It’s time to put to bed the doubts and controversies that pervade east coast surfing by taking a glimpse at the top surf-colleges on the right side. Contrary to prevailing ideology surfers aren’t a breed of brainless dropouts plotting to undermine civil society. In fact, some of us even go to college. Consistent spots along the eastern seaboard churn out solid waves for three out of the four seasons, and with a little effort one can find a college good for a degree and a few extra notches on the wave belt. With a potent mix of waves, girls, and some books; here are the top five east coast surf-colleges.
1. Flagler College
Jenna Jameson says it’s a fallacy that size doesn’t matter, but in Flagler College’s case, you have to flush that filthy analogy down the toilet. Flagler is the smallest school to make the list with a touch over 2,000 students, but what they lack in numbers is made up for in tubes and bikini clad co-eds. Located in St. Augustine on central Florida’s east coast, Flagler’s campus is only minutes from two solid breaks. Vilano Beach, the surf teams’ go-to spot, is a consistent high tide break that jacks up with a decent swell, while St. Augustine Beach provides a shallower option with fun, carvable faces. Flagler’s surf team/club took this year’s overall NSSA Collegiate title in the Southeast/North conference with individual number one and three going to Jason Hewitt and Andrew Gregorie respectively. The Saints are competing in the upcoming NSSA Interscholastic Championship at Salt Creek, adding to the opportunities for healthy surf competition at the school.
2. University of North Carolina at Wilmington:
There’s nothing like being accosted by a knockout blonde with a southern drawl after a good session. Wilmington is a hopping little Southern city with a cool arts scene and surf galore. Wrightsville Beach serves up solid breaks like the Johnny Mercer and Crystal Piers, but the best waves can be found on the lesser known Masonboro Island, where natural protection from Northeast winds keeps the surf clean throughout the day. It’s a cinch to hire a boat across to the island, but inventive (and broke) college students are more likely to make the ten minute paddle across the inlet. The resourceful members of the surf club at UNCW have found ways to use their appropriated funds wisely with pre-planned surf trips to Hatteras and Puerto Rico.
3. University of Rhode Island
Surfers at URI work summer jobs for more than just beer funds. Rhode Island’s frigid coast requires that kids show up in the fall with a full wardrobe of neoprene. For those up to the icy challenge, a slew of breaks await. Spots run the gamut from rocky Point Judith, to the hollow beach break at Greenhill, to the reefs at Matunick. Enterprising URI surfers can embark on the half hour ferry to Block Island to land some of the best surf the east coast has to offer. The Ocean Mist Bar at Matunick is a welcoming post-session hang out for surfers, and a great pre-game spot before a night on the town.
4. University of North Florida
This Jacksonville, Florida institution is quietly gaining momentum on the east coast surf scene. In 05’ the Ospreys snagged the Collegiate NSSA East Coast Championship at Sebastian Inlet in a classic upset. With this year’s number two overall performer in the NSSA Southeast/North Conference, Aaron Lichter, they’re showing no signs of letting up. The UNF campus is conveniently located ten minutes from the breaks surrounding the Jacksonville Pier, and the more popular Mayport Poles. So, unless you spend the evening tearing up the nightlife in Jacksonville, a surf before class is no problem.
5. Monmouth University
Monmouth’s student body is more akin to driving t-top Camaros and rocking gold chains than waking up for dawn patrol. But when it comes to wave accessibility this West Long Branch, New Jersey university is at the epicenter of Mid-Atlantic surf. Monmouth borders miles of dependable Jersey beach breaks, and is minutes from Sandy Hook where strong east swells produce huge barrels that fire down the sand-bottom point. When the wind shifts north, it’s only an hour drive up the Jersey Turnpike to snag more offshore surf in Long Island. It’s not a surfer’s paradise, but solid waves and hot Meadow Soprano look-a-likes make this Jersey College a top five finisher.
University of Central Florida
Although UCF has a strong surf team, placing 9th in the NSSA Collegiate Nationals in 05’, and a burgeoning surf club with over 130 members, it’s hard to justify a top five finish for this Orlando, Florida University. The closest waves are forty-five minutes away, and its smack in the middle of Walt Disney hell. With a little dedication, however, some of the best waves in Florida are not out of reach.
The College of Charleston
For surfers who crave beautiful girls and fun bars, Charleston is the pinnacle of East Coast Colleges. The inconsistencies of the south facing breaks at Folly Beach, and an adverse continental shelf effect, deny the Cougars a spot in the top five, but on the right day at Folly spots like “The Washout” and the “Folly Beach Pier” offer spinning beachbreak barrels with close proximity to the school. Plus you can’t beat the atmosphere of old-town Charleston.