Don’t Blackball Surfing in Indiana

blackballI have had some of my best Lake Michigan surf sessions in Indiana.  Right now Jim Arnold is trying to pass a bill that would blackball the whole state of Indiana when there are waves, making it illegal for swimmers and,surfers to be in the water.  Jim Arnold is a Democrat and with a Republican super majority I’m not sure if this will pass.   I think more Public Education and an educated Lifeguard service would be a much better way of solving the drowning problem in Indiana.

South Lake michigan


Made In One Day

LakeMi IMG_3660 IMG_3767I was in a rush to catch some fresh water waves.  With most of my quiver in California,  I decided to make a Home Depot board.  I got a piece of housing insulation 8 feet long and cut it in half. I took the two 8 foot long pieces I glued them together giving them a glued in rocker.  Then I cut the outline and sanded a very simple shape.  Next I glassed the board in the moonlight and sanded it in the morning.  I glassed in a giant 9 inch fin, because it was the only one I had.  The board was not the fastest thing in the water, but I always have fun surfing in Lake Michigan.

Finless Great Lake Surfing

Oreo Board
Testing the board out on a boat wake

I was out of fiberglass and looking for something to do.  I decided to try to make and Alaia type board.  I was thinking about making it out of 1 inch pine but didn’t know if it would have enough float to it.  I decided to make a Hybrid board made of foam and wood.  I used closed cell foam made, by Dow, for housing insulation.  I stripped an old hollow door apart and used it to cover the foam.  I glued them all finlesstogether using spray foam.  The design is like an ice cream sandwich (Wood foam wood).   My first test was behind a boat it was strange not having a fin to hold the line.  I fell on my first attempt but then lowered my center of gravity and it was a lot easier to surf.  The board was a lot faster then the Doyle I was using to surf behind the boat because if its low rocker and absence of any fin drag.

My next test was in Lake Michigan.  I only got to test the board on one wave because the glue in between the foam and wood started to fail. I almost pulled into one.

Matuli’s San Clemente King and Queen of the Beach Race Series

5k race
Matuli will be holding its second beach race in the series held in San Clemente.

The next race, 5k beach run, starts this Wednesday, July, 6th, 2011 at 7p.m. starting at City lifeguard tower 3 (just south of the San Clemente Pier)

This is the first race in the Wednesday night series. Other races will involve water elements. Think Ocean Festival events.

The event is free and open to anyone with a little competitive spirit.

Lifesaving for Surfers, Surf Rescue Project

Third Coast Ocean Force practice rescue techniques
Photo by Cindy Matulis

Many surfers in the Great Lakes are unsung heroes who have saved many lives because they have spotted swimmers in trouble while catching waves. Surfers have a strong knowledge of the dangers the water presents, and they are often in a good position to spot and make a rescue.

Surf Lifesaving has deep roots in the Midwest. Tom Blake was a pioneer waterman from Wisconsin, and has been the lead designer for surfing and lifeguard gear. Blake invented the surfboard fin, hollow paddle board and the lifeguard buoy. Following in the tradition of connecting surfing to lifesaving, a group of Great Lake surfers have formed an organization called the Third Coast Ocean Force designed to educate the public on the dangers of water currents generated from waves.

Eight year Ocean lifeguard Joe Matulis was one of the speakers at the Third Coast Ocean Force Rip Currents conference and workshop held in St. Joseph, Michigan on June 5, 2011. Matulis was asked to share his professional knowledge about spotting potential rescues.

“If you are seeing someone climbing the ladder, you are already too late,” Matulis said. “You are not going to have enough time to get out there.”

There are many earlier signs that can be seen from shore or from the water.

“When I am at the beach I look for swimmers that are not in swim attire, swimmers facing the beach and swimmers that are in large groups.” he said.

Classroom discussion by Third Coast Ocean Force
Photo by Cindy Matulis

There are many differences between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Michigan. The beach goers in the Midwest usually don’t experience surf because waves are uncommon in the crowded season. However, a few times every summer, wind generates waves and rip currents are formed on the crowded Midwest beaches. When these unusually large waves occur, the majority of the beach goers are not aware of the dangers that are created. Today, very few Great Lakes beaches have lifeguards on duty. Great Lakes surfers, however, can make a difference for victims of rip currents. Surfers have the ability to navigate through surf and when there are waves in the lakes there are plenty of surfers. It only makes sense that surfers need to be trained to identify possible drowning victims.

Bob Pratt, a former lifeguard and a Great Lakes surfer explained how rip currents can flow out along the concrete piers in Lake Michigan. Compounding the problem of rip currents in the Great Lakes is the fact that these currents are more difficult to spot in the Great Lakes than the ocean. The reason rips are harder to see in the Great Lakes is because rip currents only form when there is surf. The surf is normally only big when the weather is stormy and cloudy. Stormy weather makes it harder to see the differences of water color because of the overcast skies.

The waves in the lakes also have a much shorter interval period and therefore there are twice as many waves that swimmers have to contend with. The waves on the Great Lakes may break every seven seconds compared to a south swell in Southern California that would have about a twenty second wave interval.

After the classroom training session the class went to the beach to practice rescue techniques. In addition to Great Lakes surfers, area water rescue teams also attended the training session to learn about using a surfboard to assist a drowning victim. The class practiced these techniques and discussed how to triangulate a submerged swimmer, how to handle a possible spinal cord injury victim and where to enter the water in different possible swell situations.

This is an important step forward for protecting swimmers in the Great Lakes.

National Rip Current Week

Joe Matulis surfing Lake Michigan

This next week, June 5 to 11,2011, is the National Weather Service’s national rip current week.

Rip currents are not just found in the ocean. Any time there are waves, there are rip currents. Even in Lake Michigan the wind waves create strong rip currents that trap unexpected beach goers are not prepared for. Last year 74 people drown in Lake Michigan because they were not able to get to shore after being pulled out by a rip current.

To stop this from happening, the Matuli crew is going to be educating the public on victim diction and surf rescue techniques in St. Joseph, Michigan this Sunday, June 5, 2011. The event is hosted by The Great Lakes Third Coast Ocean Force Community Project with it’s first class teaching “Surfboard Rescue Techniques.”

The class will start at 10 a.m. at the Boulevard Inn’s in the Parks View West room, located at 521 Lake Boulevard, St. Joseph, MI 49085.

For more information join us on Facebook.

Michigan State University Surf Session

I first found out about MSU’s secret surfing spot in California while lifeguarding with body boarding legion Pat Caldwell.  At first I did not really think it was possible to ride, but when I got back to East Lansing I took a long look On the Banksat the spot.  There are rocks under the wave so I grabbed a Doyle and did not give up until I got a few.  It was a lot harder then I thought it was going to be.  The river has a standing wave and if you can stay in the right spot you can surf it all day. I would not drink the water though.


Video of my friends surfing at MSU


What is a Matuli?

Photo by Joe Matulis

proper noun
(Plural form of Matulis)

Last name origin & meaning:
Lithuanian: patronymic from the personal name Matula, a Lithuanian form of Matthaeus