Surf-Check: A Montauk Summer Morning

mikey detemple surfing sperry
 Courtesy image


“The board is so important. If you ride a surfboard that generates its own speed, then everything else flows.”

He’s been watching the weather for a week. Nothing but rain, storms, more rain. Then finally, on a Monday evening, it looks like the clouds will finally part. Summer, at last, has arrived. So world-renowned surfer and videographer Mikey DeTemple dons his Sperry Striper II sneakers, straps two boards to the top of his SUV, and sets out from his Brooklyn apartment, driving the entire 118-mile length of America’s longest island.

sperry surfing
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Next morning, after crashing for a few hours in his Montauk fisherman’s cottage, Mikey is up before seven. After taking in a lungful of crisp summertime air, he makes a speedy coffee run, then he’s off to find the best spot for a day of surfing. “If there’s surf,” he explains, “I get out there as fast as I can.”

sperry surfing
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“The physics around it are crazy. There’s nothing in front of you. You’re standing on the end of the board, and the whole back of the board is wrapped around the wave.”

While performing his surf check, Mikey likes to see curls peeling to the right—his preferred breaking direction. “The wind is perfect,” says Mikey, smiling into the strong northwesterly breezes. His Sperry sneakers are perfect for negotiating sharp rocks during the surf check. Based on Sperry’s original 1935 design, these sneakers are as timeless as surfing itself. The leather laces don’t get soaked, and the shoes can be rinsed and dried easily.

sperry surfing
Courtesy image

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re gonna pearl into the water. You have to find the exact perfect spot on the wave.”

For several hours, Mikey is lost in the summertime waves. As the day wanes, his sleek board can still be seen flashing against the whiteness of the cresting surf.

Emerging from the sea in the late afternoon, Mikey dons his patchwork Sperry sneakers one last time, preparing for the trip back to Brooklyn. The shoes are ultra-lightweight and flexible, and the legendary wet/dry traction means he doesn’t have to worry about slipping while he packs up.

When we ask Mikey why he does it, why he traverses the length of Long Island just to plunge into the water, his answer is simple. “It’s the lift you get. The feeling of being on the end of the world.”