CSC Newsletter: Winter 2017

In the past year CSC has taken a number of big leaps and bounds and we are so happy to share our growth with you, the people who have made so many things possible. I know I know, it’s just a newsletter. But I always have so much that I want to share that I cannot possibly put all in one, which why I procrastinate them. But you have all been signing up and I see that and appreciate and now here goes. I plan for these to become a lot more regular. You don’t need to put it all in one Dion! You can have multiple newsletters. Duh.


In this newsletter I’m going to catch you up with the most important new developments at CSC:

  1. New instructors and new locations

  2. Introducing CSC Surfboards

  3. New retreat dates and plans

  4. September to Remember: Hurricane Season 2017 videos and links

  5. Other stuff to look out for

But before that, check out this really fun project we did with Mikey Detemple and Huck Magazine called “The Ocean Doesn’t Care”. Get an inside look into the daily lives of CSC coaches me, Dion Mattison, and Juan Heredia and advanced students Mariza Daras and Christina Nizar.

1. New Instructors and New Locations

In the modern economy we all travel a lot for work. We like to travel to places where we may also get in a surf. And it so happens that the three major economic centers in the USA, — NY, LA, and SF — all have surf! After replying “No” to countless inquiries about whether I knew anyone in LA or SF who taught in a method similar to mine, I realized that CSC needed to expand to the west coast, where it all began. As many know, I am from the Monterey Bay area, grew up in a small fishing town called Moss Landing, and traveled up and down surfing the entire CA coast from San Diego to Mendocino. It was in San Francisco during my undergraduate years at UC Berkeley that I started the very first shoots of the CSC teaching style, which has been honed and manifested in full here in New York where I moved in 2009 to obtain my PhD in philosophy at the New School for Social Research.

Los Angeles:

The first area that many people inquired about was LA. Of all the areas of CA LA is the one I have least frequented due to the heavy traffic and because I have family in San Diego, and preferred to drive past LA to stay with them and surf the plentiful (and often not too crowded if you know where to look) beaches and reefs there. Being in the dark about LA, I reached out to my good friend and bicoastal surfer, artist, mom, and surf film maker extraordinaire Beth O’Rourke. Beth and I met when we both lived and surfed in San Francisco. When I moved to New York she moved to Ventura, CA, which is just north of LA. She quickly became a fixture both in Ventura and in the Malibu/LA surf scene, filming local shredders for her rad surf documentary project and competing in longboard competitions. She knew of someone right off the bat and put me in touch with him. This fellow is Mike Siordia, professional longboarder, coach, surfboard designer, and clothing brand owner. Mike rips on any board and knows the south bay and LA area like the back of his hand. His positive personality, easygoing vibe, and attention to detail make him the perfect guide and mentor for that area. He is also the point man for our new surfboard operation. LA is the perfect get-away for the busy New York surfer. The water is consistently warm, and there are a variety options of waves to surf. Mike has access to a gigantic quiver of boards. For the intermediate surfer looking to longboard better, Mike has experience coaching young professionals in nose riding and other tricks. He has a solid knowledge of surfboard design history and is more than happy to share surfing lore with the uninitiated! LA is the home of surfboard innovation in America and, some might argue, the world.

San Francisco

Like LA, San Francisco shares an economic and cultural affiliation with New York. The food is amazing (far better than NY imho), the museums are amazing, the architecture is stunning, and the historic sites plentiful. And if you already live there you know that the surf can also be incredible. And challenging. But always worth it. Living and surfing and especially becoming a surfer in San Francisco is pretty much the most badass thing a person can do. The water is not warm, the weather is often dodgy, and well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. But the surf does fire. And there are tons of spots to go at various tides, swell and wind directions. In San Francisco we are working with Hawaiian professional surfer Shea Hodges. Shea and I used to work together at Aqua Surf Shop. She is an extremely talented goofy footed surfer who grew up surfing on the south shore of Oahu at Ala Moana Bowls. Shea has operated her surfing travels out of San Francisco since 2003. She has a smooth, graceful, and powerful Hawaiian style of surfing that is immediately recognizeable as superior. She is a very fast and vertical surfer who knows precisely when to slow down and speed up. She can read a lineup better than most, help you to identify channels, rip currents, and uncrowded shoulders. This is very important for the powerful waters of northern California, and for Lindamar Beach in Pacifica especially. Lindamar gets very crowded on the weekends (worse than Rockaway Beach and on par with Malibu) and it’s important to have your paddling and lineup awareness game down. Also know that finding good windows of surf in northern California, and juggling work schedules, can be extremely difficult since that area is so exposed to the open ocean. But when it does turn on, it’s as good as anywhere and well worth all of the time and hard work you put in in subpar conditions.

