Just like almost every girl growing up in the early 2000s’, Blue Crush inspired me to want to become a surfer. The idea of being out in the waves and having that much control, that much grace, was just so appealing to me. I had always loved being in the water, and surfing seemed like the perfect way to connect with that need without actually being transformed into a mermaid.
Over the years I took a few lessons in Hawaii and California, but I was never really able to make it a serious part of my life. Mountain biking and cross country running took over my schedule, and because both of my parents aren’t big on swimming, I had no one to take me out on the ocean in Vancouver. When I moved to Toronto I gave up on the dream of ever really making surfing a sport I could master- I hoped one day I’d return to the west coast and try to learn as a retired old lady.
A few months back my friend Rachelle started posting about Surf the Greats. At first I was pretty confused, and immediately messaged her to see what her posts were all about. Was she on vacation somewhere and I didn’t know? Was there an indoor surfing park here in the city that I somehow hadn’t heard about yet? Turns out, the answer was obvious: she was surfing on the great lakes!
I started chatting with Surf the Greats almost immediately after Rachelle introduced me, anxious to get out on the water and try surfing locally for myself. I heard tales of paddling out in crazy storms and saw photos of surfers in wet suits literally covered in icicles, but nothing deterred me. Even Antonio, one of the STG founders, warned me that I might be waiting for a long time before the weather worked in our favour and produced high winds, but after a few days I got the call: a had storm rolled in, and we’d be heading out early the next day.
Great Lake surfing is extremely temperamental and unpredictable, and as I crammed myself into Antonio’s tiny car with four guys I silently wondered what I had gotten myself into. We left the city as the sun was coming up, and drove for close to four hours to reach a spot with high enough waves. Though this company is just getting started, it’s clear that Antonio and his business partner Marcello are crazy passionate about surfing, and as we sped down the highway we discussed everything from their awesome apparel design, to their SUP beach cleanups and surf trips to Costa Rica (which I’m seriously contemplating signing up for!) Once we arrived at the beach, Antonio and Marcello took us through some land training before we headed out to the waves (which for the record, looked tiny and choppy compared to the ocean).
Important note: lake waves are not tiny. Once we were in the water it quickly became clear that the stormy conditions we had been chasing after were in full force, and honestly there were moments where I doubted if I could continue to paddle out. Unlike the predictable swells of the ocean, these waves were sweeping in almost immediately after one another, sometimes from multiple angles, and though I’m a good swimmer there were times where I worried I might get swept away (and once I did!) That said, once I had managed to paddle out, there were so many waves to choose from, and I was surprised and thrilled to find it was actually very surf-able despite the intense conditions.
After a few hours of battling the “messy” waves, we headed to another beach around the corner where the swells were a little more similar to the ocean. With the sun on our backs we sat on our boards waiting for the perfect waves, and in that moment there was nowhere else in the world that I would rather have been. To say Surf The Greats swept me away is an understatement, and I’m already starting to plan my next adventure!
Read more about Surf the Greats and shop their awesome apparel and services here!