Wisconsin is a great state for windsurfing, with a number of excellent locations that offer something for every level of experience. On this guide to windsurfing Wisconsin, we are looking forward to sharing the best places where you can go windsurfing in the region.
1. Lake Michigan
With its large, open expanse of water, Lake Michigan is a top spot for windsurfing in Wisconsin. The lake is known for its consistent winds, which make it a great place to learn and practice the sport. There are several popular launch sites along the lake’s western shore, including the Sheboygan South Pier and the Milwaukee Breakwater Lighthouse.
2. Lake Superior
This Great Lake is known for its strong winds and big waves, making it a popular spot for advanced windsurfers. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, located on the lake’s southern shore, is a prime windsurfing destination, with a number of launch sites and rental equipment available.
3. Lake Winnebago
This large inland lake is a great spot for both beginner and experienced windsurfers. The lake has consistent winds and a number of launch sites, including Menominee Park Beach in Oshkosh and the Tayca Street Beach in Neenah.
4. Lake Geneva
Located in southern Wisconsin, Lake Geneva is known for its mild winds and clear, warm water. The lake is a popular spot for both windsurfing and kiteboarding, with several rental shops and launch sites available.
5. Lake Mendota
Located in Madison, Lake Mendota is a popular spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding. The lake has consistent winds and a number of launch sites, including the Memorial Union Terrace and Tenney Park Beach.
Windsurfing in Wisconsin guide
Before you pick the best windsurfing Wisconsin locations, you should understand how to get the most out of your adventure as well. Find out how to windsurf.
- Location Selection
A decent site is crucial while learning to board sail. Look for a tiny lake or lagoon that is between 100 and 200 yards wide. Find a location where the wind is blowing parallel to the beach so that if you can sail out, you can also sail back in. At first, it is best to sail on a stretch or across the wind.
Powerboats are to be avoided in certain areas. It’s really tough to balance because of their wakes. Never try to learn to boardsail on the open sea. Only experienced sailors should set sail through the surf.
Wait until another time to discover whether the wind is blowing more strongly than 7 to 10 miles per hour. Strong winds like those are too much for a novice to manage and may make learning extremely difficult. The optimal wind speed would be 3 to 5 miles per hour.
When you first start out, too much wind will keep pushing you over, but as you grow better, you will be able to manage more and more wind and will seek out windy circumstances for the exhilarating ride they bring. As was previously stated, the wind should blow parallel to the beach.
Be extremely cautious not to let yourself to blow too far from the coast if you can’t sail in an area with such circumstances. You may learn to blow quickly and far if the wind is blowing straight offshore. To avoid this, you may draw yourself back using a tether line fastened to a dock or the beach (or a tiny anchor).
There should be ample line, between 30 and 50 yards. Attach the line to the daggerboard handle or the base of your mast. In an emergency, you should be able to deconstruct your rig in the water, roll up the sail on the mast, position the rig between your knees on the board, and paddle it back. Don’t be concerned; many novices paddle their boards back to land on their first attempt. The wind should, if at all possible, be “clean,” that is, generally unhindered as it approaches your location. Directly upwind, big structures or trees may cause the wind to spin, making it difficult to maintain a full sail. Close-hauled, beam reach, wide reach, running, and in irons are examples of points of sail.
- Getting Ready on Land
Before attempting to raise the sail for the first time on the water, assemble the mast, booms, and sail on land to get a sense of the pull of the wind on your rig. Pull up the sail and let it “luff” or blow downwind like a weathervane by setting the mast base in the sand or on the grass. Just visualize where the board would be pointing.
Place your feet approximately 12 to 18 inches apart, one on each side of the mast, on the centerline of the boards, and pull in the sail. Without the added issues of balance, waves, etc., you can obtain a pretty excellent sense of how the pull on the sail will feel on the water. A small bit of practice like this might help you gain confidence and experience.
- Cleaning the Surface of the Board
When maintained correctly, the deck skin of your windsurf board provides excellent grip. The HDPE deck, however, can be too slippery for you to enjoy while it is brand new. The simplest approach to make the deck less slippery is to grab a handful of wet beach sand and massage it with your hands until it becomes non-slip. You may just use your bare feet to scratch up the deck if there isn’t sand where you sail. If the fin is attached, avoid standing on the board while it is on the ground since it can come off.
The surface shouldn’t feel slippery, but it shouldn’t seem rough. The traction of the deck becomes better the longer your board is in use. As with any board, avoid lying on it while using suntan oil since doing so will make it extremely slippery when you rise up. Before installing the mast base, be sure you thoroughly clean the mast step holes to get rid of any sand.
