Seeking Surf In Lake Michigan

ClifSurfTuesday, August 12th there was a North West wind and I wanted to find a new spot to surf.  The wind is everything when surfing the lakes.  I was looking for a spot that was protected from the wind but still had swell.  Usually the best to

clean up waves to to surf on the leeward side of a pier.  The waves will be a little smaller but cleaner. 


I was in Northern Michigan so I drove west towards Lake Michigan looking for some fresh water waves.   The first spot I found had good size and power but the longshore current was running very quickly from North to South.  I got a few rides but it was a hike back to where I started.   I kept looking, and found some cleaner lines closer to the Pier.

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Photo: Eric Sagonowsky
Photo: Eric Sagonowsky

Surf SUP Racing Lake Michigan

On Friday Chris and Joe worked on their in’s and out’s in the surf. With identical Matuli race boards the identical twins had a photo finish riding the same wave to the beach.

SUP Race Lake Michigan

The offshore winds were rare and helped make the waves very fun.  Long rights and lefts up to 200 yards.  The water temp was cold because the water was mixed up.

SUP Buoy Turn

Although it is rare to have surf in a Michigan Paddle Board race Friday was great practice for the West coast races like Battle of the Paddle or Ocean Festival.


Spring 2013 Red Cedar River Surf Session

Surfs Up at Michigan State

Remi Surf
Matuli Team Rider Remi at Michigan State University
Thien on the Matuli “Made in 1 Day Board”

With flood warnings issued it was time to get the local crew out to surf some not so fresh water waves.  This is not a wave for beginners.  A shallow line of boulders creates a wave as swift water flows over them.  This “East Swell” only works when the river is at just the right depth and flow rate.  IMG_4602With all the submerged rocks this is not the place to use your best stick.  I met some very rad MSU students who were already on it when we got there.  It takes a while to figure the spot out but they were determined and got the hang of it!

MSUOur new Surf East Lansing Shirts are now available!Green Surf East Lansing


Prevent a Drowning! It’s up to all of us to know how to

Prevent a Drowning!

It’s up to all of us to know how to

1) recognize when a swimmer is in danger of drowning

2) know what action to take to save the swimmer’s life.  


Bob Pratt, retired East Lansing Fire Marshall and co-founder of the                                    Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project                                                                                             with Joe, Chris & Mike Matulis at the Matuli PaddleSurf exhibit, March 1, 2013,          Quietwater Symposium at Michigan State University.
Bob Pratt, retired East Lansing Fire Marshall and co-founder of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project with Joe, Chris & Mike Matulis at the Matuli PaddleSurf exhibit, March 1, 2013, Quietwater Symposium at Michigan State University.


Bob Pratt gave an important presentation to ‘a standing room only’ crowd at the Quietwater Symposium at Michigan State University.  As we move closer to the season of pool parties, lake swimming and boating adventures, it is important to become educated about what to look for and how to respond to water emergencies. Here is a summary of some of the information that Bob shared.

Critical Information for Preventing Drowning Deaths

  • People do not recognize when a swimmer is in trouble.   The phenomena of drowning does not attract attention. Most people think that a swimmer in danger of drowning will be waving their arms and shouting out for help.  Wrong!   Swimmers who are in the trouble cannot flail their arms.  If they reach their arms out of the water, they will immediately sink under the water.  Instead, they try to grab the surface of the water, and they can’t yell because they are gasping for breath. Humans automatically slip into what is called an Instinctive Drowning  Response.   Many people would look at such a swimmer and think that he or she is playing, but this swimmer is in serious trouble.    You can learn more about this by viewing the following video:


  • Keep a close eyes on your children when they are swimming.  Sometimes parents may get distracted by other activity in the area, but drowning can occur within twenty to forty-five seconds of getting into danger.


  • If you are hosting a pool party with children, use the Watch Card system to ensure that all swimmers are being observed. Make a Watch Card (index card, exc.) and give it to an adult who is willing to accept the responsibility of keeping an eye on all of the swimmers.  If the Watcher has to leave the pool area, the card should be given to another competent and willing adult.  This strategy will prevent drowning accidents.


  • If you see someone in danger, you should grab something that floats and then head out into the water – a small cooler, a life jacket, a paddleboard, a boat cushion, etc.  (It’s a good idea to always pack a floating device when you head out to the beach.)  Making a rescue is very difficult if you don’t have some kind of floating device. 


  • Put your own safety first.  Too often a would-be rescuer is not prepared to make the rescue (lacks floating device, strength, swimming ability, etc.) and finds him or herself in a losing battle with waves and deep water.


  • Wear life preserver every time you are on your watercraft.  People who wear a life jacket have a less than one percent chance of drowning is they fall into the water


Bob demonstrated the use of a Belt Pack Personal Floatation Device that can be worn around the waist.  It does not restrict movement and , in case of an emergency it is easily inflated by pulling the ring that triggers the release of CO2 from a canister. Most people do not wear a lifejacket when boating.  They keep it on the deck and they think that they will be able to put it on when they are in the water.  Bob explained that trying to put a life jacket on when you are in the water is extremely difficult.

  • Standup Paddle Surfboards are considered watercraft so you have to have a Personal Floatation Device onboard. If you use your Stand Up Paddleboard at night, you need running lights.  Standup Paddleboards are very good devices for rescues.  The victim can rest on the board while being towed to the shore.  Surfers and SUP surfers can be make a big contribution to drowning prevention across Michigan and in the Great Lakes. 

Looking to get envolved? The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is an excellent resource for learning about water safety.