Monterey Bay

We have a special thing going with my oldest surfing friend Andrew Dolan in the Monterey Bay. Andrew and I grew up surfing together, making surf films and animations, and we even were taught to teach surfing by the same person, Ed Guzman. Andrew and I collaborated on every CSC logo in existence, including the one you have come to know and love. Essentially he has been a part of the brand since the beginning. Andrew and his wife Jamie and their two young sons Wylder and Sawyer have the good fortune to live in the most idyllic house in “downtown” Moss Landing (population 40-100). They converted their garage into a gorgeous and comfortable Air Bnb studio that sleeps 2 ppl (you could probably get 3 in there if you needed to) and is walking distance to a handful of incredible restaurants, antique shops, whale watching tours, kayak rentals, and the beach! Andrew is one of the most stylish and attentive surfers that you will ever meet. He is also an artist and a musician and will probably play you a few tunes over a glass of wine watching sea otters smash clams on their chest and birds fish for dinner. The place is right on the famous Elkhorn Slough, which is one of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet. This is largely due to the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon, which is directly offshore of Moss Landing, and is three times the depth of the Grand Canyon. The canyon fuels the entire bay with rich nutrients and additionally funnels in surf with the energy of the open ocean, making Moss Landing one of the heaviest spots in CA. But it’s not heavy all of the time! No matter what the swell size or direction, Andrew knows where to go. And in some cases that might lead a bit further south, to the haunts of Big Sur, or north to the points of Santa Cruz. This is the perfect location for a 2 day — 1 week personal or small group intensive surf coaching vacation/retreat. Andrew is also available to mentor people who live in the area.

Rhode Island and Cape Cod

With my partner (the excellent poet Sophia Starmack) living part of the year in Provincetown, MA, at the very northern most tip of Cape Cod, I have had cause to go up there twice a month to do CSC business, write my dissertation, and hang out with her. Fortunately for the club, there are waves everywhere on the 95 to Route 6 corridor. The first stop of note is Narragansett, Rhode Island where our good friend Tyler Garceau has 25 acres of pristine private camping grounds near about 50 surf spots for us to partake in. Then there’s Cape Cod. We surf primarily in the Wellfleet area where with a little bit of swell and a nice W or SW wind some sandbar or another will be working with groomed lefts and rights. Surfing in Cape Cod or Rhode Island is a great way for people in the Boston area to get involved with Conatus. Simply drop me a line to see when I am heading up that way. And whenever the swell gets really big — think 8-10 feet in New York — you should have Rhode Island on your mind. It is more protected than both New York and Cape Cod and there are sheltered reef spots with perfect waves that are great for us to work on your fundamentals.

Costa Rica

I know that Costa Rica is not exactly a new location, as we have now successfully run a number of large and small retreats there. We operate out of our family property in San Josecito, a little mountain village just north of Uvita and south of Dominical. Up on the hill we have a view of the Bahia Ballena or “Whale’s Tail”, cooler air, and a relatively mosquito free environment. We are also within striking distance of about 10 different surf spots, all with something to offer given tide, swell and wind direction. Although in Costa Rica the wind is most “Pura Vida” or light and glassy. From late November to late June, Andrew is available to run 2-4 person personal retreats. We have the whole quiver set up and you can book for as little as 2-4 days or as long as 2-3 weeks, depending on what kind of intensive experience you’re looking for. We run the two larger retreats in January and March when Andrew and I work together to provide you the time of your life. This year’s dates are January 9-19 and March 17-24. See more about how to book these under the “Retreats” heading below. Costa Rica is always warm and there are surfable waves at least 340 days a year. Besides that, we’re in the SW which is so much less crowded than the breaks to the north that most people frequent (Nosara, Playa Grande, Santa Theresa, Tamarindo).


It has long been a goal of mine to be able to sell clients boards out of the lesson quiver and to provide a reasonable and personalized way to order their first custom boards. Mike and I collaborated together on four models perfect for the beginning surfer and are heading these under the Conatus Surf Club Surfboards label. There are four models:

  1. The Potentia — a hybrid design that can be ridden from 5’4”—8’6”. Helps with steep drops and learning the basic maneuvers like cutbacks, floaters, and pumping.

  2. The Laetitia — a classic egg design with a pin tail and a pulled in nose. Can be ridden from 6’—8’6”. Eggs are great for the glide and ease of a longboard with the turning ability of a smaller board.

  3. The Aedequatio — a modern longboard with plenty of rocker to handle the steeper waves of east coast beach breaks. Can be ridden 8’6”—10’.

  4. The Aeternitas — a classic single fin log meant for beginners to start with the basics. Also great for the intermediate learning to nose ride. Can be ridden 9’—11’.

