Summer Is Here! Updates/Summer Wetsuit Review/And More!

Water bound humans of New York! Summer season has officially started. This means small waves, the occasional hurricane or tropical storm pulse, restricted beaches, traffic, warm weather and water, and tons of fun navigating the urban surfing jungle. Long Beach has the same deal this year as last year: Pacific, Lincoln, and one rotating beach that changes according to this schedule. It's $15 a person to get on the beach past 9a, but if you surf with us we have passes for you. Of course if you surf before 9a then you don't have to worry about it. The surfing beaches at Rockaway this year are 61-69 and 87-92. All other beaches are "closed" for surfers from 10a-6p. Usually the lifeguards will open the beaches to us if the swell is big enough/too dangerous for swimmers, but otherwise if you surf at a non surfing beach past 10a this summer expect a hassle with the authorities. Cramming us all together presents a variety of ethical dilemmas so we all need to practice patience with one another. We must also work to communicate with NYC parks and gov't to change the outdated surfing beach schedule in the future.   

The water is now in the low 60s, which is fine for a 3/2mm full suit (no gloves, no booties, no hood). For the perfect summer wetsuit quiver I recommend a 3/2mm fullsuit, a 2mm long or short sleeve spring suit (your choice depending on tan line preferences), and a 2mm jacket to be worn with boardshorts or a bathing suit. Any combination of these suits should get you through October, and after that you will need to invest in a 4/3mm full suit with a hood. 

Recenty, like many surfers, I was targeted by a company called Need Essentials through Facebook ads. They claim to have paired down the whole process and branding of making a wetsuit to bring the average surfer a top of the line suit at a fraction of cost. I went to their store and my jaw dropped. The 3/2mm is $150 and includes tax and shipping. Winter suits are around $200. This is literally half to 1/3 the price of all other suits. I had to try them out so I bought a standard 3/2mm. It came a week ago and I have used it twice now. I am thoroughly impressed. Sturdier zipper than on my Ripcurl and Quiksilver suits. Same great kevlar kneepads. Fully taped seams. Water wicks off the outer layer. Unfortunately, for the ladies, NE only makes mens suits (for now). If you have narrower hips, however, the suits should fit and are not overtly masculine or feminine -- they're basically just plain black surfing leotards. I cannot speak to the manufacturing practices or the eco footprint of the NE suits. That bit is not yet transparent on their site. More research forthcoming. If you want to be involved with the eco movement Patagonia is developing a more earth-friendly neoprene called Yulex/Nexkin, but it is pricey (5x the cost of an NE suit). If you are looking for logos and color, however, neither Patagonia nor NE are your jam. All of the mainstream brands -- Ripcurl, Quiksilver, Oneill, Billabong, Xcel, Matuse, and Hurley --  have different aesthetics and use different colorways. They also allow you to feel a kinship with the professional surfing elite. In addition, there are plenty of new wetsuit companies cropping up everywhere like Vissla, Adelio, Isurus, Janga, etc. 

Speaking of new wetsuit companies, an exciting one for women is professional surfer, Kassia Meador's, new venture, Kassia+Surf. They are a bit more fashion forward and pricey but seem to be made with vision and integrity. A perennial favorite is Nineplus. They have a variety of long arm short leg styles with a functional retro vibe. And again, all of the major brands have their own styles, colorways, and prices. The same suit rule applies for women as it does for men: a 3/2mm full suit for those crispy morning or uncanny upwelling surfs and a 2mm long sleeve spring suit will last you through October.

For those that have been following our progress, you may notice a few changes to the site. We have updated the look, the store, and and some of our other pages. We are working towards getting the store fully functional and t shirts and hats will also be on offer at some point this summer. Currently, the most important change is to our packages on our Lessons page. There are new prices for weekends and weekdays and we've added a 10 lesson package for those that realize the value of quality instruction. I will post about important changes when they occur. Stay tuned for tons of good stuff! 

CSC + RDA March Retreat Recap

Ocean lovers! 

I have been back from Costa Rica going on 72 hours now and am still replaying all of the amazing rides and meals and waterfall jumps in my head. The second inaugural CSC + RDA surf retreat was a total smash hit. We were blessed with plentiful swell and gorgeous weather. We stayed on the video and everyone saw dramatic improvement. After this retreat I feel now, more than ever, that hiring a coach is the only way to fast track your surfing. All the pros have them, why not people who are just starting out? Some of the people on this retreat have only been surfing since August and October 2015 and are now dropping into overhead (for them) waves with style. It's truly impressive. Below is a highlight reel followed by a few more words: 

There are many highlights in this video, but I have to say that Beni's wave at Pavones — the long left pictured in the screen saver — is one of the best waves I have ever seen a beginning/intermediate surfer ride. Working with back siders, it is imperative to make sure that head and shoulders are turned down the line and opened up to the wave face. The grab rail technique is not always necessary but it is a good skill to have in one's arsenal to help manage the drop and pull the rail into the water. There's a nice close up of Beni using this technique in the GoPro footage of the wave we shared at a secret spot near the Rancho towards the end of the video. That wave is hilarious because she kept looking back at me and I had to keep pointing to the shoulder so that she would turn her head to make the wave. I must admit that I cannot take full credit for Beni's success. She has a naturally quick pop up that she has honed at a variety of surf camps and schools around the world. This is simply more to the point that new surfers who seek out instruction improve more quickly than those that don't. 

