by Matt Higgins
day revolves around surfing,” said Kenny Ashburn. The
South Buffalo native was on the phone last week talking from
Hawaii, where he lives. “It beats going to the Elmwood
Strip and getting fucked up every night. I did that for a
while. I would be dead if I kept at that.”
began surfing about 10 years ago on Lake Erie after visiting
Virginia Beach. He saw surfers riding waves smaller than what
he was used to back home. So he bought a board and brought
it to Buffalo, then paddled out and began catching waves.
Soon he met other surfers in the area and began to learn the
best spots. Eventually he caught the bug big-time and moved
to Hawaii to dedicate himself to surfing.
50 hardcore surfers remain in the Niagara Frontier, including
Canada, and hundreds more are spread out over the other four
Great Lakes. They are all hearty guys – and women --
who surf in thick wetsuits late in the season when the water
and air are freezing, and the waves get big due to fall and
have been riding waves in the Great Lakes for 40 years. The
Wyldewood (Ontario) Surf Club, a local group of surfers from
the U.S. and Canada, was founded in the mid-1960s. Still,
little is known about Great Lakes surfers, even though there
are hundreds of them.
they are finally getting their due: A surfer from Grand Haven,
Michigan, has made a paean to Great Lakes surfing with his
film “Unsalted.” It depicts the sport’s
intensity, along with some history.
are awesome. Chances are you’ve never seen waves like
these on the lakes. If you have, you’ve never considered
paddling into them. Some of the waves in the film are easily
15 feet. Big, nasty foaming monsters. A few local Lake Erie
surfers are depicted in “Unsalted,” carving big
waves on the Canadian side of the lake near Port Colborne
during some nasty weather in late fall.
there are few nice days at the beach for Lakes surfers. If
the wind is howling out of the southwest, and you wouldn’t
think of going to the beach, then there might be surf, according
can tell: If you drive to the Peace Bridge and waves are going
over the break wall, then it’s going off in Canada.”
will be screened in Toronto June 26 at 6 and 9 p.m., at The
Fox, 2236 Queen Street East. Call 416-691-7330 for information.