Main Beach Newsletter Vol 1 Winter 2013

Introducing Paddlesports as a LifeStyle For 2013

We’re excited to start 2013 representing the best Paddlesport companies in the industry. Hobie, Surftech, Ocean Kayak, Liquid Logic, Global Surf Industries, Werner Paddles, Kialoa, Quickblade, Patagonia just to name a few. Living by the water on Eastern Long Island we are blessed with a bounty of paddling opportunities. I often think our local waters are greatly under rated when compared to other well respected paddling locations. Ocean, Bays, Inlets, Back Water, Down Wind, Salt Ponds, Rivers you name it we got it. Yes there are 4 paddling seasons in the Hamptons and each one has a special character and beauty. Many folks paddle only during our famous Hamptons Summer months and truly miss out on so many year round paddling opportunities. Stand up Paddle (SUP) has opened the door to the paddling season early for many folks and it is refreshing to see more and more people out on the water during the quiet seasons. Heck we even held a well represented Turkey Day Paddle Race, (cold water classic) this past November. 

Remember, it is important to dress appropriately for all watersports activities, particularly during the colder weather months. Wets suit and Dry Suit technology has come a long way with beautiful, light weight and stretchy suits being available at all price points. With Flatwater, Fitness, Touring, Racing and Training disciplines, SUP is leading the charge with the fastest growing watersport on the market. Kayaking is staging a solid comeback with strong family interest and a new interest in Kayak fishing offering a green and very nature friendly way of tackling the big ones. We usually stock a few beautiful canoes as well for the purests out there. Surf has always been the eminent domain of the hard core watersport athlete and that holds true today. Great sand bars and awesome point breaks define surfing on Eastern Long Island..

Paddles are key to any paddlesport serving as the engine to your craft. The new lightweight and superfast carbon paddles from Werner, Kialoa and Quickblade are game changers and have elevated the game of many local athletes and paddling enthusiasts. Fitness and flexibility training are important components of any paddling routine, working with a local trainer or signing up for some winter yoga classes are a great way to get ready for the upcoming paddling season. 

So many paddles and so little time. I hate to run, but I have to go work on rehabing a late season Knee injury and I am determined to be back in top form for our upcoming 2013 Hamptons SUP race series. Please stop by the shop for your personal paddle prescription or just to talk about your favorite local paddling location. See you on the water..


Wet Suits Versus Dry Suits

Cold water technology has evolved to new levels in recent years. Just when you think Wet suits are so stretchy and so comfortable and so warm that you would never consider a Dry Suit, someone comes along and introduces an insane dry suit. So what is a year round Hamptons water sports athlete to do?

First Question: What water sport are you considering ? Surfing, Stand up Paddling or Kayaking. Surfers primarily use wet suit technology for their cold water needs. The tight fitting, stretchy neoprene is well suited to the dynamic nature of wave riding and ripping, while dry suits may have too much fabric to handle bigger waves and the inevitable close outs and hold downs. Kayaking has typically been the domain of dry suits and semi-dry suits, but lighter weight, stretchy wetsuits can work. Stand up Paddling which brings the disciplines of surfing and paddling together can be well served by either Dry Suits or Wetsuits.

Second Question: Are you paddling on the Ocean or the Bay? When paddling on the ocean, we must accept the fact that we will be in the water nearly as much as we are on top of it. This coupled with water temps ranging from the low 60’s down to the mid 30’s dictate that we need warm, high quality protection when on the ocean. When on the bay, the calmer, protected waters of the local salt ponds and the peconic bay estuary, allow us to wear lighter weight gear. That being said we always must dress for water temperature, regardless of how nice the day is. High quality 3/2’s, 4/3’s and 5/4’s are commonly used on the ocean, while lighter weight 3/2’s paired with a paddling semi-dry jacket are common on the bay. A good quality dry-suit can be used in both environments.

