Long Beach surfing community helping Puerto Rico


It’s no secret that many surfers from Long Beach head to Puerto Rico during the winter months to take advantage of the good surf.

Now, the local surfing community is coming together to help those on the island who are reeling after Hurricane Maria, particularly in Rincon, a popular surfing destination.

Surf for All, a Long Beach-based non-profit organization that works with people with disabilities and special needs, started a Hurricane Maria Relief Fund to help residents and local businesses there.

The organization, founded by Cliff and Will Skudin, of Skudin Surf, Jim Mulvaney and former State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg in 2002, will host a fundraiser at the Beach House, at 960 W. Beech St., on Oct. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information, visit surfforall.org.

The organization, which launched a similar relief effort after Hurricane Sandy, is also collecting donations online at www.gofundme.com/rinconhurricanemariarelief or www.surfforall.org.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the community in Rincon,” said Cliff Skudin, adding that Long Beach’s surfing community has strong ties to Puerto Rico. “Through the years, many families and people from Long Beach have traveled to Puerto Rico, and it’s become their secondary home — it’s come to be called Long Beach South. And a lot of people from Puerto Rico have come to Long Beach to work in the summer and be a part of our surf community. So there’s a tight bond, and our surfing communities are intertwined and we all know each other.”

Skudin Surf operates the Skudin Surf Shack in Rincon, which offers surfing lessons and guided tours.

The Surf Shack did not suffer as much damage as some other businesses in the community, Skudin said, but he explained that Maria’s storm surge reached 20 feet in some areas, and that many roads are inaccessible, cutting off Rincon from the relief supplies in San Juan. Many families are also without power and water, and have been displaced.

Surf for All is hoping to raise $50,000 to support the Rincon community. “When we lost everything [in Sandy], everybody was there for us and now it’s our turn to return the favor,” Will Skudin said in a video about the effort.

Cliff said that Kevin and Sean Killarney, owners of the Beach House in Long Beach, own a location in Rincon that is being used as a relief center by members of the FDNY.

Cliff’s brother, Woody, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant, is also traveling to Rincon to help coordinate and assist the relief effort.

“There are local families who live for the winter months, and their whole economy is based on the winter to bring in tourism, and now all of a sudden they might not be open,” Cliff said. “Our goal is to get the businesses and local economy running for the holidays, which from what I’ve heard is still possible.”