3. New Retreat Dates and Plans

CSC x Rancho Diandrew Retreat Dates are up! We have watched our students’ progress soar in these intensive surf experiences where we’re eating and breathing surfing for intensive periods of time. We scout the best waves, provide video review, and prepare you some of the best food you have ever eaten!

Dates for 2018: January 9-19 and March 17-24. Cost is $350 per diem and includes surf instruction, 2 meals, and lodging. Doesn’t include airfare from NY to SJO. We are flexible with the amount of days that you book. 3 days minimum. For more info check out the page on the website:

Testimonials from past retreats:

“Not only did I get to surf amazing waves with no crowds, but I got to do it with an incredible group of people. When you share an experience like this, you form deep bonds reminiscent of being a kid at summer camp.” -- Helena Cortes

“Relaxing accommodations high in the mountains onlooking Uvita with catering to go along with your surf retreat. Dion and Andrew are great surf coaches and have local knowledge of all the surf breaks, putting us in the best locations at the best times. A mandatory pilgrimage for anyone seeking a vacation and surf lesson package.” -- Bryan Doring

I have also been running mini strike missions to CA. Stay tuned to Instagram and the CSC blog for surgical strike mini retreat updates. Popular locations: San Diego, LA, Morro Bay, San Francisco, Barbados.

We are also working on trips to Peru, France, and Indonesia for 2018. Please shoot a line if you’re interested in any of these locations!

4. September (and now November) to Remember

The 2017 east coast hurricane season has been so incredible we’re still pinching ourselves. Gert, TD10, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, and now Phillipe. So many productive named storms hit our shores with relatively no damage to us and lots and lots of surf! We do however urge that you head to or to donate to the relief funds for the victims of these storms.

CSC club members active in their packages made some real strides during these storms! Catee Lalonde dropped into an 8 ft face wave in NJ during Irma. Kim Corchia got the wave of the day during Gert. Johan Kritzinger learned to pull into the barrel during Maria! And Helena Cortes captured it all before moving west to LA.

Please check our Vimeo Channel for Hurricane Season vids!

5. Other Stuff to Look Out For

We are entering into a relationship with Patagonia Bowery. There will be events and discounts for people affiliated with Conatus Surf Club.

CSC is nothing without our club members whose support and continued growth in their surf practices has fueled the entire enterprise. I did imagine, but couldn’t quite fully envision how amazing it is to see people I have taught to surf for the first time work their way to doing turns, dropping into bigger surf, looking for tubes, and comporting themselves in the lineup with the utmost ethical excellence! I am simply blown away by the hard work, determination, and sheer surf stoke of CSC’s most devoted members. These are people like Mariza Daras, Christina Nizar, Beccy Wirakasume, Paul Saliba, Catee Lalonde, Benita Hussain, Kim Corchia, Jo and Scott Becker, Mateo Garcia, Paul Smalera, Kristin MacDonald, Kaitlin Ward, Evonne Huang, Johan Kritzinger, Helena Cortes, and a growing number of others! Thank you all so much for believing in the teaching method and vision. The CSC instructors and I are very proud of your aquatic achievements and look forward to future benchmarks!

One of the reasons it is hard for me to write newsletters is that new stuff is cropping up all of the time and I always want to include everything! But I know now that I just need to write more frequent newsletters. So be on the look out!




Welcome to CSC’s first newsletter! First of all thanks for signing up. We tried these out in an informal email format a few times throughout the year and we felt like it would be a good idea to streamline the process so that more people can get involved and share the joy that we are promoting. After all, that is what we are all about. Our business is rooted in the faith that the more well trained all surfers are, the more we are able to share waves and maximize one another’s joy both in the lineup and in life.


Dion coaching Devin at Long Beach.

Dion coaching Devin at Long Beach.

We are thrilled and honored to be written up in The Culture Trip as one of NYC's Top 5 Surf Schools! Huge thanks to Manny Angelakis and Julien Roubinet for supplying us with some killer photography for the website, and especially for the shots that went up on The Culture Trip. 

The Women's Surf Film Festival in Rockaway Beach was one of the most inspiring surf culture events we've been to all year. It was even more awesome that our old friend Beth O'Rourke's documentary Worm Dreams Big (about longboarder Erin Ashley) was featured. If you didn't make it to the festival, be sure to look for these awesome women filmmakers and surfers online--they are crushing the game out there and changing surf culture for the better.

