Grand Haven "Surf City"
Progression of Grand Haven Surfing
piers benefited the post-sixties short-boarders of the larger waves, they lacked
flotation and drive on the smaller wave days until it was discovered that they
could work quite well on the windward side of the pier. Waves on the
windward side rebound off the pier back up the shoreline and merge with other
incoming waves to form peaks and bowls. While the grooming effect of the
piers was lost, these waves were well-suited to the shorter boards that needed
more powerful waves.
It was eventually realized that best of this type of surf could be found next to the Grand Haven south pier. Here, many of the waves were refracted instead of rebounded, causing the waves to be funneled towards shore. To the casual observer on the beach these waves looked like a virtual washing machine, but to spectators out on the pier and surfers in the water the patterns of the various peaks and bowls could plainly be seen.
This surfing spot was appropriately named "The Rockpile" after the string of rocks that used to protrude out into the water there. It went on to gain the reputation as one of the most powerful and challenging surf spots on the Great Lakes and was the scene of many Great Lakes surfing championship contests.
“The ‘Rock Pile’ is a favorite spot at the Grand Haven beach because of the size of the waves created when they bounce off the pier. A few injuries have occurred at this spot but none serious and one surfer was unlucky enough to have his board smashed.” Grand Haven Daily Tribune 1974