On the last weekend of September, Montauk saw an epic gathering of the East Coast surfing community, all rallying together to help share the stoke to special needs children. The word was out that the Walk on Water crew from California was taking over Ditch Plain. I knew a few of the local volunteers, read about the cause, and it seemed like a very good excuse to get on the road.
I got there early, coffee and camera in hand. Surfers were already in the water fighting the strong east winds that were supposed to increase throughout the day and into the weekend. The September sun was glazing the ocean and a warm, misty salt spray was blowing across the cliffs. I first noticed the cool black jackets that some of the men were wearing. I wanted to buy one so I started talking with them. It turned out they were for the volunteers and they were not for sale. Fashion aside, it was a pleasant surprise to find how friendly these men were. They were engaging in conversation and quite interesting group of guys. It was an immediate connection and curiosity to find out more.
From California and first time on the East Coast, A Walk on Water is a family of watermen who share the therapeutic properties of the ocean for those in need. AWOW’s primary goal is providing relief to families and children who are perhaps enduring tough times. The focus of the event is to provide a well-deserved day of relaxation, healthy food, and lifestyle guidance. Additionally, AWOW is a humanitarian and environmentally conscious organization with an eye for sustainability.
AWOW set up tents an provided gear, food, and merchandise, creating an exuberant atmosphere. Each man would take on a rider, and together they would walk to the water, get on the surfboard, and paddle out to the peak. In-water volunteers for safety and beach patrol lined the beaches. Local surfers were kicked off the peak for the day. Through the messy white water and heavy wind, these guys were charging. It was a bond between a waterman and a vulnerable soul that was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There was trust built within minutes. Together they would ride across Ditch with wide eyes, big smiles, and an occasional look of fear. There was a high of good in the air, and everyone was intoxicated.
Montauk is The End. It’s an East Coast paradise with endless ocean, rugged cliffs, and the venue of perhaps the best longboard wave in New York. Everyone here has a style. The breaks are dominated by locals, and as an outsider you get the looks. That day, however, was different. Everyone was invited, and egos and bad vibes were completely absent. AWOW brought the whole community together, shared the stoke of surf, and introduced a new world to families in need.