At North Beach, There's Pride in Ownership
Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop
By Alexander Plummer
Hampton Union, Sunday, August 5, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON BEACH -- To properly engage the surfing community in Hampton, all one has to do is enter its holy shrine: Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop. Once inside the North Beach shop, the busy summer crowds instantly melt away and a vibe of relaxation hits you like the waves that surfers chase all summer.
It is in that certain realm of relaxation where most surfers find themselves and their coveted waves, and while those waves may be lacking this summer, most locals will tell you that Hampton is premier surf turf for New Englanders and far-flung tourists alike.
"I have been here all my life and there are a lot of good surfers around here," said Cinnamon Rainbows owner and Hampton native Dave Cropper. "The waves get really good here and there is nothing like surfing your home beach when it's good."
Cropper is part of what he calls the "local crew," a group of hard-core surfers from the Hampton area who call North Beach their own.
"It's in your blood if you're from here," he said. "There has been a core group of guys that have been around here for a long time, and everyone knows each other."
Aside from their love of the sport, what do the majority of Hampton surfers have in common?
"Love of the environment," said Cropper. "Everyone who surfs here is environmentally conscious, and there seems to be a whole new level of environmental awareness that has spread from the older generation to the younger generation."
While the environment is the focus of most area surfers, their mutual respect for each other is also a high priority, according to shop employee and surfer Doug Wright.
"Everyone really looks out for each other," he said. "There is a great local crew that likes to share waves and just be out there enjoying it."
However, according to Wright, the enjoyment sometimes ends when the so-called out-of-towners crash the surfing party. One of the unspoken rules of surfing is who gets preference when it's time to ride a wave. The rules are usually the same: if it's your beach, it's your wave; but if it's not your beach, you may have to wait your turn.
"People around here call it localism, but it really means that the people who live and surf around here should get the best waves," he said, as a smile began to break on his tanned face. "We are the local crew and we should be getting the waves."
Wright, who prefers his work attire to be a bathing suit and nothing else, strikes the casual observer as the typical surfer, in that he is mellow enough to spend all day in the water, but passionate enough about his sport and his home turf to stir up the pot when the time comes.
"When an out-of-towner is taking your waves, it usually starts with a verbal warning," he explained. "If that doesn't work, the older guys come in and take care of the situation."
Of course, Wright and his fellow boarders try to avoid such situations with a little policy they like to call secrecy.
"If anyone wants to know where the best surfing spots are, I won't tell him," he said "That's a secret."
What is not a secret, however, are the best months to surf the Hampton area. Cropper, who said he travels to Fiji every year to chase waves, explained that the more hurricanes and tropical storms, the better.
"The best time in Hampton is during hurricane season," he said. "When those tropical storms hit, the surf on the coast really gets up."
A good day for most surfers constitutes waves that are head high or bigger. Cropper says that those waves don't usually come in the summer, making the beach this time of year a perfect place for novice surfers.
"We get everyone coming into the store in the summer," he said. "Mostly beginners in June and July, but pretty much everyone comes in."
One surfer trying to catch waves this summer says that it has been frustrating, but in typical surfing form, he also knows how good he has it.
"I try to get out as much as I can," said Exeter native and frequent Hampton surfer Nelson Willard. "There have been no waves this summer whatsoever, but it doesn't really matter, because the sun is out, the beach is warm, and you're in the water all day. You can't lose."