Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing you

  • Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing yourself instead of taking photos of me.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

TS Joaquin

TS Joaquin. It delivered the best surfing and windsurfing in years. And it did so for weeks. More great days than I could possibly enjoy.

Ghosts of October from Thomas Brookins on Vimeo.

I hope it broke the spell Sandy cast upon this region. 
I used to wish for hurricanes… until one actually hit us. 

[Now I hope for Tropical Depressions that stay south of us, offshore; in order the generate ‘long period swell’ {with a wave period of 12 seconds or so}. Then I hope the TS degrades in wind strength; stalls just north east of us and blows North Easterly for a week or so to clean up the swell, and create ‘Side Off, Down The Line conditions.] 

It’s been 3 years since Sandy, and we still have not fully recovered. This May, I helped build a roof on someone’s home who lost it to Sandy. Some of my friends are still hoping to raise their homes, like they do on Hatteras.
Sandy hit us: but not head on…Jersey, Staten Island, The Rockaway’s, Long Beach, and the less fortunate areas on LI’s South Shore were hit.

In contrast, Joaquin created an epic playground. More than enough windy days. More than enough epic surf. For weeks; not days. “Missed yesterday?” “So what,” “today is just as good;” “tomorrow; might even be better.”

It washed away the guilt. There used to be joy in watching the tracks of tropical storms. Excitement in the anticipation. “How big will the swell get?” 

“How windy?” “What direction?” “Will ‘the Mysto” appear?”

I actually have boards and sails that sit in my garage waiting. Too small to be part of my everyday quiver. But perfect for those Goldilocks conditions when the storm got just close enough; but not too close. I still have dreams about some of my best sessions… Bill in 09, Ernesto in 06, the Halloween Nor’easter in 91, Gloria in 85…I only understood the rides; the excitement; not the devastation, and loss. 

This clip By Peconic Windsurfer, was from October 09: a Goldilocks session.

Sandy changed that forever. I felt like an asshole for not understanding what landfall really meant.Joaquin returned some of that childlike innocence. It let us forget the bad parts. The friends who died, or lost everything.  

Joaquin: brought back the fun. This shot was taken by a Kiter, who we shared waves with all day.

But it also brought back Localism. 

Don’t get me wrong… a little localism can be a good thing. I live in a heavy populated part of the world, and “surfing” has exploded in NY. So localism can mean, order, and safety.
We as a region have been enjoying a more relaxed, friendlier version since Sandy. Not the kind that reared it’s ugly head during the first week of Joaquin.

After all, it’s a little difficult to be an asshole to a people who after Sandy, helped deliver you, and your family; food, clothes, and helped you re-build your home. People who worked with the Parks to re-build dunes, and access to our precious beaches, waves, and water.

But that wasn't everyone. Maybe they just have short memories. Maybe they just will always be assholes? I know there are times I wish it was like the 70’s or 80’s. We were the only guys out; we had it all to ourselves. We were young, dumb, an indestructible.

I wasn’t 100% this season. It’s a hard reality. I missed one perfect DTL day because I was busy finding fuel for the generator, ice, and batteries. Plus, I had only been surfing and windsurfing a few times since I cut up my arm this Summer; I understood that if something broke down, my body was not up for a life saving swim in the ocean.

I’m a weekend warrior now. I don’t get to go everyday. But if you do…that’s great. I’m even happy for you. But it doesn’t mean that it’s your spot. It’s not “your” beach. It’s not “your” ocean. Especially if its in a Public State Park.
I witnessed people bullying those they thought ruined, or were less entitled to “their" break, or spot; “their” beach. Windsurfers don’t seem to have this “localism’ problem. Over the years I have windsurfed with professional windsurfers all over the world. We always share; and are genuinely stoked to meet new windsurfers making the jump to wave sailing.

The ‘Localism’ I saw, was a taught behavior, not based on natural selection. It wasn’t about safety.  It was a pecking order, an elitism, a learned ‘entitlement’. An effort to make something private.
Not earned; not deserved; but learned.

We all recognize that when some rich asshole builds a house on a sandbar, with a traditional public right of way to the beach…and then tries to claim that beach, or break is now somehow his private property…that he is wrong. 
We use the Public Trust Doctrine, or the Donegan Patent to ensure that beach stays public. At the very least, up the the mean high tide mark. And that there is still a public “right of Way” to access that beach

Some surfers…believe they are more public than others. They believe, and are taught that they have more right to a certain spot than anyone else.
The worst case I witnessed, was a group of guys who claimed a certain spot in a to be “theirs”. It played out on social media; threats made to people old enough to be their fathers. People who had surfed “their spot” long before the bullies were even born. I’ve seen this before; people who fight for certain rights, only to fight against that same right, if it’s for someone else.

Just as selfish as the guy with millions of dollars who buys up some beach front property; and then tries to claim the ocean as his own.
Screw everyone else. It’s mine now…we seemed to have no trouble sharing waves in the 40's....