From Canada to the United States with Aurélien Bouche Pillon

10 February 2016 | North America

Hi Aurélien, this week the 360° Surf team is touring the extreme conditions spots and as we know that icy water doesn't scare you, we would like you to talk about it to our web users... Ready? Go for it...

360° Surf: We saw that you like to surf in cold waters, why?

Aurélien Bouche Pillon: Yes indeed, it's a real passion and it's a lifestyle. I am attracted by the solitude and the calm, it is a challenge that I like and the reward is inexplicable.

What is your favourite spot? Which spots do you like to ride?

My favourite spot is on Lake Erie in Canada but of course I love all the Great Lakes including the Atlantic coast of the US in the North East which is a very beautiful area where it gets very cold in the winter. I really like the state of Rhodes Island where I am now. It's very rocky, it reminds me of France with not many people in the water. It's really beautiful. The Great Lakes are really a favourite place for me, it's wild, it's very cold and there are very few people. When you meet someone it's often someone nice.

What are the surfing conditions at the moment?

Right now it is relatively warm for the season as El Nino on the west coast is bringing us much milder than normal weather with a little less snow, ice and wind than usual but still a lot of waves. We still have ice in the water. I say "warm" but it's all relative, it's still between 0°C and -5°C and temperatures can go down to -10°C. This month of February is going to be brutal.

Can you tell us a bit about the line-up ? The atmosphere ? ...

At the line-up, I'm usually on my own which is pretty funny. I'm surfing waves on the lakes around my home, whether it's in Canada or the US. For the last 10 years I've been on my own. That's what I like about lake surfing, it's that solitude, that harmony with nature... Facing the storms. The only things that come between me and my passion are ice, currents, snow...

How do you organise your cold water surftrips?

The weather is very important. I observe it 3-4 days before. I prepare myself mentally and physically by doing sports, stretching, with a lot of sleep, less alcohol and coffee too. With my photographer friend we prepare mentally, physically and we make sure we have the right equipment to be in the right place at the right time.

What equipment do you have for a cold water expedition?

I am lucky to have a sponsor for the suits (Hyperflex) which creates 6.5mm wetsuits, 7mm gloves, 8mm booties, a ski mask, balaclavas and I put Vaseline on my face because I really surf in brutal conditions. You have to have a lot of suits and be able to change quickly...

What is your best memory / scare?

Surfing waves over 2m on my own for the last 10 years, seeing golden eagles flying by me, being able to watch rainbows and beautiful landscapes changing over the hours in the water. Being in total harmony with the elements. My worst nightmare is getting a cramp when I'm all alone in the water and ice and having to come back to shore.

What will be your next trip? Why do you want to do it?

Very good question! I am very attracted by Iceland, Alaska, Russia or one of the 5 great lakes. I've done 3 of them, so I have 2 left to experience. I really want to go surf the upper lake in the USA.

Do you have any good plans to share with us?

You have to come and surf the Great Lakes, it's a spiritual experience like no other. There is a great diversity, it's an experience to be had.

In one word, how would you sum up your experience ? What advice would you give to a future globetrotter?

Magical, spiritual, unusual, extreme, a paradise, a life without remorse, I live the life I want. My advice is to be very careful, not to exceed your limits, to observe, to respect nature but above all to follow your dreams and not to be afraid to go off the beaten track.

Any last words?

Thanks for thinking of me and then live your dreams. Surfing is everywhere you want, don't limit yourself, don't be afraid to put on your wetsuit and test other spots. Surfing is like life, it's an adventure and we are the only ones who control it.

Aloha from the great lakes!

Photo credits :
Lucas Murnaghan Aurelien - surfing lake Erie Canada this winter 2015
Theophyl syslo
Christopher DI Dio - Lake Ontario rochester NY

Follow Aurélien's adventures on Instagram.

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