Ottawa·Photos

Ottawa River surfers catch waves off Bate Island

Spring run-off makes for a wild and gnarly ride for kayakers and surfers riding the Ottawa River near Bate Island.
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      Spring run-off makes for a wild and gnarly ride for kayakers and surfers riding the Ottawa River near Bate Island.

      CBC Ottawa's Hallie Cotnam met up with some of the people who get up early in the morning in spring, when the river flows fast, to catch a wave near the Champlain Bridge.

      Dave Wright said the frigid waters are not a deterrent.

      "It's about as much fun as you can have in this city," he said.

      Before catching a wave, Trevor Cunningham said he positions himself in an eddy, where the water is calm.

      "And then I'll swim a few hard strokes out to the wave, where the water is going really fast, and because it's a big wave, you're basically going downhill, down the wave, staying in the same place as the water rushes by quickly," he said.

      It's about as much fun as you can have in this city.- Ottawa River surfer Dave Wright

      "You kind of try to do these really nice sweeping turns with big spray and often you fall."

      The waves near Bate Island are also a popular spot for kayakers, including Alexandra Maggs, a member of Canada's CanoeKayak Freestyle National Team. She said kayakers and surfers share the waves, even forming lineups during the rush hour for waves. 

      "You have to wait your turn," she said. "If they're just sitting there and not doing anything exciting then maybe people will start to boo them to get them off the wave."

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