Story Behind the Shot: May 2, 2020

Same as the last story behind the shot, timing is everything in surfing – timing and patience.

I woke up around 6am on this morning and checked all my usual spots. Nothing seemed to be working right. It was smaller than it should have been, the mix of swells was all jumbled up, and the tide was wrong. I spent a few hours watching the waves at a bunch of different beaches and ended up going back home to eat breakfast a little after 9am.

By 10am I was back on the beach and the tide had just switched. I felt like the low tide push would help things out, but at first it seemed to be a bust again. I drove around for a while and shot this photo at one of my stops. I didn’t actually surf this spot though and ended up back at the first spot I checked, which was now fully firing! Surfed there for over three hours and got a wicked wetsuit hood tan. It was a good day to say the least.

Story Behind the Shot: April 14, 2020

This swell was churned up by the previous day’s storm (and crazy wind) and by 6am on the morning of the 14th, the buoys were reading over 10 feet! The swell was south which is good for most breaks in this area. Low tide was early, around 7:30am. Low tide can also be great around here, but for some reason early on this morning it just looked dumpy and weird everywhere I looked for the first two hours. Between my usual spots either not breaking, closing out, or just looking pretty damn tricky to surf, I decided to stay on the beach for a bit.

A bit later, almost 3 hours after I left the house on this morning, at a spot I almost never surf, I saw this wave. It was one of the last waves of a real standout set that I somehow witnessed just as I walked up the beach. Call it luck, but it was really just great timing – when it comes to surfing, timing is everything. I came back to the beach right after I shot this and scored fun waves for the next few hours.

Story Behind the Shot: March 7, 2020

After the Cold War Surf contest, I met up with a couple friends a bit further north on LBI. They’re locals and knew the area really well, so I knew the spot they suggested would probably be firing. Turns out it was! Unfortunately, I didn’t have any gear with me to surf, so I stayed on the beach and shot a few photos. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The current on this day was absolutely ripping out of the north. I stood in one place and watched as countless surfers went drifting past me – the current seemed to be moving even faster than anyone could paddle. That said, the conditions were stellar and I also watched countless perfect lefts go unridden with a few lucky guys getting sweet barrels.

I shot a lot of photos while I stood there watching, and got some shots I really liked. I feel like this one kinda captures the mood of the day – endlessly walking back up the beach, exhausted from fighting the current, watching as perfection goes by just out of reach. I bet these two guys were both thinking the same thing – damn.

Story Behind the Shot: Cold War Surf 2020

This year’s Cold War Surf contest (@coldwarsurf) was held on March 7th at one of the most well-known surf spots on Long Beach Island. As with every year, the contest is team-based with Sam Hammer (@hammered_sam) and Andrew Gesler (@gesler) each leading hand-picked teams of local pro surfers. The rosters are the who’s who of NJ heavy hitters so you’re pretty much always guaranteed to witness some top tier surfing.

Timing is everything in surfing and for this year’s contest, the timing was just right. The morning of the 7th saw chest- to head-high surf with a few larger sets sneaking in. The shape was a bit jumbled thanks to a mix of a few different swell directions and periods, but there were definitely some gems to be had. As heats were run and the day continued, the surf actually grew – by the end of the contest there were head-high to 1-2’ overhead sets.

This photo was taken during the last heat of the day. I think it was the gnarliest wave of the entire contest – just look how thick that lip is! Sam Hammer dropped into this one and somehow came flying out as the chandelier and foam ball surrounded him. If I was a judge this would have been a 10, but it wasn’t enough and Team Hammer ended up losing the contest. Still, it was a great day all around with some epic rides from both teams. Check out the full sequence of photos on my Instagram.

Story Behind the Shot: September 20, 2019

This swell was was courtesy of one of many lucky storms we got in Hurricane Seasons 2019 – lucky in the sense that we got solid swell but didn’t get steamrolled by the storm itself like so many other places did. The storm was Hurricane Humberto. It produced very solid East swell and by the morning of this day, max buoy readings were around 8-9ft at 12 seconds. Since this was a major storm, forecasters were tracking it for quite a while and as it approached, the forecast certainty was pretty good – we were going to get swell.

Judging by the predicted conditions, I knew there was really only one spot in my area that would be able to handle the energy. Problem was, most other surfers knew this too. I didn’t check anywhere else and drove right to this spot. I pulled up around 8am and shot this photo during my initial surf check. The crowd was surprisingly light at that time, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. Conditions were definitely best early with the tide and swell size – waves like this were seemingly everywhere for the first couple hours. The swell slowly died over the day with conditions deteriorating as the tide filled in, but overall it was an epic day. I surfed for almost 5 hours.

Story Behind the Shot: April 27, 2019

Full disclosure – I did not take this photo. It’s probably the best photo anyone has ever taken of me while surfing. It was taken by local photographer Tony Costa (@astronautjonesnj). Thank you Tony for the amazing capture and for sending it my way!

The spot where this was taken is probably one of the best, but also one of the most fickle spots in my local area. It needs very specific conditions to work right, but when it’s on it absolutely fires. It’s one of the closest things to a righthand point break we have here. On this day, things lined up just right – the tide was low and buoys showed a 10ft at 9 second south swell the morning of this session. The wind was gusting hard offshore which made for very hollow but somewhat challenging conditions.

I surfed at this spot all morning and actually ran into an old friend, Kyle Latch, out in the lineup. We used to surf together during our college days but he moved away after graduation. It was crazy running into him at one of the old spots! He was helping coach a few surfers with Robbie Nelson, owner and head coach of Pro Surf Coaches (@pro_surf_coaches_official). Robbie is a staple in the water around here and is a good guy, always stoked and always sharing knowledge.

In total there were five of us in the water – shockingly, no other surfers came out despite the amazing conditions. We surfed this spot to ourselves until the wind came up too much and our arms stopped working. Robbie claimed this was the best he’s seen this spot in a few years.