The Great Lakes aren’t exactly a Mecca of world-class surf. Yes, have a chat with a surfer from Minnesota, for example, and they’ll tell you the place is a gold mine. They’ll tell you it’s better than you’re probably willing to give it credit for. Like any surfer from any place on the planet, they’ll inevitably drop the “On the right day, it’s as good as ____,” (insert universally accepted incredible wave somewhere else in the world).
One thing you can’t take away from the Great Lakes community is that their enthusiasm and dedication do match the communities in wave-rich regions of the world. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find proof of more than crumbly, onshore, waist-high waves in existence there.
But back in 2016, Alex Gray found a proper wave though. And this is no embellishment. The Southern California native took a trip out to Minnesota without lofty expectations, likely thinking he’d cover his entire body in neoprene and be welcomed with a lot of smiles and a few of those onshore, mushy storm waves. Then he pulled up to a spot and the first thing he saw was a “head-high barrel that spit.”
“It was a proper wave. It looked like a reef that you would travel halfway around the world for,” he says. “And then I remembered, oh yeah, we’re in a lake.”
Sure enough, Gray got under the hood of a couple that you’d never guess were breaking miles and miles from the nearest ocean.