Surfing is not an activity typically associated with the Midwest, but Matt Scherer is hoping to change that. On July 5, he officially launched Surf Springfield, a business that provides training and rentals for electric, hydro-foil surfboards.
“It’s kind of similar to hydroplaning in your car; you lift up and travel over the water,” Scherer said. “You can fly over the water, instead of riding on the water.”
Scherer said he “grew up being a swim team kid and lifeguard, then went to school in California and fell in love with surfing there.”
He now lives in Springfield, where he works as a firefighter for the Springfield Fire Department, but wanted to find a way to continue to enjoy surfing.
“The first wave I ever caught was like floating on a cloud; I’ve been chasing that ever since. My whole family is here and I’m not going anywhere, but I’m trying to bring a new experience to Springfield.”
Scherer is a member of Innovate Springfield and completed the Co.Starters program, where he worked on a business plan for building a wave park. However, recognizing that would be an expensive, long-term project, he decided to focus on surfing and became an affiliate for Lift Foils, a Puerto Rico-based company that patented electric surfboards.
“I see this as the first step in proving that adventure water sports can be a thing in central Illinois,” he said. Currently, the closest locations offering electric surfboard rentals are on Lake Michigan in Chicago and Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.
“When you think about surfing, you don’t think about cornfields,” said Scherer. “But if this goes well, I’d like to expand to Decatur, Champaign, Lake Shelbyville.”
Scherer offers two-hour individual sessions with a lesson and board rental, or half day and full day packages for groups.
“I want this to be the most fun you’ve ever had in Springfield,” he said.