Third Question: What is your paddling season? Are you are summer only water sports participant? Do you participate in Spring and Fall? Are you a hard core year round water sports athlete? Summer only athletes will typically require a lightweight wet suit for any of the 3 most popular local watersports. During May, June and July a  3/2 mil wet suit is used by many surfers and stand up paddlers. Kayakers may use a 3/2 or a paddling jacket with pants and booties. Early May can still be chilly so make sure you are properly protected. During August, Spring style Wet Suits with short arms and short legs are popular with surfers, while stand up paddlers and kayakers may require only a Neoprene rashguard or UV top. Spring and Fall things start to get interesting with more waves sessions, amazing paddles and downwinders. Higher quality 3/2’s, versatile 4/3’s along with semi-dry suits are best for spring and fall watersports. Come winter all bets are off, heavier 5/4 or 6mil wetsuits and full dry suits are your best bet for warmth and safety.

Now after all that groundwork, we can discuss the pro’s and con’s of drysuits versus wet suits.

Dry Suit Pro’s: In spite of all the improvements to the flexibility of wetsuits, I still find dry suits more comfortable. Whats better than getting into your long johns, smart wool socks and then slipping into a beautiful Gore Tex Dry Suit. I find dry suits have a great range of motion in the shoulders and that is probably why they have been popular with Kayakers for the past few years. While some of the earlier Dry Suit models resembled something out of 20,000 leagues under the sea, some of the latest models are very stylish and super comfortable. The Soul Dry Suit from Ocean Rodeo is a great choice, buit for SUP and Kayaking. The Soul has a built in jacket with detachable hood which protects the zipper and really helps retain your heat. The jacket also has hand warmer pockets and an opening in the front to attach a tow rope, inflatable pfd, or kite harness. The suit’s plastic zippers never leaked and were easier to open and close than those of other suits. The Soul was flexible, comfortable, and was less baggy than most suits which also made it easier for swimming. Retail on the Soul is $849. As an option to a full dry suit are Semi Dry tops and Semi Dry Pants. Immersion Research offers the Zephr Jacket and the Zephr Pant for Men and Women. The Jacket is priced at $149 and the pants are $129. 

Dry Suit Cons: A high quality dry suit is a fairly expensive investment, however, if comfort and safety are high on your winter paddling priorities, I would suggest you consider a Dry suit for your requirements. In the surf zone some dry suits can be a little baggy and make it tough to swim when caught inside.

Wet Suit Pros: A wide variety of wet suits are available at a wide variety of price points. There are truly wetsuits for everyone at every price point. Wet Suits are very fitted and stretchy making them excellent choices for surf centric activities.

Wet Suit Cons: If you have too light or too heavy a wet suit for the activity and conditions your are undertaking, one can get chilled or over heat. It is imperative to have the  correct wet suit for your activity and conditions. Some people find it difficult to get into wetsuits. 

Hamptons Surf Scene Post Sandy

Hurricane Sandy may be the greatest natural disaster the Mid Atlantic region has ever faced. The Jersey shore, New York City and the Western South Shore of Long Island bore the brunt of this massive storms fury. Catastrophic damage and loss of property have over whelmed many inhabitants of long standing coastal communities. The severe environmental damage continues with enormous amounts of untreated sewage and polluted runoff pouring into the bays, inlets and coastal surf zone waters of Western Long Island and New Jersey. While the visible damage to Eastern Long Island was considerably less, many local residents experienced fairly severe erosion and flooding to their properties. Extensive tree damage, lost power, gas shortages and related challenges plagued our community for several weeks. Subtle environmental damage to local wetlands, ground water, bays and estuaries due to extensive flooding has happened and should be addressed by local municipalities.

As people come terms with the severity of this event, winter waves are enticing people back onto the water. Fortunately, the Hamptons have enjoyed relatively clean water and enough beach to get to your favorite breaks. Don’t get me wrong, the local beaches were scoured hard and the protective berm of Sand Dunes have been severely diminished. Ocean front homes stand in jeopardy and low lying communities like Montauk village are frantically working to protect themselves from future storms. 

If one can find a silver lining in all this, there are some decent sand bars that formed after the storm passed to our Northwest. After a relative shortage of good breaks through out most of 2012 the year is ending up strong with good breaks and some decent swell.

We are optimistic that 2013 will be a great year for surf. The beach breaks are working, the water is clean and the line ups are uncrowded for the time being. Stop by the shop for a current report or update and best wishes to all those working through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.. Image

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Autumn Downwinders

Some people might say that I am crazy spending time with my boss on my day off, but when we are mapping out a special down wind paddle, I have to say Lars is right up there with the best of them. Planning a great down wind paddle requires leadership, teamwork, good equipment, knowledge of your local waters and basic paddling skills.

