Staying put can be a better option for surfing

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Flagler College Student Dan Greene decked out in rubber at one of his homebreaks in Long Island, New York.

Looking back on winter break: trip to Virgin Islands trumped by ‘surprising’ home swell

By Dan Greene |

It’s no secret that Puerto Rico has long been considered the western Atlantic’s partial answer to the north shore of Oahu.

The Caribbean island’s notoriety was never more apparent than during the last month of fall semester when what seemed like every surfer and their dog booked a ticket to Aguadilla.

Choosing a more expensive and less popular alternative, three of my friends and I flew down to the Virgin Islands only to surf one of the better swells I’ve seen to date. However, looking back at the break from classes, I still can’t help but realize that the best waves I surfed weren’t in front of any expensive hotel or on an exotic island like I had planned when I booked a ticket to the Leeward Islands.

Having grown up on the south shore of Eastern Long Island and being fully aware of its chilling winter time surf potential, I really shouldn’t be shocked at that reality.

Anyone who surfs in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island or any other northeast location can attest to the quality of surf that can and does occur on a regular basis. And while it often snows and northwest winds blow the ocean flat for weeks on end, a couple of nor’easters can make the entire northeast coast fire for almost as long.
During the two weeks leading up to my Jan. 2 departure to the Virgin Islands, the surf back home would prove to be just as satisfying as the Caribbean would soon offer. With the jet stream riding up the east coast and a string of small to medium-sized low pressure systems sending south swells northward practically every day, my friends and I were greeted with a welcome sight after enduring finals. South winds kept cranking on the west Bermuda buoy and as soon as one swell would fade, another would take its place.

Whether it was the hollow river mouths in my hometown of Southampton, N.Y., or Montauk’s rocky points, the surf did not disappoint. Sure, there was some snow on the ground and seals watching our every move in the icy Atlantic, but who cares what the thermometer reads when the surf’s up and wetsuit technology has gotten to where it is.

The northeast’s 38-degree water is definitely not for the light-hearted, and while wearing 6 millimeters of rubber may not seem appealing to surfers accustomed to wearing board shorts eight months out of the year, it’s really all about the waves. Like it or not, cold water is an instant crowd thinner.

Soon after, my friends and I would go on to warmer latitudes and sample technically “better” waves, but the most fun surf I found over winter break was just a short drive from my own backyard … with practically no one else out.

In a surfing era where everyone is dead set on traveling, sometimes it truly is best just to look right around the corner.

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