Surfing Magazine recently named Long Beach as home to one of “The 10 Most Important Waves In America,” a list that mentioned just three beach towns on the East Coast.
Along with Long Beach, the magazine highlighted the Outer Banks in North Carolina, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and seven boarding hotspots throughout California, including Ocean Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
Taylor Paul, who wrote the article, clarified that the list does not necessarily rank destinations with the best or biggest waves, but rather those “that groom world-class talent, inspire media, host contests, turn boys to men, girls to women and influence surf culture in the continental [United States].”
“It’s the best wave close to the most important city in the world,” Paul wrote, referring to the city by the sea. “If you like big cities and hypothermia, you’ll love Long Beach.”
The barrier island is home to some of the world’s best professional surfers, including Point Lookout’s Balaram Stack and Long Beach’s own Will Skudin and T.J. Gumiela.
Stack earned a wild-card spot in Long Beach’s Quiksilver Pro NY in 2011, one of the city’s most memorable events, where he surfed against some of the world’s best, including Kelly Slater. As a pro surfer on the Unsound team, Stack now travels three out of four weeks each month of the year to chase waves around the world, but flies back to his hometown to enjoy the variety of waves available throughout the seasons.
“There’s not too many other places in the world where people go from surfing in board shorts to surfing in the snow,” Stack said. “I’m definitely proud of where I come from. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
Skudin, 30, a big-wave rider who was named East Coast Surfer of the Year in 2013 by Eastern Surfing Magazine, becoming the first New Yorker to do so, and was nominated for Billabong’s Ride of the Year honors for mastering a wave in Ireland that same year. He’s currently on the Big Wave World Tour, racking up more Ride of the Year and Paddle Award entries for waves he rode in Oregon, Hawaii and Mexico within the past few months. Skudin said growing up riding small waves in Long Beach polished his paddling, positioning and reaction time, which helped propel him to where he is today.
“We grew up surfing some shore-break here in New York,” Skudin said. “If you can make a drop on a really fast dumping shore-break, then you can make a drop anywhere in the world.”
The local legend said the waves in Long Beach range from two feet to 12 feet, and though inconsistent sometimes, the swells during hurricane season and the winters – with the help of wetsuits – provide quality surfing to the eclectic bunch of riders in town. Skudin added that the area’s surfing culture has grown in recent years, as riders come from all backgrounds, and defying the “surfer dude” stereotype.
“Now, surfers are lawyers, surfers are riders, surfers are doctors,” Skudin said. “Surfers are guys that own the pizza place up the block.”
Skudin and his brother, Cliff, 33, run the Skudin Surf school for people of all ages in Long Beach, Atlantic Beach and Rockaway Beach, helping to foster a sport dominated by West Coasters throughout their northeastern hometown.
“It’s an amazing feeling sharing something that you love so much with another person,” pro surfer Cliff Skudin said. “Surfing isn’t just riding waves, it’s a lifestyle and it really opens doors up to so many avenues in life…”
Cliff said that over the years, Long Beach has been overshadowed by the allure of New York City, but now the South Shore town is gaining recognition as an internationally known surfing destination. He added that having a “world-class wave” close by is unique and that residents should take advantage of it.
“The ocean is our biggest playground,” Cliff said. “Utilizing that safely and having fun in it is unlike anything else because ultimately you can go to any park, or anything all over Long Island but ultimately the biggest park, the biggest playground, the biggest source of energy that you can totally have so much fun in is so easily accessible. It’s right there in the ocean.”
The city will host NYSEA Surf Week from July 13-17, which offers surf contests for kids and adults, open charity surf events, parties and concerts. The open surfing contest takes place between Edwards Boulevard and National Boulevard beach and features both professional and local surfers. In addition, Long Beach’s yearly Unsound Surf Pro event is once again slated for September, as is Moku Surf Shop’s third annual Longboard Classic.
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