Blue Water Task Force
May 07 2010

Extended Beach Season in New Hampshire

by Mara Dias

Back to the beach

Written by Chloe Johnson
Thursday, 06 May 2010

NH Surfrider kicks off the summer season with a benefit party and beach cleanup.

For most people on the Seacoast, the beach season is just beginning. But for some surfers, it never ends.

That’s one reason the New Hampshire Surfrider Foundation extended water quality testing to the colder months shortly after becoming an official chapter of the national organization a few years ago. The state’s Department of Environmental Services only monitors coastal waters for swimming during the summer.

Preston Curtis, president of the local Surfrider chapter, has been surfing for several years. “I like it just as much in the winter as in the summer,” he said.
An Environmental Protection Agency grant helped cover training, equipment and lab fees for water testing. Volunteers sample eight popular surf spots in the fall and spring to make sure the water is safe.

Despite this achievement, a Surfrider volunteer’s work is never done. Like the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation in Portsmouth, the organization holds monthly beach cleanups with the community, and Curtis said the need is not going away. Without these stewards of the beach, he said, the sand would be covered in trash.

“People will always litter and people will always clean it up,” he said. But it’s never the same people. “We shouldn’t have to do it.”

Curtis blames ignorant and inconsiderate beachgoers for the trash, but he said he hopes to lead be example. “We know better,” he said.

Surfrider is a grassroots, non-profit, environmental organization dedicated to the protection and stewardship of area waterways in a global ocean context. It is not just for surfers, but for anyone who cares about the beach. There are about 150 diverse members in the state, Curtis said.

The summer season starts with a kickoff weekend that includes a benefit party at the Portsmouth Gas Light on Friday, May 7, a booth at the Portsmouth Sustainability Fair on Saturday, May 8, and a beach cleanup in Seabrook on Sunday, May 9.

The third annual fundraiser party begins with live music by Kings Highway, a local band with Dave Cropper from Cinnamon Rainbows. There will also be a DJ, surf videos, and a raffle of more than $1,000 worth of gear and gift cards. Prizes include donations of surfboards, wetsuits, massage packages, ski passes and more from sponsors.

The event will be held upstairs in the 21-plus nightclub space. Tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door.

Proceeds from this year’s event will go to support NH Surfrider, the Molly Rowlee Foundation for cancer research and the Linda Jo Fund, which raises money to support free surf lessons for underprivileged children.

The first beach cleanup in the NH Surfrider summer series saw a record 55 volunteers remove more than 560 pounds of trash from North Beach in Hampton. Curtis said the average amount collected during a typical cleanup is about 125 pounds.

Volunteers at the May cleanup or any summer beach cleanup in Seabrook can enter a free raffle to win a wetsuit from Zapstix, the surf shop where the events begin.

Helping at any of the summer cleanups in Hampton in June, July or August puts volunteers into a surfboard raffle drawn at the end of the event on Aug. 7. Next month’s beach cleanup is on Saturday, June 12 at 9 a.m. at “The Wall” across from Cinnamon Rainbows.

Curtis said the Seacoast surf scene is “pretty happening right now,” having gained many people over the past 10 years. “It’s really become popular,” he said.

Surfrider recently created a site to chronologically list events and better interact with people. The free service comes with email notification of upcoming events.

The New Hampshire Surfrider Foundation is also online at