Second hand equipment – Buying advices

The moment of buying our windsurf equipment come to all of us. The second hand market es a mandatory stop and knowing how to sail those waters will be very helpful. The things we’ll be writing here may look obvious for the experimented windsurfer. But they will surely be helpful for the beginner sailor. Here you have some advices to buy second hand windsurf equipment.

The purchase of a second hand product has some particular risks. The gear rarely comes with the vendor guaranty (even some times it does) and we will never be sure of the previous use of that equipment. In any case this can be mitigated if we buy in a specialized store with a good reputation.

¿Store, web or particular seller?

This is the first advice of this guide: go to the store and check the product by yourself. Speak with the seller and ask everything you may consider relevant. You will come out with an equipment better suited for your level and the progression you are seeking. You’ll find many stores near almost every spot. Go to all of them, ask, compare and then decide.

Segunda mano en tienda - TheWindsurfingBlogIf you choose buying online, we strongly suggest you do it in a formal store. They should take responsibility for what they’re selling.
Generally, this kind of stores won’t lie about the age or the general situation of the gear. It doesn’t worth it for them.
Potential disadvantages of doing it like that, instead of going to the store, are: On one hand, you’ll probably have to pay for the transport, and on the other hand, you won’t have almost any chance for negotiating the price.

However, you’ll find a lot more opportunities in the online second hand market than in a store.

The last option would be through the buy-sell platforms like eBay or Gumtree, but I think we must leave this for people who knows what the market has to offer. It’s strongly recommended to know about brands, models, years, etc. before buying something from a stranger on internet.

I don’t want to say that what is offered in this platforms should be bad or a scam. Shouldn’t be, and good opportunities may appear. I’m just saying that the risk of having a bad experience is higher, so if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, this is not the best option for you.

What to buy second hand and what not to

This is subjective but I think it’s important we do the following analysis. Which part of the equipment should be bought second hand and which part shouldn’t?. Let’s see it in this way, there is a good part of the equipment that it’s expensive and with a limited useful life. On the other hand, some part of the equipment is cheaper and with a longer useful life. Don’t you think that it’s reasonable to buy new all that stuff that should last long with us?

It’s very common seeing someone selling his or her board because is looking for a newer model, same thing happens with sails. But, who sells a mast extension, a mast foot or a harness simply because a new model is in the market? I will take my chances, nobody does it. If someone is selling this kind of stuff is because it’s very used and it’s deteriorated. Of course, it should be some exceptions but not too many.

Additionally, the harness, the mast foot and the ropes, are affecting our safety and we must be careful when choosing them.

Here you have my opinion about what to buy second hand and what it’s better to buy new:

When to buy second hand

This is a very important point to take advantage if we are patient. As in every seasonal market the best thing to do is to wait until the end of the season. In this case we should wait until the end of the windsurfing season.

Cuándo comprar - TheWindsurfingBlogObviously you’ll think: if I wait until the end of the season how do I windsurf? Well, if you’re in a situation where you need to buy equipment or you can’t sail, this advice is not for your. You’ll have to buy when you can, but it would probably be more expensive.

This advice is for those one looking for improving their equipment. When season is off two main things happen. First of all, the stores must make a liquidation of their stock because the depreciation for next year would be important. Secondly, all the schools must renew stock almost every season, every two years max. Good opportunities may appear for semi new gear.

As a fact, you must deeply check all the stuff coming from a school. Generally is a very used gear and not very well maintained, but there are good bargains.

Finally, a lot of professional or semi-professional windsurfers sell their gear every year as they start to receive the newer one for testing. If you can reach them, this is a great opportunity to get some almost new equipment at a very good price.

Second hand but… Cheaper or newer?

Well, here the answer by the book is clear, the newer the equipment the better. But, if we’re thinking about buying in the second hand market is because we have some kind of economical restriction. Therefore we must find some balance between price and age.

Equipment has evolved a lot during the last years in almost everything, materials, weight and performance. So, is it a 2017 sail better than a 2016? Not necessarily, but it’s surely better than a 2014 and you have to have this in mind.

Windsurf Vintage - TheWindsurfingBlogMy personal opinion is that we shouldn’t go further than a couple of years backwards when choosing boards and sails. If we’re talking about masts, booms or fins, we can go 4 or 5 years if they are in good shape.
This is not a stone written rule, there are some older boards and sails out there in very good condition. But if we can afford it, I recommend you to search deeper until you find something with those characteristics within budget. It will make a big difference.

What I really think is important is to avoid a huge difference in age between the different elements of your gear. If we go with a 10 years sail and a new board it’s very likely it won’t work very well. Same thing in the other way.

At the end this is like everything else, you’ll sail with that equipment. But if we want to improve, it’s a lot easier with the right equipment, properly rigged. That is the main goal of this advices.

What to look in a second hand board

We have many things to look in a second hand board before we buy it. Obviously, some are more important than others. Even some “imperfections” could be good if we use them to lower the price while we can easily fix them (i.e. unglued pads).

