You gotta have the right wind to surf in Cleveland.
When the winds are blowing hard from the northeast, surfers grab their wetsuits and boards and head to the beach, no matter the temperature.
And on Sunday, that air temperature was 38 degrees. Water temperature: 39 degrees. And it was raining.
Why is this fun?
“They’re the only waves we have in Cleveland, Ohio. So you might as well come out and catch a wave and have a blast,” said Brian Willse.
Surfers have ridden the “Third Coast” of the United States since the 1960s, according Magic Seaweed. “With 10,900 miles of coastline, it’s the sheer size of the great lakes which makes them surfable and non-locals are often surprised and shocked to hear it can get so good.”
Here, the surfers — who lie prone, on their bellies, or stand up with paddles — wear thick wetsuits, with hoods and booties. Only their faces are exposed.
“If you want to do it, you gotta do it, you know? Even if it’s cold and raining,” said Julian Dooley, who was drying off and heading home for a cup of tea.
Dooley, 43, hails from Ireland and lived a decade in Australia. Now he lives in Cleveland Heights and surfs seven or eight times a year.
Toby Hawk caught a wave all the way to shore.
“You gotta be patient,” said Hawk, 47, who travels from Columbus about a dozen times a year to surf.
“We’ll do trips to the coasts, to Puerto Rico, California, maybe once or twice a year,” Willse said. “This is our backyard. It’s not exactly the most gorgeous looking place in the world but we love it.”