Okay, So Maybe You Actually Can Surf in Slurpee Waves.
by Owen James Burke
Canadians Logan Landry (outside) and Dean Petty (inside) sorting their way through Nova Scotia’s frosted swells. Photo: Dick “Mez” Meseroll.
I guess I was wrong; you don’t need a toboggan to surf slurpee waves — though I still don’t know whether you’d find me out there.
The photograph above and the two below were shot by legendary East Coast surfer and photographer Dick “Mez” Meseroll, who shot up to Canada’s Atlantic Coast just in time to capture these rare and mesmerizing photos of what he calls “slurshing.”
Dean Petty, master of the log, frozen solid in perfect form. Photo: Dick “Mez” Meseroll.
New Jersey surfer and X Games competitor Sam Hammer cuts back in sub-zero slush. Photo: Dick “Mez” Meseroll.
A Nantucket A-frame. Brrrr. Photo: Brian Sager
South in Nantucket, things weren’t much warmer, but a few brave souls couldn’t stand by letting those slurpee slabs roll in unridden any longer.
Mark Latter in Nantucket, setting up in slush. His wake behind him looks frozen solid. Photo: Brian Sager
These are brave souls, that goes without saying. But to those who’ve never experienced winter surfing, it’s nothing like surfing, not as most know it. To surf these waves takes a degree of conditioning not many warm water surfers have undergone. Because these guys are wearing an extra 25 pounds of wet, nearly frozen-stiff 5-6- or even 7-milimeter neoprene, their maneuverability should be restricted to that of the michelin man.
Somehow, they’ve got the energy, the muscle, and the endurance to paddle into these waves despite having their agility severely compromised but the near solid state of the water. Just picture trying to swim through a gigantic icee machine at 7-11 as opposed to a gin-clear, heated swimming pool — no easy feat.
Farther south in New Jersey, things weren’t much warmer, but Ben Graeff and Rob Kelly also took no heed of slushy swell, and trampled through the ice to manage some clean barrels and demonstrate unimaginably agile aerial maneuvers, all while frozen and mummified in neoprene. These guys make this stuff look easy, but if you’ve ever swum or tried to surf in cold water, you’d know that even paddling, let alone catching a wave or standing up, is an effort unto itself, and one that has been known to send even the most accomplished, fanatic surfer back to the beach in no time.
These dauntless, insatiable surfers probably didn’t last too long out there, but up until years ago, wetsuit technology wouldn’t even permit anyone to surf these waters, not with enough flexibility to surf like this at least.
If winter doldrums have got you down so much so that you’re daring, here’s a suit and a vest that may help you get — and stay — out there for a wave or two to tie you over till spring.
Patagonia’s R4 wetsuit is 5.5mm at its core and 4.5mm in the arms and legs, and is lined with chlorine-free merino wool.
For good quality, but a less gouging price, try O’Neill’s Pyrotech, which is 17% lighter than most suits, but absorbs 30% less water, which means you’ll not only have more maneuverability, but stay warmer longer.
The Ripcurl H-Bomb vest is heated, and slips underneath your full suit for extra warmth.
Read more of East Coast surfing legend Dick “Mez” Meseroll’s report from Canada’s Atlantic coast in his article “Heaven Freezes Over” on Eastern Surf, and photographer Brian Sager’s story from Nantucket, Half-Frozen and Firing on The Inertia. — OJB