The East End surf may not have the cache of the swells and breaks in southern California or Hawaii, but the homegrown talent appears to be getting younger and better on a board.
Two local Eastern Surfing Association first-place champions, 12-year-old Water Mill resident Selena Moberly and Sag Harbor resident Jared Bono, 9, are on the rise. Selena placed first in New York State for girls shortboard and Jared is number one in the menehune category, boys and girls 11 and younger, for 2008. Their performances earned the two athletes invitations to the Northeast Regional Surfing Championship at Belmar, New Jersey last weekend.
Selena is number two menehune in the state and the fifth best in the menehune longboard category. Jared sits at number three in menehune longboard.
Both kids welcome the competition, but it’s love of the sport and the waves that drive their passion.
“They’d surf if there was never a competition,” Jared’s mother, Margie Bono, said. Selena and Jared have been inseparable since they began surfing together at Flying Point Surf School in 2004 and as a result their families also formed a close bond. Both Jared’s parents, Ms. Bono and her husband Tor, and Selena’s mother, Janice Moberly, joined their children and surfing coach Shane Dyckman, the owner of Flying Point Surf School, for an interview earlier this month.
The sextet travels together to surf and compete and the kids surf locally with Dyckman year round. The families have taken joint trips to surf in Costa Rica and Selena and Jared’s coach is always at their side.
“I coached them the whole way,” Dyckman said, noting that his students competed in a Central American surfing competition while they were visiting the tropical island.
Under his tutelage, Jared made the semifinals and Selena advanced to the finals in Costa Rica.
When they’re in town, the youngsters frequent their preferred break and home away from home, Ditch Plains in Montauk, but Jared and Selena also enjoy Gilgo, a beach in Babylon. Gilgo is home to another contest called Bunger’s, named after Bunger Surf Shop nearby, and the kids have had nothing but good times there.
“There’s so many people there,” Selena said, explaining that she’s comfortable performing for a crowd. “I don’t care who’s there,” she added.
Jared noted that he also had fun and surfed well in the Bunger’s tournament. “I did a lot of new maneuvers there,” he said, noting that his favorite move is the top turn.
“I like the bomb drop,” Selena said, explaining that free falling from the top of a wave to the bottom “gets me pumped for the rest of the wave.”
Dyckman’s school and surf camp are a huge part of life for Jared and Selena and it has been instrumental to their success. He founded Flying Point Surf School in 2001 and the camp runs five days a week in the summer. The kids are among a select group of students on Dyckman’s “A Team,” a squad of 10 dedicated surfers who will spend their days seeking the best waves after the camp sessions end this summer.
“We’ll be on the move,” Dyckman said, noting that all the team’s sessions will be photographed and filmed for critique later. “It’s very rare in surfing that you have somebody filming you,” he said. “They’re going to excel so much faster.”
His students also learn the theoretical parts of surfing, such as assessing the weather and tides and predicting the next swells. They work on safety and core strength training, balance and resistance. This year Dyckman is adding stand-up paddling classes for flat days.
“It’s really, really fun,” Selena said, describing her experiences at surf camp. When the waves don’t come, she and Jared paddle and swim all day and still have a great time. “They’re always together,” Ms. Moberly said, noting that Jared and her daughter stick together and watch out for each other in the water.
The young surfers have learned a great deal at surf camp, but they both started with a lot of natural ability. “It’s like, genetic, something so innate with them,” Ms. Bono said. Her husband is a longtime surfer and Jared has been riding waves since he was 4 years old. Selena started at age 5, when her older brother, Brian Smith, encouraged her to try the sport.
Dyckman, who grew up with Jared’s father, said the friends are “the two hardest working kids in surf.” He said Jared and Selena are at surf camp every day in the summer and they will chase a good ride even in the dead of winter.
“These guys will call me at 6 a.m. when it’s pouring rain to go to surf camp,” Dyckman said.
“She’s never said no, ever,” Ms. Moberly said, noting that Selena will surf with a fever, sore muscles and in the bitter cold. Jared and Selena braved 45 degree waters at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays earlier this year and won their divisions in the first ESA event of 2009.