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 We must also work to communicate with NYC parks and gov't to change the outdated surfing beach schedule in the future.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

Happy New Year!

I’ve been on a long blogging hiatus over here at Conatus Surf Club. Winter. Holidays. PhD catch up. Lack of gumption. Surfing. Excuse time over. Just wanted to pop in to let you know all is alive and well here. We had a stellar first season* operating in New York. Lots of happy clients. Lots of improvement. Got some new equipment. Especially excited about the Malwitz Surfboards 8’8” egg—perfect for smaller people and advanced beginners. Tried a bunch of different wetsuit brands. At this very moment Ripcurl and Nineplus are out in front and Billabong is at the bottom of the pile. In pure surfing terms, we had a pretty killer fall here on the East Coast. Gonzalo was by far the swell of the season, producing perfect barreling waves in New Jersey two days in a row. Certainly expert only stuff, as is the case in any hurricane swell situation, but there were plenty of small perfect fall days to be had too.

And now we’re in the real thick of winter. Winter storm Juno just passed through and by the looks of it some truly diehard winter surfers seriously scored some epic blizzard barrels. I scored too, but not here on the East Coast. A week before the storm, I flew to CA to my hometown and break to spend quality time with my family and friends. I surfed every day and worked on papers every night. My dad got some great shots of my friends and I, a few of which are posted below. In the next few weeks I plan to post some more pics, a little video I made, a book review, and updates about what to expect in the upcoming season.

Cruising through the pocket on an old school single fin.   Photo: Richard Mattison

Cruising through the pocket on an old school single fin. 

Photo: Richard Mattison

Layback lookback.  Photo: Richard Mattison

Layback lookback.

Photo: Richard Mattison

*As many know, I’ve been teaching lessons for quite some time, but this was the first season I’ve done so under the official name Conatus Surf Club. It was also the first year of this website.

Dion’s Picks: Wetsuit Quivers for Women and Men

The answer to the question, “What wetsuit do I need to buy to surf in New York?” is always, “Any and all of them.” With water temps that vary from 35 degrees in the freezing heart of winter to 75 degrees in the searing center of summer (which is kind of right now), New York is the wetsuit industry’s wet dream. It’s not like Northern California where you basically always wear a 4/3mm fullsuit because the water temps there hover in the 50-58 degree range all year long. On any given day from June-October in New York you'll see a variety of combos out in the water. Some people will be in fullsuits, while others are in trunks, springsuits of varying sleeve and leg lengths, short johns, long johns, vests, and jackets.

If you have to pin it on a number of suits to own in New York, I’d say you’re pretty covered at four. Below I’ve come up with two ideal four-wetsuit quivers—the first for women; the second for men. I’ve listed them in order from warmest water to coldest.

***I have no brand loyalty or affiliation. These suggestions are solely based on personal taste. I buy all my suits online and go off of sizing charts. If I have a question about sizing I call the company or go to a surfshop to try them on.

Star student Miranda in her stylish new Cynthia Rowley.

Star student Miranda in her stylish new Cynthia Rowley.


1. Kassia Meador 2mm cross-back shortjohn. Kassia’s whole collection for Roxy is fashion-
forward, fun, and functional. It’s designed by one of the world’s best longboarders and women surfers, so what else would you expect? This suit is designed for the warmest times of the year.

2. Cynthia Rowley 2mm L/S Springsuit. I didn’t know about these until a student of mine picked up a really cool one at Saturdays NYC. She thought these long sleeve, short leg spring suits were a fun and classy option for avoiding terrible tan lines and still staying warm and stylish in temperate water (July-Sept). They also have a really cool key pocket for storing car keys, zipcard, or beach pass.

3. Ripcurl Dawn Patrol 3/2 Fullsuit. Stoked that Ripcurl resurrected their original logo. A great suit for fall and late spring. The blue colorway is super rad.

4. Xcel Xfinity Hooded 5/4 Fullsuit. For the hardcore who plans to surf year round. Xcel leads the way in cold water surfgear and this plain jane full suit will take you warmly through December, January, February, March, and on into April--by which time you’ll be praying for the water to warm up again!


1. Nineplus 2/1mm retro jacket with backzip. The 2mil jacket is the ultimate summer ‘suit’. It keeps your upper body warm and protects you from sun while allowing free movement in trunks. I love the Yamamoto Rubber the Nineplus folks use on these.

2. Billabong Tyler Warren 2mm S/S Fullsuit. Ok, I’m a nut for retro styling. I think it’s the deep-seated anti-jock nerd in me that prefers suits with a simple design and minimal logos that don’t scream, “Hey I’m a gear-head!” I understand that it might proclaim, “Hey I’m a hipster!” instead, but there you have it—my cards are on the table—I have an unapologetic love for retro inspired suits like this one Billabong put together with Tyler Warren, surfer/shaper/artist/longboard-and-shortboard-ripper. Oh and if you’ve never worn a short-sleeve fullsuit you’re in for a treat. My friend Sam says it’s like surfing naked.

3. Ripcurl Flashbomb ZipFree 3/2 Fullsuit. Echoing what I said for the women’s Ripcurl suit—long live Ripcurl’s original logo! Totally digging the mesh of high performance modern technology with throwback styling. This suit will get you through October and November and will be ready to go again May-July. And heck, some people (the wimpy variety) wear 3/2 fullsuits June-October, i.e., the whole summer.

4. Xcel Drylock Hooded 5/4 Fullsuit. Here’s where I move to the middle ground. This is a nuts-and-bolts winter suit that will please jock and hipster alike. No fringes, no frills, all black, all warm, and a SIMA winner year after year. You won't stand out in this suit, except for the fact that you may be able to stay out in the water longer than everyone else.