A lot of boarding happens in Vancouver – whether it’s snowboarding, skateboarding or boarding cruise ships – but few Vancouverites know that you can surf here, if only for a few days a year.
Where Vancouver is situated geographically isn’t ideal for surfing. The wind usually doesn’t blow long or hard enough to form sizeable waves, but a few times a year when the meteorological conditions are just right, there are waves in Vancouver big enough to be surfed. One of those few surf spots is Ambleside Park in North Vancouver. Last month 40 to 60-kilometer winds brought waves and a mob of surf-thirsty Vancouverites to the spot.
“I’ve surfed at Ambleside once or twice,” said Sterling Pearce a local surfer, but he admitted the waves weren’t great. “It was more for the novelty of being able to surf right there.”
Bearing frigid temperatures for the best waves
Like most B.C. surfers, Pearce got his start in Tofino, where he caught the surfing bug 10 years ago. Since then he’s chased waves all over the world, surfing in Mexico, Hawaii and Fiji where the water is warm. Unfortunately the best waves in B.C. are seen during the frigid winter months.
“Here it’s all about storms. The winter season is the best for surfing in Tofino because you get the most consistent swell,” said Pearce.
He added that very specific weather conditions are necessary to surf at Ambleside Park. A post in the UBC Surf Club Facebook page suggested that those looking to surf the North Vancouver waters should look for two hours or more of at least 15-knot wind from the west, northwest or west-northwest through the Strait of Georgia.
Weather a major factor
Some knowledge of meteorology used to be a vital skill for surfers, especially for anybody wanting to surf in Vancouver. Being able to read the pressure on a weather chart could make the difference between hanging ten and sitting at home eating a lukewarm bowl of oatmeal. As technology has advanced, the study of weather has become less important for surfers.
“In the past surfers had to be pretty on top of things but now you can get alerts sent to your phones,” said Andrew Chad, a 12 year surfing veteran.
“You can go to a few [websites] and cross reference them and have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen,” said Chad. “That said it does take some experience to put them together.”
Chad said he has never been able to catch a wave at Ambleside Park, but not for lack of trying.
Reported by David LaRiviere