From Montauk to the MexiLogFest and Beyond: Montauk Youth Take the Longboarding World by Storm, by Cailin Riley
This past April 2023, many of the top male and female longboarders in the world gathered at the annual MexiLogFest in Saladita, Mexico, on the Pacific coast. The week-long event is a hard-fought competition for riders, but the organizers always emphasize the importance of celebrating “culture, creative expression and connection,” along with “some of the finest logging you’ll see anywhere in the world,” according to the mission statement on the event’s website. For those of you new to the term, 'logging' describes surfing longboards over nine feet in length, ridden in a style that has the surfer moving up and down on the board.
In the finals of this year’s competition, the promise of world-class logging was fulfilled by someone who could be considered an unlikely suspect.
The video with the most views by far - by millions, in fact - on the MexiLogFest Instagram page is a reel of 18-year-old Chase Lieder of Montauk, New York, laying down an epic 29-second nose ride on his Perplexer HD model longboard, custom built by San Clemente shaper Michael Takayama.
Lieder ultimately finished second in the Men’s Open division behind Kai Sallas of Hawaii, who is currently the top-ranked surfer on the World Surf League Men’s Longboard tour, but Chase clearly stole the show, casually hanging ten on the long left for what seemed like an eternity as the crowd went wild.
The visuals are eye-popping enough, but the video is even better with the sound on. Lieder’s longtime friend and fellow MexiLog competitor Tucker Coleman (also of Montauk) is recording while simultaneously losing his mind, shouting, “Oh my God!” and “Whoa!” repeatedly, before screaming, in a fever pitch, “Shut up!”
At last check, the video had more than four million views on social media.
Montauk Youth on WSL Longboard Tour & Junior Olympic Snowboard Team
It’s not hard to understand why the video went viral. People who surf understand the physics behind what makes them able to walk on water, but they also have a deep appreciation for what makes it so hard to do it well. For the uninitiated, it’s the kind of sight that boggles the mind, makes you rub your eyes and take a second look, maybe a third, to make sure you’re really seeing what you’re seeing, because it doesn’t seem physically possible.
The real magic, the real trick that Lieder successfully executed is the ability to surf at such a high performance level after growing up in an area that is not usually expected to produce his type of talent.
Lieder, Coleman, and his younger sister, Chloe Coleman all compete at the MexiLogFest, an invitation-only world renowned surfing event, and they are all Montauk born and bred, making a name for themselves and their often underestimated hometown on the tip of Long Island in New York, at competitions both in and out of the U.S. Together, they are the East Coast outliers in a literal sea of competitors hailing from the West Coast and Hawaii.
If people have been underestimating the youngsters coming out of Montauk, they won't be for much longer. Thanks to this talented group, including a solid fourth horseman by the name of 16-year-old Noah Avallone, a high achieving snowboarder and surfer who just qualified for the US Youth Olympics in the Halfpipe. He still finds time to tear it up at surf competitions on both the East and West coasts as well. Avallone was also invited to MexiLog but couldn’t attend because of his snowboarding commitments.
Montauk has produced strong individual surfers over the years - Quincy Davis grabbed the national spotlight as a teen more than a decade ago, earning notoriety and landing sponsorships that helped her travel the world - but it’s hard to recall a time when such a large number of talented young surfers came up together at the same time, and achieved such a level of success.
Check out this highlight of former pro surfer and artist Tony Caramanico also from Montauk
Lieder is currently chasing the gold ring on the pro circuit. For the past year, he’s been living in Oceanside, California after graduating early from East Hampton High School in 2022. Lieder was recently granted a wildcard and competed on the 2023 World Surf League Longboard tour, finishing up his rookie season at an event in El Salvador, after competing in the U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, California in July and at Bells Beach, Australia last August. He now has his sights set on the upcoming qualifying event for next year’s WSL tour, set for early December in Morro Bay, California.
Chloe Coleman, also 18, has made the move out to California as well. She graduated from East Hampton High School in the spring of 2023, and is now a freshman at San Diego State University, where she’s a member of the school’s surf team. This rising star is also making her mark in the competitive longboarding world as well, recently finishing second at the Super Girl Pro event in Oceanside, California among a sea of West Coasters. She too was granted a wildcard for the US Open of Surfing on the WSL Longboard tour this summer, where she made her WSL debut.
“I didn’t surf my best there,” she admitted. “But it was definitely a good experience. It was my first real WSL contest, so it was super nerve wracking, but I just needed to get the jitters out and now I’m feeling way more competitive.”
Coleman was granted another wildcard for the WSL event in El Salvador, but she was given only 24 hours notice, and was unable to attend.
She’s not far along the coast from her brother, Tucker, 20, who competes on the surf team at Point Loma Nazarene University in southern California. Tucker, a 2021 graduate of East Hampton High, is in his junior year and placed in the Top 30 in the Men’s Longboard division at the MexiLogFest. He also won the USA National Title for longboarding in the men’s 18 to 39 division. Young Coleman also recently went up against one of the world’s best only to be edged out in Round 24 at a regional qualifier for the WSL to Joel Tudor (who also lives in Montauk!) and who, for the uninitiated, is widely recognized as the Kelly Slater of longboarding.
