The photographs featured in "Surf Island: A Ride with Newport's Surf Community" at the Newport Art Museum a couple of years ago, and in Evans' self-published book of the same name, are far more interesting than the standard magazine fare.

Evans, a Massachusetts native, began surfing around 2005 as a way to spend time with his girlfriend Lisa Wagenbach. And he used photography to burrow his way deeper into a community that can be a bit stand-offish.

It was that community — tattooed and mustachioed, young and old — that he wanted to capture. On the waves, sure. But on the beach, too. On the rocks. Not just surfers, but people.

"There was a culture that became my family," Evans says. "There are people I only see at the water. I don't have their phone numbers. And when I haven't been to the water for a couple of weeks, I miss them."

But Evans' pictures are not just close-ups. He pulls back the lens, too. Looks at his subjects gliding, small, through a majestic blue-green ocean.

Not taming it. Just in it.

Abruzzi_Jason_Evans_main
ALL IN  THE FAMILY The Berends.

THE TRANSPLANTS

The Rhode Island scene draws much of its strength from the sons and daughters of distant surf capitals. And Chuck and Ana Berend, who own the Living Water Surf shop in Little Compton, are among the most important transplants.

Chuck — blond hair, blue eyes, sandals — went to Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he would check out the waves from the second floor and ditch class when the surf beckoned.

Going to college, he figured, meant moving inland. And he wasn't going to do that. So at 18, he moved to California in search of a pro surfing career — living out of his car for a time.

When he saw Florida native Kelly Slater winning California contests as a teenager — a prelude to his 11 world titles and counting — Berend gave up on his pro dreams and headed for Hawaii in search of waves.

Ana Gallotti, though, was his most important find. She'd grown up in Rio de Janeiro. "My father did not want me to be a beach girl," she says. So her first board came from a friend. The next came from a sponsor. She won the Brazilian national title twice.

The Berends, who got their first taste of Rhode Island by way of the Coast Guard, just might be the Ocean State's leading surf family. Last year, Chuck won the Eastern Surfing Association's masters longboard competition. And Ana could be the best woman surfer on the East Coast, taking various ESA shortboard and longboard titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011.

In Rhode Island a couple of years ago she beat all the men in the Ryan Roberts Surf Classic, sheepishly asking the embarrassed brood afterward if she'd still be allowed to surf with them at Ruggles.

Yes, they said. Yes, she would.

McGovernO'Regan_main
THE KID O’Regan.

THE FUTURE

Liam O'Regan, 15, sits on a rock at Second Beach. "I just remember when I was real young, six or seven, getting pushed in by my dad," he says.

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