Pretty chill: We went winter surfing at the Rockaways (and you can too)

Photo courtesy Outdoorfest
Photo courtesy Outdoorfest

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We did something recently that was so awesome we can’t believe we hadn’t done it already. What we did was take the A train out almost as far as it goes to Beach 67 early one morning to surf. We were heading to our first surf lesson and as the train rolled past Broad Channel, we looked out at the water and questioned starting such a hobby in the middle of winter.

We shouldn’t have worried though because when we arrived at the beach, the first thing our instructors did was get us into full wetsuits. We then spent the first part of the lesson on land learning how to position ourselves and what to do with the long foam board we’d eventually be surfing with. While a foam board doesn’t look as cool as a “real” surfboard (which is covered with epoxy or fiberglass), it’s ideal for beginners because of how light and soft it is—making it a bit easier to handle and less likely to cause bodily harm (we were grateful for this each time we surfaced after a wipeout).

After we got the hang of our boards and learned how to paddle and pop-up (think a pushup with some extra pizzazz to help pull your feet under you so you can stand up), we headed for the water. Our instructors helped us paddle past the breaking waves where we could rest a bit and enjoy the view of the horizon. When we were ready, we swam over to an instructor who was keeping an eye on the oncoming waves. When a good one came along, he’d tell us to paddle, give us a push and then yell “pop-up!” This took a few tries but we were able to get up after a few attempts. And let us tell you—there is really nothing like riding a wave, no matter how ungraceful the ride. We are absolutely hooked.

Here’s how to do it: We took our lesson with Locals Surf School as part of a retreat hosted by Outdoorfest. New York Surf School also offers lessons in the winter. Each shop hosts group lessons that run for about $80 per person (depending on how many people are in your group) or you can take a private lesson for around $100. Boards and wetsuits are included with each lesson but you can also rent them if you’re ready to ride solo (we’ll be taking at least a few more lessons before exercising this option).

For more surfing links and the answer to the question we know you have (how cold did that water feel?), check out the rest of this week’s newsletter.

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