We start with selecting the route, which may take place the day prior to or the day of the paddle. This process can be as simple as stating that we are going from Beach Lane to Nappeague Lane along the ocean beaches at 1pm, or as complicated as pouring over charts and maps for what seems like hours, in order to cobble together the perfect course.

In order to pull off a great down wind paddle you will need certain conditions to be in place. Wind, direction and speed, swell direction and size, as well as, tide direction, in-coming or out-going must all be considered. My personal favorite is southwest winds, westerly swell and the start of an incoming tide along our south shore beaches. These conditions offer beautiful pealing waves that carry paddlers effortlessly along the beach.  Conditions can change after you have set your course so make sure you check the marine weather forecast right before you depart.

When selecting your downwind paddling route, take your time and start with entry level routes with a duration of 45 to 60 minutes (4 to 6 miles). These routes will introduce you and your group to the downwind experience in a positive manner.  Not unlike running a marathon it is easy to de-hydrate or bonk during a long paddle (i.e. over 60 minutes). Once you get the feel for the gentle push and glide of small wind swell,  practice efficiently catching  waves and maximizing the glide afforded you. Learn the area surrounding each paddle, subtle sandbars and changes in currents will impact your paddling conditions. There are some really fun intermediate level down wind paddles to be had all over the Peconic bay estuary

Once the paddling route is selected the roster of potential paddlers is reviewed. Down wind paddles or Down_winders require a combination of paddling skill, endurance and a passion for adventure. Some of our Hamptons paddling routes and conditions are perfect for new-comers to downwind paddles while other local courses will challenge the most seasoned waterman or women. The western Peconic bay is perfect for beginner to intermediate down wind paddles, with Noyac Bay and Northwest Harbor being popular choices. The Eastern Peconic Bay, Gardiners Bay and Block Island Sound all offer great intermediate paddles while the south shore ocean beaches rock out the most advanced paddlers. Our annual Montauk to Block Island charity paddle is the pinnacle of Eastern Long Island paddles. Visit for more information or to sign up for next years paddle.

A good downwind paddle is one of the most fun and exhilarating outdoor activities that you can partake in. In addition to being fun, downwinders provide participants with a great workout. Core, Cardio, balance and strength are all tested during a good downwinder.

The equipment checklist is key for any down wind paddle. The board of choice is a high quality 12-6 or 14 foot touring / race board. At Main Beach Surf and Sport we favor the Bark Dominators from Surftech and the Hobie’s Raw Race boards in 14 foot lengths and the Candice Appleby Race and Lahui Kai’s in 12-6” length. NSP, Coreban and Corevac also offer excellent boards. A good carbon paddle from Werner, Kialoa or Quick Blade should be used as well. Always wear a leash and have a PFD on your board or person. Fall is a great time for downwind paddling. A light weight 3/2 wetsuits or a farmer john/jane bottom with a neo-top, in addition to, some 3 mill booties are all you need in order to be safe and comfortable during your paddle. On some warmer days you may get away with boardies and a rash guard. Main Beach Surf and Sport has a complete selection of Stand up Paddling gear in stock. Stop by any day 10am to 6pm to learn more about gear for down wind paddling.

Visit for more information on stand up paddle gear.

With our route selected, our crew chosen and the correct gear pulled for the conditions at hand we are ready to set out on the paddle. Take time to warm up and do some dynamic stretching(mild strectching) prior to getting on the board and taking off with the wind. Also, make a trip plan with all paddlers. This may involve a resting place a mile or two out on the course, or a bail out point if some has equipment trouble. Having paddlres buddy_up is also a great idea., possibly pairing more experienced paddlers with beginners or first timers.

Once you shove off, its game on. The wind and waves will start to carry you along the prescribed route. Timing is key to catching wind swell and maximizing the glide afforded. Take is easy and focus on form. While initially you may catch fewer rides, as you get off-shore and into open water you will be able to catch rides consistently and start to work on connecting multiple waves. You will find yourself moving back and forth on the board in order to get into certain waves (moving forward) and maximizing glide (moving back) on others.

