OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — On this week’s Outside Edge, we moved from the western foothills to the oceanside.
NEWS CENTER Maine's Meteorologist Mallory Brooke visited Old Orchard Beach to get on a surfboard for the first time with Ryan McDermott, co-owner of Black Point Surf Shop in Scarborough.
McDermott describes surfing culture as unique.
"The Maine people just make it rich, " McDermott explains. "It's not California, it’s not Florida, it’s not New Jersey, you’re in Maine and the people make it what it is. And the Gulf of Maine is just such a unique place."
For first-time surfers, it’s best to start with a lesson and rent a board and wetsuit.
"Get a lesson from a professional, go a couple of times, and then go back to one more lesson, and then you’re pretty set," McDermott said. "Really, once you have that foundational basics you pretty much just need to figure it out on your own and get comfortable in the water. [Just] get out there and do it.”
There’s a lot more than just riding the wave when surfing. Finding balance while laying on the board, navigating waves on or off the board, and judging the incoming surge are just some of the factors involved. Then, of course, when the time is right, there's also the way to “pop” up when you're riding the wave.
It typically takes a couple of lessons to master the "pop," McDermott says, who was introduced to surfing by way of skiing.
"My brother and I went to Carrabassett Valley Academy," McDermott said. "My roommate from CVA was from Nantucket and in between sophomore and junior year of high school, he invited me to move out there and live out there and I saw surfing for the first time and was like, 'What? We could do this in Maine?!'"
By the end of that year, McDermott and his brother were hooked and began building surfboards the following year.
Surfing was growing in popularity, but in the off-season, there were only surf shops open in far southern Maine or New Hampshire. This was one of a couple of reasons that led to the McDermott opening Black Point Surf Shop with his brother and sister-in-law.
“We had too many people coming to our parents' house to get stuff," McDermott chuckled while explaining the main reason for opening the shop. "So like, we were building boards, and people would come to get their boards, and then we just had people showing up to buy fins and wax and stuff. And we’re like, 'We can’t quite have that, we need a real place.'"
McDermott teaches throughout the summer and says it’s a pretty even split between locals to non-locals and from all walks of life. Teaching is something he enjoys and looks forward to in the warmer season.
“Especially with kids or stoked individuals, getting them on the water and having them figure it out and take off is the most rewarding thing you could ever ask [for]," McDermott said.
McDermott emphasizes that as long as you’re respecting the beach you're accessing the water from, the ocean, and others in it, you can essentially safely surf the rest of your life.
You also have to keep a very close eye on the weather and surf conditions, but overall it is certainly worth it in the end.
“There’s not many things, sports, or activities that are literally just for fun, and surfing is one of those things where the only reason to do it is to have fun," McDermott said.