‘It’s just so beautiful’: Ontario surfers hit the Great Lakes in the winter

For one Ontario surfer, one of the hardest things about getting out on the water in the wintertime is leaving the house.

But once that part’s over with, the first wave Shazia Mazhar catches when the weather freezes over feels like magic.

“Being out there and standing up and gliding down a wave and seeing the landscape with the bare trees and the snow on the branches, it’s just so beautiful and so peaceful,” Mazhar told Global News.

“It’s just such a magical feeling, and then there’s so much gratitude that I can do this at my front door.”

Mazhar first got into surfing about six years ago on a trip to Nicaragua. “I was terrible at it,” she said. “But I knew it was something I wanted to try and keep doing.”

That same summer, in 2014, Mazhar took up stand-up paddle-boarding on Lake Ontario. She didn’t surf in the winter at first, but she’s now been doing it for about four years.

Right around the time Mazhar got into surfing, the first get together was held for a group of women, now dubbed the Lake Surfistas. Formerly known as Ladies of the Lakes, the group surfs and stand-up paddle-boards the Great Lakes.

“We wanted to have a place where women can discuss it and feel safe and ask other women about what surfing is like here and get the answers that they need,” Robin Pacquing, one of the group’s founders, told Global News. “A lot of it had to do also with the lack of resources that I had.”

Pacquing learned how to surf in Hawaii and Tofino, B.C. around 20 years ago. In about 2005, she learned that it was possible to surf the Great Lakes.

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