Images courtesy of the Surfrider Foundation.
The Great Lakes Surf Collective is a bunch of surf and water-loving guys in Milwaukee who, like prophets, preach the life-changing powers of surfing. And they are on a mission to dispel the myth that surfing requires an ocean.
To support Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, they are holding an event for the first time at Shorewood’s Atwater Park on Saturday, August 17 to share the experience of enjoying the water and promote the religion of surfing.
Find free activities at Atwater beach all day, with a majority of events beginning at 5 p.m., including water safety instruction, surfing technique, etiquette and surfing lessons (boards will be provided). Stay after sunset for the film festival, which features filmmakers from the Great Lakes in stories about surfing and the lifestyle, as well as classic surf flicks from the '60s. There will also be an after-party at Camp Bar (4044 N. Oakland Ave.) with drink specials and a raffle for a custom-shaped Burly surfboard.
“The sport has grown exponentially, says Becky Leisch, Chairwomen of the Surfrider Foundation Wisconsin Great Lakes Chapter. "There are actually a good number of people in Wisconsin who surf and practice watersports, whether on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, or other waterways who want to contribute to preserving our water resources here in Wisconsin...Some might even call Sheboygan the world's fresh water surfing capitol!”
Ken Cole of the Great Lakes Surf Collective learned to surf in Hawaii in 1994 and calls it an “all-consuming” sport. Although it's extremely rare, he swears that quality of the waves in Wisconsin can be as good as the ocean. Either way, the vibe and spirit of surfing is the same here as it is on the coasts. “When you can’t do it as often, you really appreciate it that much more,” he says.
He declines to reveal where his favorite surfing spots are, but Cole recommends surfing the sheltered areas of the lakes from Racine to Sheboygan. Use Google Maps to track down the good waves and learn how to sit, lie down, paddle and turn the board first. “The best place to start might be your living room floor, watching You Tube videos,” Cole says.
“We wanted to get people involved and we realized that you have to make people love and appreciate something to take action. Once they have fun in the water and leave that space, they will never think of it the same way again.”
Cole expects the event to continue annually. For more information, check out the Great Lakes Surf Collective website.
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