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Winds allow surfer to ride Lake Tahoe

Paul Dunn
Meg Pugh / Special to the Tribune Last week's extremely windy weather created surf-worthy waves on the North Shore, which Jimmy Callian took full advantage of last Tuesday.
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Last Tuesday’s gale-force winds probably caused lots of cursing ” especially among firefighters battling a wildfire near Reno ” but one intrepid North Shore man seized the gusts for all they were worth.

Photographer and fine-art framer Jimmy Callian, 36, knew this was his chance to ride Lake Tahoe’s wild surf.

Say what?

That’s right. Callian, a longtime surfer who moved to Tahoe in 1999, saw the wind whipping up whitecaps on the lake and figured there “were waves somewhere on the lake.” After driving around to check out beaches, he found a spot “that looked fun.”

By “fun,” he meant 3- to 5-foot waves eerily resembling typical ocean swells. A gale-force wind and bone-chilling lake water only added to the challenge.

After his friend Meg Pugh arrived to take pictures, Callian grabbed his 5-foot, 10-inch Quad surfboard, donned his 5mm titanium-lined wetsuit, booties, gloves and hood, and slid from a rock into the frigid washing machine that the lake had become.

“I had to keep telling myself it was the lake,” Callian wrote in an e-mail last week. “I couldn’t believe it.”

After the first “freezing-cold” wave smacked him, Callian gradually acclimated to the conditions. “The funny part is, I thought it was going to be way colder,” he noted.

Callian ended up surfing for about four hours.

“I caught a lot of fun waves, and they were very well-shaped,” he wrote. “I got a few pretty long rides.”


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