Reporter's Notebook: The Chase


The hardest part about surfing the Great Lakes is waiting for a low pressure system. This is the all-important factor in getting the surf spots in Duluth to fire. During the reporting of this story, the systems kept staying clear of the area. Six straight weekends turned into duds. And although it sucked, it hammered in the point that these waves are rare.

There's nothing more disappointing than looking out at Lake Superior and seeing tiny little bathtub ripples wash ashore. Especially, if the assignment is to surf the lake in a wetsuit. But this was the case in early November when Greg Isaacson gave a tour of his town and an oral history of the Duluth surf culture.

In the story, surfer and filmmaker, Vince Deur talks about how the Stoney Point wave is special because it only fires 2-3 months out of the year. The rest of the time it's too mellow to ride, or the waves are blown to bits and moving away from the shoreline. This was the case during the reporting of the story.

Soon, the weather channel addiction that other surfers talked about hit. The pattern was just like Bob Tema said: wake up, check weather. eat breakfast. check weather. lunch. weather. afternoon. weather. dinner. weather. just before bedtime. weather. And if an iPhone was near, I'd ask the owner to check what's happening in Duluth.

But each weather check was the same. Not a single low pressure system was going to travel south of Lake Superior. So that meant no waves to surf. And the lack of waves completely changes the story. Gone is any first-person lede about squeezing into a wetsuit and paddling out with ice chunks floating around your board. And gone is the pick-up line we were so hoping to use at the CC Club: "Yeah, I'm a little wiped. Just got back from surfing..."


Anyhow, the waves that form in the front yard of Duluth are special, they fire when they fire.

And they don't really care about deadlines.

Read the full CP feature: "Great Lakes surfers pay no mind to frigid temps".