Rich and varied and full of high achievers. And because of the density and fast pace of city life, the need to wash it all off in the ocean is big.
That was my impression of the NY surf scene when I first moved to the East Village in 2001. I made a lot of surf buddies. We rode a lot of short-interval A-frames, sometimes in boardshorts, other times in 5 mil full-suits, booties, gloves, and hoods. During a recent visit to the city I caught up with a few of those friends. We talked about a lot of things, but of course we talked about surfing, and the peculiarities of the NY surf scene—
“The most unique thing about the New York surf scene is the people. It’s so diverse. And the age of the typical NY surfer is different. We don’t have a lot of groms here. There are more people learning to surf in their thirties and forties and fifties. And what comes with that is people who are up for a serious challenge, people who are willing to be humbled and embarrassed and committed to keep learning. New York surfers have a deep appreciation for the culture that has evolved around surfing—the craft, in terms of the way surfboards are made and design, and also the lineage and history.”
—Chris Gentile is the founder and owner of Pilgrim Surf + Supply and the director of the forthcoming surf/music film “Self-Discovery for Social Survival”
“The lack of consistent surf breeds a unique type of surfer who has to find other ways to get their surfing kick. I think the NY surfer tends to have a greater reverence for surf history and culture than in other surf scenes where surf is pretty much on tap 365 days a year. In the down time, we obsess over all things surf because we need to keep stoked when it’s flat. What better way than to indulge in surf lore and creativity? Surfers in NY are a pretty enthusiastic bunch for the most part, and that may or may not set us apart. That and NY is the greatest city on earth and our pizza is the best.”
—Tyler Breuer is a lifelong NY surfer; son of one of NY’s oldest surf shops, Sundown Ski and Surf; founder of SMASH Productions; and overall surf nerd
“The thing that defines the New York surf scene? How intimate it is, even among strangers. This is evolving, of course. But it still holds true. People still talk in the water, say hi in the parking lot after a session. Yesterday an older guy came up while I was drying off the kids and just started talking about how the high tide was bumping him off the waves then smiled and said, ‘Well anyways, I was watching you out there, I really like your footwork!’ and walked away. Typical of certain corners around here. How’s it different? Well, there is a seeming inverse proportion of stoke to consistency of quality waves. And that’s weird.”
—Todd Stewart writes the EndlessBummerNY surf journal, is partner at Picture Farm, and is the director of “The Surf Magazines Don't Talk About Lapsed Catholics”