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 We must also work to communicate with NYC parks and gov't to change the outdated surfing beach schedule in the future.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! 

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. 



A Gift from the Sea




"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea." —Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

After having recently moved apartments and shuffled my things I came across this book, A Gift from the Sea: An Answer to the Conflicts in Our Lives (1955) by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a former New Jersey native and the wife of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh (and an aviator in her own right). Lindbergh, while talking about how to find the right kind of shell or channelled welk, succinctly nails what the sea teaches. In this way waiting for a shell is no different than waiting for a wave—both are gifts from the sea. 

I have struggled with patience over the years. In fact when I first started teaching surfing about 15 years ago I would often not show up or cancel lessons if the waves were too good. I just was not ready to focus on someone else and to have the patience to aid them in their ocean journey. But then I grew and learned more about teaching and learning and waiting and watching. I started slowing down to speed up.

In surf lessons I spend most of my time focusing on my students and I ride the occasional wave to demonstrate proper technique and as a means to get back to the student to help him or her navigate the white wash on the their way back outside (past the breaking waves). I catch 3-5 waves per 2 hour lesson. When I go surfing on my own greed and impatience often get the better of me and I try to catch 3-5 waves per 15-20 minute periods. But I have noticed that when I just slow down and apply the waiting game I have honed in lessons, along with some strategic paddling, I often find myself in the right spot(s) for a few fun waves. And it only takes one of these to make a whole session, day, or even week or month or year or life.  

Patience takes many forms. Sometimes it's all about just taking the time to be silly and do things like ride waves on your bum! Here I am riding in to meet a student during a lesson at Long Beach. Photo:  Julien Roubinet  

Patience takes many forms. Sometimes it's all about just taking the time to be silly and do things like ride waves on your bum! Here I am riding in to meet a student during a lesson at Long Beach. Photo: Julien Roubinet 

I often teach that maximum lineup mobility and paddling power ensure that one is in position to receive aquatic gifts more than others who do nothing but wait, and this is still true, but is incomplete. Such mobility must be coupled with the ability to wait for the ocean to give you a gift and then to recognize it as such when it comes. This essentially amounts to the never-perfected skill of wave judgment, which is terribly hard when you're starting out, and remains not entirely master-able even when you've achieved expert status. 

But what experts have learned, and why they catch such great waves, is that the more patient you can be with yourself and with the ocean, the faster you're actually going to improve, the more joy you're going to get out of every session. This is because this patience is, like Lindbergh suggests, 'open'—it is a letting oneself be open to both one's powerlessness and to one's hidden powers as these reveal themselves in the process of practicing surfing. 

Buying Your First Surfboard in New York--Part III

Where do I buy the board? How much do they cost? How will I know which is the right board for me? Like cars and clothes and furniture, and all other objects of consumption, there are a variety of aesthetic, ethical, and economic factors to consider. Below I’ve outlined some options for buying a new board:

Custom shape by local shapers ($750-$1300): There are many upshots to supporting your local shaper: it’s a time-honored practice; it limits the carbon footprint; you can get whatever colors and fin set-ups you want (for a price); and you’re establishing a relationship with the person who puts the magic under your feet. Check out these New York shapers: Malwitz (Rick Malwitz), Faktion Surfboards (Mark Petrocelli), Natures Shapes (Mike Becker), Phoenix Surfboards (Squeak).

Custom shapes by non-local shapers ($800-$1300): Probably not the best bet for a complete beginning surfer, but an option. There are a number of extraordinarily talented shapers in CA, HI, and Australia—so many that I can't even start to list them all. If you feel drawn to a particular shaper and want to figure out how to get a board from him or her, you won't regret it. One of my favorite shapers right now is Ashley Lloyd in Santa Cruz, CA, a shaper of epic boards and one of the few women in the industry.

Sundown Ski + Surf, Levittown ($500-$1000): Tyler Breuer at Sundown is a great guy who will even deliver a board to you in Brooklyn or Manhattan if you can't make it out to his shop in Levittown. For the best value, you can buy a “pop-out”--a few years ago Tom Sena bought the labels on a bunch of defunct surf brands like Challenger, Surfboards Australia, and Canyon, then took these labels and some basic designs and collaborated with Chinese factories to shape affordable mid-length and longboard surfboards. These are made with the standard foam/fiberglass combination that surfboards have been comprised of for the past 60 years. There have been a number of surf forums debating the ethics of this model and it what it means for the US board building industry. These boards ride well and serve the needs of people in search for an affordable board, though the issue of globalization, outsourcing, and US/China relations is enormously complex. I'd say it's up to you to consider where you stand on this issue as you make your choice. Sundown also carries a few classic logs by Harbour shaped in CA. These are pricier, but a true part of surfing history and great performers in beach and point break surf. Sundown’s stock is huge, so you won’t have to worry about whether they’ll have a board in stock or not.

