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Windsurfing on Lake Lanier

From WindsportAtlanta.com: Wiki

Lake Lanier is the most popular spot for windsurfing in N. Georgia and the inland Southeast. For more information about the lake itself, including maps, see our Lake Lanier page.

For information about kiteboarding or kitesurfing on Lanier

About Windsurfing Here

Lake Lanier is Atlanta's closest big body of water. The prime season for windsurfing is from September to April due to the jet stream more frequently being over the southeast and bringing in weather fronts. In the warmer months, the jet stream retreats north and a stable pattern of high pressure settles in bringing the classic hot, humid and not very breezy weather of summer.

Lake Lanier, being a man-made lake in the north Georgia mountains, is deep. Water can be chest to head deep within just feet of shore. Consequently, it makes learning a bit more difficult as you either have to uphaul the sail or waterstart if you fall. Uphauling on a windy day when the water is choppy can be problematic for those with less experience.

Gear optimized for lighter wind really pays off here. Having either a longboard, wide (80+cm) board with a big sail (8.5+) or a windfoil will substantially increase the number of days that you can enjoy windsurfing especially in the summer months.

The Seasons

September to April

After Labor Day, best part of the year begins as the water stays warm even into November and traffic drops off dramatically as football season starts. The 45-55 degree blasts of cooler air are tempered by a dip into 65 degree water. Even in the middle of the week, parking is crowded at Van Pugh when a front rolls through. By New Year's however, the lake will have lost much of its warmth and the real cold weather sailing begins.

While the temperatures are certainly cooler during this time of year and fewer people notice us, the lake is also much less crowded for much of this time. There is both less traffic both on the water and in the parking lot. When cold fronts come through during the windy season, the 1-4 mile fetch in front of Van Pugh Park can offer decent 2-3 foot ramps. During the "season" (October through May) winds can be from 7.5 to 4.5 as fronts allow with a few 3.5 days thrown in. The big days are usually accompanied by cold air so neoprene is a necessity. The lake temperature can vary from 45ish in deep winter to bathwater in the summer. Nonetheless, some locals will sail year round as long as the air temperature is above freezing. Check out our weather pages for phone numbers for local conditions.

The warm months

Lanier is much calmer in the summer (in terms of temperature and wind but not necessarily boat traffic) and is readily accessable to novice windsurfers. However, due to its proximity to Atlanta, the southern part of the lake can get very crowded from May to August and the more northern sites should be considered, for example Old Federal Park instead of Van Pugh Park which fills up quickly during the warm months. It is not unusual for staff to close the park to additional traffic by lunch time on summer weekends.

Layout

It's about an hour north of Atlanta. I-985 runs along the east side and GA-400 along the west. GA-20 runs along the bottom from Buford to Cumming and connects 985 and 400. GA 369 runs across the middle aat Brown's Bridge, connecting Gainesville and Cumming and separates the lake into a lower part where most sailing occurs and an upper part, much narrower.

Where to Windsurf

There are a lot of possible places to windsurf on Lake Lanier but if conditions tend to be best at these parks: Van Pugh Park NW, W, SW, NE, Vann's Tavern Park NE, E, SE and Tidwell Park NE,E. Locals usually post on our forums when and where we are going so make sure to check in if you like company or are unsure where you should go. Other parks are good under special conditions, when the lake is crowded or if they are especially close to where you are.


Windsurfing Sites on Lake Lanier