Great waves, Great Lakes | Chicago Reader

Great waves, Great Lakes 

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Die-hard surfers shreded Lake Michigan when high winds from Hurricane Sandy brought 6 to 8-foot waves.
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"People think the photos are Photoshopped with a fake background. No, man, we're surfing next to steel mills. It's a whole different scene." —photographer Mike Killion

"The difference between lake surfing and ocean surfing is that we're surfing in the fetch—the wind that makes the waves is still overhead. In an ocean, there may be a hurricane out in the middle of the ocean that sends waves your direction. By the time it gets to you, the weather system that you're surfing can be totally different than the weather that made the waves.

"Here, though, we're always so close to where the waves are made that we pretty much have the same weather overhead." —Eric Mayer, 26, engineering student at University of Chicago

"In the winter time we get huge waves with the wind, but it was nice [to surf in late October], it not being negative 20 with the wind chill—getting icicles on our noses and freezing our feet." —Eric Schmidt, 27, union plumber
"I go all the time as long as the lake isn't frozen. We even go when there's chunks of ice floating around in the water. It's stupid. I've done it a couple of times where it looks just like small pieces of ice, but they're actually icebergs—really big underneath the water." —Artem Abakumov, 25, occupational therapy student, Northeastern Illinois University
"I surf mostly in Chicago at 57th Street and Rainbow. Those places don't get as many people because you can usually find a bigger wave by going down to Indiana. But I don’t like the water down there. Look on Google maps and you can just see tons of dirty water coming out of the factory, right into the good breaks." —Eric Mayer
"We usually get a storm like that around October or November. Last year I think we got two of them. We wait for that thing and when it happens, we put everything aside—work, family—and make sure we're on it." —Peter Lambert, 45, teacher at Waubonsie Valley High School
"There's a core of us. In September we see a lot of guys in the lineup and then in October it starts thinning out. November and December, there's only maybe two dozen guys. The crowd really thins out once we hit December and it's cold." —Peter Lambert
"I had a ball because waves were breaking so far out you could ride them all the way through." —Bryan McDonald, 45, concrete mason
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