Watching an experienced down wind paddler scream along a favorable course is truly poetry in motion. Imagine catching multiple waves in succession, gliding along efficiently, sometimes-cruising 100 yards or more on a good run. Remember to keep an eye on your paddling buddies and make sure you are staying on course. Not everyone on the paddle will always be doing as well as you are.  Also, subtle wind shifts can alter the direction your board is pointing in. Make directional adjustments early in the paddle as the longer you go, the harder it is to make corrections.

Once back at the launch site it is always great to take some time to stretch and cool down. Bring a hoodie, towel, sweat pants so that you can get into some warm dry clothes and enjoy some stories about the paddle.

Hobie and Bark race boards make excellent choices for down wind paddles. Stop by Main Beach Surf and Sport in Wainscott and plan out your first down wind paddle today..

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The Hamptons Stand Up Paddle Race Series – 2012

The Hamptons SUP Race Series enjoyed an amazing first year hosting 4 World Paddle Association sanctioned races. Supporting local charities like the Peconic Baykeeper Organization, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue and Paddlers for Humanity. By all accounts the support and participation for the races was overwhelming. Racers from near and far brought great stoke and enthusiasm to each event of the 2012 race calendar.

The 2012 season started with the Race for the Baykeeper, located in historic Sag Harbor. The morning of May 19th, we set a 3 mile triangular course into beautiful Northwest Harbor. Short course racers completed one lap, while the Elite long course racers made two loops around the course. The conditions were challenging with moderate Northeast winds, serving up upwind, crosswind and downwind conditions. The somewhat protected waters of the western Peconic Bay provided the perfect location to kick off the season. NSP Paddleboards and Kialoa Paddles were our great Co-Sponsors for this race. It was very special to have sponsors that would make gear available to racers looking to try the latest boards and paddles. Kialoa team paddler Scott Bradley came away with 1st place in the Mens 14ft long course and Main Beach’s own Rick Drew took first place in the Mens 12-6ft long course.  Local girls Jessica Bellafatto, Mary Sherer and Evelyn O’Doherty took top honors in the Womens 12-6 long course. A great video of the race is available to view at “”.

The second race of the season took us to Fresh Pond Landing in Amagansett in support of the “Paddlers for Humanity” Domestic Violence initiative. Gardiners bay in 15 knot northeast winds is no picnic and even the best racers were challenged, some knocked from there boards by tricky currents and stiff North winds off of Cartwright shoals, not often seen during the mid summer doldrums. Hobie Paddleboards and Werner Paddles were our co-sponsors, with the crew from Team Werner paddles cleaning up taking first (Patrick Bromel) and second (Will Rich) place in the Mens 14 foot long course, 1st place in the Mens 12-6 (Johnny O’Hara) long course and 1st place in the Womens short course(Carol Choi). Many participants were able to demo 2012 Hobie paddleboards and the latest race paddles such as Werners new Grand Prix paddle.

A fun kids race took place after the Main Event and prizes were awarded to all of our junior participants.

Early August brought us to North Haven and the Estate of Lisa and Richard Perry where a charity paddle for the Breast Cancer Research foundation was held. The high bluffs of North Haven Point were the backdrop of this challenging race course. Stormy conditions threatened through out the day as race preparations were made. The race went off into strong Southwest winds and a shorthened course of 4 miles and 2 miles respectively. In a tight finish, Main Beach team paddler, Lars Svanberg, took the top spot just beating out Justin Dirico. Werner Paddles Team Rider, Mary Sherer took first place in the womens long course with Jessica Bellafato a close second place. All paddlers were rewarded with a satisfying finish in the toughest conditions of the season. A beautiful post race party followed the race and a tremendously sucessful fundraising effort for the BCRF was realized, raising upwards of $700,000 dollars. The spirit of Stand up Paddling was exemplified by courage of several Breast Cancer Survivors some of whom participated in the race and others whom spoke of how SUP provided a form or therapy and a healthy outlet during their treatment. A true testament to the power of SUP.

All of the races that comprise the Hamptons SUP race series, along with, various swimming events and tri-athalons across Eastern Long Island are all supported by the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad. These wonderful men and women volunteer their time to keep so many people safe, train junior life guards and back up the East Hampton seasonal lifeguards as needed, performing life saving functions year round. It was only fitting that we choose to make them the benefactor of our final race of the season.

