In fall of 2004, following my growing obsession with maritime weather models, cold-water wax, and 7mm neoprene mittens, I began documenting surfing in New York City. My life as I knew it had succumbed to my constant urge to surf, and it became clear to me that my photography would suffer from neglect if I did not begin to document the new passion that occupied most of my waking thoughts and many of my dreaming ones.

The project, titled “Right Coast,” is a nickname for the East coast that not only indicates its location on the continental US, but also asserts an underdog’s dreams of superiority. Surfing on the right coast, particularly in New York City, lacks most of the lifestyle and allure of West coast surfing. Yet making up for the dearth of good weather, consistent waves, and beautiful surf spots is a community that has a surfeit of heart, dedication, and soul. Or in a word, aloha.

In addition to landscapes that reveal the rigor and drama of winter surfing, I include portraits and still lives that reveal the intimacy and intensity of the life carved out on New York City’s stretch of Atlantic Ocean.

The familiar icons of surfing—heroic men posed against their surfboards, barrel-shaped waves, and bikini-clad women—play against the gray skies, snow covered beaches, and grafittied environs.

—Susannah Ray