Stony Brook students and surfing enthusiasts formed a new club this semester to share their passion for the sport with surfers and non-surfers alike. The club aims to celebrate surf culture and expand interest in the sport across campus.
Matthew Dean, a junior marine biology major and transfer student, submitted a proposal form for a Surf Club to Student Engagement and Activities at the beginning of Fall 2021 before he discovered that Neil Issacoff, a junior biomedical engineering major, had already founded the surf club. Dean reached out to Issacoff soon after and joined the club as the public outreach coordinator, running the organization’s social media accounts.
“I love the ocean,” Dean said. “The ocean’s amazing, the waves are amazing.”
Issacoff, the current president of the club, has only been surfing for about five years. But like Dean, he has always been in love with the beach. He introduced the club to his friend, Boaz Abramson, a sophmore marine science major, who joined as one of the first members and now is the club’s photographer.
Dean and Abramson encourage everyone to join the club, although beginners should not expect to immediately jump in the water.
“Until we have funding from the school to potentially buy wetsuits or boards we can supply to people, it’s very difficult to just have people come in without any preparation or equipment,” Abramson said.
The club has yet to receive funding from the school but plans to apply for it as soon as possible. Stony Brook’s Club Manual outlines how clubs go about receiving school funding. The Surf Club must first reach out to the Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) Special Services Council (SSC) and receive SSC funding for at least one semester. After a semester, the Surf Club is then eligible to request USG funding; they must submit a budget that outlines their intended spending to get approved.
The club’s main goal is to establish a supportive community for students interested in surfing. Dean looks forward to meeting new people with shared interests, while Abramson is “most excited about being a part of building this culture up.”
Dean and Abramson said that anyone interested in joining the club should not be discouraged by a lack of equipment or experience. The club plans to host movie nights, watch surf competitions occurring on the west coast and partake in other surf-related activities. The meetings will also cover basic safety protocols and how to “read the water,” meaning how to assess whether or not conditions are favorable for surfing.
“It’s not even so much necessarily about surfing, just anything about surf culture, like if people like the vibe,” Dean said. “You don’t necessarily have to be in the water, you could be on the shore taking pictures. People who just like the ocean or anything like that can join.”
The meetings will be strictly introductory for the time being, allowing for the club to build a solid “infrastructure,” Abramson said.
“For right now, I’m thinking the meetings are gonna be more like getting to know everybody, seeing who’s got stuff, who doesn’t,” Dean said. “Just the vibe of it and then [think of] the off-campus activities, like the actual surfing. The closest [place to surf] is like 40 minutes away.”
Abramson said he is confident that the club will eventually find a way to surf, despite the school’s distance from the shore.
“For most of the spots on the shore, it’s a bit of a drive,” Dean said. “That is a bit of a challenge, but it’s definitely doable with the right scheduling.”
To ensure safety, Abramson wants members to undergo a fitness test in the future, before any beginners attempt to surf. This fitness test could include running and swimming laps. Dean cautions, “If you haven’t done [surfing] before, it can be really difficult.”
Dean and Abramson explained that new surfers tend to underestimate surfing’s difficulty. For example, a strong rip current requires a person to be a strong swimmer.
Beginners must understand that attempting to surf without proper equipment can be dangerous. Dean emphasized the importance of wearing a wetsuit, especially in the frigid winter months. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts a winter that is colder than usual in the tristate area, making it particularly important to emphasize the use of safety equipment.
The surf club had their first meeting on Oct. 7 and posts on their Instagram account @sbusurf with updates regarding the dates, times and places of their upcoming meetings.