After years of floating between the No. 2 and No. 10 spots on Dr. Stephen Leatherman's annual ranking of America's Best Beaches, Southampton Village's reached the top spot in 2010, but was absent from the list in 2011 — though Coopers' exclusion is not because it fell out of favor, Dr. Leatherman explained in an e-mail this week.
"The No. 1 beach is retired each year," wrote Dr. Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach. "You can only be Miss America once, but you will always be Miss America."
Dr. Leatherman began informally ranking beaches in 1989. A travel magazine asked for a list when he was headed to Beijing. He says on his website that he was in Tienanmen Square during the infamous massacre and forgot about the magazine interview. When he returned to the U.S. he found that the list became a national hit. Towns were calling his university asking why their beaches didn't make the list. Then in 1991, he created 50 criteria for judging beaches and ever since has been releasing his rankings on Memorial Day weekend.
Coopers is the only New York beach to reach No. 1. The top spot is typically filled by a Hawaii or Florida beach.
East Hampton's has been named to the top 10 several times, and made No. 4 in 2011.