Freshwater Surfers take on year end swells at Stoney Point

What might be even more of a surprise to people than people surfing in Minnesota is people surfing when the nations colds front came through this year and the windchill is -51 degrees.

  Will Wall surfing at Stoney Point, Lake Superior. Photo by Burton Hathaway

Will Wall surfing at Stoney Point, Lake Superior. Photo by Burton Hathaway

Right before the end of the 2013 winter storms swept the Midwest creating great conditions for freshwater waves on Lake Superior. Burton Hathaway and around ten other fresh water shredders saw this as a great opportunity. Stoney Point, Minnesota, according to Hathaway is “the Mecca of Great Lakes surfing” Because Lake Superior (the deepest of the Great Lakes) holds its heat the longest, the water temperature was a pleasant "36 to 38 degrees," even as the windchill was -51 degrees.

 Burton Hathaway after surfing at Stoney Point on Lake Superior in sub-zero conditions. Photo by Erik Wilkie

Burton Hathaway after surfing at Stoney Point on Lake Superior in sub-zero conditions. Photo by Erik Wilkie

Burton grew up surfing in Southern California and moved to Wisconsin eight years ago. Despite being landlocked Hathaway continue to pursue his surfing passion no matter his location or weather. Driving seven hours from Wiscounsin to Stoney Point, MN just two days before the New Year to catch some freezing swells. Before surfing he has to cover his face with Vaseline to prevent frostbite and told GrindTV the toughest part is having to wait until all the ice melts off of your wetsuit to change out of it.  Waiting for the ice to melt from the car heaters can take up to 30 minutes but if you don’t wait “you’ll rip your wetsuit trying to get out of it.”

Freshwater surfing, he told Surfline, is "a total different experience." Surfers have to use thicker, wider boards since the freshwater isn't as buoyant as the ocean, making floating a bit more difficult. "You feel like you're surfing in slow motion on some of these waves," Hathaway said.

 Stoney Point break Photo by: WIll Wall

Stoney Point break Photo by: WIll Wall

"In the back of your mind," he told GrindTV, "you know you can die surfing in these very harsh and unforgiving conditions, but we live for surfing out here on the Great Lakes, and that is our passion."

Video: E Wilke 

More interviews of Burton Hathaway: Surfline, GrindTV