The people who help you hang ten in Montauk also have some pre-dip hints to share
Surfing in Montauk is one of the most popular activities the Hamptons’ most distant hamlet has to offer, and Corey Senese—raised in California but a long-local in MTK as well—is the head honcho of Coreyswave, a company that specializes in surfing lessons. We take five to touch base with Corey to get you the preamble toward your eventual attempts to ride the surf that crashes out by the Lighthouse.
The easiest and best answer is to hire a professional surf instructor to show you the ropes. Surfing with us provides a kind of a fast track into surfing. But taking surf lessons out of the equation, it’s all about your attitude. Almost anyone, non-local, non-surfer can get started surfing in the summer. You really just have to be nice and respectful to other people. Genuinely good people are accepted and the jerks are not. That said no matter what, you will always be better o doing some preliminary research on surfing before you dive right in head first—literally. There are some nice, small wave days and lots of places to go o on your own away from being in the way of other people, and it’s cool to try surfing out on your own on those days. But that’s not every day by a long shot. A total novice may not even understand how to check if the waves and ocean conditions are ok for them to try on their own on a given day. It doesn’t take much for the surf to be too strong and currents too invisible for a novice and that’s some of the scariest stuff to witness at the beach.
Does one really need lessons? What are the risks of just trying to surf without any experience?
Some individuals defy odds and pick the skills up pretty quickly, but most adults will need the help of an expert surf instructor to learn quickly, versus struggling on their own for way too long, of course depending on prior ocean experiences. Kids pick it up more quickly which is always the case with kids and learning in general. Otherwise for people who are unaware of the dangers the ocean provides, trying to surf without proper guidance can be very dangerous. It’s always much stronger than it looks from shore. The risks range from the minor situation of embarrassing yourself, to the more serious situations when you have injured yourself or someone else, or when a lifeguard or good Samaritan has to rescue you. I’ve seen all of these things happen.
What beaches do you take first timers to? What about the more seasoned surfers?
We teach mostly in the Ditch Plains area. For the second question if I told you I’d have to kill you, or someone might kill me.
How do people describe the experience? It must feel pretty rewarding and thrilling riding a wave for the first time.
People love the feeling. The absolute joy people get from surfing for the first time is unlike any other, very unique. People are very surprised when they feel what kind of power the ocean and the waves have. And for us, we relive that experience with novice surfers all of the time so it’s hard for us to ever get jaded on how much fun you can have surfing even the smallest of waves.
In the last few years we have been working to provide surfing opportunities to people, mostly kids, who don’t have the opportunity to surf in order to share that over-the-top positive experience with others. We’ve worked with several nonprofit groups including the YMCA East Hampton RECenter, Camp Soulgrow, A Walk On Water, and Camp Interactive, and we have started our own projects getting kids surfing from the Montauk community and in rural areas in Mexico. We realized the best way for us to give back was to share our passion and the powerful first-time experience of surfing with others which we’ve seen to be transformative time and time again. Surfing is a resource and we know the value it offers so we want to share it with those who don’t easily have the opportunity to try surfing.
Etiquette is a well-known facet of the surfing lifestyle—can you describe some important “do’s” and “do not’s” of surfing, especially in Montauk?
This answer could go on forever, so many do’s and do not’s—there are maybe too many to count.
One major DO: Always demonstrate respect and humility to others. You have no idea who you might pull up to in the lot, or who you may paddle up next to in the lineup. They might actually be one of the most respected surfers in the lineup.
A bunch of quick and important do not’s (and some do’s): Don’t get upset. Don’t get in over your head. Do your research. Take it slow and don’t rush out to surf. Take stock of your surroundings. Don’t get hurt, don’t hurt anyone else. Have fun, and realize you are always learning no matter how good of a surfer you’ve become.