Surfing in Rockaway can be a joke at times. The combination of inexperienced crowds, a rather finicky beach break and the summer doldrums can easily blend into an endless bummer.
According to local surfer and documentarian, Thomas Brookins, it’s no wonder that “Rockaway is considered the bastard child of NY surfing and almost never gets any attention.” Despite these factors, this stretch of sand in Queens is undoubtedly a special break that’s home to a thriving surf community. Cue Hurricane Joaquin.
For two straight weeks, Rockaway exploded into an all out barrel fest. For those who had spent all summer chasing ankle biters, the powerful swell was a welcome relief. Lucky for us, Brookins took it upon himself to fill the void and share a rare insider’s perspective on how good it really gets in NYC.
For someone who “never does this,” Brookins got it right in Ghosts of October. Don’t expect another fast-paced, adrenaline junkie edit. Hurricane Joaquin made the majority of surfers in Rockaway put their life’s obligations on hold. Most of my friends were late, calling in sick, neglecting household chores, and even canceling personal appointments. For once, the city that never sleeps slowed down, and that’s exactly what the slow motion in Ghosts of October makes you do. In the same way dropping in on a barreling wave clears the mind of everything but the present moment, Brookin’s video leaves the audience simply captivated by the talent and grace of local surfers Jeff Anthony, Shane Murphy and Pete Egan.
Surfing in Rockaway, a twenty-minute ride from JFK, one is often momentarily distracted by a low-flying plane. It’s typical to spiral into a daydream of journeying to some exotic destination for better surf or fewer people, before the next set wave snaps you back to attention. Ghosts of October opens and closes like so many of these Rockaway moments. This time around however, Thomas teases us with a trip into his backyard, during a time when the peninsula’s wanderlust was utterly satisfied. Be prepared to want to get off your ass and charge after watching. Stay tuned for Thomas Brookin’s feature film Fire and Water, for more from Rockaway Beach. It’s not Long Island. It’s not Long Beach. This is NYC, and we really do have it all!