The surf's still on in Long Beach.
Despite Tropical Storm Irene, the world's top-ranked professional surfers will be in town over the next two weeks, riding the waves to compete for $1 million in prize money at the Quiksilver Pro New York. The bad news: Many spectator-friendly aspects of the event -- free concerts headlined by Taking Back Sunday and other bands, BMX demos and other on-site entertainment -- have been canceled due to Irene's impact on the beach.
Still, the tournament, which starts Sunday and continues through Sept. 15 offers Long Islanders an unparalleled chance to see international champions on the water -- in a community that's long had a love affair with surfing.
"There's camaraderie in Long Beach," says Lisa Mulligan, the city's deputy manager. Although officials are "disappointed" about having to scale back the festival events, they are committed to making the competition a success. Says Mulligan, "People are looking for something good to come out of this."
Here's what you need to know if you're heading down to watch the tournament:
ABOUT THE EVENT
Quiksilver Pro New York is the sixth of 11 stops on this year's Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour, coming after legs in Australia, Brazil and South Africa. It will be the first ASP World Tour held on the East Coast.
So why Long Island?
"You've got one of the most dedicated surfing communities in the entire world," says event spokeswoman Jodi Wilmott. What's more, a study of 15 years' worth of wave data by Surfline .com forecast peak surfing conditions here in the first two weeks of September -- natch, Atlantic hurricane season.
HOW IT WORKS
The tournament will feature the world's 34 top-ranked athletes, including 10-time world champion Kelly Slater -- the Derek Jeter of surfing. It includes two wild-card surfers: Long Beach's Balaram Stack and a slot to be determined by the winner of trials Sunday.
Surfers will compete on the water off National Boulevard for only three or four days over the 11-day period to allow for the best waves. Officials will assess conditions around 7 each morning and update the schedule on quiksilverpro.com.
When it's time to compete, the surfers will ride several rounds of waves, with judges determining who advances.
"They'll be looking for things like high performance, powerful maneuvers and aerial maneuvers, all to be performed in the most powerful part of the wave," says Wilmott.
Spectators should expect a show. "Long Beach waves really do lend themselves to the highly exciting aerial maneuvers that are hugely popular right now," she says.
OFF SHORE EVENTS
Several Long Beach restaurants, nightspots and other venues are planning special events ranging from live music to autograph signings.
"The music and the entertainment is part of the culture and the lifestyle of surfing," says Laura Vivonetto, marketing manager for the Allegria Hotel, which will host an array of surf rock and reggae performances. "Anything that the local businesses can do to bring pieces of the festival to their own venues is to keep the spirit and the excitement alive."
WHEN | WHERE Sunday-Sept. 15, Long Beach. Competition on the main surf site on National Boulevard beach will run about 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on select days (to be determined daily based on surf conditions).
ADMISSION Free ($12 daily beach pass applies through Monday)
PARKING $20 parking Sunday and Monday at Barnum Island, on Beach Avenue at Austin Boulevard, immediately north of Long Beach bridge. Shuttles will be available to the surf site. Check longbeachny.org for updates on parking options.
Surfing weekend for landlubbers
WHEN | WHERE 2 p.m. Saturday at Hudson River Park's Pier 54, Manhattan.
Red Bull Athlete Signing and BBQ
WHEN | WHERE 5-7 p.m. Sunday, UnsOund Surf, 359 E. Park Ave., Long Beach