Christmas Means Great Surfing In Grand Haven [Video]
The Rock Pile Gang, so named for the piles of rocks that line the Grand Haven Pier, have been winter surfers along Lake Michigan for years. So when the wind kicked up the surf and kicked down the wind chill, these brave souls jumped in the water to surf.
Make no mistake, surfing in the Great Lakes is a cold weather sport, mainly because the biggest gales come in in late fall and winter.
The brotherhood of Grand Haven surfers called the Rock Pile Gang, or RPG for short, have thick wet suits and even thicker skin.
"It gets pretty dangerous, pretty quick," RPG member Aaron Morton recently told FOX 17 News. "The rip currents will kind of just pull you down along the bottom, and out away from shore, which is pretty scary."
But years of experience means knowing how to handle situations like that, and the Gang uses the Pier as a jumping off point rather than wade in off the beach.
"We call it 'doing laps,'" added Morton."We'll catch one, ride it to the beach, and hop up on the pier and kind of walk around the hard part."
Surfing in Grand Haven is common enough that it has a web site where surfers can weigh out the conditions via web cam before heading out.
Ben Hicks, although not a memebr of the RPG, is a regular winter surfer along Lake Michigan, who often documents his cold visits, especially the frost that forms on his beard.
Says Hicks, surfing is a drive that defies logic. "
The reason they are all come out?" Hicks writes. "Stoke. The same stoke we all have whatever the conditions might be. We all live to get out in the water and slide on the waves. No difference here except a lot more dedication."