'Sweet Spot' With Mike Sugerman: Catching A Wave, Or Trying To, At The New York Surf School

July 26, 2018 - 7:20 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Oahu, Mavericks, Rendondo… Queens?

You don’t think of New York as surf country, but don’t tell that to Frank Cullen. WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman visited Cullen’s New York Surf School in this week’s edition of “Sweet Spot.”

“Manhattan and Brooklyn and actually closer to the ocean than where most people are in Los Angeles, California, which we think of as surf country,” Cullen said.

A lifelong surfer, who grew up shredding waves in the Rockaways, Cullen started the New York Surf School there a dozen years ago. His was the first. There are several now.

“The East Coast, and New York in general, in particular, is a much better place to learn how to surf,” Cullen said.

Waves are gentle, and the water, at least in the summer, is warmer.

“This is a great way to spend a sunny day,” said Rebecca Jaffe, who signed up on a whim.

“It completely changed my life,” said Scotty Kaye, who is a bit more serious. “What I didn’t count on with surfing was all the people I met in the class became like family, so I call it the surf family.”

That was nine years ago, and they still regularly take surf trips.

Sugerman wasn’t out to have his life changed, but he did join up with the class. He went through the training on land and got ready for the instruction in the water, hoping the part of trying to get his wetsuit on would be the hardest. 

It wasn’t.

“I would say 98 out of a hundred people get up and ride waves on their first day,” Cullen said.

Sugerman was among the 2 percent who did not, even though his classmates all seemed stoked for a gnarly wave.

But he fell asleep that night with dreams where he stood in for Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli character in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”