2020 Great Lakes Wave of the Winter Contest

In 2019, we presented a new concept in Great Lakes surfing; an idea to gather the most iconic images - photo or video - in the deepest, darkest, and coldest months of winter. A contest open to all lake surfers, with no entry fees, and very simple rules. It's time for round two - the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Wave of the Winter Contest - and we've decided to dive deeper by introducing two new divisions: "Best Snowboarding Capture" and "Best Ice Beard".

Three divisions representing this lifestyle we all live, with three grand prizes. Here are the details:


Best Wave
Best Snowboarding Capture
Best Ice Beard


1. Follow @thirdcoastsurfshop on Instagram
2. Post your best photos or videos of winter surfing, ice beards, or snowboarding on Instagram
3. Tag @thirdcoastsurfshop in the post
4. Use the hashtag #3rdCoastWave
5. Submissions must be taken in the Great Lakes region, including the Midwest USA or Canada, during the contest period: January 16 - March 16, 2020

* Provide a few details about your shot – when and where it was taken (no need to reveal secret spots) - and give a shout-out to any surfers/riders in your photo.


Prizes will be awarded to winning photographers, rather than surfers/riders featured in the photos/videos. Selfies are welcome for entries in the "Best Ice Beard" division.

What are the judges looking for? It's pretty simple: our judges will choose the photos or videos that best portray the passion and emotion we all experience in our love of surfing and snowboarding in the Great Lakes region. Want more direction? See below for last year's winner, and some of our favorite entries from 2019.

Best Wave
- Whether it's an eye-popping empty peak or surfer on a wave, the "Best Wave" winner will stand out for it's visual storytelling in helping explain what it means to be a surfer in a Great Lakes winter.

Best Snowboarding Capture
- What does snowboarding in the Midwest mean to you? An epic pow shot from the glades up north, maybe, or a mind-blowing jib in the local park? The "Best Snowboarding Capture" winner will help show us what riding here is all about.

Best Ice Beard
- Pretty self explanatory, though easier said than done. We had some epic entries last year (see below) and are stoked to see what comes this winter. Oh yeah, the "Best Ice Beard" winner will be decided entirely by you and your peers, not our judges.


The contest begins January 16, 2020 and concludes at midnight on March 16, 2020. We will announce the winners on March 17, 2020.


Best Wave: New Wetsuit Package (Xcel Drylock Hooded 6/5mm WetsuitDrylock 7mm Mitten, and Drylock 7mm Boots)
Best Snowboarding Capture: New Burton Snowboard (model TBD)
Best Ice Beard: New Surf-Fur Parka

Need some inspiration? Take a stroll through some of the best images from last year's contest below. Of course, these are all surfing-specific (with some insane ice beards tossed in for good measure) as we only had one division, but you get the idea of what we're looking for in all three of this year's divisions.


In our 2019 contest, the judges combed through 120+ photos and videos submitted tagging @thirdcoastsurfshop and #3rdcoastwave in the coldest winter months. There were so many killer entries from all over the Great Lakes and it was not an easy decision. In the end, this New Year’s day capture from the holy grail of lake surfing - Stony Point on Lake Superior’s north shore - taken by Joe Herron, took the cake. Joe won a brand new 3rd Coast 6’0 Warrior Fish, built for us by our amigos at Bing Surfboards.

Photographer: Joe Herron

Our judges - Tim Folkert of Migration Surfboards, TCSS ambassador Rusty Malkemes, and TCSS Owner Ryan Gerard - agreed that the elements all came together in this photo to encapsulate what winter surfing in the Great Lakes means to many of us. From the leafless trees and snow-covered rocks in the foreground, the steam rising and distant cloud bank on a below zero morning (the air temp dropped from 18F to -9F overnight), to the lone surfer slashing the top off a perfect peak...Joe captured it.

Did we mention what Joe won? Stoked!


Take a quick peek through the images below and you'll see why our judges had a tough time choosing. We have some seriously talented surfers and surfing photographers in the Great Lakes. Thanks to everyone who submitted entries and followed along. The ice shut many of us out early, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

Photographer: Mike Calabro (Urban Camper)

Photographer: Sean McClain

Photographer: Josh LaFlamme

Photographer: Joe Gall (Camera Jesus)

Photographer: Joe Gall (Camera Jesus)

Photographer: Ryan Thomas

Photographer: Bruce Donaldson

Photographer: Tyler Rickenbach

Photographer: Michelle Nozykowski