Everything you need to know about surfing in the winter
Canadians are putting lake surfing on the map, and as any Canadian would, they do it in the winter too.
Ontario isn’t typically the first place that comes to mind when you think surfing, but the sheer size of the Great Lakes located throughout the province is what makes surfing them possible.
Dave Hon has been surfing the Great Lakes since 2009 after taking his first lesson at Ashbridge’s Bay with instructors from Surf Ontario, a company founded by Mike Sandusky, whose goal is to make people aware that lake surfing is possible.
Unlike the ocean, the waves on the Great Lakes are formed by localized winds, making the fall and winter months prime time to surf them, according to Hon.
“During winter months we get most of the wind storms and snowstorms; the waves in the winter are very comparable to the ocean,” he says.
What comes along with better waves in the winter is also colder temperatures. Proper surfing equipment is needed to surf the frigid water temperatures of the Great Lakes in the winter. Hon wears what is known in the surfing community as a six-five-four wetsuit, “which implies six millimetres at the chest or core area, five millimetres at the limbs and four millimetres for the hat and at least seven millimetres gloves and boots,” he says.
With over a decade of Great Lake surfing experience, Hon has had the opportunity to visit a number of different surf spots throughout the province. Lake Ontario is what Hon refers to as his “home break” and his favourite and most frequented spots include Frenchman’s Bay in Pickering, the Cove at Scarborough Bluffs and the Oshawa Pier.
Hon’s passion for surfing is ever-growing and when asked about his favourite thing about the sport he replied with “nature, friendship and adrenaline.” Hon appreciates the ability for humans and nature to blend together and become one “Also you meet a lot of amazing people, a lot of my closest friends are surfers that I’ve met throughout the years.”
Hon is just one of the passionate surfers in the rather tight knit surfing community in Ontario. His advice to surfers who want to venture out and try lake surfing or people who have never surfed at all before is to “take great lake surfing gradually, if you can surf the Great Lakes you can surf anywhere.”