Great Lake Surfer would like to congratulate Gab for being our Great Lake Surfer of the month. first off I'd like to really thank you for doing this interview with us Gabe Great Lake Surfers
January 9, 1984
Hometown and homebreak
Joinville, SC, Brazil – Praia da Saudade (São Francisco do Sul)
Have called Toronto home for the past 4.5 years, and the break I surf most frequently here is the Lighthouse at Scarborough Bluffs.
How many years have you been surfing? How many years have you surfed the lakes?
I grew up by the Atlantic Ocean and have been surfing since I was 5 or 6 years old.
I started with bodyboarding and bodysurfing and switched to surfing in my teenage years.
Since moving to Canada, it took me four years to realize I could surf the Great Lakes.
I bought a fish with plenty of volume last summer and have been in the water almost swell since then!
Favourite shape of board to ride?
My favourite board is my 6’1 Channel Islands Fred Rubble, but I don’t get to ride it too often on the Lakes.
The board I ride here all the time is my 5’8 Lost Bottom Feeder.
Favourite surfing brands? (Billabong etc…)
In terms of boards, I am a big fan of Channel Islands and Lost.
As for apparel and lifestyle, I am a sucker for the independent brands such as Saturdays NYC, Cotton Project,
Life of Leisure, Finisterre UK, and The Surf Right Project.
What does surfing represent for you?
Surfing for me is more than a lifestyle, it is a deep connection with nature.
It’s about paddling out on a Lake or in the Ocean and connecting with the natural environment and those who are inserted in it.
I love the diversity of people surf attracts.
We all have different perspectives on land, but in the water, we all share the same passion.
I’m the happiest when I am out surfing, it’s something I have done my entire life and I am sure I will continue doing until the day I die…
What do you find most difficult about surfing the lakes?
I think the most difficult aspect of surfing the lakes is the uncertainty of finding a wave.
On the other hand, I find the “hunt” one of the most exciting things about it.
There is nothing like spending a few hours in a car with your buddies going to break after break until you find the perfect wave.
And although that wave may not be perfect in shape, it is perfect because you worked so hard to find it and when you do, it makes it worth the chase.
What do you love the most about surfing the lakes?
There is so much I love about Great Lakes surfing… It is magical, It’s almost a mythical thing…
The swells are so ephemeral, to a point that you have to be ready to drop everything and go whenever the conditions are right.
The notion of surfing on a lake is a bit of a mind-fuck… I love people’s reactions when I tell them that I spent the morning surfing in Toronto.
Even better when you surf one of the worst winter storms, one of those where the entire province stops
and you are out there with 4 or 5 of your buddies surfing the most surreal waves in an even more surreal landscape. Not to mention the sense of community here…
I have surfed all over the world and I have never seen such a tight, welcoming, and supportive scene as this.
We have so many breaks and so few people in the water that even if the scene continues to grow, it will take decades for it to become as saturated as Brazil or California.
Which seasons do you surf? (spring, summer, fall and winter)
Growing up and during the many years I spent in California, I surfed year round. I only started surfing the lakes last summer and I was quite anxious about winter surfing.
I surfed my first winter storm last November in Kincardine and was immediately hooked.
There is something so special to surf in such harsh conditions, and when you look back to the shore, the entire beach is covered in snow…
I have gained a real appreciation for cold water surfing, which is amazing, because now I have an entire range of extreme spots to consider for my future surf trips.
Imagine surfing in Iceland, Ireland, Sweden, Alaska or Patagonia!?
Favourite music to listen to before going surfing?
I usually listen to indie-rock or folk when I am driving to and from the beach.
Describe the best ride you have had on the Lakes or Ocean, biggest accomplishment you've had surfing the Lakes.
I have had so many epic rides in my life that is hard to single one out.
I remember one summer swell when I was only 8 years old in Brazil…
My brother—who was 6 years older than me and who had taught me how to surf—and I were out hiking a big cliff by the beach,
when we saw these beautiful lines consistently wrapping around this point break where we learned to surf.
We had never seen a swell like that there… it was the type of lines we used to see on surfing magazines.
We ran back home as quickly as possible, grabbed our boards and surfed all day.
There was only a handful of surfers in the water, and I was definitely the youngest grom there.
To this date, every time my brother and I get to surf together, we remember that day…
Favourite place to surf in the lakes? Favourite place to surf in the world?
There are so many amazing spots in the lakes, but some of my favourite ones so far have been Kincardine, Collingwood and the Marie Curtis Park in Mississauga.
