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Justin Mulroy - Lifeguards

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There are few jobs more complimentary to life as a young surfer than lifeguarding, as we learned when we interviewed 20-year veteran lifeguard and surfboard shaper, Charles Mencel for our book.

So, as you can imagine, we were seriously stoked to hear from Justin Mulroy, a lifeguard and photographer from New Jersey who has spent several years documenting lifeguarding culture in Sea Girt and Monmouth County. We'll let Justin take it from here!

"Lifeguarding at the Jersey shore had always been a dream job. Growing up a surfer, I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to spend the summer. From eleven to fourteen years old I was a Junior Lifeguard and every surfer I knew was on the patrol."

"At the time I saw lifeguards as people with the best job in the world, but I was clueless about what being a member of Sea Girt Beach Patrol actually entailed. I scraped by my first year on the beach, grinding through the foreboding lifeguard test, a 500-meter swim and a mile and a half run. The swim was tough, but, to my relief, I completed the run rather easily."

"At 16, I was the weakest member of my Rookie class, but seeing the people I was surrounded with quickly changed that. Training for the first time for something other than surfing, I sought to compete in the traditional lifeguard tournaments held across the beaches of Monmouth County, the prize: bragging rights as the most athletic patrol." 

"The tournaments consist of running, rowing, swimming, and Paddleboarding with a few unique events thrown in, depending on which town is hosting. Every town ordered and set up their own events in the most advantageous way possible to their individual beach patrol."

"Lifeguards at Sea Girt Beach Patrol are watermen and women that understand the lineup better than most of the surfers out in the summer. We swim around in hurricane surf, laughing. We have great responsibility as first responders not only to people in distress in the water, but to anyone who may need assistance on or near the beach."

"The roster ranges from 16 year-old rookies to 70 year-old veterans, the oldest, known as 'Ace'. Ace leads the beach with his morning announcements and holiday speeches, always concluded with a resounding “Praise Him!” Working for Sea Girt is more than just a summer job: it is looked forward to all winter long, keeping people swimming, running and training... even in the dead of winter."

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We'd like to thank Justin for reaching out to share his photos and his story, and for the service he and his fellow lifeguards do for their local communities! 

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Words by Ed Thompson & Justin Mulroy

Photographs by Justin Mulroy

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Beach House Classic - Part IV

In August and September we brought you the stories of a couple more surfboards from Eric Beyer's collection at Beach House Classic boardshop in New Jersey. Here's the next installment, with the story of this 70s G&S. 

"This board came out of the short board revolution of the early to mid 1970s," Eric explained. "It's a 6’10” G&S double winged swallow tail, single fin in royal blue, with a super cool resin rainbow on the deck." We marveled at the outline, forward weight in the nose and the intricate, vibrant resin work.

Eric continued, "This board, like so many others, came in to my hands by happenstance. A good customer of mine came in to the shop and asked if I did ding repair.  I told him I do.  He had a board that meant a lot to him, but which needed some love. He went out to his van and brought this beauty into the shop!"

"Gene had bought this board in his early 20s and it soon became one of his favorites. In the late 70s, he had traveled out west to California and up to Alaska in a Winnebago, surfing this along the way. I’ve seen some photos, and Gene truly was an original Hippy," Eric told us.

"When the repairs were complete, he asked if I would like to give the board a few rides, then hang it from the ceiling in the shop.  On a nice Bay Head South Swell I had a great session. It took a little figuring out to keep her from side slipping, but I got used to the ride and got a few screamers! Later that day I stripped off the wax and it’s been on the ceiling ever since."

I guess you could say there's not much to this story - the retiring of an old board after one last victory dance. For the owner of a surf store, it's just another perk of the job. 

And yet, how many beautiful beloved old boards lie rotting, stuffed in the rafters or half-buried in sand and mud beneath New Jersey beach houses?

Thankfully not this one. Gene and Eric both know what it means to be lucky enough to own and love a beautifully crafted, handmade surfboard. And they know that when the time comes to retire it, the least you can do is provide a proper sendoff and leave the board in safe hands for future generations to enjoy. 

Thank you Eric and Gene for taking great care of this board and sharing it with all of us!

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Words by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Julien Roubinet

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Matt Clark - Four Frames - Part II

Following on from Part I earlier this week, here's the second installment of four photos from Long Island Photographer Matt Clark. 

