Surf culture generally brings to mind sunny days, warm beaches, palm trees, and boardwalks — but a community of surfers in the greater New York City area are turning the surfer stereotype on its head, taking to the waves in the dead of winter.
Photographer Andreea Waters has been documenting East Coast surfers since 2014, and claims that winter surfing in NYC is “no joke.”
“Winter surfing is the core of New York City surf culture,” she told Business Insider.
In her new book, “Surf NYC“, Waters documents a number of surfers and beaches near New York. She even learned to surf in the process.
“It’s my salty high,” she said.
Waters photographed a number of New York beaches during the winter season, including Rockaway Beach, Montauk, Long Beach, and Lido Beach.
While that might not sound too inviting, it's a well-known fact that the best waves come during the winter season. In the winter months, 'You only find the brave and experienced (surfers),' Waters said.
'In the winter, the ocean changes its mood. You can feel it,' Waters said. 'For most, it is uninviting.'
'Surfers are an anomaly in the city where most people are more interested in dousing themselves in martinis than salt water,' Ashley Wood said. 'For those of us who choose to live by the tides, though, surfing in NYC provides the ultimate combination of cultured life and catching waves.'
Waters believes that to surf the New York winters, 'You have to have a little stormy madness in your soul.' You also need to be well-trained, both mentally and physically, to keep up with the waves.
Tony Farmer was one of three surfers riding waves at Rockaway Beach during a Nor'easter storm in December of 2014. Waters rushed out to document the surfers and caught this image of Farmer riding a 10 to 12-foot wave. 'He rode it all the way,' she said. 'It was one of those magic moments.'
To catch New York waves, Waters claims you have to have a 'surf forecasting addiction.' 'It gives you hope and despair, as waves here are inconsistent, and winds are fickle,' she said.
Tyler Breuer, a New York City surfer and owner of the Sundown Ski and Surf Shop in Long Island, wrote the foreword for Waters' book. 'There is something primal about being a surfer in this part of the world. We tap into the hunter-gatherer state of mind,' he wrote.
'I've often thought that your West Coast brethren surfers are more domesticated and enjoy an agricultural sort of attitude towards surfing,' Breuer said. 'The waves are more abundant and seem to be on tap all the time ... they have never lived through a three-month flat spell over the summer.'
'If you ever dropped into a perfect wave, yet complained about the falling snow blurring your vision, then you know what it's like to surf in New York,' Sean Kittle said.
When it comes to catching the waves, Breuer said, 'We risk everything, just so we don't hear those famous words: 'You should have been here an hour ago.''
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