Shredding The End: Montauk Surfing
BY JOHN BOBEY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ABBEY DRUCKER
Rosy Hodge and her Roxy Surf teammates
What is it about surfing? If we are to believe the last 60 years of popular culture, surfers are supposedly equal parts monk and merry prankster, a mashup of Jack Nitzsche’s "The Lonely Surfer" and The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird.” Why is it that even those who are new to surfing speak in near mystical terms, as though they are no longer satisfied just representing themselves or even their sport, but seem compelled to serve as ambassador to the ethereal relationship that can exist between humans and the ocean? Seriously, what is it about surfing? The answer to that may be too big, too soon…
An easier question to answer is what is it about Montauk? “It is a testament to how unrelentingly beautiful the area is, the combination of the ocean with the incredible flora and beautiful landscape,” says Bill Lukashok, the director of capital markets for Prana Investments. “The beaches are as great as any beaches you’ll find in the world.”
When people first started heading out to enjoy those world-class beaches back in the day, there was but a small fraction of today’s ever-increasing number of full-time residents and the thousands more who descend for the summer season. These days, fighting for space in all those Kate Spade beach bags and Patagonia backpacks, next to the Vitamin Water, iPad 2 and Kiehl’s sunblock, is a bar of Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax. Gird your loins, Moondoggie—Montauk is the new surf city.
It is fair to say that when The Beach Boys sang, “Let’s go surfin’ now/ everybody’s learning how/ come on a safari with me” back in 1962, they had no intention of hopping on the LIRR. Historically, the world’s most talked-about premiere surfing destinations were places like Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Jeffreys Bay in South Africa, Bells Beach in Australia, Mavericks in northern California, and Malibu in the south. Even though our own beloved Montauk has always hosted some of the most mettletesting conditions and rewarding waves in all of surfdom, it never got the respect it deserved. That is, until recently. Sure, locals have always known about—and fiercely protected—their secret spots, but the word is finally out in a big way with groms, Barneys and kooks (young surfers, those who are new to surfing, and those who say they can surf but really can’t), all fighting for waves with the Big Kahunas (no definition necessary).
Surfers are a nomadic breed, following the waves in pursuit of an endless summer around the globe. Given that, it was just a matter of time before the good news about Montauk surfing—especially the stellar break at Ditch Plains—got out. (At Ditch, you will see both old-school longboarders walking their toes to the nose and young gun shortboarders shredding the waves to foamy ribbons.) Jimmy Buffett loves to bring his friends—like bigwave legend Laird Hamilton—to Ditch in his lime-green MargaritaMobile. Even renowned artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel has been known to paddle out. This September, the sport’s reigning kings will hit town as the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) holds The Quicksilver Pro New York event in Long Beach.
To surf is to be attuned to nature, and to surf Montauk even more so. “The West Coast has consistently better waves, and there are a lot more surfers. You pretty much just go to the water,” says surfing attorney Steven Masur of MasurLaw. “Here, it’s less obvious; it’s not immediately clear where you should go surfing. You have to find a strange road, go down that road, and walk across somebody’s backyard. You have to be kind of hard core to like it here.” True, California’s climate is more predictable, and the surfing conditions follow suit; in Montauk, you need more than a weather vane to know which way the wind blows.
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.