Culture

Hurricane Sandy's Effects Bolstered Miami's Wave-Starved Surfing Community

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It started with the waves. The weekend's glancing visit from the 'Frankenstorm' stirred up the sea to a degree of epic insanity the likes of which we are unlikely to see again for years. The waves were not just immense for Miami surf -- reaching up to 15 foot faces in South Beach -- but they were clean, and perfectly formed, and blisteringly powerful.

I got a chance to sit down with lifelong surfer and Miami resident, Scott Payne, owner of the local surf shop and established cultural institution, Island Water Sports. Payne has grown up within the world of Miami surfing since he started working at ISW on 163rd and Biscayne Boulevard when he was 18 years old, some 30 years ago. He is a dyed in the wool, true blue surfer, and when he talks about the waves, it is impossible not to sense in his voice the years of experience in the water and the love for riding.

"This was definitely one of those once every 10 or 20 year storms," he began, "the way the storm set up was about as perfect as you can possibly get for the biggest waves that you can get in South Florida...To have a hurricane sitting over the Bahamas, moving slowly, with those strong winds moving right up the coast and then coming offshore down in Miami, it couldn't get any better and it couldn't get any bigger."

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Travis Cohen is a writer for Miami New Times and covers subjects ranging from arts and architecture to marijuana and monkeys with herpes. He graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University with a bachelor's degree in English in 2012 and began working with New Times shortly thereafter. He was born and raised in Miami.