First thing and and more important we have to look for soft spots. Those appear as a result of water coming into the board body, damaging the inner material. If you find soft spots, I suggest you to dismiss the board. Reparation could be expensive and the board may not be the same.

The easiest way of finding soft spots is by pressing with your thumbs everywhere. If you feel even a slightly movement on the surface is because something is wrong. The most common places for soft spots are: the nose, the rails and the area near the pads.

Grietas tabla - TheWindsurfingBlogSecondly we must look for cracks in the surface. This could be important or not, it depends on how deep they are. Generally this cracks are produced by mast hits in the nose or by stone hits at the beach. This cracks are easy to spot, what we must determine is if they are only scratches in the painting (which is only cosmetics) or if the crack may allow water to come into the board.

If we spot an important crack, we must look for soft spots around it. I suggest to dismiss if they appear. If it isn’s soft, normally the reparation is simple and we can ask the seller to do it or negotiate the price.

In third place look at the bolts, all of them must be tighten in every position. The ones for the footstraps and the ones for the fin or fins. If any bolt has problems the board probably must need repair. Is not a big deal but it must be done.

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Also, the boards must be sold with the proper fin. Pay attention to this, if the fin is broken, worn out or if it is not the one belonging to that board, you will have to change it. And they are not cheap. You can easily find out which fin is the right one for that specific board. Do not accept anything below that (size, material or shape). This changes a lot the board behavior in the water.

Finally, you must look at the general condition of the board. Look for previous reparations, the condition of the footstraps, the painting, etc. By this we can evaluate if the owner took care of it and figure it out if the equipment will last long.

What to look in a second hand sail

Second hand sails are a little bit more difficult to check if we’re not talking about semi new ones. First thing must always be the panels, especially the main one (bigger).

Several things must be taken into account, the first one should be any possible cut or dent in the panels. The good thing is that is always possible to repair it. However, that it could cost more than the sail if we talk about an old baby. The bigger the panel the more expensive the repair will be. We must pay especial attention to any patch or stickers hiding possible problems.

Vela de segunda mano - TheWindsurfingBlogProbably the most important thing to decide if a sail worth it or not is the general condition of the monofilm or the Xply.
The use, and mainly the sun light, deteriorate this material, especially the first one of them.

If the panel looks discolored, stiffer and seems it will break only by touching it, just dismiss the sail. Its life is over and you’ll be buying a problem.

Check the stitches and joints between panels, it shouldn’t be places where the panels are unstitched. This is especially important in the points with the higher tension, like the outhaul or the downhaul.

It’s ideal to rig the sail before buying it, especially if we have the mast we will be using with it. You must be sure that it can be rigged following the brand instructions (this will make you sure that the mast works and the sail didn’t loose its original shape).

Check the battens are not broken and can be properly tensioned. Check out if the mast sleeve is ok and the mast is smoothly going in when rigging.

Maybe you want to read – How a windsurf sail works?

Finally, if the sail is cambered you must look if they have any kind of problems. In this case the “rig the sail before purchase” is mandatory. If we are expecting a high performance from the sail in terms of speed, stability, acceleration, etc. we have to be really demanding at the time of the purchase. And, of course, to asume the price will be higher.

What to look in second hand masts and booms

Mastil - TheWindsurfingBlogProbably a mast is the simplest stuff to buy second hand. You’ll have to pay attention to two things.
The first one is look for cracks in the surface of the mast. Those appear mainly at the base or at the union of the two parts of the mast. If that is ok, we have half the work done.
The second thing is to check if the mast is curved. This happens a lot when the mast is coming from schools because they spend all the summer rigged, so they end up with a deformation. The way to check it out is making it roll on the floor and look if the movement is constant.

If we talk about booms, we must mainly check that all the pieces are tighten and there is no movement between the parts. It’s important that the clips used to extend the boom are working properly and both parts run smoothly between them.

Pay a lot of attention to the boom head, you must check that the opening and closing mechanism works properly. If you have a mast try to mount it.

Finally a comment about the carbon % in masts. If you are starting to windsurf or even if you’re an intermediate windsurfer, who is not seeking for high performance, it won’t worth paying the price of a high carbon gear. You will only notice it in the weight.

A 100% carbon mast makes the difference for a professional slalom race. For an amateur it’s higher the risk of breaking it, than the benefit you can have sailing with them. Same thing for an aluminium or carbon boom.

Summary

  • Try to get the auxiliary material brand new. You will save in headaches.
  • Try to buy your second hand equipment in shops if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Wait for the end of season sales.
  • For boards the most important is to detect possible soft spots and water leaks. In sails the most important is the condition of the monofilm or xply.
  • Try to rig the sail before purchase.
  • Check the mast is not curved and the boom parts are tighten.
  • Don’t spend your money in professional gear if you are not professionals.

Well, this is the end of this buying advices. I hope this helps you if you’re thinking of buying some new stuff for your quiver in the second hand market. If you have any comment or advice leave it down here.
Ahhh, if you’re using second hand gear, you’ll be especially needing to have the Reparation Kit in your car or van.
Cheers and good winds!!

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