Last year at this time, Craig “CJ” Mangio of North Massapequa placed fourth at New York Surf Week.
This year, it was a bottom turn into a backside vertical snap that sealed the win for Mangio, who finally placed first in the boys division after spending half a lifetime surfing competitively in the contest.
“I like to do snaps, cutbacks and barrel riding because they score well in contests,” said Mangio.
Mangio was one of about 30 boys and 15 girls, all 17 years old and younger, who competed in the Kids Surf Contest on Sunday. The event was the final competition in the ninth annual New York Surf Week, which ran for five days.
Judges scored the best two waves during a 15- or 20-minute period. Competitors could earn up to 10 points per wave. Each surfer was judged on critical maneuvers, speed, power and flow.
Mangio has been surfing since age 6 and qualifying for the northeast surf competition for the past five years. Two weeks ago, the eighth-grader placed ninth in a California event, competing against local and international surfers in the 13-and-under age group.
“It’s rare to have surfers from New York beating surfers from Hawaii and California,” said Will Skudin, 33, whose Long Beach surf school sponsored Sunday’s contest.
Skudin, who ranks eighth in the world of big surfing, co-founded the company with his brother 11 years ago. The third-generation surfer said he wanted to share what he had learned as a child with the kids in the community.
Brooke Esposito of Sag Harbor placed second in the girls division Sunday, despite “big and lumpy” waves that she said weren’t easy to navigate. The 15-year-old comes from a family of surfers and has had her own board since the age of 3. She began competing at 7, and enjoys the long and short board.
“It’s my first time surfing at Long Beach so I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said.
Esposito usually competes in Southampton and Montauk. In winter months, surfing in Long Island can be a test of dedication to the sport.
“We go out for 45 minutes because it’s so cold,” she said.
Not every competitor surfs year-round. Jake Pellicane, 12, of Long Beach, said he’s busy with hockey and lacrosse during the winter. That didn’t stop the rising sixth-grader from winning one of his heats and placing fourth in the boys division.
“When I go out there, I just do my thing,” he said.