SeaPaddle NYC

Legendary surfers paddle around Manhattan Island to raise money for autism and the environment

Once again a powerhouse group of surfers joined forces and paddled in efforts to raise money for a good cause. Only this time, they opted for a radical scenery change: the island of Manhattan. SEA or the Surfer's Environmental {{{Alliance}}} held the first ever SEApaddleNYC, a 28-mile paddle around Manhattan to raise money for autism research. The cast included big-wave expert and SEA executive organizer Derrick Doerner, "Mr. Pipe" himself Gerry Lopez and surfing legend Joel Tudor. On August 13, the three watermen along with 30-40 other participants set out on their stand-up paddleboards to circle the island of Manhattan. The adventure started at the island's south seaport and ending in the North Cove Marina in Battery Park. Joel Tudor, who appeared to be as fit as they come during the paddle had plenty to say about what's sure to be an annual event.

SURFING MAGAZINE: Tell us about the foundations you guys paddled for.JOEL TUDOR: Surfer's Environmental Alliance. It was also for Surfers Healing, which was originally founded by Israel Paskowitz and is a non-profit organization that benefits autism. I've missed every one of his benefits for I don't know how many years, and when I heard about this thing in Manhattan it was a golden opportunity. I've spent the last 12 years of my life there and I pride myself as a bicoastal {{{New Yorker}}}.

WHAT WAS THE PADDLE LIKE FOR YOU?To see all of the bridges for me was the coolest part cause I take those bridges to get places. Then to be able to paddle under all of them was a beautiful deal. I mean I saw the entire island. My friends that are from there, I was able to walk up to them and be like have you seen the whole island? Yeah I thought so. If I could have had spray paint with me I could have tagged the whole island in places where it would never come down, but I couldn't cause it wouldn't be environmentally sound. But I did think about it.

WHAT WAS THE ROUTE?We started at the south seaport, which is at the very tip of the island. We jumped in there and made a complete loop. However, we didn't fully come back to the seaport because of the ferry traffic. We cut it one mile short, plus there was no way to get in at the seaport.

ARE YOU PADDLING A LOT? I've paddled my whole life. I mean I'm not some waterman who prides himself with a 16-foot Eaton on his car, but I always said that the average professional surfer could enter a paddle competition and win without having to train. I haven't stand-up paddled in two months and barely broke a sweat. That's the difference, we have such better conditioning. You may paddle to Catalina, but can you be held under at Pipeline? I think it's great that Rob Machado and other guys are doing it but I think the best way to learn is to go into it without knowing what you are doing. Sometimes ignorance is bliss and it pays off.

WHAT WAS THE COOLEST ASPECT OF THE PADDLE?I really liked the scenery, it definitely made the paddle easier, and it was like paddling through Central Park. One interesting thing was paddling under the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing all of the homeless people. There were tons of them. If you ever wonder where Mayor Rudy Giuliani put all of the homeless, peek under that bridge. Also paddling through Harlem was pretty hilarious because I saw a family stripping a car. It made me think about the North Shore when you see a family having a picnic while they strip a car.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY UP TO? Well I'm going to Hawaii to celebrate Duke's Oceanfest. I'm also training to get ready to compete in the Mundials (World Jiu-Jitsu Championships). I've also been training a lot of Muay Thai and Judo.

ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?Well, it just felt great to help out two great causes at once and get a great view of Manhattan at the same time. Yay autism, yay environment.

For more information on the event visit