Grand Haven "Surf City"
Modern Grand Haven Surfing
never necessary to have a surfing contest at Grand Haven to know who the best
surfers were. The same few dozen surfers rode the waves together
season after season and the best riders became evident to all whether they
competed in contests or not. For those who did compete it was an
opportunity to showcase their expertise; to set themselves in the trophy shelf
of surf history; to bond collectively with their fellow surfers, with the loyal
spectators and with the community in which they live.
During the 1960s the GLSA put on contests partly in imitation of the ocean surfers, but more importantly to encompass surfers from all over the lakes and establish their legitimacy as a Great Lakes surfing association. Contests have always been important, whether on the lakes or ocean, for surf industry marketing. Bill & Paul's Sporthaus of Grand Rapids sold and rented surfboards and sponsored the first GLSA contest. During the 1980s Boland's Surf Shop of Grand Haven sponsored two elaborate 'Surf Classic' contests followed by the 1984 Roughwater Classic contest by Scott Stinebower to help celebrate of Grand Haven's sesquicentennial.
The Great Lakes Surf District of the Atlantic coast-based Eastern Surfing Association was established in the mid '80s. A lakes-wide contest circuit was formed culminating with the championship often held at Grand Haven which came to be called "The Gales of November Contest."
Regardless of the reasons for a contest, they have always been more of a good get-together rather than a serious competition, but when the signal horn sounded to start a heat, the surfers always went all-out to do their best.
“Braving the 48-degree water temperature, the 25 men and one woman — Jane Robinson of Grand Haven — competed in four heats. During the heats, the surfers were judged on the number of waves they could ride and the control they displayed on their surfboards.” Tri-Cites Advance 1980