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Surf's up in Sheboygan: Surf shop owner shares passion for 'Malibu of the Midwest'

Andrew Jakus, EOS Surf Shop Owner
Posted at 1:09 PM, Apr 18, 2024

SHEBOYGAN — While surfing made a short appearance at the Tokyo Olympics, the sport is set to take on a much bigger stage in 2024.

This year's event will unfold at Teahupo'i, which is located in Tahiti. According to the official Paris 2024 website, this year's location "offers an opportunity to engage French overseas territories and their communities in the Olympic Games."

As the sport continues to grow worldwide, Wisconsin is even seeing a spike in new surfers.

Sheboygan Surfers
Surfer rides a wave along Sheboygan's shoreline.

“We are super fortunate in Sheboygan to have such great access to quality surf here on the lake," Andrew Jakus, owner of EOS Surf Shop, said.

While surfing might not be the first thing you think of when picturing Wisconsin, Sheboygan’s shoreline has been a surfing destination for more than half a century with many dubbing the town as the 'Malibu of the Midwest.'

Sheboygan Surfing
Surfing in Sheboygan dates back to the late 1950s.

Sheboygan's shoreline has been feature in several films including Unsalted: A Great Lakes Experience, which documents four decades of lake surfing on the Great Lakes.

However, more popularly known, "Chicken Joe" in the movie Surfs Up is a character that makes several references about being from Sheboygan and surfing the Great Lakes.

For waves to form along the shorelines of Lake Michigan, the wind forecast needs to be precise.

“Primarily for [Sheboygan], we're looking for like a really true North wind or really true South wind that's blowing 25 plus for a period of time, and that's what's going to allow the wind to carry over the lake, generating swell that will then reach our beaches," Jakus explained.

Prime surf season kicks off in September and can last all the way through winter depending on the ice shell, which is why having the right equipment is just as important.

“Depending on your tolerance to cold, you can wear anywhere from like a 5x4mm wetsuit all the way up to a 6x5mm cold weather wetsuit." Jakus explained. "If you're not familiar with wetsuits, 6x5mm means you're going to have six millimeters of neoprene through your core and five millimeters in your extremities and your arms and legs.”

Sheboygan Surfing
According to Andrew Jakus, EOS Surf Shop owner, surfing Lake Michigan's cold water requires thicker wetsuits than most.

Jakus, who has surfed in as low as 34 degree weather, shared the best measurement for boots and gloves is seven millimeters of neoprene.

“Definitely a big difference between the ocean and surfing the lakes is going to be water temperature, so you really have to make sure that you're geared up properly," he added.

While Sheboygan's water temperature isn't as warm as the waves in Tahiti, he's excited that Paris 2024 will hopefully inspire the next generation of surfers in Lake Michigan.

“It's a gift to us that we get to ride on a board and get pushed by its natural momentum like and the joy that comes from that is," Jakus said. "I'm stoked that more people will be exposed and get to do that.”