A fall classic was in the making as the day dawned to moderate temperatures and brisk West Southwest winds. The race course was set into imposing Block Island Sound, running from West to East along the water trail bordering the North side of Hither Woods State Park. As race time approached the beach was lined up with a fine quiver of race boards from SurfTech, Joe Bark, 404, MHL, Hobie, Super Race boards, PJB and others.. Co-Sponsors Surftech and Werner Paddles provided great prizes and both sponsored entrants into the race.

Tensions ran high as a tricky water start launched 67 paddlers into the boiling current of the Lazy Point Launching ramp. Rounding beautiful Hicks Island paddlers eased into a great westerly flow that provided for an insane downwinder. Races connected wave after wave, dancing from front to back on the boards, for almost 6 miles putting smiles on the faces of all participants. Experienced down wind paddlers benefitted from long rides and glides on the challenging wind swell conditions. Paddlers new to down wind conditions quickly learned as their fellow racers rode by them with grace and efficency. As we reached the last turn buoy into Montauks fort pond bay, racers found themselves pointed into a stiff Southwest wind. Battling upwind, racers completed the last leg of the race finishing on the beautiful shoreline of Eddie Ecker state park.

Main Beach Team Paddler Lars Svanberg followed by James Rothwell and Scott Bradley took top honors in the Mens 14 foot division. Werner Paddles team paddlers Kim Reilly, Danielle Deforest and Mary Sherer were on the podium for the womens 12-6 division. Four junior paddlers under age 18 completed the rigorous course and clearly showed the future spirit of SUP.

Everyone enjoyed a spectacular catered buffet following the race and a few even tried a special glass of beer from Montauk brewery.

Keep training and paddling during the off season, Spring will be upon us before you know it! We are thankful to everyone who made the Hamptons SUP race series successful and look forward to a great race schedule in 2013. Look for new race formats and courses next year including a Surf Masters Challenge and an Elite race to Block Island. Please visit “” for the latest information on the “Hamptons Race Series” for 2013.

Paddle Hard, Be Safe!

The Main Beach SUP Race Team


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Why I Paddle?

Why I Paddle?

I paddle for the amazing sunsets and spectacular sunrises that grace my outings. I paddle for that first wave, that first glide! I was hooked so hard that I went out paddle surfing for the next 30 days, until I could actually say that I was not a kook. I paddle for the great friendships that I enjoy during my paddling adventures. I paddle for that old Grumman canoe we launched through the surf again and again until she finally broke in two. I paddle for the thrill of the pursuit and the joy of the catch during my fishing adventures. I paddle for that first sip of Chai tea after loading the up the truck on a cool autumn morning. I paddle to train hard and get the best work out available in the great outdoors. I paddle for the time I was lectured by my instructor for not wearing my PFD during my first open water crossing to Gardiners Island. I paddle to get away from the pressures of work and family and enjoy quiet time in my own space. I paddle for the river trips, when we flipped our boats in the rapids, and our camping gear dumped everywhere from here to kingdom come. I paddle to race and challenge myself to be the best that I can be. I paddle for the thumping sound of pounding surf on the south side beaches while I try to get to sleep. I paddle to learn from the best in the paddle sports industry and continue to evolve my personal paddling journey. I paddle for the time we launched a leaky Dory boat into the icy bay in December and as she sank like a rock we scrambled back to shore like a bunch of frozen, wet surf rats. I paddle to experience the perfection of the most amazing down winders along our beautiful ocean beaches, gliding along the shoreline on peeling Southwest swells. I paddle to teach and share what I have learned in over 40 years on the water. I paddle for the time my board blew off the truck and floated down gently on the shoulder of the road. I paddle to seek out my own surf breaks and ride countless, off shore waves with no one else in site. I paddle to try out the latest gear, the best boats, boards and paddles, whenever I can. I paddle to spend time on the water with my lovely wife and family. I paddle for the countless wipeouts, shore slams, chute bumps and injuries that come from a lifetime of extreme water sports. The pain of these injuries is nothing compared to the drudgery of not being on the water. Mostly I paddle for fun and to feel young at heart. Perhaps the most compelling reason that I paddle for these days is to enjoy the hot shower, healthy meal and warm bed that awaits me after a rigorous and rewarding day of paddling.