I like to think, however, that starting with a technique like ours gives one an even faster advantage than the other techniques. Helena, Mariza, and Christina are all perfect examples. Helena has been surfing with me since August and Mariza since October 2015; and Christina only started during the first retreat in January 2016. Both Mariza and Helena are taking off at the peak and managing really tricky drops with style. In one day Christina went from a labored pop up with a little too much bend at the waist to a fast pop up with the weight shifted back over her right foot. Beyond particulars, all these women absolutely charged. The waves were not small during this retreat and everyone came to the table ready to play. Unfortunately Mariza and Christina had to leave this trip early before we got all the insane left handers, which is why we only see Beni and Helena towards the end of the video. 

The other people in the video, Bryan and Juan, were there to help Andrew and I out with camp particulars and lineup safety. Juan is a very competent bodyboarder from Puerto Rico who has also been learning to surf since working with Andrew. He in fact got the best stand up wave of his life on this trip and was invaluable when it came to preparing meals and logging footage. Bryan has been surfing for 5+ years. He is one of the heads of the NY Surfing Buddies meetup group and is a general good vibing frother who has has gotten into shaping his own alaia surfboards with the help of Jon Wegener. I was particularly glad Bry brought the alaia because I got some of my best waves of the trip on it. I put one particularly long one in the video. The alaia is all about picking the right wave and being in position. It takes so much energy to swim that piece of wood around a lineup, so you don't want to kill yourself going for bad waves. I saw Bry have some particularly masochistic alaia sessions where he went for a lot of closeouts or sectioning waves. He has seen the video and knows that he needs to work on patience. The upside to Bryan's impatience is that he is just so stoked to surf. Beyond his surfing stoke, Bryan brought a lighthearted presence to the retreat and made some of the best and most creative margaritas any of us have ever had. He also did some really valuable filming and commentary for our spoof reel. 

Moving towards heavy video review has made a huge difference both in my teaching style and in the students' improvement. We did not miss one wave on video all trip and people could take what they were seeing — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and improve upon it the next day. Plus we got really good at improv commentary which made the nightly video reviews as entertaining as they were educational. A spoof Youtube channel or Instagram may result . . . . 

I know that in this age of internet ADD I am supposed to only provide videos that are 3 minutes and under, but we got so much good footage that 7 min 30 secs was the best I could do on this one. The waves we scored were so long and I wanted to highlight that our crew were getting 30 sec plus rides. You put five of those on a video and that's 2.5 minutes long already with none of the fun lifestyle stuff, which I think adds so much flavor and depth to what we do down there. I cannot express in words how great it feels to swim in a cool freshwater waterfall pool after surfing all day. Definitely a top 5 life experience. 

We're in the early phases of planning our future retreats for 2016 and 2017. Until the dates are up, please feel free to email about Conatus-style lessons and mini retreats in Costa Rica. Andrew is down there and he has all the skills and video equipment necessary to help out 1-3 people at a time. We are also gearing up for the New York season, which is soon to be upon us. I am starting to book up for when the water gets warmer, so make sure you get on the schedule asap. I'm also solidifying some great plans for CSC mini excursions to RI, LI, and NJ for the summer. And don't forget that Chris is out in Montauk if you need lessons out there. 

I am really stoked that CSC is growing organically and finding its niche in the flourishing surf community. For those that have believed in us and continue to, I thank you with all of my heart. Hopefully we'll see you in New York or Costa Rica soon! 

Mini Missions and Vids

What a great first two weeks of November! Conditions have been tricky to nail down, but there have been at least 1-3 quality windows for surf every week. I recently ran two off the cuff surgical strike missions with my current roster of students who have purchased packages. Both times we scored empty waves for hours and they were huge successes overall. The first trip was to Asbury Park followed by lunch and a second surf in Long Beach. Both times we found a peak with no one on it and scored it all to ourselves. The second was a one day trip to Montauk where we went into full search mode, settled on a fun little beach break (again, no one out), ate steaming cups of clam chowder on the side of the road, and then traveled back to New York. I dropped everyone off at the subway stops I picked them up at (the Franklin 2/3/4/5 and the Bedford/Nostrand G) and went home and started editing video. 

In between these two extremely rad mini surf trips we had a great day of surf in Long Beach. That was Wednesday this week. One of my most dedicated acolytes, Beccy, got in a lesson in the morning before heading to work. I picked her up at the LIRR in LB at 6:22a and dropped her off at 8:30a. She charged hard and I managed to get her best waves on video. In a relatively short amount of time, Beccy has come a really long way with wave judgment and timing and overall surfing ability. After I dropped her off at the train I went back to the beach to try to get a few clips of the super smooth surfing of my friends Gus and Bennet, who were also getting in a session before they had to run off to their work life obligations. This I did and then I got so excited by their surfing that I had to paddle out again. My friends Bryan and Kyungmi joined in for the second surf and JP was also there. We took a short break in the middle of the day. I downloaded footage onto my computer and ate some bananas. Then we went for our third and final surf. The waves were still glassy and clean. We were joined by my great friend, Juan, who proceeded to shred it up all over. 

These little surf missions, along with more video, are definitely the direction that CSC is headed (along with lots of other cool stuff to be sure). In fact, this is a good example of how I plan for the Costa Rica camps to play out except that there will be a bit less driving and the water will be a lot warmer! There are still plenty of spots for the January camps, and I would like to get them booked asap. If you want to be cruising down the line by the time summer rolls around you need to get involved with these!  

And to cap off this post I'm going to leave you with two little edits that I have recently completed. The first is a compilation of the past two weeks, excepting the Montauk trip. It features JP, Beccy, Mariza, Paul, Bennet, Gus, Bryan, and Juan. The second was taken on a clean day the last week in October and features JP, husband and wife super team Maiko and Shigeru, and a local Long Beach guy named Justin.