Coming from Ontario, one of Canada’s premier land-locked provinces I’ve had few opportunities to dive into salt water waves. I can count on my fingers the number of times I have swam in the ocean, so for me, surfing has always been on a distant radar. It is one of those boardsports dominated by beautiful blond Australians miles and miles away, nowhere near the small town of Collingwood, Ontario.
Until recently, I hated October and November. It is to cold to wakeboard, not cold enough for snow, the resort is quiet and I spend most of my time catching up on Netfllix patiently waiting for winter. I had heard that people surfed in Collingwood but it was always a bit of a myth. It never really clicked that there was so much opportunity so close to home.
A friend of mine recently moved to Collingwood stoked on the all it has to offer. He showed up at the ski show with photos of Great Lake surfing on Huron. I figured what the heck, I should probably jump on that train and get out of these November blas. He graciously asked me along, lent me his friends board and off we were to the shores of Huron.
Destination: Kincardine. Known as the Great Lake Surf mecca of Ontario, this beach has a pier where you can walk out to avoid the carnage of paddling out in great lake waves. Some might consider it cheating; I just look at it as an efficient use of time! The temperature outside was sitting right around 10 degrees Celsius, and I was sitting in the car contemplating how much of a wuss I would look like if I backed out on account that it is just an insane concept to go into the water in November. But alas, backing out is not my style so I suited up in my 4.3 O’Neill suit, and gloves/hood/booties thanks to my Kiter friend Marcus.
When we jumped off the pier it was a bit of a struggle at first. Great Lakes are more of a battlefield on account that the waves come in randomly and far more frequently than the ocean. Not to mention these waves were pushing 6-7ft high, way bigger than any baby waves I have surfed at Coco Beach. I took a few solid spills but managed to catch the largest and longest wave of my incredibly short surfing vocation. I ended up having to quit based on sheer exhaustion, and quite interestingly enough NOT because I thought I would be frozen. It was actually the opposite, because you are working so hard out there your wetsuit heats up. Needless to say that was 4 hours that went by in the blink of an eye.
I was hooked. As soon as I got home I was on the phone with Andy from Endless Surf buying a board the very next day. Since then I have been checking the Great Lakes Wave Forecast daily waiting for the winds to pick up. I had the opportunity on Sunday to catch a few small waves at Sunset Point with my long time wake friend Laura Brace. It was incredible how the surf was coming in there, in sets of 3-4 waves timed perfectly like the waves in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. I must have caught 5 or 6, which for me at my beginner status, was pretty damn good!.
SO! I encourage any of you who have been thinking about making the plunge and buying a board to get out there and just do it! Rock a good wetsuit, hood, booties and gloves and you, my friend, will be hooked. Ditch those November blas and start #greatlakesurfing.