Paddle Hard, Be Safe.




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Another Winter Surfing Piece by Lutha Leahy-Miller

Early winter, December windiness, January frosts. NY winter surfing – waiting for calm winds and pumping waves, but also, brightest winter sun. Arctic blast go outs may be fun for some, but for most long-time winter surfers fun is dependent upon winter-friendly conditions.

Calm wind / blazing cloudless sunny winter days with chest to head high surf aren’t all that uncommon in winter however. Two, three, sometimes four, five, or six times a month in January, February, and/or March the waves can be bombing and perfect. Flawless offshore conditions, wintry ground-swells and sun blazing down under a borderless Northeastern Winter sky. Sun that beats down nicely on your hooded 5mm or 6mm winter suit to the point where you feel warmth and comfort inside your black as night neoprene cocoon despite the frigid 36 degree NY ocean temps.

Usually, I take a sort of sabbatical in either late November and/or early December due to the droning days of endless blustery winds. But then, just after that yearly month of windiness, most often in December and this year a month later in January, we normally start to see less wind, more sun, and the beginning march of winter ground-swells churning up from the South from December through March…

It is much harder to surf and maneuver in all the winter rubber, and my winter boards are slightly thicker and longer than my summer boards, but many of my best rides of the year end up being in the dead of old man winter’s frosty eye.

Last year my best shack was in mid January at mysto spot X…

Big cliffs, earthen spiked peaks jutting skyward, dirt from up top fluttering down every once in a while in balled little clumps, a few gulls, a seal poking his head out of his blue-leaden crisp icy ocean, my feet in their rubber clad boots finding their own way over a cobble ridden path on the way down to the break. Ice surfer’s wunderland / no man’s land / winter emptiness / no crowds / unsullied animal experience…

On this frigid mid-January day the wind is NW at 15-25 kts and the wind chill was 26 below zero. Solid sheet glass mini ice-ponds in the Montauk parking lot where water-filled potholes used to be… On such Arctic winter’s days the azure sky rings clear and bright.

I stood on the beach for a few minutes scoping it out before I went in. This day I decided on riding my 6’2” x 18 5/8” x 2 ¼” kustom CI Tangent. I had had it made specifically for winter waves like this. The little bit of extra meat just to compensate for winter paddling in my 5mm Patagonia R4.

There was no one out in the green algaed winter water save a slippery grey spotted seal. The biggest sets were topping out at a good 3-4 feet overhead, and the wave was coming in hard and square out, off, and in front of the point. You had to drop nearly straight down sideways though the frozen almond green barrel right upon takeoff. Kind of gnar but compared to Hawaii it was nothing. (Except for the duckdives…) So you had to take off dropping straight down sideways into and through the barrel to make the section, and then on your side opposite the wave mid-drop there was the rock; a huge boulder inside of you. But then the one main side benefit of a 5mm suit, (beside insulation and warmth) is padding, body armor. If you get bounced of the rocks or your board in a 5mm it hurts a hell of a lot less than in a pair of boardies…

Anyway, a short while later I’m out alone in the lineup. Most of the waves are around head high but some overhead sets are coming in every few minutes and then every 10 minutes or so a nice big one rolls through topping out in the 8-10 ft range. Solid top to bottom open almond wintergreen barrels. Betwixt cobbles and boulders you had to lace your way, through the tube section upon take off, and then all the way to the inside. Not bad and only one seal around for company.

After a while paddling and negotiating the winter sea currents, I finally stroked my way into a solid one. I saw it start to rise up out at sea, then a swung around, began digging in as best I could against the resistance of the neoprene 5mil, and after some serious effort, began to free fall straight down sideways into the barrel, just barely hanging on with my one inside fin and the very end of my round-pin. The icy glass wall rose up on my right side field of vision in a weightless dropping free fall. Heaven and bliss time suspended. My wave of the year right there. Barreled off my nut in 36-degree water and donning more rubber than the Michelin Man. I got shacked and rode that wave all the way to the inside and then caught a few more. After about two hours and 15 plus waves or so, plus that one ride of the year, it was over.

