Locals, big names alike praise NH Seacoast's wave culture
Aubrey Hill, a 10-year-old from Newmarket, emerges from the surf at Jenness State Park on Wednesday. She did a project in fourth grade on surfing in New Hampshire after she received her board as a Christmas present last year.
Aubrey Hill of Newmarket, 10, heads into the surf at Jenness State Park in Rye on Wednesday. She did a project in fourth grade on surfing in New Hampshire, and said she got her board as a Christmas present last year. MIKE LAWRENCE
But this was no arduous summer assignment; Wednesday's research required only a wetsuit and surfboard - and produced a gigantic smile.
Reid Young of Dracut, Mass., spent some time in the surf with his son Brady, 6, at Jenness State Beach in Rye on Wednesday.MIKE LAWRENCE
Hill, 10, said she did a report on New Hampshire surfing last year, after receiving her surfboard as a Christmas present. Holding the pink, purple and white board with both arms, she said her favorite pro surfer is Bethany Hamilton of Hawaii, whose return to surfing after losing her left arm in a shark attack was the subject of the 2011 movie "Soul Surfer."
On a near-perfect afternoon to hang 10, two surfers negotiate the waves at Jenness State Beach in Rye last Wednesday.MIKE LAWRENCE
Big waves Wednesday drew a crowd to the Jenness, where vacationer Luc Berube of Montreal described the conditions as "cold but awesome."
Surfers young and old also flocked Tuesday to Hampton Beach, where pro stars Ian Walsh and Bruce Irons signed autographs and posed for pictures during a stop on the Foxhead surfwear company's "Fox We Live Surf Tour" at Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Co.
Aubrey Hill of Newmarket, 10, emerges from the surf at Jenness State Park in Rye on Wednesday. She did a project in fourth grade on surfing in New Hampshire, and said she got her board as a Christmas present last year. MIKE LAWRENCE
"Now that the (summer) weather is here, people are ecstatic," he said.
"The small coastline means we have to share a little more; there's not as many secret spots as you might have up in Maine," said McGill, who along with his brother owns Summer Sessions surf shop, across the street from Jenness State Beach."Just as we appreciate summertime because of our seasons, we appreciate good waves when we get them, because it can be a little inconsistent," he said.
Rye resident Sam Claytor, 16, stopped by Cinnamon Rainbows to have Walsh sign his board Tuesday. Claytor said he loves surfing in his home state.
Reid Young of Dracut, Mass., spent some time in the surf with his son Brady, 6, at Jenness State Beach in Rye on Wednesday. MIKE LAWRENCE
When he was surfing in New Jersey recently to catch waves fueled by Hurricane Arthur, Claytor said, many surfers were "dropping in on people" - a term used to describe riding waves on which other surfers are already positioned, a serious violation of surfer ethics.
Claytor said Walsh, who has conquered massive waves at Maui's legendary "Jaws" break and earned several "Wave of the Year" nominations at the Billabong XXL Awards, is "probably my favorite surfer."
Walsh's manager, Christian Saenz of the Fox Surf Team, said Tuesday that Walsh simply is "one of the best big-wave surfers in the world."
The large crowd at Cinnamon Rainbows certainly was familiar with his skills. Saenz called Irons "one of the biggest icons of surfing history in his generation."
Walsh approved of Taylor's ride.
"This is a rad board!" he exclaimed, flipping it over in his hands and whistling in appreciation of its old-school fin. "They don't make many of these anymore."
Lizzie Ferris, also of Rye, was hanging out with Taylor around noon and said the influence of Walsh and Irons was evident in the line leading to their table at Cinnamon Rainbows.
"The little kids have been waiting here since 10 this morning," Ferris said.
"It's not often you get guys of this caliber (here)," he said. "For most of these kids that surf, it's like seeing David Ortiz."
"I love it. It brings me back to when I was their age," he said.
Walsh noted that younger surfers aren't riding the waves to compete or make money, but rather just to have fun.
Relaxing in the Fox tour bus after Tuesday's signing session, Walsh said he had flown in from Mexico on Monday night, after a West Coast swing with the tour. Expressing a little weariness with constant travel, he said the Hampton area seemed like a great place to slow down and relax for a summer. "It looks awesome," he said. "Beautiful houses, and all the people seem really, really nice."
Known for long, flat breaks and relatively tame waves, Seacoast beaches are considered especially friendly for families who surf.
Michelle Morris of Newburyport, Mass., attended Tuesday's tour stop at Cinnamon Rainbows with her husband and their two sons, ages 10 and 12.
But surfing the Seacoast isn't just for kids.
Amy Hill, Aubrey's mother, said that she began surfing a few years ago, as she approached 40 and decided to attend some "Ladies Night" lessons through Summer Sessions. She said she progressed to individual lessons and has kept up with the summer hobby ever since.
"Good weather, good waves, big smiles," he said.
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