Sudbury

Sudbury man catching waves on Manitoulin Island

When he was a child, Antonio Alegre spent a lot of time on a surfboard in his home country of Peru.

"You can be out on a day that it's -35," says Antonio Alegre

Antonio Alegre surfs off the south shore of Manitoulin Island. (Supplied/Antonio Alegre)

When he was a child, Antonio Alegre spent a lot of time on a surfboard in his home country of Peru.

When he moved to Canada at the age of 19, he started surfing in Lake Ontario in Toronto.

"There's pretty good surfing all over the great lakes," he said.

"It's something that most people are not aware of."

Alegre says he surfs whenever he can off Manitoulin Island, and finding small icebergs can be common in the winter months. (Supplied/Antonio Alegre)

Now living in Sudbury, he says he discovered good surfing in northeastern Ontario by accident.

"My brother took me down to Sauble Beach for a family weekend and I saw small ripples coming through," he said.

"Sunny day, beautiful day, barely any wind, but there were small ripples coming through."

He says over the next few years, he figured out the wind directions of Lake Huron to find out the best spots to catch the biggest waves, which led to the south shore of Manitoulin Island.

Since then Alegre's discovered a variety of sizes of waves — everything from ankle height to over his head. He says unlike the ocean, waves on lakes are generated only by wind.

"You have to out [during] a storm," he said. "The waves are a little bit more choppy."

Alegre says he needs to wear the proper equipment to surf off Manitoulin Island year round, and says only his face is exposed to the elements. (Supplied/Antonio Alegre)

Alegre acknowledges going out surfing during storms can be dangerous. He says he always goes out with someone else, and stresses the importance of the right gear.

"You can be out on a day that it's minus 35," he said. "The equipment is getting better and better. So you're wearing a wetsuit that is about 65 mm thick. You're wearing gloves and boots that are about 5 to 8 mm thick, and the wetsuit that you're wearing has a hood as well."

He says he and friends take pride in teaching others how to surf in Ontario.

"Once I get out there, I forget about what's happening, whether it's work or home or anything like that," he said.

"It's just sort of a type of meditation because all you're thinking is about what's happening right there in that moment."

Antonio Alegre has been surfing for 20 years. (Supplied/Antonio Alegre)