Finding James Carrick isn’t difficult. Especially if there are waves on Lake Huron or Georgian Bay. And if there are waves, he’ll let you know on the Great Lake Surfers Facebook page where he’ll be (unless he’s surfing the Envy break). And once you’re there he’s easy to spot; the 36-year-old, Owen Sound native will be at the front of the lineup with a GoPro on the front of his board. Once he drops in, he’s unmistakeable: his wide stance and low centre of gravity are solid and fluid. And he’ll milk every single possible turn out of that wave.
In a sport where breaks are guarded like bank account PINs, Carrick is ready to share all the info with just about anyone. And he makes no apologies for it.
So how did you get into surfing?
A good friend of mine, Todd Fetter, he was the first person to toss a surfboard in my hands and say give it a go. That was 16 years ago at Sauble. I didn’t even catch a wave that day. I almost gave myself a heart attack trying, but I was totally hooked for life. I surfed Sauble for two years before I ever surfed on the ocean. I had no idea there were other surfers on the lakes, or as many as there are.
How did you learn to surf?
I’ve been to Australia twice. The first time I was there I was 23, and spent ten months there. My surfing really improved. I surfed a place called Byron Bay and it was a beach break that always barrelled. After two months I finally popped out of one. Definitely surfing in Australia taught me to get better, because you can do it everyday.
Where else have you surfed?
I’ve surfed both coasts of Canada, so Halifax and Vancouver Island. Then I did a trip from Whistler to the Mexican boarder, surfing whenever possible.I’ve surfed in Indonesia, and the entire east and south coast of Australia. The only reason I travel is to go and surf waves.
Why stay in Owen Sound?
I get asked that a lot. My family’s here. We’re super close and I really like what I do as far as getting people to surf and teaching kids and adults how to surf on the Great Lakes. It’s something I really like being a part of. I like teaching it and sharing it. That’s what will always keep me coming back.
Where do you teach surfing?
Through a collaboration between the Cabana beach house and my website Great Lakes Surfers. They take care of the boards and the insurance, then I do lessons and try to draw people through my website and Facebook. I’m the only one that teaches surfing on Lake Huron and I’ll teach right until end of October.
So guys were pulling people’s leashes and cutting in on waves the other day at Envy. They were giving you grief for surfing with a GoPro. Basically, I guess they’re trying to keep their spot secret. What do you think about that?
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe how bad they were vibing us. All those guys have sent me hate mail and stuff like that. And I say look, you’re a small group of people. I don’t care what you think of me. I’m not going to stop inviting my friends to surf or teaching surfing, so suck it up.
I’m totally into sharing waves. I like seeing other people surf. On a broader aspect I’ve met so many people out in the water that stand behind my views of sharing waves and the sport.
Calling it Envy is kind of my compromise, but at the same time, I like the name, because it’s kind of a jab at them. They’re not even from there. They’re from the city. Them trying to play local is stupid to me.
I love seeing more surfers in the water.
Does it ever get too cold for you?
As soon as the ice starts coming in. I’ve buggered my body up in snowboarding and other things, so my body cramps up when I get too cold. I’ve got a winter suit, so I try and last, but once it’s minus double digits, I just can’t handle it. It’s not enjoyable to me.
And then you go somewhere warmer?
I’m hoping to go to Australia and hopefully stay with some friends this winter. I want to get qualified, get the actual ticket to teach surfing and standup paddleboarding, then start applying to resorts. I’ve applied before, but they won’t take me seriously because they’re like, ‘where do you surf?’
To find James Carrick, check greatlakesurfers.com