Along the horizon off Long Beach, N.Y., tankers on their way in and out of the harbor are common sights. Not so common: 10-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater launching an aerial off the left-breaking surf in the foreground. But so it was last week as the world's surfing elite touched down on the sleepy beach community just 50 minutes outside of Manhattan to compete in the Quiksilver Pro New York, the sport's first major competition to be held east of the Mississippi. The sixth stop on the 11-event ASP world-title series, the contest boasted the richest purse in tour history: $1 million, including a $300,000 first-place check, which was won by 21-year-old rookie Owen Wright of Australia (above).
The event attracted throngs of urbanites who don't ordinarily get to watch world-class surfers in their own backyard. "A lot of people don't even realize there's an ocean in New York," said 20-year-old Long Beach resident Balaram Stack, who was eliminated in Round 2. But, after last week's event, organizers are betting on an East Coast future. Quiksilver has secured an ASP license to host an Atlantic contest each of the next two years, with an option to extend it by nine, positioning the Pro New York to become an annual event.
Indeed, it's a risky venture. Event organizers had taken a chance by choosing an area known for inconsistent surf. But they had done their homework, studying 15 years of charts and historical data before settling on the site and time frame—smack in the middle of hurricane season. And by week's end Hurricane Katia had obliged, whipping up six- to eight-foot waves.
"Yes, this is the East Coast," an announcer crowed during Friday's finals, reassuring spectators that, despite the perfect barrels, they were not in California. With Slater paddling out into the silvery-green surf, it just happened to look like it.
THEY SAID IT
"Because I heard all the details."
DANIEL SNYDER Redskins owner, on why he was suing the Washington City Paper over an allegedly inflammatory article that he admitted to having never read. (Snyder dropped the suit last Saturday.)
He Looks Good on Film
After moving from linebacker at Illinois to end in the NFL, where he made three Pro Bowls and logged 122 sacks (13th in NFL history), Simeon Rice went all-out hybrid in retirement: He attended the New York Film Academy and changed into an actor-director-producer-writer. With Rice's first effort, a 28-minute comedy titled When I Was King (which he wrote and directed), hitting the festival circuit, SI asked the aspiring Spielberg to pitch three sporty screenplays. Attention, Mark Wahlberg: We'll be waiting by the phone.
EDDIE MURPHY IS PLAX
"The Plaxico Burress story that we all know, but with a twist: Plaxico (Eddie Murphy, in a career-reviving role) is faced with making prisoners believe that he is a grizzled convict while keeping secret his identity and the details of his conviction. A comedy in the spirit of The Longest Yard meets Happy Gilmore."
RAY LEWIS : AGENT RAVEN
"The Hurt Locker's Anthony Mackie plays Ray Lewis in a spy movie along the lines of The Bourne Identity: The Ravens' middle linebacker has a secret double life as a government agent, and he travels from city to city during the football season, accomplishing secret missions in his spare time."
NOT WITHOUT HOPE
Not Without Hope
"A change of pace, this one's based on the nonfiction book about Nick Schuyler (Mark Wahlberg), the sole survivor of a boating accident in 2009 that killed three men (Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Matt Damon), including two of my ex-teammates. It's an inspiring story of survival, and I would shoot it in a very respectful, sensitive way."
JEFF FISHBEIN/ICON SMI (SNYDER)
BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES (WRIGHT)
THREE PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS
PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS BY SI IMAGING: TOM HAUCK/GETTY IMAGES (UNIFORM), CHARLES ESHELMAN/FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES (MURPHY), DARRIN KLIMEK/GETTY IMAGES (PRISON BARS); BETTMANN/CORBIS (BOND), DAVID BERGMAN (LEWIS); JOHN LUND/GETTY IMAGES (BOAT)