Skudin Surf and the Hurley Surf Club celebrated International Surf Day June 16, where hundreds of kids and adults received free surfing lessons with professional big-wave surfer Will Skudin and other seasoned athletes.
International Surf Day is held each year on or near the summer solstice, and is described as an environmentally conscious, sports-centered holiday that celebrates the sport and lifestyle of surfing, and the sustainability of ocean resources.
People of all different ages turned out to the event — sponsored by Hurley and held in conjunction with Skudin Surf — which was aimed at encouraging those who have never surfed to give it a try.
The event kicked off with a beach clean-up organized by the Surfrider Foundation Central Long Island Chapter, followed by free surf lessons courtesy of Skudin Surf.
“Surfing is still a newer activity on Long Island, even though it’s been around here since the 1940s,” said Skudin, who co-owns Skudin Surf with his brother, Cliff. “There were good vibes all around. Everyone was stoked.”
The event is aimed in part to connect people to the ocean and create environmental awareness, he said, while also teaching newcomers proper swimming and surfing techniques — and having fun. Skudin and his fellow surfers explained the difference between plastic and single-use plastic containers and other products and handed out bamboo straws as an alternative to plastic straws.
“If we treat the earth and our surroundings like our home, we’ll be able to flourish,” he said.
Matthew Giannone, 13, said it was his first time surfing.
“I learned about riptides and how to stand up properly on my board,” he said. “It was very fun.”
A Long Beach resident who grew up in a surfing family, Skudin is considered one of the best big-wave surfers in the world. The surfing star from New York, who is sponsored by Hurley, made his name catching 60-foot waves. One of the highlights of his recent big-wave trip to Ireland can be seen in the short documentary film “Green Means Go,” which is being considered for film festivals around the world.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky honored Skudin at the event for making the 2018-19 World Surf League’s Big Wave World Tour, a worldwide surfing challenge that includes locations in California, Portugal and Hawaii.
Skudin was unable to continue in the competition last year due to an injury he sustained while practicing for the tour. Halfway through Skudin’s first official year on the tour, he had a major wipeout, falling on a 40-foot wave, hitting his own board and severely lacerating his leg.
However, he was chosen to return this year as an “injury wildcard” competitor, the first surfer from the Northeast and one of 15 surfers from across the globe who received an official spot on the tour.
“I put my whole life into this and getting knocked off the tour because of an injury would have been really tough,” Skudin said in a news release. “I am just so stoked and blessed to get another shot on this year’s tour.”