TORONTO, ON – Last week three Michigan men completed an eight-year quest to cross all the great lakes on a standup paddleboard.
They finished the final leg by crossing Lake Ontario paddling from Toronto to Fort Niagara in a 13-hour, 35-mile journey. The trio battled one- to three-foot waves with some rollers at five feet, winds gusting to 16 knots, rain and lingering smoke from the wildfires directly upwind from the group.
Jeff Guy, Joe Lorenz and Kwin Morris successfully paddled Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie and now they can add Lake Ontario to their conquests.
“Our original goal was to go there and back but that changed due to weather,” says Morris. “We fought some of the biggest waves on any of our paddles. This time they were from the west so we had to paddle on the right side of the boards for seven hours.
“When we got to shore, we looked at the forecast and saw the winds would be even higher overnight so we decided one way was enough, not to mention the first crossing kicked our butts. We made our Great Lake crossing, so mission accomplished.”
Corey Adkins, the Emmy Award winning documentarian said, “I’ve been on five paddles with these guys and this was the toughest, roughest, most intense I’ve ever seen—these guys dug deep. It was even hard for me to film from the safety boat. In the end, they made the right call for safety’s sake and did cross all five Great Lakes. I’m proud to be a part of these guys.”
The paddlers were accompanied by two safety boats from Orange Force Marine Ltd., a Canadian commercial marine services company based in Port Stanley, Ontario.
“We cannot thank enough Captain Derek Niles and his team who provided maritime expertise and on-water safety support,” said Jeff Guy. “It was great to know they were by our side the entire trip both on the water and in the planning stages.”
Guy, Morris and Lorenz founded a non-profit called Stand Up for Great Lakes whose mission is to preserve and protect all Great Lakes by inspiration, education, awareness and action. They have now raised more than $105,000 for various Great Lakes non-profit organizations and have captured the imagination of many who have been inspired by their mission and support their cause. The Lake Ontario goal was to raise $25,000 and they already surpassed it.
“We’re working with the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR),” said Lorenz. “CIGLR is a non-profit housed in the University of Michigan. They do spectacular work with algal bloom research and their efforts to safeguard the Great Lakes ecosystem. They are experts in Great Lakes issues, it was good to have them on board our team once again.”
According to Mary Ogdahl of CIGLR, “Lake Ontario faces coastal flooding and water level issues, for which we are developing experimental models to prepare coast communities for future flooding.”
Their first crossing was Lake Michigan in 2015, a 60-mile and just under 25-hour journey in 38-degree water. They raised $10,000 for the Great Lakes Alliance. In June 2017, they crossed Lake Huron and raised $7,000 for Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Their 90-mile paddle journey took over 28 hours to complete.
In 2018, they paddled across Lake Superior in 21 hours. Their 60-mile trip began at Sinclair Cove, Ontario and ended at Whitefish Point, Michigan and raised $15,000 for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The trip across Lake Erie began in downtown Detroit’s Belle Isle and ended on the shores of Catawba Island, Ohio and raised $16,000 for the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research.
About the team
Jeff Guy, 37, is a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch. He also enjoys golf, hockey and fishing. He lives in downtown Traverse City, Michigan.
Joe Lorenz, 37, is a personal trainer in Traverse City. When he’s not helping people achieve their fitness goals, he’s up for almost anything involving water, travel, sailing, adventure and fitness.
Kwin Morris, 36, was born and raised in Northern Michigan, making him a keen waterman, traveler and adventurer. He is a middle school science teacher in the Elk Rapids School District and the owner of Twin Birch Golf Club.
Corey Adkins, 52, is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society’s communication and content director. Though he doesn’t standup paddleboard, he has captured the guys’ adventures across four of the five Great Lakes and two rivers, producing a series of five documentaries garnering him multiple awards including two Emmys. Adkins lives in McBain with his wonderful wife, Stephanie, who also helps produce these stories.
About Stand Up for Great Lakes
Stand Up for Great Lakes is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting all Great Lakes by inspiration, education, awareness and action. It began with a love of water, over a beer. The group has crossed all five great lakes by standup paddleboard and has now raised more than $105,000 to help raise awareness of the issues facing the Great Lakes.
The lakes are under threat, namely by oil pipelines of questionable integrity, invasive species, sewage leakage, pharmaceutical pollution, agricultural runoff, and those who choose to throw beer cans and cigarette butts wherever they please.
The list of threats to these majestic and vital bodies of water is endless. We’re asking others to stand up for Great Lakes and provide support and encourage us on this important mission.
To donate visit: standupforgreatlakes.