“My goal this year is to do as many WSL regional qualifiers for shortboard and longboard as possible,” he says. “There hasn’t been anybody to get on the tour for both shortboarding and longboarding, and I think that would be the coolest thing.”
While this contingent of Montauk’s rising tide of youth - Chase, Chloe and Tucker - are riding waves on the West Coast, 16 year-old Noah Avallone has headed north with a different kind of board in tow. In mid-October, Avallone set off for Switzerland after learning he was one of two young men in the country to earn a spot on the USA Snowboarding Halfpipe team that will compete in the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, South Korea, in 2024.
Snowboarding is top priority for Avallone. He attends the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, and devotes more of his time to the snow sport than he currently does to surfing. But even with snowboarding drawing much of his time and focus, he always manages to make the most of the time he spends in the water. In 2021, when he was only 14, Avallone became national champion in his age group for both snowboarding and longboarding, an impressive feat for a kid who didn’t always live near the mountains or the country’s West Coast and consistent waves.
Check out Session Mag's podast with Noah Avallone here.
Trying to explain the phenomenon of these four young surfers in their late teens and early twenties finding national and international success - even stardom - is no easy feat when they hail from a small northeast coastal town that make many west coasters tilt their heads, scrunch up their brows and say, “You’re from … where??”
It would be inaccurate to pretend Montauk, New York is unheard of as it relates to surfing. Multitudes within the greater surfing community are aware that world class waves show up on this remote tip of Long Island jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, especially during fall hurricane swells. And when the swells do show up, it’s not uncommon for some big names in surfing to show up as well. Then, of course, there’s the internal fortitude it takes to keep showing up at the beach when there’s a thick layer of frost on the windshield, and the 5mm gloves, booties and hood that need to be applied in order to enter northeast winter surf.
And yet, Chase, Chloe, Tucker and Noah, as well as the people who know them best and have watched their ascent, have definite ideas about why they’ve been able to defy the odds and exceed all expectations. These gritty experiences also light a fire under them to keep at it.
For Chloe Coleman, the reactions when she shares where she’s from are interesting and wide ranging, especially over the last several months when she found herself competing in some West Coast events.
“It’s definitely really funny,” she says. “At the WSL contest and at Mexi Log, you have people from all over the world, and when you tell them you’re from New York they’re like… “Wait…What?" They don’t think there’s an ocean in New York, so they’re like, ‘How do you surf in New York?’ I have to explain to them how I’m from Montauk, and it’s on the tip of Long Island with the Atlantic ocean crashing in. People from France or Spain, Portugal, and Brazil never expect a New Yorker to be at a contest.
“It’s cool and special and definitely a part of me that I really represent heavily,” she continues. “I’m very proud to be from New York.”
However, it takes more than just consistent waves to create great surfers. Much like raising children, it takes a village, one with a strong, tight-knit community spirit. That’s perhaps an underestimated ingredient in the success of this Montauk crew.
“I’m just so lucky and grateful that I get to represent such a cool community,” Chloe says. “Montauk is actually the most special community I could have ever imagined to live in in the whole world. I’m so lucky I had so many cool surfers to look up to and surf with while I was growing up. It’s a very inclusive surfing community. I wouldn’t trade living in Montauk for anything.”
And of course, the motivational power of proving people wrong can also never be underestimated.
“A lot of people from Waikiki in Hawaii or parts of California don’t even know the East Coast at all, so it’s pretty cool to see a rise in East Coast surfing,” Tucker Coleman says. “It’s like we really have to prove ourselves among this upper class; they’re almost like royalty, coming from these locations everyone knows for longboarding.”
Tucker also explains the types of waves they ride at home in Montauk prepared them well for 2023 Mexi Log Fest.
“We have a very good left point break at home, and Chase grabbed second at MexiLog because there was a really good left, and he’s used to waves like that,” Coleman says. “He really proved himself among the best in the world, and my sister and I did as well. I think we showed everyone what we’re made of at that event.
“It’s almost like you have to do a couple of professional events to let people know that you’re not an amateur,” he continues. “We’re not gonna back down just because we’re from the East Coast. We’ve got a lot of East Coast fire.”
The waves in Montauk are, of course, pretty darn rich. Ditch Plains, where all four have spent the better part of their formative years, is a well established spot for longboarding. But part of what has made this young group exceptional is that nothing has been handed to them easily. Northeast conditions often demand a lot from them, requiring them to make the right choices and stay consistent. Essentially, East Coast conditions quite often challenges them, “Do you really like surfing? Do you really want to get better? Ok, prove it!”
“I’ve always instilled the idea of a quiver to Noah,” says his dad, Mike Avallone. “You need to have the right board for the right wave. And in Montauk, if you want to surf every day, you have to learn to longboard, especially in the summer.”
Avallone also points out that while the wave at Ditch Plains is consistent, it also “throws everything at you.”
“It’s not a perfect wave like Malibu,” he says. “You really have to learn to navigate it, work through the sections and find your way down the line.”
