Liquid Lines

Surfing’s Artistic Mediums, From Wood to Water to Film

Cold Water, Wooden Surf Craft, Contest Results, Beach Smoking Bans, Preview of Surf Flicks in Film Fest.
By JON COEN | Jun 06, 2013
Photo by: Jon Coen (Left to right) Shannon Kane, Holgate, Juliana Perello, Beach Haven, and Nicole Lisi, Holgate show off the wooden surf craft they rode last Saturday at the Wood Is Good Surfcraft Demo in Beach Haven. They needed wetsuits in the water, but the beach was perfect.

Did you know architects and scientists are working on designing an organic home of living plants that actually grows over time to accommodate a growing family? It’s 2013. You can check the surf from the middle of a city. Google is making eyeglasses that put tailored information right in front of your face. You can get married online (which means no uncomfortable tux). We’re living the Jetsons’ life.

So can anyone tell me how people are still littering? The commercial that featured the teary-eyed Native American at the sight of litter was made in 1971, more than 40 years ago, and people still don’t get it.

Ecological awareness has come so far that canvas tote bags are now fashionable. So many businesses and organizations offer reusable water bottles, there is no longer a good reason to buy plastic ones. Every year, we see more and more solar roofs on the Island. As a society, we’re starting to understand the effects of fossil fuels, non-point source pollution, and supporting the environment with our dollars. These are complex and seemingly abstract ideas, yet there are the knuckleheads who can’t grasp the most basic of rules – pick up your trash.

And while those of us who live in Ocean County like to talk as if we’re all ecological superheroes and blame it on the tourists, I have known some locals who could make a mess like a BP oil rig.

Now that the weather is less Icelandic, I have been throwing the baby on the bike or in the wagon and walking up for a morning surf check. No sooner did I put him down in the sand recently than he had a cigarette butt in his mouth. I vowed that the next person I saw toss a butt on the beach would get some fingers broken.

At the most recent Ship Bottom Borough Council meeting, the mayor and council decided on a trial beach smoking ban between the lifeguard flags. It’s progress, but likely to cause some stir this summer.

Frankly, I can live with people smoking on the beach. I bartended before the smoking ban in restaurants, back when you could get addicted to nicotine just by looking at a menu. I washed a lifetime of dirty ashtrays. Hence, someone smoking outdoors isn’t really an issue. But when Clean Ocean Action did its New Jersey Beach Sweeps last year, it found nearly 50,000 cancer butts in our sand from Cape May to the Raritan River, 14 percent of all the items of trash collected. That’s where the problem is. Hey, chimney boy, they’re not biodegradable.

Some folks say smoking bans will cause swimmers and sunners to go elsewhere, but ask bar owners what happened after smoking became illegal at the local watering hole. Business actually went up. Folks who didn’t smoke went out to eat and drink more because they didn’t come home smelling like Tony Soprano’s bowling shirt.

I’m not a fan of bans in general; I’d rather see people use common sense. Yet statistics show smokers tend to be litterbugs. It will be interesting to see if the number of cig butts goes down in these areas.

It was also suggested at the meeting that we remind smokers of the new rule. Let’s take it a step farther. When you see a pack of revelers walk away from their pile of cups, wrappers and Gatorade bottles, “remind” them to pick it up.

HURRICANE SEASON AND SOUTH WINDS: It looks as if the Atlantic 2013 hurricane season is about to kick off. The Pacific has already had two named storms. Normally the two oceans’ storms have nothing to do with each other. However, Pacific Hurricane Barbara hit Mexico last week. Interestingly, the remnants have organized in the Gulf of Mexico and have now become Invest 91. Should she continue to strengthen, she would be Tropical Storm Andrea. Invest 91 could affect the East Coast and the Atlantic Ocean, so keep an eye out. I doubt there’s any reason to start stocking gas for the generator, though.

There hasn’t been a whole lot to report in the way of surf unless you’re looking to see how the waves have ranked on the frustration meter – meaning there has been a little movement out there, but the south wind won’t let up for a minute. Almost every day this week gave us a rideable bump, but it’s very difficult to get down the line before the wave just kind of vomits on itself in that summertime south fashion. Best bet is for some heavy log that might just power past the ill-timed sections.

Monday and Tuesday were a little cleaner, but even thunderstorms, which are generally a sure harbinger of west winds, didn’t help. We surfed in soup so thick on Monday, you couldn’t see the beach. There were a few fun little runners and all you could hear was the fog horn on the dredge barge outside, announcing that another sandbar is being ruined.

The south blow hasn’t done anything for the water temp, either. Though it did creep up from that horrendous 49 of last weekend, it’s only back to 55, where it was in early May.

