Photo Essay: Cleveland’s Lake Erie Surfers


These photos were taken by Cleveland-based photographer Billy Delfs. A little about the Cleveland Ohio Surfers in his words:

“Cleveland Ohio Surfers surf the shores of Lake Erie. From what I learned, unlike the west and east US coasts where the waves are pulled by currents, the wind is what makes up waves on Lake Erie. It is usually cold when they surf, windy and wet; either in a storm or just before the lake freezes over. They wear wet suits to keep warm, to make the situation tolerable. I was cold this day. They come back often when the waves are just right. Once I counted 15. Sometimes I’ll stop and park on top of the hill overlooking the water to watch them ride.”








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Filed under Headline, Real Estate, The Big Urban Photography Project

9 responses to “Photo Essay: Cleveland’s Lake Erie Surfers

  1. You can just imagine how cold it is. These guys must be obsessive surfers to do it on Erie. The second picture from the top looks like a school of sharks until you blow it up!

  2. Special K

    Thanks for posting this, Angie. This is exactly what I needed during this summer heat!

  3. schmange

    Billy’s a good photographer, huh? I agree. These guys are completely nuts! I want to meet them! Subcultures of nuts are pretty much the most interesting thing ever.

  4. tonyg

    Both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, both photgraph best on those cold days with the wind out of the northeast and our lead colored winter sky. It’s something between grim/stark and without any pretense.

  5. I was a Lake Erie Storm surfer back in 1969, at the Painesville Water plant by Headlands beach with a group of older surfers. I was only 15 then. The Cleveland Plain dealer did an article on us : Aug. 17,1969. The reporters gave my 9ft. board to a girl and dubbed her photo into the waves…times have really changed.

  6. Sean Posey

    Wonderfully done!

  7. Everyone knows you have to be tough to live in Cleveland. I love the photo of the smiling “dude” with the ice on his cap. Would also be curious to know if surfing on the Great Lakes is common.

  8. Almost all waves that are surfed are wind generated. The difference between the lakes and the ocean is the distance the waves are able to travel before you ride them: longer distance, better waves. There are exceptions around the world, but generally currents do not produce surfable waves on their own. Besides, Lake Erie has currents, too.

    Beautiful pictures!

  9. Stevie

    When was this taken what month and year?

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