Shortboarding traditionally holds more sway over younger surfers. It has that instant adrenaline gratification, and a tantalizing possibility of going airborne, while longboarding has - fittingly - created a more slow and steady foray into the consciousness of younger surfers. Just a few years ago, a video of a teen longboarding would be highly unlikely to garner millions of views like Leider’s noseride in Mexico, but currently longboarding is enjoying a glow-up right among the youth. Chloe admits that, as recently as three or four years ago, she thought of longboarding as something “for the dads,” and now waxes poetic over the freedom and access to self-expression and style that longboarding offers.
Another secret weapon - or perhaps not so secret anymore, judging by the waitlist) -in Chloe, Chase and Tucker’s arsenals are the longboards they’re riding, created by SoCal shaper Michael Takayama.
Takayama’s son, Kaimana Takayama, 25, is a pro surfer himself and came out to Montauk several years ago for the Vans Duct Tape Invitational surf contest hosted by Joel Tudor. Lieder met him on the beach, and was intrigued by the longboard he was riding. Kaimana handed it over, letting Chase take it for a test drive. The rest is history.
Michael Takayama met Chase when he went to California and made him a board. Before long, Chloe and Tucker were converted as well. The pure talent and ability of Takayama to make a perfect, customized longboard, and the care and detail he puts into every board he shapes is what makes Chloe, Chase and Tucker so devoted to his work. All three say that riding Takayama’s boards has taken their longboarding to another level.
“With the competitive surfers, the boards are all custom made,” Takayama says. He likens what he does to being a tailor. “If I were to make somebody a suit and it looked great but didn’t fit right, I would alter it and make it fit better.”
Takayama is not only a maker but also a mentor. He’s known as “Uncle Michael” to young surfers like Chase, Chloe, Tucker and others who take his hand-crafted products into big-time competitions, and he is clearly invested in their success.
“The kids keep me young,” he says. “They make me feel young. It's amazing. There’s some kids I’ve mentored since they were ten years old and they’re pros now, and I love just being a small part of their journey. I look at all of these kids as being my kids. The good part is, I can send them home,” he adds with a hearty laugh.
Takayama has been in the game for a long time, as both a competitive surfer and a shaper. He hasn’t been out to Montauk yet, but is hoping to visit soon, and says he’s not surprised that Chloe, Chase and Tucker have found success on the West Coast.
“These kids surf a lot,” he explains. “They sent me pictures of them surfing in the snow! I never knew much about the area until I met this gang and the Lieder family. They send me videos all the time, and I think some of the waves are as good as they are in California. They may be less consistent at times, but Montauk probably had better waves than we have had over the last few months,” he said in early October.
Takayama also added that their ability to make solid life choices has been a huge part of their success. “I think it’s fantastic that they’re really pursuing their academic careers too,” he says. “And it’s not just: surf’s up, dude. When I was younger, and I lived through the 1970s and 80s and early 90s, there was a lot of partying going on and I’ve seen a lot of talented people meet their demise that way. These young people have very supportive families too.”
The Colemans, Leider and Avallone are also super supportive of each other as lifelong friends. They’ve spent their formative years heading straight to the beach after the final bell rang at East Hampton High, and creating their own little friendly but fierce rivalries in the water.
“It’s good to have my sister and Chase and Noah to push off each other in sessions at home,” says Tucker. “We get better by just free surfing together. When I see Chase or Noah or Chloe do something stylish or crazy, I want to do something even crazier. Chloe probably rips harder than me on a longboard.”
This crew say they have all felt the love from their hometown when they’re back on the East Coast. Lieder says on a recent trip to Montauk, it took him forever to make it from the parking lot into the water at Ditch Plains because he was approached by so many people on the beach, walking up to him, congratulating him on making the WSL Longboard tour and all of his recent successes. When the MexiLog video went viral, it brought his local notoriety even higher.
“If people didn’t know about Montauk before that video, they did after,” Tucker says with a laugh.
Chloe says she’s particularly proud when young female surfers in Montauk recognize and congratulate her and admits she wants to be like “a big sister” to them, remembering how she felt years ago when she would follow Quincy Davis’s career.
“I feel super grateful and really hope I’m inspiring younger girls,” she says.
Chase remembers he was thrilled to see just how much the younger surfers had improved when he came home in Montauk in early October.
“I came back and all these little kids were ripping,” he exclaims. “This is the summer when all the kids really grew into their own I guess.”
When it’s suggested that it might not be a coincidence, that maybe what he and Chloe, Tucker and Noah have been exemplifying, including the notoriety they’ve picked up online, including the way their successes have been embraced by the entire town and most likely have had an osmosis effect, he says he was glad to be the face of that kind of inspiration for the next generation.
“When they see me on the screen and then see me come back home, they can say, I know him, and they can relate to the journey,” he says. “They can see themselves being out there one day, and think, maybe I can do that.”
Lieder soaks it all in when he’s home, but always makes time to prioritize what matters most, including spending time with his family, his friends, and his dog, and of course surfing at Ditch.
And while California can still lay claim to being the surf capital of the country, even as Montauk does its underdog best to nip at the west coast’s heels, Lieder also finds time to savor something California can never live up to: Goldberg’s Bagels on the Napeague Strip, and New York pizza from Sausages in Montauk.