- Leaving Sail
According to the instructions in the assembly manual that came with your windsurfing equipment, assemble the board and rig. Before inserting the mast base, make sure the mast step hole is clear of sand.
Walk the whole rig out to waist-deep water after inserting the mast base and locking it in place. Put the board in a position where it is pointed in the direction you want to sail. With the sail in the water downwind and at a 90-degree angle to the board, you should be facing the wind with your back to it. Retrieve the uphaul line while kneeling on the board with one leg on either side of the mast facing the sail. The line can be retrieved more easily by rotating the board’s nose than by trying to climb out the mast.
Place one foot on each side of the mast base while holding the rope. Your feet should be evenly spaced and on the centerline of the board, with the mast base in the exact center.
- Removing the Sail
Lean back slightly and draw in on the uphaul line with your back to the wind. Use your leg muscles to pull the sail out of the water while maintaining a straight back. At first, it will be difficult to hoist, but as you raise the sail and the water begins to drain away, it will get progressively simpler. Pull the sail up using a hand-over-hand motion while pulling on the uphaul line until you can grab the handle at the front of the booms.
Allow the sail to blow downwind like a weather vane by pulling in until the rear of the booms are clear of the water. To raise the sail out of the water, maintain a straight back and utilize your leg muscles
- Beginning to sail
Grab the boom that is 6 to 8 inches in the rear of the mast with your mast hand, which is the hand that is closest to the board’s nose. While releasing your grip on the front of the boom, lean the mast toward the board’s nose along its midline. This hand, your “sheet hand,” should be moved back about a shoulder’s breadth to grip the boom. Leaning the mast toward the board’s nose, pull in gently with the sheet hod. Add another 12″ of movement to your rear foot. All of this should be completed fast and fluidly. Right now, set sail in a straight course.
Beginners often fall over backward at this moment because the sail luffs, the board begs to turn upwind, and they experience this. The board spins towards the wind because the mast is not tilted far enough toward the board’s nose.
- Keep in mind to angle the mast quite forward.
Simply lean it back a little to continue a straight direction if you begin to veer away from the wind. Don’t bring the sail in too far once you start sailing. You’ve got it pulled in too far if you start sailing sideways. You can only go forward if the wind is let out of the back of the sail. If a wind gust starts to throw you off balance, swiftly sheet out with your back hand to let some wind out of the sail. Pull back in with your sheet hand and restart your course as soon as you are feeling better. Do not release your grip on the mast if you are being pushed too far forward.
Always release with the hand holding the sheet. The sail will cease attempting to pull you over as soon as you let go of the sheet hand. The sail will continue to draw if you let go of the mast hand first, forcing you to drop it in the sea and start again.
Simply lean the mast on the board’s centerline toward the nose to turn against the wind (head off), or toward the tail to turn into the wind, to turn the board (head up). When you tilt the mast forward or back, you are really changing the daggerboard’s “center of effort” in front of or behind its “center of lateral resistance.”
When the mast is pointed forward, the daggerboard’s center of gravity is in front of it, and the board begins to move. The board’s tail turns around and faces towards the wind as the center of effort shifts back. While going downwind, you may turn by tilting the mast to the left or right, but this still counts as turning. The key to the free sail arrangement and the reason sailboards can steer without a rudder is the adjustable center of effort. All there is to it is that. It can seem difficult at first, but it’s actually not; if you just keep trying, you’ll figure it out.
- How to Position Your Body for Sailing
Try to keep your front arm always bent at the elbow when you first start off. By letting out or pushing in with your sheet (rear) hand, you may change the sail’s pull. Don’t bend at the waist or allow your back hang out; instead, keep your shoulders back and your back upright.
Don’t tilt the boom away from you; instead, keep it reasonably near to your chest to ensure that the mast remains on the board’s centerline. Keep your front leg pointing in the direction of the front of the board and somewhat straight. You transmit the force from the sail via it to propel the board. To assist you balance, bend your back leg just a little bit.
To offset the increasing drag on the sail in heavier winds, you will lean back further and bring your feet closer to the windward rail. When learning to windsurf, strive to maintain your front arm always bent at the elbow.
Overall, Wisconsin is a great state for windsurfing, with a number of excellent locations that offer something for every level of experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced windsurfer, you’ll find plenty of great spots to hit the water in Wisconsin.