Surf Wars: The battle between east

and west for top swell

From LA to NYC, two surfers share why their side of the ocean is the wave to ride.

By: Chelle Morgan | Photos: Tawni Bannister and Thompson Chan


Deep down we all feel the pull of the ocean. From the warm water of the west coast to the freezing temps in the east, there’s a certain allure to surfing – it’s laid-back yet adrenaline-pumping, hard to learn but easy to love. Surf culture is heavy on the romance – we idealize the thought of waking up before dawn to paddle out into the ocean and scoring mad swell. Because these Blue Crush fantasies are so universal, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the waves.

For LA-based Matt Bauer and New Yorker Mia Woolrich, surfing is more than just beach hangs and a good tan – it’s a total way of life. Bauer has lived and breathed surfing since birth, travelling around the world in search of ultimate surf adventures. Australian-born Woolrich discovered surfing as a way to make friends in the big city. For both, the ocean serves as an escape from the everyday and a way to clear their minds.

In a classic east vs. west showdown, the two surfers split the peak and tell us why their coast is the one to ride.

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Matt Bauer: “The west coast is contagious with its deep roots – it’s impossible not to get inspired by the legendary surfers and brands that shaped this global pastime.”

Mia Woolrich: “Surf culture in New York is growing rapidly but it’s still unknown. There’s a smaller surf community and it’s really tight-knit. It’s not as competitive as the west – everyone’s trying to escape the city life here and have some fun.”

MB: “It’s an interesting balance [in California]. One day you are surrounded by tourists learning for the first time, the next you’re in another session with just one other person who happens to be your childhood idol.”

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MW: “The waves on the east coast are unpredictable – we can go weeks without any swell. There’s also a shorter time frame with the waves, so you have to pop up straight away. It’s great practice though – if you can surf here, you can surf anywhere.”

MB: “I think back to the winter sessions [on the East Coast] suited up in 6mm wetsuits with booties, hoods and gloves, trekking through snowy deserted beaches. There were some of the most perfect empty waves I’ve seen.

“The West Coast has waves consistently throughout the year, but my favourite thing is the journey that's centred around surfing. Planning, researching and escaping to surf adventures up the coast or around the world – the stories of these trips always outlive the story of that one wave.”

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MW: “In January the water is slushy – it’s like paddling through a Slurpee.”

MB: “On the west coast, my focus is more towards escaping the crowds rather than finding the best surf.”


MW: “Surf in the winter, there are way less people and the waves are better. And have an understanding of surf etiquette – some people just paddle out and drop in on other surfers.”

“Be respectful to the beaches and those in the water. Do your part – it’s depressing how oblivious many beachgoers are to their impact on our coasts.”

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MW: “Just have fun and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Being out in the water is enough, being there and being present – even if you’re just sitting there. Enjoy it.”

“I truly believe the best surfer is the one having the most fun. Longboard, shortboard, bodysurfing – it doesn't matter as long as you have respect for the ocean and those enjoying it.”

Woolrich is wearing the Go With the Flow High-Low Sleeveless

Ride the waves on either coast in performance swimwear for women and men.