Kayak 41 North
Posted by: RavenWing on Jun-04-12 12:06 PM (EST)
Cleveland area has boards and boats to demo and rent. Agree you gotta demo first to find the right board and right paddle for your size, weight, balance etc.
There must be other in Ohio I'll let others chime in.
I live in MI so I know the resources there better:
If you'd like to vacation in beautiful NW Michigan, near Empire (Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore), check out Sleeping Bear Surf Shop in Empire which regularly does demos, and rentals, being ~10 minutes total from Lake Michigan, w. a couple of nearby inland lakes for fun and starting out(North and South Bar) which are just one sandy spit over from the Big Lake.
In nearby Beulah, south of Empire, is Michael Gray of Uncommon Adventures. I just took a class w. him over Memorial Day, he's great - plenty of student boards too. He is one of just 2 ACA certified SUP instructors in MI.
There is also Paddle the Mitten (find them on facebook) which also gives lessons and has boards to try. They are based in Howell, MI (SE MI about 30 minutes north of Ann Arbor).
Generally, the big cruiser boards I see on the Great Lakes (MI) have been 13'6"-16 feet. Not to say you couldn't work it w. a shorter board, just use a faster cadence. At your size a bigger board will give you more buoyancy and stability.
Cruising flatwater boards generally have displacement hulls, and are wider w. a less upturned "nose" than a surf-specific board.
Another great feature is to have some glassed in bungee attachment points so you can carry some day gear esp. if doing distances.
The used market in SUP is very sparse in the Midwest or I'd say go used. Therefore all the more important to try before you buy.
Great Products from the Buyers' Guide: