July 26, 2006
Surfer Girl Makes Big Waves
Montauk's Kristen Brady doesn't need to look at the weather report or the outside thermometer because, like so many other dedicated individuals that pursue her unique sport, there is no off-season for a surfer.
Brady, 17, hasn't traveled the usual path of the average surfing enthusiast, after taking up the sport only four years ago. A year later, Kristen entered her first local surf competition and has since won several major events, focusing her skills on the longboard category, a surfboard that has spearheaded her meteoric rise in both the local and out-of-state ranks.
"Kristen surfs in the winter time and she's quite addicted to it," says her mom Kathy. "She's a longboarder who is pretty much self-taught. Her dad is a surfer and he introduced her to the sport. I think that now she's pursued it, she's found her niche."
Brady, a senior at East Hampton High School, surfs primarily at Montauk's famed Ditch Plains and when she isn't working on her craft, she can often be found giving surfing lessons.
"She has a big respect for the ocean and she knows how powerful it can be," says her proud mom. "She doesn't have the experience that some of the girls who surf at world class locales have and she doesn't have sponsors like a lot of the other top surfers have. We joke [with Kristen] that she's sponsored by Mom and Dad. We're really thrilled with what she's been able to accomplish."
Brady often has to pick and choose her opportunities to surf as the strong waves at Ditch Plains can often wreak havoc on a longboarder's day although she makes the most of her opportunities, surfing year round regardless of the conditions Mother Nature throws at the legendary surf spot. Kristen's 14 year old sister Caity also surfs and her younger brother is an avid boogey boarder. When the Bradys surf, they bring the family.
"My Dad and I surf and I don't see myself ever stopping," says Brady. "I also like the competitions. We live at the beach and a lot of my friends surf, so I knew that one day I would start surfing every day. It's a lot of fun."
Brady has also been fortunate to have surfed in such popular locales as Hawaii, California, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, New Hampshire and New Jersey, further enhancing her desire to ride the waves.
During a recent family vacation/surfing expedition to Pasadena, California, Brady competed in the ESA Surf Championship and won her qualifying heat before finishing fourth overall in the competition that was flooded with representative surfers from both California and Hawaii.
"They [the other entrants] were kind of confused as to where I was from," said Brady. "They didn't know that there were waves big enough to surf on in New York . . . I just kind of popped out of nowhere [to them] I guess although I did meet a couple of girls who were really nice."
Davis was the only female entrant from the East Coast that advanced to the semifinals. "I was just happy that I just got to go to California and when I advanced to the next round," said Brady, who caught a great wave in the last two minutes of her heat to advance to the semifinals. "We couldn't go to Sea World. Plus, I don't really like Sea World."
She won the Eastern Surfing Association New York District women's longboard and Junior Women's division in 2005 as well as the women's longboard competition in another ESA sanctioned event at Hampton Bays' Ponquogue Beach.
And although she's been able to wet her board in some truly fantastic surfing spots, Brady still remains true to her home sand, quickly pointing out that Ditch Plains is without question her favorite spot. "It's really great for longboarding . . . it changes every day and it's a lot of fun. I love it."