Tired and happy, I caught one last wave to shore and began the walk alone back up and away from the state reserve. Back to the world of tar and parking lots and motorways and commercialism and bullshit rhetoric and honking horns and ego trippers and conceited bankers and real estate salesman and sleezy politicians and post 80’s dweebs with obnoxious hair helmets and bad ties and faux locals who only dwell here on weekends or summers, and so on and so on.

As I was leaving one of the old rust patched diesel Montauk fishing boats clunked by and at least, I felt, there was still some realness left in the world. At least there are still some uncrowded days and some real people and a day free of salesmanship. Inner peace starts with reality and unfabricated experience. No BS = happiness, wintry bliss and no one around, save a seal…

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Dawn patrol last Weds. Super frigid air-temp conditions hovering just above the 20 degree mark in the Pine Barrens when I awoke at 5am. I groggily sneak to the back door so as not to wake the wife and kid and crack open the door. I can hear the swell pounding outside my house, it must be big, or at lest head high in worst case. Out in the front yard I see delicately frosted pale-green-grass curls, swirled perfect circlets, all over in repeating patterns. Out the door and down into the basement I go to select three boards for the day. In the end, what look good to me are the RPD 5.8 rocket-fish, my 6.2 CI Tangent if it’s big enough, and the 5.10 RPD swallow tail. I load them into the hatchback, grab my hooded 4/3, boots and gloves and I’m off.

An hour or so and a 20 oz 7-11 cup of coffee later I’m out in MTK checking spot x; no one else around… It’s huge!! Double overhead at spot x, but the wind’s wrong. Spot y is more manageable, but too much whitewater and again, the wind is still wrong. But, the sound and the smell of the briny salt sea morning air feels incredibly good, even though some of my knuckle joints ache from the decades of cold water surfing. It feels a little circular disks of cartilage are lodged between my thumb and pinky knuckles in the 1st and 2nd joints that emanate from the base of my hands. Slight gnarl from winter water-time spent, and going gloveless in 54-degree waters for a few decades on end. Brine morning mist and young winter’s stark sunshine peel over blue and broadly, from the far out ocean horizon to the little and shrunken, cold dirt-sodden cliffs on the beach. Cobbled rocks, stones, pebbles, and grainy sands roll under the swells lashing the beach as Atlantic waves do, in their rhythmic/timed cold water fashion.

I spend about 30 minutes carefully looking over ‘spot y’ from a few different angles before deciding to move on to more peaceful waters. There is still no one else out, and my medium-large wave alter ego is nowhere in sight, nor is Sammie with the 8’ CI gun which I am hoping to ride… Or rather, that I am hoping to paddle out on. Lots of water moving, too much in fact for the 6.2 chippy chip that I have erroneously brought in the back of my car. I should have strapped the semi guns to my roof, but, the buoy was down and I really didn’t think the waves would be that big…

Ditch it is I guess, and so I pack it in, and walk back up the trails to the parking lot and get back into my car, driving off to waves of lesser glory and smaller posture, but at least my boards will work there. And, maybe the wind will be better. Damp NE winds are never really any good in Montauk’s hinter Atlantic regions. Oh well.

Back in ye accursed olde dirt lot, bright-pale brilliant-blue cloudless winteresque sky expands wide overhead, and nothing beleaguers it—perfect/clear. Dirt lot nearly empty. The dreaded dirt lot. More kooks in a square mile than is possible anywhere on earth, (except maybe LA). There’s only two or three cars. A kind of van of some sort, and two Range Rover surfers who just keep wandering around in circles wondering if they are really going to have the balls to paddle out in the chest high burgers or not. Over and out to the right, where the jetty used to be, there’s a small gaggle of paddle-faries, some doing well, most looking ugly. Out in front though, there’s only two guys out, and the set waves are coming in clean and regular every few minutes, with the sets topping out in the head high range every so often and with clean and friendly November conditions.

I stand there on the grass bluff puff thing for a while. Just above the beach trying hard to decide what board to ride. Then, all of a sudden there is some yelling in thick NY or LI accents;


And then the other voice yelling back, “Yeah you fat %$^&!”

