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Grom Spotlight: Jameson Walter & Surfing in the Great Lakes

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

Jameson Walter loves to surf. The 10-year-old recently set his own personal record by surfing for 36 months straight, but he doesn't live in wave-rich locations like Encinitas, Huntington Beach or New Smyrna. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan. We gave the Great Lakes surf grom a call to talk about his quiver, how surfing in the ocean is different from his home break in Lake Michigan, and how he managed to keep his incredible surfing streak going for 3 years.

Photo courtesy Lisa Walter

American Surf Magazine: Jameson, let's start with your sponsors. Who are they? Jameson Walter: M22, Third Coast Surf Shop, and No Coast Surfboards.

What's your favorite surf spot? Well, I have 2. One is the Rock Pile. It's a jetty where the waves bounce up on it and make these really fun wedges. I also like surfing right in front of our house. We have a beach access you can walk down to Lake Michigan.

What's your favorite subject in school? Reading or math.

What are your surfing goals? Get a big spray, get barreled, and get an air!

Who’s your biggest inspiration? Kevin Shultz and the Gudauskas brothers. Kevin just because I saw a video of him doing airs in the Great Lakes and I thought that was really cool. So I wrote him a letter asking him to give me some pointers and he wrote back like the next morning and gave me pointers on it! I’ve looked up to him ever since.

The Gudauskas brothers because I entered one of their contests and they gave me a Channel Islands surfboard. They've been really nice to me!

What’s your worst wipeout? I was in California recently doing a Western Surf Association (WSA) competition at Salt Creek. On one wave, my takeoff was late, and I dropped like 6 feet right onto my board and bounced off of it.

What boards are you currently riding?

I have a No Coast G3 4'6 that I helped design and shape which is really cool! I have a Channel Islands Rocket Wide 4'7, a 4'7 fish, a Chemistry 4'9, a Slater Designs Sci-Fi 4'8, another Sci-Fi that's 4'11 and a mid-length platypus that's 5'5.

In the winter, how cold does the water in the Great Lakes get?

In winter it can get down to freezing. Sometimes the lake does freeze over which makes it hard to surf. But in the summertime you can wear boardshorts.

Photo courtesy Lisa Walter

What's your secret to staying warm surfing in Lake Michigan during the winter? I wear a 5/4 hooded wetsuit. I wear 1mm socks, and I put two of those on, and then squeeze into 5 mil boots for a total of 7 mils.

I wear a jacket right until I get to the edge of the water, too. We dump warm water down my suit to kinda warm me up. My dad also keeps warm water in a bucket, and I put my feet in it when I'm changing.

What’s the Great Lakes surf scene like? Unlike the ocean where people are fighting for waves, here everyone is super nice, knows each other, and is really supportive of each other.

You surfed 36 months straight in the Great Lakes! How did you do it?

When I started off, I wasn’t trying to do a streak. About 6 months into it we realized I had been surfing every month. It got really challenging in the winter because Lake Michigan froze over for a month, but we drove around trying to find a place where you could actually get in the water.

Photo courtesy Lisa Walter Follow Jameson and his Great Lake surf adventures on Instagram.


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