full of holes. The kite seems to handle gusts and lulls better. The only drawback is speed. I'm still a pretty sucky windsurfer after 20 years, but when it is blowing (20+) I have no problem blasting past kiters. That said, I don't even bother going out if it's not blowing 20+.

  12. #12
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    floater board with a big sail allows sailing in lighter winds than
    usually achieved with heavier older set ups.
    easy to paddle back to shore as well when shit goes bad.

    if i was young i would go both wayz
    bobby

  13. #13
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    I was doing a little more research of kiting last night, and one thing kinda stuck with me - most of the places doing lessons are only doing so on LARGE lakes, basically citing that you need the space to do this effectively. Most of the local lakes are not that big, and the ones that are have a lot of traffic.

    How does this effect what I should be considering?
    Gravity. It's the law.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsideindy View Post
    Kiting is superior in every aspect !!!
    Bullshit. Yes, it needs less gear and works in lighter winds. But if you live somewhere windy, windsurfing is at least as much fun as kiting. On anything other than a full on speed course Windsurfing is way faster, freestyle stuff is way more advanced, and jumping actually feels like jumping, not just getting towed along. That said, in the Midwest kiting makes more sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by bsideindy View Post
    way higher air possible
    Tell that to Phil:


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonghands View Post
    Bullshit. ]
    nope, fully disagree. But I do understand your need to defend your sport and ego, for some reason I feel the same. Maybe you should try to convince us that using a monoski is superior over today's ski gear?

    I've done both and windsurfing is just not on the same level, not even close. All my buddies have dumped their windsurfing gear once they've gotten a taste of kiting. you just don't hear of people going in the other direction, back to windsurfing. there's really no argument here.

    a good side-by-side air comparison:


    can you catch any air in flat water with a windsurfer? You can do it after a few months of experience with a kite.


    big airs and soft landings:

  16. #16
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    the windsurf gear can be a headache, but it's still a blast, the vacation spots that go off are pretty rad as well, Baja, Maui, Gorge, ect, ect, ect

    no reason not to try em both (i say that but have zero intention of kiting)
    Like I told my last wife, I never drive faster than I can see, besides it's all in the reflexes.

  17. #17
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    Just to keep things on track, HUDGE AIR is not my goal. Nor is FULL BLOW AIDS!!! They both kill.

    I'm not under any illusions of what my 40-year-old body can and cannot take. I'm not looking to make the next rad surf porn flic. I'm just looking for another avenue of some summer fun on the water. Let's keep it civil.
    Gravity. It's the law.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by axebiker View Post
    Just to keep things on track, HUDGE AIR is not my goal. Nor is FULL BLOW AIDS!!! They both kill.
    ok then. maybe you should buy a nice blowup raft or a pair of water wings from Target.

  19. #19
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    Yeah...kinda thought about that too.

    I plan to do this much like I ski and bike -- with surface contact...at least the majority of the time. I've come to terms with mortality. I'm not as young as I once was, and healing doesn't take place quite as quickly or readily.
    Gravity. It's the law.

  20. #20
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    Apr 2011
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    common phrase of late: windsurfing is like going to the gym, kiteboarding is like going kiteboarding.

    personally I like the handling of a windsurf board, feels surfier to me having the power source connected directly to the board as opposed via strings and a harness. wave sailing is awesome but way more challenging than kiting in waves, which is still pretty awesome.

    your best seasons in MSP are spring and fall. in summer expect 2 or 3 10-15mph days a week, that's really not enough to plane on a windsurfer but it's adequate for learning the basics on a large board while taking the utmost of your physical energies since you'll be supporting (up-hauling) a large sail and not the wind. sometimes you'll luck into summertime wind but even then don't expect anything too steady, a windy summer day is like 12-25 which is frustrating conditions for windsurfing (especially learning), but no problem for kiting. a super windy summer day is like 18-38 which is just silly. both types of windy days happen only a handful of times every summer. driving south to the IA great lakes will help you score windier days as it blows more frequently down there than around the cities, but honestly as a beginner it's not worth the three hours.

    bottom line is that the midwest sucks for learning to windsurf. up and down, holey winds if any wind at all, a lack of learning resources and nonstop voodoo boat chop to wobble you off balance. ideal windsurfing learning conditions is a steady 18-22mph breeze and flattish water, which the midwest just doesn't have.

    unless you're willing to travel to texas, the delta, the gorge, hatteras, baja and beyond where you stand a chance of learning to waterstart and plane then you should probably learn to kite. also remember kiting will mostly take place in lighter winds which reduces the risk factor.

    if you haven't already, check out lakawa.com, a great online resource for the cities wind community.

  21. #21
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    It's blowing like a bazillion knots out right now. Seriously. It hasn't been this windy since last Saturday.

  22. #22
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    Depends what you want out of it. You can get into windsurfing much cheaper than kiteboarding. Get some used windsurfing gear for cheap and be windsurfing in a day. Kiteboarding requires lessons and new(ish) equipment. Don't bother with a trainer kite unless you're a slow learner like HughConway, they've taught you all they can in about 5 minutes of use.

    They have different learning curves. Windsurfing is easy at first, then difficult to get past the waterstart and jibe. Kiteboarding has a very steep learning curve to start then pretty consistent progression afterwards. Kiteboarding can be lower impact depending on how you ride.

    I'd say kiteboarding, waaay more fun and versatile than windsurfing, unless maybe you're riding 5+ meter break in Hawaii. Windsurfing is like telemarking at some midwest resort, you're just doing to to get out. Kiteboarding is like bottomless pow in AK, something you live for.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jSki View Post
    I'd say kiteboarding, waaay more fun and versatile than windsurfing, unless maybe you're riding 5+ meter break in Hawaii. Windsurfing is like telemarking at some midwest resort, you're just doing to to get out. Kiteboarding is like bottomless pow in AK, something you live for.
    Whoa there.....

  24. #24
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    All good stuff, and the pissimg matches are entertaining ...

    Hopefully the weather warms up soon, and I can find some lessons to check out.
    Gravity. It's the law.

  25. #25
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    Axe, I have a friend who's really into this, there's even an upstart film company locally. PM me, I might have an opportunity for you.

    Sent from my ADR6350 using TGR Forums
    Five minutes into the drive and you're already driving me crazy...

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