Jesse Joeckel - Greenbush, Indonesia

Jesse Joeckel - Greenbush, Indonesia

Matt was shooting at a shallow, left-breaking reef in Indonesia when, by chance, he turned to look back at the beach, risking a closeout on the head. Jesse kicked out of a wave at the same moment. “I shot the sequence,” Matt explained, “and when I dumped the memory cards to my hard drive on the boat, I saw one that just captured this weightlessness, balance and tranquility that seemed special.”

When Matt returned home to New York and edited the images, he found the image more powerful when it was rotated through 180 degrees. “Finding this being, suspended in time looked beautiful to me,” Matt told us. “Often I won't find the most beautiful moment until months and months later when revisiting my work. I spend a lot of time looking for these moments and editing them over and over again until I feel satisfied.”

1998 - Long Beach, NY - Tom Zaffuto paddling out

1998 - Long Beach, NY - Tom Zaffuto paddling out

Aged 14, Matt took this photo of his friend Tom paddling out to bodyboard Long Beach. The photo was taken with a disposable waterproof camera. He submitted the photo to Bodyboarding Magazine and they ran it in the reader photos section. “I felt a duty to represent the place I was born and raised and felt as if I needed to prove to the world that you can be a surfer/photographer from New York,” Matt told us. “Nearly 20 years later and I'm still here doing it.”

To see more of Matt's work, check out his website

To keep up with our latest news and stories, hit us up on Instagram

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Matt Clark - Four Frames - Part I

This week we're excited to share four photographs by Long Island photographer Matt Clark, and the story behind each one. Through Matt's tireless dedication he has gradually carved out a niche for himself on the water's edge. When we interviewed him for the book, we sat in his lounge and scrolled through his library of photos, entranced by a colorful, hypnotic display of the beauty, power and variety of the ocean. We love his work and we hope you will too. 

After Hurricane Sandy, Long Beach, NY - Rob Bielawski

After Hurricane Sandy, Long Beach, NY - Rob Bielawski

“This is an image of a friend named Rob Bielawski after Hurricane Sandy,” Matt explained. “The cold, harsh concrete, the debris in the sand, the lack of sky - it's very urban. I love capturing images where the surfer is unidentifiable. When I used to look at surf imagery growing up, my favorite images were the ones I could imagine myself in, and I can't imagine myself if I can see someone's face.”

6 months after the storm hit New York, the shattered boardwalk had been completely dismantled, leaving only a concrete skeleton. Matt was on the beach shooting another swell when someone walked between the pillars, briefly creating this dramatic framing. Matt took note and took an opportunity the very next morning to re-frame the shot with a friend. “It’s an unidentifiable urban environment,” Matt said, “but you know the surfer is going to escape the weight of the world by going for a surf.”

October 23rd, 2006 - Long Beach, NY - Nor-Easter swell from the roof of the Jackson Hotel

October 23rd, 2006 - Long Beach, NY - Nor-Easter swell from the roof of the Jackson Hotel

Matt planned this image months in advance and his diligence was rewarded. This photo scored a double page spread in Surfing Magazine, hailed as iconic by the magazine’s photo editor, Steve Sherman. “This was a defining moment in my photography career,” Matt told us. “It was the first image that ran as a featured photograph in a magazine as large as Surfing.”

Matt had envisioned the image in sketches made months before he took it, so finally creating it and having the photo published showed that real dedication pays off. “I had illegally scaled the fire escape of this building with a backpack full of camera gear to scout out the position,” Matt explained. “Pulling myself up the final ladder, my nerves were on edge. This was 5 years after 9/11 and I imagined the police and FBI being called about a sniper on the roof.”

The day Matt scouted the shot, there were no waves to speak of, but he took note of the angle, framing and the lens he’d need when the moment came. 

Sure enough, that day came. A Nor-Easter rolled into New York with howling NE winds, building swell and ominous grey skies. “I spent some time photographing from the beach and thought to myself: ‘I may as well go shoot from the roof of this hotel.’”

Rather than climbing the decrepit, rusting ladder in the rain, Matt convinced a janitor in the hotel lobby to take him to the roof. He lied to the janitor, pretending he’d left a lens cap on the roof the day before.

“He said ‘no problem,’ but he’d have to accompany me up. I did my best to tell him I would be fine, worried he would  watch me the entire time and only give me a minute to shoot, but he insisted.” Matt managed to bluff his fictional search for the lens cap for a full ten minutes, shooting photos of the waves from the roof as he went. He snagged this shot of a wave breaking across the gap between two buildings just as the janitor lost his patience. “In my illustration months before I drew a perfect A-frame, but this seems even better. I love lefts.”

Stay tuned for Part II later this week. 

Check out a few more of Matt's photos we'll be featuring on Instagram this week. 

