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The Everything Guide to Urban Surfing

New board stores, secret point breaks, and a gallery of unlikely surf rats.


There were 2 million surfers in the world in 1963; today there are more than 25 million, and on temperate days in the waters off the Rockaways, it can feel as though all of them have found their way here. Indeed, there’s never been a bigger surf season in New York: Wave lineups from Gilgo Beach to Sandy Hook are packed; surf shops have opened in Soho and Williamsburg; basements in Carroll Gardens have been turned into board-shaping studios; and even as you read this, Quiksilver is staging a World Championship Tour contest, with a record $1 million purse, in Long Beach. Of course, many longtime surfers wince at the effects of the New York surf boom, and understandably so. But many others find the prospect of Kelly Slater taming a wave 28 miles from midtown irresistible. And few can deny the surreal, out-of-context thrill of watching bowly, eight-foot swells pound metropolitan shores—particularly right now, in September, with hurricanes on the march, and the summertime crowds on the wane.


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