When it comes to salt water surfing, my favorite beach break is Blacks Beach in San Diego and the best point break I’ve ever surfed is Lajas in Montezuma, Costa Rica.
Of all the places I have ever surfed, I think Barbados has been the most special so far.
People are so nice there—in and out of the warm water—and there is always an uncrowded perfect wave breaking somewhere on the island.
Did I mention the warm water!?
Tell me a bit about the first time you learned to surf.
I was a total water baby so my first memories are all related to being in the ocean playing on waves.
But I do remember my brother teaching me how to surf on my first bodyboard when I was 5.
He would take me out to the lineup with all the grown up surfers and push me on massive (at the time!) green waves, and I would ride them all the way to the shore.
He would meet me halfway back and do it all over again.
He was a big influence on me, and I learned most of what I know today from him during those early years…
What are some of the ways you stay healthy or fit for surfing? (ex: foods you eat, types of activities/exercises, lifestyle etc)
I am a pretty health conscious person. I try to eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetable and fruits.
I love the outdoors and always try to get out there to run, bike or do an open water swim when the lakes are flat.
I also place a lot of emphasis on exercising my mind through mindfulness meditation and yoga.
If you could surf anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Indonesia is really high on my list of places to live and surf.
I also keep hearing a lot about the Galapagos… some of the most recent footage I saw from the waves there looks pretty surreal.
It would be the ideal spot to unplug from life for a year and two and just immerse myself in nature…
Who is your pro surfer idol and why?
I grew up watching Kelly Slater on screen and following his steps on magazines.
It’s been two decades already and he still inspires me every time I see him riding a wave.
Have you ever suffered from a surf injury? If so feel free to explain what happened.
I have had a few minor surf injuries.
When I was surfing almost every day in California, every now and then something would happen and I would be out of the water for a few weeks.
Surfing is a very low-impact sport, but there is a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. Luckily, I have never had any major accidents in the water.
Do you participate in local surf competitions?
I have never competed in my life. Although I have surfed my whole life, I never thought I was good enough to compete.
I am really passionate about getting out there, connecting with nature, and riding waves with my friends.
I am a very competitive person in life, and like to have surfing as an escape… something I do to relax and reflect instead of competing.
Other than surfing, what are some of your favourite things to do?
I was bitten by the travel bug at a very early stage in my life, and since then, I travel every time I have an opportunity.
There is nothing like the feeling of immersing yourself in a foreign country, meeting the locals, and understanding their culture.
Photography is one of my biggest passions, so I always carry my camera with me when I am traveling.
In terms of sports, I am really into road cycling, snowboarding, whitewater rafting, wake surfing and any other activities that involve a large body of water.
Is there anything you would like to say to people who are thinking of learning to surf? (tips, words of wisdom, words of encouragement etc).
We are so blessed to be able to surf here in the Great Lakes.
Although some of the storms bring some gnarly waves and messy conditions, quite often we get clean swells that are pretty gentle for beginners.
The community here is so supportive, so if you are considering learning to surf, grab a board and get out there.
Make some friends and share the Great Lakes stoke with us!
In a few words please describe your personality. Are you outgoing? Shy in the water? Sense of humour…etc
I am pretty outgoing in small groups but I tend to get pretty shy in big crowds.
I think I am a pretty approachable person, but I find it difficult sometimes to start a conversation.
So if you ever see me in the water, just say hello and we will have plenty to chat about! Most of the times, I like surfing with friends and chatting while we wait for waves,
but I also love surfing completely by myself.
There is nothing like being out there on your own, completely focussed on your session.
Are there any life goals you would like to achieve?
I would really love to learn kitesurfing to be able to surf when the conditions are brutal, or when we have enough wind and no waves.
I took 5 lessons last summer and I am still terrified about it.
I really admire those guys who are out there on the days that are completely blown out jumping over waves and riding waves that nobody else can ride.
Feel free to provide me with any other information about yourself and surfing that you would like to share.
The one thing I wish every surfer could do for our community is to remember they were a beginner at some point.
Everyone should encourage the beginners who get in their way by educating them with kindness.
I really dislike when I see somebody being a dick in the water, yelling at beginners for being in their way.
We were all there once, and if we had more people to encourage and educate us, our learning curve would have been a lot easier.
It’s all about respect, and if you respect the people who were there first, they should respect you back.
Here are two links for that video we put together in December. We called it “Hang Moose” which is the “Hang Loose” for the Great Lakes ;)