Australian Wins Surfing Competition

Originally published on September 13, 2011 6:12 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Mike Pesca was there.

MIKE PESCA: But the word that brought the Quicksilver Pro event to Long Beach had nary a trace of the goofy about it.

SEAN COLLINS: The symmetry...

PESCA: The symmetry?

COLLINS: ...is like the topography of the ocean floor.

PESCA: Sean Collins is founder of Surfline, the condition forecaster of record for the surf community.

COLLINS: The first thing that I do when I'm going and looking at new surf spots is I check out the underwater bottom contours offshore for every single spot because that's really the secret of what makes a really good surf spot.

PESCA: Long Beach, New York's secret lies in an underwater trench that extends 400 nautical miles offshore called the Hudson Canyon. It contributes to the surfable waves off the Barrier Island 50 minutes from Manhattan by Long Island Railroad.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Long Beach, last stop. Please...

PESCA: Collins pointed to the second week of September as the perfect time to surf Long Beach. Still, the tour knew that people would ask, are there really waves in New York? The PA announcers during the event had clearly heard the skeptics.

MAN: Just wanted to say what's up to all those people who said there's no waves in New York. It doesn't look like there's really any waves today. Right? Yeah, right.

PESCA: But mostly, they reveled in the athleticism and artistry of the athletes performing in what turned out to be excellent conditions.

PETER MEL: ...the bottom carves back into the power sources, goes...

PESCA: Peter Mel, a surfing analyst who once competed on the tour says that, with an assist from Hurricane Katia, the swell in Long Beach was exactly what the event organizers were hoping for.

BLOCK: I believe that a world champion should be versatile. You got to have venues like this as well as you got to have venues like Pipeline, you got to have venues like Tahiti, you got to have venues like J-Bay. They're all different in their aspects, the way you approach the wave. They're all different in the way you approach your equipment. They're all different in the way you approach your fitness.

PESCA: Julian Wilson, a 22-year-old Australian who lost to eventual event winner, Owen Wright in the quarter finals, said the conditions were great for him.

JULIAN WILSON: I grew up in waves that weren't that good, so I mean, this is a really good day at my house, so I'm not complaining one bit. And if you want to, you know, be the best, you've got to be able to surf all conditions. So yeah. I mean, guys that maybe grew up in perfect waves, it's not ideal, but it looks pretty perfect to the size out there.

PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.