"We're holding it in prime hurricane season," noted Quiksilver's Todd Kline three weeks ago at the U.S. Open of Surfing, speculating on the likelihood of getting surf during the inaugural Quiksilver Pro New York, the sixth stop on the ASP World Tour, slated for Sept. 1-15 in Long Beach, N.Y.
It would seem more prophetic words were never uttered at a surf contest. On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered "the state's Office of Emergency Management to prepare for the potential impact of Hurricane Irene, which may hit New York state this coming Sunday."
CNN.com is reporting that "evacuations have begun at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. About 240 patients will be moved. The hospital is about 2 feet above sea level."
While there is no shortage of doomsday scenarios playing out in the media, the fact is, Hurricane Irene, currently a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 105 mph, is marching up the Eastern Seaboard.
For the Quiksilver Pro and the ASP World Tour, this means that Tony Hawk's vert ramp, the Flaming Lips' soundstage, the Roxy Beach House and the precious sand bars that create the waves are all under threat of deluge.
"We are following all instructions communicated by the City. Safety is the number one issue, so in observance of that, we are removing the beach event site," said Quiksilver PR director Catlin Rawlings. "We will reassess the situation after the storm has passed and resume when it is safe to do so."
Hurricanes Gloria (1985) and Belle (1976) were the last hurricanes to track within 75 miles of New York City, and both were Category 1 storms. The last storm to hit New York directly was in 1938. Some forecast models are currently showing Irene hitting the heart of New York as a Category 3 storm on Sunday.
"Surfing events revolve around the weather," adds Rawlings, who's currently stranded in California due to the travel issues associated with the storm. "We knew that we were scheduling this event during peak hurricane season. In working with weather-driven events, you have to be flexible. It's the nature of the sport."