We're getting a huge kick out of Mason Ho's series License to Chill. It features Mason doing wacky stuff close to cliffs and rocks (do not try at home) and Tom Curren riding a boogie board at an outside bombora break. Check out my personal fave, Burger Goes to Bali. Also enjoying Jack Coleman's The Zone, which has some futuristic and traditional ripping on a variety of radical surf crafts. In all of these films, note the surfing "crouch." The baseline of performance surfing is the ability to alternate between high and low stances. 

Andrew teaching the small fry.

Andrew teaching the small fry.

Video review is at the heart of our advanced beginner and intermediate coaching, and we're watching our students soar thanks to the ability to evaluate their own performance. We've compiled a lot of footage this summer. Check out our Vimeo channel and instructor videos. We also love to post student triumphs and one-minute compilations of epic beach days on our Instagram account @conatussurfclub. 

CSCRDA 2016/17 Winter Costa Rica Retreat dates are set! See our feature in this newsletter for more details.


*Ultra thanks to Christina Nizar, strategist extraordinaire and brand management guru.

*Huge gratitude to Beni Chuun, Bryan Doring, and Mariza Daras for helping get video footage of other club members' sessions. Awesome, generous way to help everybody learn and grow!

*For all-around dedication and incredible growth, we're awed by Mariza Daras. In just ten months she's gone from complete novice to holding her own out there. Here's a pic of Mariza dropping in with style.

Mariza crushing it in New Jersey.

Mariza crushing it in New Jersey.

*Shout out to Rebecca Wirakesuma, who after surfing with us for a year and a half, has set out for glorious adventure to Costa Rica and Bali. Beccy's well on her way to mastering the 'cutdown' and bottom turn. Her steady trim, backside and frontside, is testimony to her perseverance.

*Big ups to Paul Saliba, who, after spending a month with Andrew in CR, still gets out there in NYC day after day.

More waves more joy!

Beccy cruising on glassy Long Beach wall. 

Beccy cruising on glassy Long Beach wall. 


Taking care of our sensitive skin and ears.

Taking care of our sensitive skin and ears.

This summer we've transitioned away from chemical-based sunscreens to the all-natural Surf Mud Pro by EIR NYC. Unlike the synthetic stuff, EIR products taste and smell amazing when you hit the water. And they work. Paint your face with the stick and rub it around--take care of your face!

We're also beyond stoked about becoming brand ambassadors for SURF EARS. Like many 1980s babies I've suffered from chronic ear infections and inflammation my whole watery life. Stoked to say that this is the first summer I've been earache-free thanks to these awesome ear plugs. Surf Ears' motto is "Let sound in, keep water out." Each pair comes with customizable buds and stalks so you don't need to stress about finding the right size. These are a great investment for anyone who's out a lot in our not-so-clean NYC waters.


This is my first full summer in Long Beach/Rockaway, and I'm blown away by the fishing. You may be surprised to know that saltwater fishing licenses are free in New York State; you just have to register here.

One of the best things I've discovered is a tasty little fish called Northern Kingfish, Menticirrhus saxatilis, also called King Whiting. If you've noticed the fish jumping next to you in the lineup these are them. Northern Kingfish is sustainable to eat year round and easily caught with clams and small hook on a surf casting rod. It's important to fish for them on clean water days. If there's a plethora of kelp and/or mussels don't even bother — you'll spend the whole time taking debris off your rig. We've cooked the whiting whole with herbs and lemon or filleted it for tacos. It's a dense white meat and it doesn't overcook as fast as more translucently fleshed fish. 


Our winter CSCRDA retreat dates are set!

Mariza, Helena, Juan Carlos, Christina, and Andrew checking the surf at Achote.

Mariza, Helena, Juan Carlos, Christina, and Andrew checking the surf at Achote.

We did three retreats last year: in January, March, and May. Each one was an all-bases-loaded, ball-out-of-the-park success. Every retreat is complete surf immersion. There's nothing like diving all the way in for the rapid acquisition of a new language. For seven days, we tackle beach breaks, reefs, and point breaks, logging video of every session.

At night we recap with an epic dinner at Ranchodiandrew with video review and feedback, as well as instruction on weather patterns and swell generation. It's an awesome occasion to bond over our daily successes and hilarious failures. We're likely to fill up quickly, so we recommend you get your deposit in ASAP to reserve your spot. Each retreat is capped at six people so we can provide the utmost attention out in the lineup. 


Thanks again for signing up for the newsletter! We only have one or two more spots left for the last two weeks of August, with most availability on weekdays. We will open up more for the surf-rich months of September, October, and November. We plan to be in Montauk the week after Labor Day and will send a message out when details are confirmed!

If you haven't booked a session with us yet, no worries. Simply stay tuned through the newsletter, blog, instagram, and Facebook, and if you see us at the beach or around town say hi!

More waves more joy,

Dion and Andrew Mattison