“It’s just a fun day on the beach with a bunch of kids surfing and competing against each other,” said Rick Anthony, director of the Atlantic Surfing Federation, who was running the surf competition. “There are some good surfers, I just wish we had some better waves to prove it today.”
Despite the infrequency of breaking waves, surfers like Chris Stone, who has surfed nearly every day for the past five years – even in the winter – and competed in the under 16 and under 18 heats, found ways to make the most of the situation.
“I was always at the beach all the time and it’s just something that people did out here in the Rockaways, so I got into it, too,” Stone said. “It was kind of hard to surf out there, but I guess I got it done.”
There were several divisions of competition, including the boys under 12 won by Sandon Herinski; under 14 boys won by Patrick Murphy; under 18 long board girls won by Erin Koehler; under 14 girls won by Summer Edgeness; under 16 girls won by Dakota Edgeness; men’s 18 to 30 division won by Christian Rojas; the open division won by Alexander Dumont; and the women’s division won by Grace Lee.
Stone walked away the winner of both heats he entered after his back-to-back, no-nonsense attack on the few cresting waves that showed face while he and his friendly competitors were in the water. Stone has been competing for the past three years and hopes to go to college in California, where he plans to surf, but promised his mother that he wouldn’t skip class to do it.
In shore and about a block down the beach from the competition, a decent crowd gathered around two live music stages and several booths occupied by locals like three-year-old Locals Surf Lessons and End of the A, a mobile fashion boutique that opened this spring in the Rockaways.
“We’ve been surfing and teaching pretty much all our lives,” said Locals co-owner Mike Reinhardt after demonstrating one of the school’s tools, a board on a sort of rolling pin that helps new riders learn to balance. “We have a kid's camp that runs in the summer time for about nine weeks. That’s really fun and we’re super stoked to be teaching the kids. We also teach adults year-round.”
Stretching as far as could be seen in either direction down the beach was a long, rusty pipe with the words “KEEP OFF” scrawled in graffiti every 50 feet or so, along with a ticker tape of red plastic flags.
These flags, though they seemed to fit right into the festive atmosphere of Rockstock, actually were meant to ward off would-be swimmers, since there were no lifeguards on duty.
After the festival, it was learned that this was part of an Army Corps of Engineers project, and that the beach was reportedly shut down by the city, though the onsite Parks Department employees seemed not to be aware of this.