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PHOTO FINISH: The Surf's Still Up at the Rockaways Thanks to Unusually Warm Weather

Locals surf instructor and Rockaway native Pasha Petrov catches a wave in late October Photo: Raeford Dwyer Photography

Surf instructor and Rockaway Beach local Pasha Petrov catches a wave in late October. Photo: Raeford Dwyer Photography


Beach season officially ended at sundown on Sept. 10, when the city Parks Department sent the lifeguards home and shuttered snack bars along the boardwalks. But unusually warm weather and epic swells have turned this fall into an endless summer for the Rockaways' surfing businesses.

“It’s been incredible. We’ve been booked almost every weekend,” said Mike Reinhardt, co-founder of Locals Surf School, which offers group and private lessons at Beach 69th Street.

Fall surfing in the Rockaways used to be the domain of experienced shredders only. Who else would want to wipe out

in chilly, windy autumn? But average temps in the 70s and lots of sunshine have lured plenty of newbies this year.

On Oct. 21 Reinhardt had 15 students, mostly beginners, and four instructors on duty—including Rockaways local Pasha Petrov, pictured. They joined about 40 surfers already in the water, some taking lessons from other nearby surf schools.

“You see people with boards everywhere now—on top of their cars, on the train,“ said David Sierra, owner of Sierra Surf School. " Surfing is not going to be a subculture anymore. It feels like it’s turning into a New York culture.”

SLIDE SHOW: Catching the Last Waves of the Season in the Rockaways

A warm fall has helped surf businesses make up some of the lost revenue from a rainy summer. On Oct. 21, 2017, with temperatures in the mid-70s, instructors were still paddling out with students. (The NYC Parks Dept. designated the city's first surfing-only beaches in 2005, legalizing wave riding in the Big Apple. )

"Surfing is definitely leading more young people to the Rockaways, and they're staying longer—to watch the sun go down, go dancing, recreate," said Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. "It's been exciting to watch."

Photo #1: A surfer catches a wave at Beach 69th Street in late October.

Photo #2: Australian Gabriel Colello (left), an instructor with Locals Surf School, leads two beginners

into the waves.

Photo #3: Locals surf instructor and Rockaway native Pasha Petrov demonstrates proper form.

Photo #4: Surfers socialize and rest between sets at Beach 69th Street in the Rockaways.

Photo #5: A pod of about 20 dolphins swam by Beach 69th Street, providing a moment of awe for

three dozen surfers finishing out an epic fall surf season.

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