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“I feel like it’s addicting, like standing on a sled. Catching that turn. It’s the feeling of being out there.” Lani LaCasce paddle boarder

comes to winter surfing. Yes, two words that those not in the know would never place next to one another. Winter surfing. Though it is not uncommon to see surfers bobbing about in the waters when there is snow falling or thickly collecting on the ground (that is when most of the best winter storms and big waves happen), the 45 degree waters are every bit as popular in the fall when the seasons are changing and it is still possible to hit the waves when the temperatures are more bearable. Today is popular because the gravity of a Super Moon has created big waves at high tide. I get to York Beach early with a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise over the sandy beach. The waves crash hard up against rocky cliffs where hotels and summer homes perch. It is spectacular to look at and I can’t help but imagine just how hard the water crashing against the rocks feels if you happen to make a wrong turn and get caught up in a wave. Car by car surfers arrive, quietly pulling up and getting into their wet suits in the parking lot. It is a ritual that I hesitate to interrupt as most arrive solo and on a mission. Some work slowly, stretching and thinking as they move forward towards the water. Others confidently run towards the water bent in anticipation and plunge right in with a confidence and enthusiasm that is reinforced by their command of the waves once ensconced. “I sort of played hooky from work to be here today,” says Chris Kruse sheepishly. “I could tell the waves were going to be good and I just could not miss it.” He eagerly grabs his board and moves toward the water, snapping his hood onto his neoprene-covered body that more closely resembles a scuba diver than a surfer. He clearly knows what he is doing and knows these particular waves. I watch him confidently take on wave after wave while others, most likely tourists, flounder. One by one Kruse is joined by others who bob in the water, shiny skinned like seals, taking their turns on cold waves that rise and froth just off the sandy beach where less water-prone early risers trickle by in coats collecting sea shells and walking dogs. While York Beach is a not so well-kept local “secret,” less than five minutes away Long Sands Beach is the winner of the winter surfing popularity contest. Its name says it all. A long swath of sandy beach, it gets all the girls and guys. It’s a beach bum kind of beach with lots of room to spread out and a general

store and bum-friendly small hotels across the street. Lani LaCasce, a self-proclaimed mountain girl from Sugarloaf, Maine sits on the sand and watches her boyfriend surf. “I cannot believe how warm it is today,” LaCasce smiles. Though she has on a wet suit, her face is clearly sunburned from the unseasonably sunny and warm weather. “When we saw the weather forecast we just had to come out here. I paddle board so these waves are a little bit hard and intimidating for me but my boyfriend surfs and he has been out there all morning. I feel like it’s addicting, like standing on a sled. Catching that turn. It’s the feeling of being out there.” Eventually she grabs up her board and paddle and takes it on. Route 1 along the beach is lined with vans from Canada, a common occurrence that equally amuses and disdains the locals. Dedicated surfers flock to Long Sands because of the warmer conditions and welcoming waves in vans that are equipped to function more as small, mobile living spaces. The long sandy shoreline is peppered with surfers lounging or readying themselves for a plunge into the slushy water that on this warm day probably will not induce an ice cream headache. A few days later during a fall festival, Ogunquit Beach just 15 minutes away from Long Sands is covered in a foggy mist as a mixture of fine rain and warm and cold weather mix. The waves are barely visible from the seaweed covered shoreline and people are out in coats and sweaters scouring for treasures like sea glass, crabs and starfish. Elderly ladies with umbrellas sit and gaze out into the abyss and surfers take on the hard, choppy waters. One couple, down from Montreal, choose to neck affectionately on a beach blanket rather than take on the water. “It is just too rough today, too cold. We gave up for today,” laughs Laurence Cardin as she affectionately hugs her boyfriend. “We are just here to surf and for a short vacation to enjoy the warm weather. The waves here are known to be good so we come here.” She tellingly hugs herself and admits that it is cold. As I walk away they continue to enjoy the weather and each other, oblivious to everyone and everything, even the waves that seem to curl and rush with angry vigor just dozens of feet away with two surfers clawing their way onto the lip of a large curling wave. A AWAY | 27

Profile for Jennifer Coombes

AWAY Magazine/Jennifer Coombes  

AWAY Magazine is a travel magazine for those who want to have travel experiences off the beaten path. This fall issue focuses on travel in C...

AWAY Magazine/Jennifer Coombes  

AWAY Magazine is a travel magazine for those who want to have travel experiences off the beaten path. This fall issue focuses on travel in C...

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