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Discover : Benny’s Club, New York's most welcoming surf club

“Benny” is a slang term for a non-local—not exactly the type of person traditionally held in high
esteem in surf culture. So the decision by Johnny Cappetta and Momo Hudes to name their new
collective “Benny’s Club” tells you something about their unabashed embrace of those who have
been made to feel “other” in surfing.

Founded in the middle of the pandemic, in its epicenter of New York City, Benny’s Club offered a
much-needed sense of community in a time defined by isolation. “For a bunch of Bennies, it was
the first time they had felt comfortable doing something social in public with strangers in nearly
half a year,” says Johnny. “The pandemic made the need for intentional spaces much more
front-of-mind for a lot of people.”

Surf culture can be very tribalistic and exclusionary, with high-performance surfing by straight
white men centered in traditional surf media, and lineup hierarchies created based on who was
privileged to be born in close proximity to the surf. Benny’s aimed to flip that paradigm on its
head, centering queer surfers, surfers of color and folks with less experience and access
(although all surfers are welcome). From surf meetups to paddle outs for social causes to beach
cleanups, inclusivity has been the beating heart of everything Benny’s Club does.

“The breadth of experience is so refreshing,” says Johnny. “I think as an experienced surfer, it’s
pretty easy to get into your head and take surfing too seriously—scrambling for set waves,
trying to ‘maximize’ a session. But when a bunch of your friends are all around you breaking
personal barriers, like catching a wave on their own for the first time or making a fast section,

and you see their faces light up, it’s impossible to stay bogged down in self-serious surf
mode—everything becomes about joy.”