Then they’re both on the ground. Two bald-grey old men rolling around in the nearly empty Dirt Lot at 7am. And one of them is for sure, a bellowing heifer of a man. The ‘MUTHA-BLANKETY-BLANK’ guy must weigh in at a minimum of 245lbs, and his pork-barrel gut sticks out of his t-shirt and clothes like a pregnant women’s belly pulling 9 months to the day. Not a pretty sight. I’m wondering if I should step in but I see quickly that they can both handle themselves and that they know each other and then two friends of theirs show up and break it up anyway… Besides, they’re both waay bigger than me…

Ditch, the heaviest spot in Long Island?! Has it come to this? Ridiculous wankerism being fought over not even the waves? To what deepest low have we now sunk to as a subculture? Oh the shame of it…

Let’s just go surfing to have fun again!! That’s the whole point of it all anyway. To go have fun delving into nature’s watery folds and to feel and experience, the ‘glissante divine’ of it. The cool-glide feeling of the briny saltwaterness, flowing over our rails and cutting in deep with our fins. That’s it!! The whole point of surfing is to have fun, in the weightlessness, the effortless glide, or the g’s of the turns, or of the style of execution of it.

Pure aqueous joy…

Anyway, the day turns out to be fun in the end. Every 5, 10, or 15 minutes or so there is a solid head high peeling left that, although a bit on the slow side, is long and fun and bending all the way in, to the little old beach. There is something to be said for length of ride alone sometimes I guess, even when snappiness and pockets are not a regular occurrence.

Anyway, 2-3 hrs of semi-regular head-high sets and peeling slow backside lefts are still fun, and even though I was on a board somewhat too thin and too short, I had fun just riding drop knee all the way to the beach nonetheless…

After a few hours, it seemed to be slowing down a bit, so I decided to get out of the water and maybe head back home. I caught one very long drop knee ride all the way from the left end of Railers Beach to the inside right section on the beach nearly one parking lot over. I couldn’t imagine how fun it would have been on one of those 6.3 Christenson Submariner’s that Marko and Timmy sometimes ride…

Backside drive off a single fin alterna-shortboard with perfect rails-a-floating, nothing like that… Nothing…

Anyway, after 2-3 hrs, I was tired and so got back in my car and headed home; to East Quogue…

Fun day.

©2011 Lutha Leahy-Miller

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Summer Surf 2011 by Lutha Leahy-Miller

Summer 2011 was a summer of shifting beach breaks, fat small wave swells, thick boards and booming crowds. Even the good days were fattish and a bit on the weak side, not as crunchy as usual. Was this because of higher sea levels? Lack of swell? Or am I just getting older and fatter? Perhaps all of the above..?

Well, in reality I am lighter than I was in 97, so that’s not a factor. Plus, I’m in better shape for the most part. In reality it just was a summer with very few head high swells, and so the 5.6 Merrick Biscuit was my board of choice nearly all summer long. Many other guys and girls were riding the Motorboat or lust logging it up all summer long.

Local beach breaks right by the shop were the place to be, and Ditch nonetheless was more crowded than ever. Bankers, hipsters, trustafarians, and ye olde time locals clogged the place to the max! Not to mention the surf camps blowing up everywhere from Westhampton to Montauk. People were heading from Ditch to Southampton Hospital in record numbers this summer due to endless array of surf accidents between surfers and stand up paddleboarders alike. Two or three serious injuries resulting from SUPs caused Lars here at Main Beach to re-enforce his advice about taking SUP boards very very seriously in ocean waves.

There were a few good days however, and those days were excellent! Although, they were still barely overhead. Another big thing this year was the Quik Pro, and that contest held in Long Beach, NY at summer’s tail end proved very exciting for nearly all of the surfers in NY. After the final with Slater vs. Owen Wright, Channel Islands’ Fred Rubble, the board Slats rode in the contest, became the most sought after board in the shop!

Finally, this fall, the very first SUP race ever to be held in the Hamptons went off in the town of East Hampton. Lars won 1st place, and from now on Main Beach will be organizing a series of SUP races every summer. This will sure to become a staple event in Hamptons’ summer sporting events…

Now it is nearly November, and the water is just about cold enough to start wearing winter booties and 4mm wetsuits. The dark half of the year is nearly upon us. Six long months of the surfing year when come epic waves, Nor Easters, and the most frigid of temperatures when we are forced to don our super-thick hooded winter wetsuits, booties, and gloves. Six long months of little light, short days, and lonely winter lineups. An endless march of pumping swells, and rarely anyone to share it with except the seals. Paradise…

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