Words and Photos by Jeff Duke
I’m currently living in Toronto. I had to move from Sydney earlier this year and I’ve been having serious surf withdrawals ever since. After watching Hurricane Joaquin for three days, as it moved farther out to sea the forecast looked better and better for the East Coast.
I bought a utility van and am about half way through kitting it out like a '70s surf camper.
With some little white lies I bought myself three days before I had to be back.In Toronto this is of course useless since it’s minus 30 for six months of the year and there’s no ocean for nearly a thousand kilometres. But those California dreams get me through these waveless weeks. I didn’t think New York would come first.
Long Beach faces south, NE winds and SE swell are the key and as the storm progressed, things were lining up. Responsibility was telling me a couple stars on a magicseaweed report shouldn’t be enough to commit to a 10 hour drive – and like every other mid-twenties travel addicted surfer, I’m broke. I start a new job on Wednesday and am meant to be doing training between now and then.
It wasn’t even a decision. As soon as I saw the report I knew I was going. The rest of the real life can be put on hold. Passion over practicality. I’d already started rearranging my schedule and making excuses for various commitments. With some little white lies I bought myself three days before I had to be back. From the moment the idea crossed my mind I hadn’t been this excited in months. Frothing was an understatement.
Under brisk morning offshores there was reeling little 3ft right handers unloading on the sandbar fifty feet from shore.
Winds weren’t looking good until Monday morning so I stayed in Manhattan and played tourist Sunday night and left for Long Beach at 4am. I had no clue where to go, so I pulled down the first side street that looked like there may be a beach at the end of it. I stood transfixed. It was better than I ever could have imagined. Under brisk morning offshores there was reeling little 3ft right handers unloading on the sandbar fifty feet from shore. I didn’t even waste time taking a picture. I had it to myself for at least an hour before three other dudes came and sat on the peak beside me. I was so stoked. I’d scored. All that way had paid off. I was happy with just that.
It just kept getting better as the day went on, the wind died and the swell filled in. I drove farther east along Long Beach and found some better banks. By my third surf that day it was well overhead and barrelling, with strong offshores holding up hollow lefts and rights as far as you could see in both directions. Finally my arms were jelly and I went over the falls and into the sandbar straddling my board like a limp cowboy. I called it a day and picked up the camera.
The next morning was even better. It would have been called a good day in Australia and there would have been 200 aggro dudes jockeying for waves. Not in New York, everyone was equally stoked and just out to have fun. Much respect to the locals there, you guys are some of the nicest strangers I’ve ever surfed with. We all saw the WSL comp in New York and knew it could happen but I just never expected to stumble upon it myself. I think I did one turn that morning, it was just a barrel-fest.
Thank you New York. You blew my mind.