Fortunately, the forecasts show the wind turning east and then northeast this week. There’s warm water out there, no doubt. One or two days of that could bring us from Grand Banks lows to Outer Banks highs real quick. Keep an eye out for that. While the inshore water will be brown, cold and stinky, there could be tepid green right beyond the break.

I’ll run through the whole upwelling spiel in a few weeks if this cycle continues when there are a few thousand more folks wondering why the ocean is so cold, and if Sandy had something to do with it. That’s the thing lately: blame Sandy.

I am not sure if we can credit Sandy for this, but the summer flow is returning sand at a rate like we’ve rarely seen. Especially mid-Island, the wide beaches are just full of different coves and spits. There are dry sandbars and awesome tidal pools. Since no one seems to have any evidence to explain all these new features, I am going to assume it’s sand displaced by Sandy coming back all at once. I don’t want to jinx us, but if we ever get some clean waves, we might see some outrageous set-ups. Again, I have no science to back any of this up, so if anyone has any ideas, email a brother.

A LITTLE CULTURE WON’T KILL YA: There’s always talk on an island. Even on a deserted island, people talk to themselves. It stands to reason that any community with such unique geographic figures as our emaciated strip of sand is going to have talk. What’s been cool recently is the talk has been followed with action – people helping rebuild, becoming conscious of our image, a general return to community, and a feeling that we might need something here besides a beach and a bay.

The folks at the Lighthouse International Film Festival have known this for some time. This is the fifth year of the festival, and there does seem to be more buzz about this year’s fest. Go to Lighthousefilmfestival.org to check it all out. The venues are spread around the Island, and there are some cool parties and meet-and-greets. You can buy an all-access pass or just purchase tickets for the films you want to see.

The line-up of indies, docs and shorts again looks solid, but for Liquid Lines, let’s look at the surf films, most of which had high honors from the New York Surf Film Fest last September. And I don’t think you have to be a surfer to enjoy them.

“We are happy to continue our fifth year of support for the Lighthouse Film Festival with the winners of the 2013 New York Surf Film Festival. Sharing the best of our annual program is always a treat for LBI surfers to ring in the summer season,” said Morgan Berk, director of the NYSFF.

The first one isn’t a surf movie, but it should get the attention of any waverider – or anyone who lives near the beach. It’s called “Shored Up,” and it’s about engineering our coastlines to deal with the ever-encroaching ocean. Filmmaker Ben Kalina shot a good bit of the film on LBI and is now doing the festival circuit after premiering at the Montclair Film Fest in April. “Shored Up” will play the opening reception on Thursday night at the Sandy-renovated Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven.

First up for the surf flicks is “Here and Now,” playing at the Long Beach Island Historical Museum on Friday, June 7. I think this one will appeal to the widest audience. Technically, it’s a Taylor Steele film (“Momentum,” “Sipping Jet Streams,” “The Show”) following the basics of his Innersection projects, with 25 filmers and surfers shooting around the world on the same day. So in the end, you get a great spectrum of surfers from Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore to Dave Rastovich, Alex Knost and Ozzie Wright, even Leif Engstrom of New York. It basically shows every side of surfing from every corner of the world.

Steele’s film will be paired with Kai Neville’s biopic about South African Jordy Smith. Neville was on LBI last summer with his latest “Dear Suburbia” – super-nice guy. This one, called “Bending Colours,” kind of has a new life now as Smith recently won the Billabong Pro Brazil ASP World Tour event and is ranked No. 2 in the world. The films play together starting at 8:15 pm.

Next we have “Raw, the Movie,” which did well at the New York Surf Film Fest. This film has all the cinematic drama and visuals – the best surfers at surfing’s most fascinating venues around the world. “Raw” is all about the visuals. Your mouth might be agape for a week afterward. Playing with “Raw” are the short films “Kook Paradise” and “East Coast Rising,” all at 9:45 on Saturday night at the Long Beach Island Historical Museum.

Kook Paradise” is absolutely hysterical. A parody of early Bruce Brown work and filmed at the famed beginner spot of Ditch Plains out in Montauk, N.Y., it is an irreverent look at some newbie surfers, how hip they think they are, or how seriously they take the art of riding tiny waves with dozens of other “kooks” from New York City.

“East Coast Rising” was partially shot on LBI, a short documentary about Superstorm Sandy and the initial recovery process. It played at a Jetty/Waves for Water fundraiser last January, and it really hits home.

For all you wind enthusiasts, “Children of the Wind” is a documentary about the sailboarding youth of the tiny island of Bonaire who came from humble beginnings to revolutionize the sport on the world stage. This one plays at the Island Baptist Church in Beach Haven at 3:45 on Saturday, June 8.

