On Friday afternoon, I happened on to a small group of Lake Superior surfers riding some very big waves at Stoney Point. Duluth’s John Hatcher, a long-time surfer, said the waves were about as big as any Duluth surfers have seen. Two surfers told me the waves were 12 feet high. Hatcher said surfers call waves taller than a surfer “overhead” waves and later said they were double overhead in size.
Watching the waves build and form was dramatic. Watching the surfers paddle out to them and ride them gave the waves true perspective.
The wind had begun from the northeast, Hatcher told me Friday afternoon, then gradually switched to the north-northwest.
“That’s what you want,” he said, wearing a thick, hooded neoprene wetsuit. “So, you’ve got the swell energy, but the northwest is giving them form.”
The northwest wind was still quite strong, and it was blowing the tops of the waves off in clouds of spray.
“This is our third time out today,” Hatcher said as he went out to surf Stoney Point. “We’re kind of tired, but you can’t pass this up.” He had gotten his first call about the waves at 5:30 a.m. Friday, he said.
Many other surfers were working a smaller set of breaks on the west side of Stoney Point called “Boulders.”
Hatcher and perhaps a half-dozen surfers tackled the bigger waves at Stoney Point. The waves were so powerful that it was sometimes difficult for the surfers to get a long ride, but when they did, it was spectacular to watch. They carved back and forth against the faces of the waves, and some of their wipe-outs were also dramatic.
One of the other surfers from Duluth riding the surf at Stoney Point was Luke Kavajecz. Another they called simply, “the guy from Chicago.”
Here are some more photos from that afternoon: