Want to surf?
So you want to be a surfer? Where to begin? How to get started? What do you need to know? This page will give you all the info you need to get started, where to surf, what you need to know before trying river surfing, and the difference between ocean and river surfing.
River Surfing is an amazing sport that allows you to surf, yet, while being similar to Ocean Surfing, is a very different experience. It’s often compared to ocean surfing, but it is truly it’s own type of surfing.
River surfing is on a stationary wave which is a type of river rapid that is formed by a depression in the bottom of the river, and enough current to support a large wave face.
The wave almost never ends, meaning you can catch it, and providing no body else is waiting, you can surf it for days, non-stop. If you can carve, and turn a surf board, you can start on the side, travel down the face of the wave, 40 feet later, pull a floater, carve back around, and do it again.
We always recommend taking a lesson for your first time on the river. KSF.CA is a reputable surf school with years of experience. While trying river surfing please pay attention to the environment, be careful, avoid using tow ropes, and never surf alone. You are surfing in fast moving river rapids which are not supervised and can be dangerous, even for the seasoned surfer.
River Surf Spots in Montreal:
Surf spots are listed in order of difficulty. We always recommend taking a lesson for your first time on the river. KSF.CA is a reputable surf school with years of experience. While surfing please pay attention to the environment, be careful, and never surf alone. You are surfing in fast moving river rapids.
La Vague a Guy:
To get used to your board and balancing on the board, to practice paddling, and get a good feel for your board go to the La Vague a Guy west of the Lachine Rapids. Not the big raging ones!
There is a wave that forms close to the riverbank, there’s lots of accessible parking, and it is not crowded. The wave is about ten feet from the bike path for the park. The wave is on LaSalle Blvd. Just east of Raymond Street.
This is where the really nice river surfing is. This site is located just west of the small bridge for the casino. You can’t mistake Habitat 67 for anything else. It looks like cement building blocks stacked up in a strange way to form an apartment building.
The wave is right behind Habitat 67. You can park beside Habitat 67 on the small street just east of the tennis court.
Do not leave valuables in your car or on the river bank, thefts do happen.
The wave is easier for beginners at the upper 7000’s.
The lower it is the more difficult it is to catch the wave but the wave is better for surfing. The optimal flow would be somewhere around 7200, although it depends on your ability.
Link to the Water Flow levels:
Still at Habitat 67. This is the wave that forms to the surfers right of the main wave. The wave forms best over 8000’s and is great in the spring. Swim in if it has a lot of white on the face.
Be careful here as there is a rock behind the wave on the surfer’s right that people do hit if they fall while the water level is lower. Do not surf right sides in the summer. It’s too shallow forget about it, you are going to break your board and hurt yourself.
Works best in the spring. The wave is a bit after the dam. It’s a steep V in the middle and a rodeo of a wave to surf. It’s rare to see a surfer go over the falls on a river wave but it does happen here!
There’s also a side wave that forms closer to the shore about 30 feet behind the wave that is fun. Keep in mind that it’s a shallow wave. Chambly is for good swimmers only as it has a fast strong current. After the wave boot it to the shore and get out asap. Don’t get washed down river! If you do, keep your head above water, watch out for the big rapids and get out near the fort.
Chambly Water Levels:
How well do I have to swim?
This is the most re-occurring question that people ask.
The answer is… Very well!
Sure you have your board, but you have to be realistic. People lose their boards. You can’t trust your life to a leash attached with Velcro.
Habitat is a long swim back to the shore in the RAPIDS. Make sure that you know you can swim the distance without a board should you have to.
If you have any doubt about your swimming go practice swimming before attempting to surf.
If you have one that’s awesome. What kind of board do you need? Something that is UNDER 7’2″, too long won’t work well.
A good board for the river if you are a beginner/ intermediate surfing is one that is nice and wide, has a good nose volume, and is about 6’4″ or 6’8″.
If you want to go shorter go for it but remember that the shorter it is, it will not float as much and will be harder to paddle. The width is important in the river because you need the stability when you are starting out.
A performance short board will work well but won’t be easy to learn on. A nice sized fish is forgiving and will be easier to learn on.
Surfing booties are a good option, however, you can also wear water shoes that sell at MEC for 22$. The bottom of the river is not exactly foot friendly and the walk back up the river bank to the wave is tough on the feet.
Many people don’t bring booties on their first time and regret it. Get booties.
The water around Montreal can range between warm and Arctic.
Dress accordingly. What thickness do you need?
April- 4/3- Gloves, Booties and a hood
May- 4/3, Maybe gloves, and booties
June- 4/3 will work, 2/3 will work some will be fine with a shorty.
July-August- Board shorts and shirt or a shorty (the water is about 76 degrees)
September- Back to the 4/3
October- 4/3 Gloves and booties
November-4/3 Gloves booties and hood.
Depends on your body and if you usually feel the cold. A 4/3 is enough for most people when combined with gloves and booties to surf once the ice melts.
If you are going to buy one wetsuit buy a 4/3. This suit will get you through the cooler surfing season here and it will be perfect for those winter trips to North Carolina, and spring/ early summer surfing out east. You will not regret it.
Once it is too hot for a 4/3 you can go in board shorts.
Starting to River Surf:
First and foremost please take a lesson for the first time. Ksf.ca has reasonably priced lessons, and don’t try surfing unless you are a good swimmer. You have a board that will float but it can get detached from you. Please only surf if you are a good swimmer.
If you try river surfing you should be an excellent swimmer, the currents and rapids add a whole new level to getting back to shore.
Have you surfed before?
If you have some surfing experience you have an idea of how to stand and surf once you have caught the wave but it is a different world. The wave is constant. It never stops. Going down the line is replaced by carving back and forth on the wave face. It really is quite the experience.
Take a look at this short clip of how to catch the river wave. It looks easy in the clip, but he has a whole lot of practice!