This year, festival Managing Director Christine Rooney gave free all-access festival passes to the volunteers from Waves for Water and START (Stafford Teachers and Residents Together), who worked so hard in the rebuilding process since November. Go to the website and check out some of the films and other events around the fest. Even if you’re a dedicated surf dog, it wouldn’t hurt to attend some of the other fine films and expand your mind a little bit. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, there are parties at the Dutchman’s. Sunday’s soirée will host the festival awards ceremony at 7 p.m. 

GOOD WOOD: Last Saturday, Greg Melega hosted the Wood Is Good Surfcraft Demo at Nelson Avenue in Beach Haven. The early turnout wasn’t huge, as conditions weren’t really beckoning. But as the day progressed, folks came in and out to try some different wooden watercraft.

Naturally Randy Budd was there, keeping the mood light. He had some of his latest hollow-chambered wooden boards and some good story talk. This event, however, was the first time I’d ever met the Petrillo brothers of Moorestown. They make some very classy wooden boards under the label Dead Head Surfboards (no connection to the hippie band – sorry, Gerrytown). These sticks seem light, functional and, of course, gorgeous.

The beach was lined with cool wooden boards, alaia, paipos and a bunch of handplanes. A few folks ventured out into the chilly 2-foot south chop. Melega just can’t get enough of riding these quirky craft. It was also nice to see a trio of South End females out bodysurfing some nifty little handplanes.

But the coolest part of the event was just listening to all these garage board builders as they checked out each other’s work and compared notes – types of wood, sourcing materials, glass, and the general creative experience of building these things. It’s great to see a crew of locals who are so enthused about different ways to ride waves, environmentally responsible practices and hand-craftsmanship. I see a few foam and glass people taking an interest this summer and successful events in the future.

MO’ SAND: I came across a great article this week by Professor Sak, a Rutgers University researcher in partnership with the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks about this stuff. A scientist and longtime surfer, he is very observant of all things that involve moving water. He wrote a great piece on “stop-gap” dune construction.

Basically, he was able to explain how the age-old process that towns use of bulldozing sand from the waterline toward the dune can actually speed up the rate of beach erosion. Essentially they rob the sand that creates an initial uphill battle for wave action. Though the dune is now higher, it is now much easier for the water to get to. I have a further theory that they are robbing the sand that would settle on the sandbar, which dissipates wave energy. Granted, sand on a dune is a lot more tangible and easier to quantify to a town than sand just offshore. But these are all things we need to think about in the future. 

RESULTS ARE IN: Last Saturday, the Central New Jersey district of the ESA held its first event of the 2013 season in Long Beach Township, sponsored by Wave Hog Surf Shop, Speakeasy Pizzeria, Imperial Cerveza and Hyperflex Wetsuits. The surf wasn’t particularly good, but it was good enough for Kali Emery and Rick Huegi, both of Manahawkin, to take first place in the Women’s and Senior Men’s respectively. Congrats to the rippers and good luck the rest of the season.

Also last weekend, Kyle Calandra of Ship Bottom and Siobahn McAullife of Cedar Run traveled to Indian River Inlet, Del., for the Alley Oop Southside Shootout. McAuliffe took third place in women’s.

This weekend, June 8-9, will likely be the surfing portion of the Moto-Surf competition at Taylor Avenue in Beach Haven, waves pending. This event, which features both motocross racing and surfing, is now in its fourth year. Event director Chris Kretzer wants to make sure everyone knows that you do not have to race moto to surf. While there will be a specific division as part of the Moto-Surf with money on the line, anyone can show up for Open pro ($30 entry) and am ($20 entry) divisions for both males and females. Stay updated at the Moto/Surf Competition page on Facebook.

Next Tuesday, Jetty will award its “Get Rad” scholarships to two graduating seniors at the Southern Regional High School Scholarship Night. The students both had to show creativity and initiative in an entrepreneurial idea.

Next Sunday is also the world premiere of “Landfall: The Eye of Sandy”, which was filmed entirely on and around LBI. It’s a documentary directed by Andrew Pearson and produced by Corinne Ruff in association with Jetty about Sandy and the way our community came together. The film will play at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies on Sunday, July 16, at 3 p.m., then at the Surflight Theatre on June 28 at 7 p.m., and again at the Surflight on July 3 at 7 p.m. Chances are you know someone (or everyone) in it. You might be in it yourself.

If you’re here for the film fest, we hope you enjoy our recently renovated Island. Have fun and don’t let the litterbugs win.

 joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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