Shredding The End: Montauk Surfing
BY JOHN BOBEY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ABBEY DRUCKER
When you talk to the average Montauk surfer, you also are talking to someone who probably knows as much about meteorology as the guy wearing a suit on the local news. “Just from the swells…they really learn to read the tides and weather buoys and know how to track a storm,” says Morgan Rae Berk, surfer and founder/producer of the New York Surf Film Festival. “Surfers know exactly when it’s going to hit and what the wind’s going to be like. It’s a science you don’t have to go to school to learn—you really can just watch the ocean and learn by observing.”
While there are plenty of apps and Web sites (montauk-online.com and surfline.com to name two) to help surfers monitor the weather, locals knowthat Montauk surfing is ideal when conditions in the Atlantic region are not. Storms are great surf just waiting to happen. “When hurricane season really picks up, like in September, the waves get amazingly big,” says Berk. “These hurricanes sit out there on the Atlantic Ocean, and anything that’s churning is going to make its way up here. There’s nothing to block it—Long Island is completely exposed to the ocean.”
Much the way flicking one end of a rope sends that force rippling until it eventually releases at the other end, a wave represents similar energy in water. As water is displaced along or beneath the ocean’s surface, as it is in a hurricane, earthquake or volcanic eruption, that energy creates a wave. Untilit meets resistance or its energy has the chance to resolve on the shore, the wave keeps coming. As the energy dissipates and the wave heads to shore, it peaks, curves and breaks. Surfing is the act of meeting the wave as it begins to crest and harnessing that energy in the final seconds of its life. The best achieve harmony with the wave and go along for the ride; the rest wipe out.
So, are we any closer to knowing what is that magical thing about surfing? Most surfers say the answer lies in catching a wave of your own—and that is about all they will say. They would rather you find your own path to the answer than follow theirs. Maybe, like Masur, your “what” will be the time for reflection surfing affords. “There is a lot of time in surfing when you’re really just sitting in the water waiting for the waves to come and you get a lot of time to think,” he says. “You are able to meditate about what is happening in your daily life, and that is addictive.”
Maybe your “what” will be like the television-inspired epiphany experienced by Montauk board builder and longtime surfing sage Jim Goldberg: “I’ll never forget the day—I was watching Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay and the tandem surfing contest in Honolulu, Waikiki Beach,” he says.
“I looked. And I watched. And I knew right then and there. I said, ‘That’s what I want to do!’ I knew all I wanted to do was surf.”
Now 61, Goldberg never looked back, and no matter what he has done to earn money, the “Four Foot Clause” has always applied. “Any waves over four feet,” he says, “means it’s time to stop working.” Perhaps your “what” will be what Montauk surf fixture Tony Caramanico—whose living-legend status has been in good standing since 1965—offers: “The bottom line with surfing is, I think every human enjoys the reaction to feeling happy, and surfing is truly so much fun.” Amen.
Styling by Amanda Weiner
Produced by Erika Mercado
Hair by Marco Testa for Redken @ BA-REPS.com
Makeup by Elisa Flowers for Dior Beauty at BA-REPS.com
Special thanks to Panoramic View Resort & Residences, 272 Old Montauk Hwy.; distinctiveventures.com
Additional credit to 668 the Gig Shack, Saltbox, Ditch Witch, WhaleBone Creative and John Trenacoset.