UMass Surf Club is back and ready to hit the waves this 2021-2022 academic year

Travel, flick and floats and tarp surfing with the UMass Surf Club

Photo+courtesy+of+Annie+Lye

Photo courtesy of Annie Lye

By Corinne Arel, Collegian Contributor

Surfing isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Western Massachusetts.

For surfers, going to college in the Pioneer Valley can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to regularly catching some waves. The UMass Surf Club provides people interested in the sport a place to hang out, ride some waves, and be immersed into the surfing culture.

The surf club was founded in 2014 by 2020 undergraduate alum Owen Henry. Current surf club president, senior kinesiology major Annie Lye, spoke more about the club’s aim to share surfing culture, both with people who already know how to surf, and those who do not.

“It’s one of the unique things about UMass,” Lye said. “You can just go and learn how to surf living two hours away from the ocean. It is always a great escape, and the vibes are always fun and lighthearted.”

The surf club goes on weekly outings and unofficial carpool trips to Narragansett, RI. They rent surfboards and wetsuits from the local surf shop — Warm Winds and spend the day catching as many waves as they can.

As the colder weather rolls in, the surf club still has plenty of events. The club heads out to Nashua, New Hampshire to the indoor Surf’s Up wave pool at Skyventure New Hampshire. UMass surfers can escape the frigid cold in the dead of winter when there is no sun.

More local to campus, the surf club will also host flick and floats. Lye created the event where they book space in Boyden pool, move the lane lines, fill it with inflatables and surfboards and then we have an inflatable projector screen and watch “Surf’s Up.”

The club will also get together to go tarp surfing.

“You get a giant tarp and a bunch of people with long boards…everyone will grab hold of an edge and then someone will longboard through,” Lye said. “You get that barreling effect even when you’re not in the ocean.”

Surfers in the club can show off their skills at the semi-annual surf competition, The Lake Atlantic Invitational.

“It’s a low-key competition, light and fun,” Lye said. Everyone is welcome to come and hang out whether you want to surf or not.”

Finally, being back on campus has allowed for the surf club to continue to go on fun surf adventures and continue to spread their love of surfing to anyone and everyone. However, the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the club throughout the past year and a half.

“We couldn’t have official trips, but surfing is the perfect social distance sport because it’s out in the sun and you physically can’t be closer than six feet to someone,” Lye said. “With the unofficial carpooling we would… meet up with friends… and get some human interaction but at the same time it would be safe because you’re in the sun, in the ocean, far away from each other, but it was definitely sad not being able to host the normal trips.”

With the 2021-2022 school year underway, the surf club is officially back up and running and eager to continue to go on outdoor and indoor trips as well as getting to teach more people how to surf.

Corinne Arel can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @CorinneArel_09.