Breaking the ice on a surfboard
Freezing temperatures of the Great Lakes in Toronto don’t intimidate the Brazilian surfer Antonio Lennert. Courtesy of Lucas Murnaghan.
Antonio Lennert wants to put Canada in the surfing map
By Jandy Sales
It was in the Bahamas that Antonio Lennert heard for the first time that surfing is a reality in Canada. He met a Toronto surfer whose ability on the surfboard filled the Brazilian surfer with admiration. “You surf really well, but there are no waves there,” Lennert told the Canadian.
A native of the city of Joinville, Santa Catarina, Lennert learned to surf with his older brother while still living in Brazil, but in 2007 he adopted the Great Lakes region as his official address for practicing the sport.
Lennert warns first-timers who are considering surfing in the region that the first thing they should do is check the weather forecast.
Cold Weather Safety
Lennnert: “The surfing community here is very different from everything I’ve seen in my life”. Courtesy of Lucas Murnaghan.
Lennert usually catches waves at Woodbine Beach when the temperature is below freezing with strong winds, which makes it a perfect surfing day. “When the winter storms roll through, they bring rain and snow and the low pressure system generates the strongest winds therefore producing waves on the lakes,” he said.
Lennert says that before you get on the board, you should get yourself protected against the cold weather. Full-body wetsuits offer full coverage from head to toe.
In addition to the Bahamas, Lennert has also surfed the waters of Australia and California. According to him, the waves of the Great Lakes reach up to two meters high, which is enough to make surfing possible in Canada. “The best surf season in Toronto starts in the fall and runs from spring to winter,” he said.
Surfing & The Environment
Lennert at the store “Surf The Greats” in Toronto, where the environmental organization on the same name is located. Photo by Jandy Sales
Lennert founded Surf The Greats – an organization dedicated to protect and conserve the environment. According to him, his organization also functions as a meeting point for surf lovers and it is also a place where they can buy surfboards and other accessories. Community cleanup efforts in the Great Lakes are some of the activities developed by the entity.
It is at Surf The Greats where Lennert, his friends and other surfers gather outside the waters to attend events such as art exhibitions and environmental-themed film screenings. The organization is also a venue for workshops that teach you how to analyze the weather forecast to know the best day to surf.
Lennert also runs the Freshwater Fund. His goal is to spend one percent of all income generated at Surf the Greats for the Lake Ontario Water Keeper – a Canadian non-governmental group.
Homophobia and Canadian Multiculturalism
With a degree in Graphic Design, Lennert says multiculturalism in Canada has turned surfing into a pretty peculiar sport. “There are surfers from all over the world who moved here looking for a better life.”
Antonio Lennert embarked for New York and pretty far from the Brazilian beaches when he decided to study English. It was in California, however, that he met his other passion – photographer Lucas Murnaghan. They’ve been living together since then.
The surfer said he was a victim of homophobia. “I had problems with homophobia in Brazil and Mexico. I don’t hide my homosexuality, but I don’t necessarily raise any flag,” he said.
“Of course I miss the warm weather and the life I left in Brazil, but the surf community here is way different from anything I’ve ever seen in my life. There is a sense of companionship I had never seen before,” said Lennert.
To learn more about surfing in Canada and the environmental preservation work developed by surfer Antonio Lennert, visit: surfthegreats.org.