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montauk - Two Coasts One Ocean 1

If you’re at all in love with the ocean, then continue reading, because the Surfrider Foundation, for those who may not know, might just be one of the best at cleaning up your most loved summer getaways. The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization focused on the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches. This weekend they will be kicking off a national effort to celebrate its network of coastal activists with a fundraising event, Two Coasts: One Ocean, in Montauk, NY. Tomorrow night’s (Saturday, August 8th) festivities will be held at a private residence with sweeping views of the sea. With guests expecting a laid-back, chic experience with the evenings soundtracks provided by DJ Tennessee Thomas and DJ KK (AKA Keala Kennelly), plus an amazing auction with proceeds going towards Surfrider.

For this little beachfront town, located on the easternmost tip of Long Island, where both social and commercial life revolves so much around the ocean, clean water and clean oceans is essential to the community’s livelihood. It’s no wonder so many amazing New York water lovers have signed on as hosts. If you can score a coveted ticket to this event, you’re sure to be in good company. Photographer Bruce Weber, model Carolyn Murphy, actor Adrian Grenier, filmmaker Mikey DeTemple, fashion consultants Julie Gilhart and Valerie Boster, culture curator Timothee Verrecchia, not to mention hotelier Sean MacPherson and pro surfers Quincy Davis and Balaram Stack will be just a few of the fabulous people who are hosting the evening.

“Montauk is the perfect venue to highlight and celebrate the critical work and success of our chapter network.“ said Chad Nelsen, Surfrider CEO. “Our Long Island chapter regularly hosts beach cleanups and maintains an all-volunteer water quality monitoring program, making them indispensable and essential to the safety and health of our coast.”

Earlier this week we sat down with Chad for a little chat to hear more about his passions, his vision for Surfrider and the issue of plastic soup.


Chad Nelsen, CEO Surfrider Foundation


Surf Collective: How did it all start?
Chad Nelsen: Surfrider got its start more than 30 years ago in Malibu when a group of surfers fought a poorly planned project that was impacting their favorite wave at Surfrider beach.  Since then, the Surfrider Foundation has evolved into one of the largest volunteer-activist networks dedicated to protecting our coasts.  While our focus has expanded beyond protecting more than surfing waves, one thing remains the same: our founders were everyday people and so is our network, who take action because they love their beaches.

Our chapter network continues to grow – that growth was and is organic – and evolve as the challenges to our coast have changed over time. 

SC: What inspires you about the ocean?
CN:  I grew up on the coast surfing, swimming and fishing, and eventually got my first job as an ocean lifeguard in Laguna Beach. These formative experiences gave me both love and respect for the power and fragility of the ocean.

SC: This might be difficult to answer, but which ocean has the biggest piece of your heart? and why?
CN:  The small pocket coves of Laguna Beach, my hometown.

SC: What’s your vision for Surfrider and how you see it impacting our coastal areas and oceans?
CN: When I took over the reins as CEO last Fall, our team developed a five-year growth strategy designed to ultimately meet the challenges we are facing along our coasts.  The growth in revenue and stature would provide complete support to our national chapter network. Our vision is to protect 100% of the coasts through a fully supported and robust chapter network. And for Surfrider to realize this aggressive goal, that we cannot go at alone.  We must find more passionate activists to join and support our network.  Today Surfrider is not at the capacity we need to fully protect our coasts and we won’t stop until we get to 100%.

SC: If people only take one thing away from this feature, what would you want that to be?
CN: The beaches belong to all of us, and we must protect them from the issues that face them everyday. Our ocean faces many issues, one of them being plastic pollution. It is turning into plastic soup with plastic being the most “popular” marine litter. So, every one of us should say no to plastic – from plastic bags to plastic water bottles. It is a simple change that can make a difference.

If you’re a water lover, and are planning to be in Montauk tomorrow night, you have no excuse, please come by and help us raise money to support the great work that Surfrider and the local chapters are doing.

You can purchase a ticket to the event HERE.