Outside Edge moves to the shoreline to explore the surf

Ryan McDermott, co-owner of Black Point Surf Shop, teaches how the basics of surfing can only bring joy.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine – On this week’s Outside Edge, we went from the western foothills to the ocean’s edge.

NEWS CENTER Maine meteorologist Mallory Brooke traveled to Old Orchard Beach to ride a surfboard for the first time with Ryan McDermott, co-owner of Black Point Surf Shop in Scarborough.

McDermott describes surf culture as unique.

“The people of Maine just make it rich,” says McDermott. “It’s not California, it’s not Florida, it’s not New Jersey, you’re in Maine and people make it what it is. And the Gulf of Maine is a place so unique.”

For beginner surfers, it is best to start with a lesson and rent a board and wetsuit.

“Take a lesson from a pro, go a few times, then come back to another lesson, and then you’re pretty much set,” McDermott said. “Really, once you have those fundamentals, you pretty much just need to figure it out on your own and feel comfortable in the water. [Just] go ahead and do it.

There’s more to it than just riding the wave while surfing. Finding balance while lying on the board, navigating waves on or off the board, and judging incoming thrust are just a few of the factors involved. Then, of course, when the time is right, there is also the means to “emerge” as you ride the wave.

It usually takes a few lessons to master the “pop,” says McDermott, who was introduced to surfing through skiing.

“My brother and I went to Carrabassett Valley Academy,” McDermott said. “My CVA roommate was from Nantucket and between sophomore and freshman year of high school he invited me to move out and live there and I saw surfing for the first time and I was like, ‘ What? We could do that in Maine?!'”

By the end of that year, McDermott and his brother were hooked and started building surfboards the following year.

Surfing was growing in popularity, but out of season there were only surf shops open in far southern Maine or New Hampshire. It’s one of the reasons McDermott started Black Point Surf Shop with his brother and sister-in-law.

“We had too many people coming to our parents’ house to buy stuff,” McDermott laughed as he explained the main reason for opening the store. “So we were building boards, and people were coming to get their boards, and then we just had people showing up to buy fins and wax and stuff. And you’re like, ‘We can’t quite to have that, we need a real place.'”

McDermott teaches all summer and says it’s a pretty even split between locals and non-locals and from all walks of life. Teaching is something he loves and looks forward to during the hot season.

“Especially with children or thrilled people, getting them on the water and getting them to understand and take off is the most rewarding thing you could ask for. [for]”, McDermott said.

McDermott points out that as long as you respect the beach from which you access the water, the ocean and others, you can essentially surf safely the rest of your life.

You also have to watch the weather and surf conditions very closely, but overall it’s definitely worth it in the end.

“There aren’t 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,” said said McDermott.

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