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When I started this story-before local grocery stores in New York City sold out of flashlights, batteries, and bottled water in anticipation of Irene-surfing in the Big Apple remained somewhat under the radar. In a city where sunbathing often means spreading a towel on a chunk of concrete pier off the West Side Highway, riding the waves seems an unlikely pursuit. And yet as storm hysteria swept the city, surfers took center stage.
Mayor Bloomberg gave a direct warning to New York's surfing community on Saturday morning, warning them not to head into the water. The day before, the New York Daily News covered the surf scene at Rockaway Beach-the city's only designated surfing area-as thrill seekers took advantage of a swelling sea and uncharacteristically large waves.
If hurricane Irene didn't thrust local surfing into the spotlight, then certainly news of an upcoming pro surfing championship did. This is what initially sparked my curiosity. I sat down on the subway one day and saw a tidal wave looming above an elderly man's head. Plastered to the wall of the downtown A train, there was a poster advertising the Quiksilver Pro New York surfing competition, which begins this weekend in Long Beach, NY. While the competing surfers will come from all over the world, the existence of a major competition nearby got me thinking, what does surf culture look like in NYC?
I started in SoHo where a shop on Crosby called Saturdays deals in coffee, clothing and surfboards. Of course, Saturdays isn't only for surfers. Walk by on a weekday afternoon and you may see sales associates from nearby shops ducking in for a drink, or a group of chefs from the adjacent French Culinary Institute lounging on the bench outside. However, one surfer you will see there is co-owner Josh Rosen, who has been surfing for 20 years.