As Hurricane Dorian inched up to a Category 2 on Saturday, the storm created ideal conditions for the professional surfers competing in Long Beach.
A breeze from the north directed at the ocean propped the swells up, setting the stage for the dozens of surfers competing in the World Surf League’s New York Longboard Classic. The four-day event draws the best in the sport, with competitors from across the globe, including Australia, Brazil and Japan, said the league’s tour director, Devon Howard. Participants are vying for a prize purse of about $5,000.
Long Beach is the third stop in a four-circuit tournament with the championships being held in Taiwan in December, Howard said.
“These are considered excellent conditions,” Howard said. “We’re seeing 4-to-6-foot waves from trough to crest.”
Hundreds of people spread out on the shore to watch the surfers, who competed in groups of three and four, stand up on and gracefully walk up and back on their boards.
Rick Barry, 73, and Dennis Carey, 71, tracked a surfer as she pushed herself up, teetered forward and balanced on the tip of her board.
The friends have been surfing Long Beach since they were lifeguards there in the 1960s. This summer the waves have been a little underwhelming, Barry said. But on Saturday the water allowed for “nice, long nose rides,” where surfers hang on the end of the board daring to see how long they can remain there without retreating or tumbling into the sea, Barry said.
“These are the best conditions and the best contest that Long Beach has ever had,” Barry said.
Long Beach hasn’t hosted a surfing event this large since 2011 when the Quicksilver Pro New York competition was held in the city, Howard said. The city welcomed this year’s tour and Howard said they were eager to bring the event to an “iconic area” with an established surf culture.
Josh Constable, a former world longboard champion from Noosa, Australia, surfed in a heat early Saturday morning. He was excited by the temperate weather and the large swells, a byproduct of the hurricane.
“As surfers these storms excite us,” Constable said. “It’s what we live for.”