When the surf’s good, nobody works. Oh wait, that’s aloha culture and this is Toronto. But while we may not be on island time, surfing the Great Lakes gives you that slice of stoke without ever leaving the Six.
At Leslieville’s Surf the Greats, founder and CEO Antonio Lennert is keen to get newbies paddling out in every season (frozen hair, anyone?). You can hang loose in this east end surf shop that doubles as a community hub, with a café, and special events like art shows and film screenings.
Lennert is inspired to reconnect Torontonians with nature and the joys of being near freshwater – whether that’s on a surfboard or spending time cleaning up the local beach.
The surf school itself meets at A-Bay (Ashbridge’s Bay), offering both SUP and surfing classes. Even if you’d rather be on the mat, you can opt for a restorative SUP yoga class based in mindfulness. During the summer months, surf-inspired yoga classes are held on Saturdays at 9am — just bring your own mat or a beach towel!
A tight-knit community of soul surfers, the Surf the Greats crew is set on growing this community of surfers who would otherwise be pretty bummed all winter.
Though, let’s talk waves. While The Greats aren’t giants, learning close to home is an excellent experience. Summer conditions are inconsistent, but peak surf season lasts from early fall into spring. You’ll need to rent a wetsuit, mitts, and gloves to face the frigid waters any time of year (5/4 mm or 6/5 mm thickness in winter and 3/2 or 4/3 mm in summer). A 75-minute intro to surfing or SUP class will run you $45, and includes surfboard, leash, and all equipment. It’s simple to sign up, too — check their timetable and book everything right from their site.
So, whether you’re in search of swell, looking to catch your first wave, or just want to chill with like-minded folks – look no further than Surf the Greats.