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Mikey de Temple - Into the Sea

This is a public service announcement: your lawn care regimen is screwing up the ocean.

Earlier this year Mikey de Temple and the Surfrider Foundation released a film highlighting a lesser-known aspect of our fragile relationship with the ocean, especially on narrow, densely populated barrier islands such as Long Island, NY and Long Branch, NJ. 

The beautifully produced film shares critical insights to guide us towards a sustainable relationship with our environment: a relationship where we don't take too much and we take care of what we have.

Complicated it ain't, but important it most certainly is. 

For additional lawn care advice and cool photos, follow @icecream.headaches!










surf trip

Michoacán, Mexico

It being Spring and a very long time indeed since we last saw our swim shorts, we recently made a trip to Mexico to find some Pacific waves and pre-season sunshine. Being New Yorkers, we're not above a little base tanning, but a tanning salon is no place for two grown men with surfboards. 

We landed in Guadalajara and picked a line for the Michoacán coast, driving as fast as our feeble rental car could carry us, stopping occasionally to take photos and to sample the ceviche in Tecomán The report had shown the last shreds of a previous swell lingering for a shoulder-high evening session after the long drive. A fresh pulse swung into the coast the next morning and kept up for the next four days, easing slightly for a few days and then picking up again at the tail end of our visit. In short, we scored. We shared a perfect, peeling left point and occasional crunchy rights with a handful of friendly locals and a passing video crew from Vissla. For 10 perfect days.

As the sun began to climb in the sky each morning we would wait for the 'morning sickness' in the water to pass. Once the air had warmed and the wave settled, we would walk towards the point, first across the river mouth, picking our way over round rocks and then through a dense palm forest, littered with fallen coconuts. On some mornings we startled a nervous donkey tied up to a wooden fence by the beach, setting the creature off on a prolonged bray that echoed up the river valley. 

Eventually, we would emerge on the other side of the forest in a shady patch, dropping off water and something to eat after the session. We figured our way out into the water over seaweed-slippery stones and paddled out to the peak, marked by a huge cactus growing on the beach in front of the jungle. Then, for as many hours as our arms lasted, or until the sun had become so hot and high in the grey-blue above that the water offered no comfort, we surfed in glassy, peeling perfection.

Cam Richards - Vissla Team

Cam Richards - Vissla Team

The tiny village by the river mouth was peaceful and friendly, with a few small, family restaurants serving up ceviche, tacos, gringas and quesadillas prepared to perfection.  

Michoacán province has had a troubled and sometimes violent past due to the growing, manufacturing and trafficking of drugs to America, but the area seemed only mildly tense during our stay, with relaxed checkpoints on the roads and occasional patrols to the beach from Federales and even the military.

Almost the only downside on the whole trip (barring an episode with some seemingly undercooked octopus) was a long walk across hot rocks to access the point and the defensive line of bristling Pacific sea urchins waiting just beyond the rocky water entry. One errant step on the way in or out was a costly mistake we had all made several times by the end of the week. The wave was worth every urchin-spine. 

Above: The palm forest and unfinished shacks standing on the beach in front of the point; the wave itself, viewed from above on the curving coastal road of Michoacán.

Below: Local kids playing in the warm lake at the mouth of the river; Cam Richards picking a high line during an evening session. 

Cam Richards - Vissla Team

Cam Richards - Vissla Team










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When the magic happens...

Some days, the ocean works its magic. Friday the 8th April 2016 was one of those days.  

Balaram Stack

Balaram Stack

Last week, perfectly timed for a Friday we both had free, a 10 second period South swell whipped into the New Jersey shoreline for a one-day-only showdown. This swell angle and mid-length period, groomed by a steady offshore wind, sent absolutely perfect overhead barrels driving up the beaches all day long.

During the peak of the swell in the mid-morning there were barely even sets - just seemingly mechanical barrels grinding down the beaches to the whoops and cheers of anyone (read:everyone) who had the day off. Fortunately, we had made plans earlier in the week to link up with one of New Jersey's top pro surfers, Sam Hammer, to try and catch him in action.

Sam Hammer

Sam Hammer

As we pulled up to the spot, Sam had just broken a board. He sprinted up the beach, leapt the fence and dove into the back of his car to grab another before we could even say hello. A quick nod and a fist bump and he was back in the water in about 2 minutes remaining there for at least the next 4 hours. 

Sam Hammer

Sam Hammer

Hucking gear up and down the beach for the whole day gave us a decent workout, but it also yielded some photos we're really stoked to share here and a few special frames we'll be even more stoked to share with you in the book. Enjoy!