All photographs by Julien Roubinet from Ice Cream Headaches
For most who envision the life of a surfer, images of board shorts and bikinis, blue waters and sunny beaches, or Hawaii and California come to mind. Unfamiliar to many however, are the intrepid surfers who call the beaches of New York and New Jersey their home break, braving the frigid winter waters of the Atlantic in thick hooded wetsuits for a few fleeting moments inside a murky barrel. Theirs is the hardcore, diverse, and vibrant cold water surfing community that is celebrated in the newly released tome, Ice Cream Headaches.
Writer Ed Thompson and photographer Julien Roubinet met surfing at Rockaway Beach and spent four years logging more than 4,000 miles from Eastern Long Island to Cape May, NJ, interviewing and photographing the surfers, shapers, artists, and documentarians who make up the scene. From local legend and Montauk fisherman Charlie Weimar; to Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Finnegan; to professional surfers with global followings such as Quincy Davis, Mikey De Temple and Balaram Stack, the New York surf community is as rich and colorful as the metropolis at its center.
The surf communities in New York and New Jersey are linked by the geographies of the two states. The Jersey coast faces more easterly and Long Island more southerly, “like a pair of open arms reaching out to embrace the offerings”, writes Thompson. “In late fall and winter the waves get very good, as long as you’re willing to wear a thick wetsuit and chase them down – they don’t come easy. Many people, even capable surfers, are not willing to do so. Thus, the empty lineups when the surf is at its seasonal best are one of the biggest advantages of surfing here.”
In spite of the cold, it is here that you find the essence of the sport captured so beautifully in Roubinet’s images, calm and serene in their reflective approach. Both he and Thompson asked almost every surfer why they don’t move somewhere with warmer waves. The reply was always the same: in New York and New Jersey, you can always find a peak to surf alone or with a few good friends.
Across 192 pages, the book features four essays rich with quotes and anecdotes, more than 110 extraordinary photographs and a foreword by iconic portrait and surf photographer Michael Halsband.