Photo by Tom Spader
By Ryan Brower
PHOTO CAPTION: Just a little bit offshore. Winter in New Jersey.
Thirty degree water. Twenty-five degree air. Twenty mph offshore winds. Double overhead and tossing. Sounds perfect. Conditions like these are not out of the norm in a northeast winter. Winter up north is where a northeast surfer is tried and tested — great waves, freezing conditions, vacant lineups, and 6 mm of rubber from head to toe. But the winter is not the only time the north gets first-rate waves. Hurricanes provide their share as well. Fall is probably one of the best seasons on the east coast, and this fall has been no exception for the north. While a few hurricanes have passed the south by this fall, the north has benefited from this. In the past the northeast hasn’t always been among the top ranks in mainland U.S., but that is beginning to change.
This past August Surfing Magazine came out with their “Best in Travel” issue. The “Best Road Trip” category went to the New England states. But for anyone from the northeast, there is certainly no surprise in this. Rock reefs, long points, huge coves, and most of the time you can find one of these empty and totally to yourself. Ruggles and Point Judith are certainly two of the more known spots in the area, but look and you can find a vacant break just as good.
Next along the way down the coast we come to Long Island. Most people don’t associate New York with waves, but this is a big misconception. This area has perfect sandbars that catch almost any swell coming from the south.
Further down the coast we come to New Jersey. From Sandy Hook to Cape May, there are some good sandbars mixed in between with the occasional point to the north or south. And don’t think that just the surf gets good, because the bigger names in the north are now starting to become everyday names within surfing.
Dean Randazzo, former World Qualifying Series standout, after a stint with cancer, is back and looking to make even a bigger name for himself. Guys like Sam Hammer, Matt Keenan, and Andrew Gessler are just a few of the more established names in the north. These guys are traveling to world class breaks, getting exposure in magazines, and even getting some sections in videos. But there is also a group of up and coming surfers from the northeast who are beginning to make people realize that the northeast is undoubtedly capable of producing some kids who can throw it down in the water. Placing high in big contests and charging hard, these kids look to help legitimize northeast surfing and show the surfing world that the northeast should not be forgotten.
The northeast surfer puts up with a lot of misfortunes though. Wetsuits are worn just about year round, flat spells in the summer (just like any other east coast spot), and having to see ourselves constantly under-represented in magazines (though this one is starting to change a bit). But all that is washed away when the first hurricane hits, or the first big storm of the winter comes through. Because when it comes down to it, the surf — and the surfing — will speak for itself.