Railroad to the Quiksilver Pro New York

8 Sep 2011 0

Mike Jennings

Senior Writer

CONVERSATIONS ON THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD...
Words by Mike Jennings

Dane Reynolds stands by the bar and clutches a Black Lips vinyl record. He bought it after their show around the corner from this Williamsburg nightspot where Monster Children Magazine is having a party, in conjunction with Quiksilver of course. But also to launch Be Cool Man, a Captain Fin Co film starring Alex Knost and Dane Reynolds. Warren Smith is here, he just flew in to JFK after a delay in Minnesota. Craig Anderson is here too, he just flew in to JFK from a surf trip in Alaska.

There's things like this happening in hip Brooklyn and Manhattan bars all week. But it's all a long way away from the contest site, even further when it's 3am. This means that while you're at the Quiksilver Pro New York you might find yourself waking up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The contest will already be underway and you'll need to get your head together and make your way up to Penn Station, under the famous Madison Square Garden, and get a ticket to Long Beach.

On the train there's plenty of space. You can have rows of seats to yourself if you want. Racks run along the carriage above your head. A good place to stow bags, or even surfboards. The ticket attendant clips your train card as Jamaica station passes by. The city turns into low level industry. Mechanics wearing doo-rags look at pick-up trucks below the railway. Then all that turns into white weatherboard houses and streets canopied by green leafy trees. You can see some windows are still boarded up with ply-wood from hurricane Irene. They won't be needed for hurricane Katia, which'll spin by Long Beach over the next few days and generate swell for the contest. It's a silent and peaceful ride for 45 minutes until someone a few seats forward of you starts talking on their cell phone.

"Yo! I'll be there in like fifteen minutes." "Well what break are you at, Lincoln or Nationals?" "Ok, what heats are left to run, what surfers am I gonna see?" "Yeah, well Taj's trainer is my homie so it should be cool. Adam Melling is my homie too. I'm trying to get onto my homegirl Kassia but she's not picking up." "Yeah, heaps of people haven't even been down to the contest site yet man, they're just going out in the city." "So is it getting bigger, is it better?" "Well let's catch some heats and then we'll just go surfing…"

He hangs up and you catch a glimpse of him between the seats. He is tanned and has his hair pulled into a tight bun.

"You going surfin' neow?" Asks a skinny little man sitting opposite. He wears a skullcap and a business suit one size too large for his frame.

"Yeah, I'm gonna check out some heats and then meet some friends."

"It's been blowing East all night, it's building."

"You surf?"

"Yeah, I live on Lincoln. I was plannin' on paddlin' out myself but I'm hopin' it'll be offshaww."

"I've heard it's been good."

"It's the best it's ever been," joins a louder, thicker Brooklyn voice. It comes from a man sitting behind the other two. He's big. He looks like the brother in Everybody Loves Raymond. He doesn't look or sound anything like a surfer.

"I can't believe the waves they been gettin'," says the guy in the too large suit.

"It's like God blessed this contest with the hurricane," says the tanned guy.

"Well they planned it around that. They planned it for hur'cane season but, yeah, the surf is always good durin' Jewish holiday," laughs the guy in the too large suit while the tanned guy gets back on his phone.

The guy in the too large suit looks towards the brother from Everybody Loves Raymond, "You going to the contest?"

"Yeah I had nothing to do today, so I was like, 'Screw it!'"

"Do you have a jacket?"

"No."

"It's a little chillier than we thought. You can go down to the Quiksilver sto' and get yo-self a jacket."

"What, they got a Quiksilver sto' down there?"

"It's right on the beach. They gotta make there money somehow. Ya know they've had surfin' contests here for 15 years. But this is the first big one."

"A million dollars in prizemoney," the brother from Everybody Loves Raymond, whistles, "that ain't half bad."

Then the train hits Long Beach. The tanned guy pulls a thruster off the racks and walks towards the door. The guy in the too large suit gives directions to the brother from Everybody Loves Raymond. People file out of all the carriages and there's a lot of surfboards under arms. Mostly conventional thrusters but a few quads and dumpster divers. They walk toward the contest. Once they get there they'll see the world's best surfers competing in their city for the first time ever. They'll see Mick Fanning dispose of the local boy Balaram Stack with ease and they'll cheer Balaram anyway, 'cause he is the local hero and they're oh too proud of him. On the beach you'll get to the contest and someone in the crowd behind you will say, "I feel like a little kid I'm so excited."

- Mike Jennings

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