Pilgrim Surf + Supply, Lost Weekend NYC, Saturdays Surf NYC, Salt Surf NYC ($650-$1400): These shops carry very beautiful hand-crafted midlengths and longboards by shapers such as Kookbox, Folklore, Gato Heroi, Bing, Josh Hall, Andreini, Tyler Warren, Chris Christenson, Yater, and Anderson. Boards in the 8’0” range start at around $950 (though Salt Surf has one starting at $650). Don't let their beauty intimidate you. They are all meant to be waxed, ridden, beaten up, and like an expensive pair of jeans, will look a lot better once they have. If your aesthetics lean towards the hyper, your ethics are strictly American-made, and you can find it in your budget to grab one, it's worth it.

Buying Your First Surfboard in New York--Part II

Like a great vintage suit, finding a used/secondhand board takes a little digging, a lot of patience. But there are great finds out there if you're willing to spend some time trawling the internet and keeping your eyes open. Here are a few places to start your search:

Board swaps: These are great places to pick up a new-to-you stick for a really decent price. You also get to speak to the person who's been riding it for the past however long and get a few inside tips on how the board handles. There's a swap coming up June 7-8 at Sundown Surf and Ski. See their website for details.

NY/NJ Craigslist: In my experience, it's hard to find longboards on here--mostly there are lots of people trying to sell subpar boards for way more than they’re worth. Still, CL is usually the first or second stop in the search for a board on a budget and you may just find what you're after.

Ebay: look for boards sold in the NY/NJ area. Shipping is expensive on surfboards, so you’ll want to save yourself a headache by buying locally or trying to see if they’ll ship via Amtrak. Same quality/price issues as Craigslist, but deals can be found.

San Diego/LA Craigslist: Longboards galore, usually under $300. You can either take a trip to CA or communicate with the seller and ask them to put the board on an Amtrak to be picked up at Penn Station for a mere $50 (takes a little while to get there, but worth it for the great price).

Surfshops: East Coast shops don’t have used board racks to the extent the shops on the West Coast do, but they do exist. Longboards go like hotcakes. Pilgrim Surf + Supply, Sundown Surf and Ski, Maritime Surf, and Unsound Surf Shop all have used board racks. I’d call ahead to see about the stock before making a trip.

Swaylocks: At this online surfboard shop and forum you can search for boards by length and even post for surfboards wanted. Like Ebay and CL, you’ll want to look for boards being sold in the NY/NJ area or else figure out a way to get them shipped out here for as little as you can.

Buying Your First Surfboard in New York--Part I

The season is upon us! The weather is warming up, the water is warming up, and the collective unconscious drives us into the sea. This is often the time of year when people start to consider buying their first surfboard. If you’re on the fence, I recommend that you take a leap and join the ranks. There are many factors to consider in making that purchase, especially for New Yorkers, who often have particular storage and transportation concerns.

Investing

Buying a surfboard is not unlike buying a car. You have to shell out a bit at the beginning (it’s probably going to be hard to find something in the NYC area for less than $400), but if you don’t like it or grow out of it you can always sell it. The good news is that unlike cars, surfboards don’t depreciate much. Also, surfboards, especially long and mid-length surfboards, will pretty much last a lifetime—you don’t have to worry about their engines breaking down or parts needing replacement. You will get dings, but these are fixable and in larger boards rarely affect performance.

Length

I always recommend that people buy a longboard. This means 3-5 feet above one’s head (8’-12’). I recommend these because you need to paddle quickly in order to catch waves, and you also need the stability that the bigger board provides to make standing up easier. Besides, all surfers should have a longboard in their quiver. They’re always great for small days—and let’s face it, barring hurricane swells, the NY summer is made up of mostly small days. Furthermore, you can use your longboard to get in shape and increase your paddling capacity at our paddling boot camps!

If you’re going to go the mid-length route (which is fine--you’ll just have to work harder to catch waves), I recommend a board in the 8’0”-8’6” range with a full outline—these are often called eggs or hybrids. What you don’t get in length you should make up for in width and thickness. As for the fin set-up on your first board, there’s no need to be too picky. I always prefer a single fin or a 3+1 (one big single fin and two small side fins) for stability, but anything will really do.

Storage and Transport

For those with NY apartment storage issues and no car the longboard presents a number of problems. This is definitely one of the factors that make surfing and learning to surf in New York unique. In this case I have two suggestions: 1. Get the longest board that will fit in your apartment and is relatively easy to maneuver onto the train; 2. Buy a longboard and figure out a storage situation at the beach. This can be at a friend’s pad, at a timeshare, or at one of the surf lockers (check out Locknsurf, or Boarders). I also recommend making friends with people who have cars or looking into Zipcar. Investing in a pair of soft racks (a pair of single soft racks is a good investment generally, especially for travel) will certainly make car-sharing a lot easier.

Board line up at Sundown Surf and Ski. Pic: Dion Mattison.

Board line up at Sundown Surf and Ski. Pic: Dion Mattison.