Liquid Lines

Best Disciplines for an LBI Summer Olympics; Looking Back at a Glorious Weekend

Weekend Waves and Offshore Winds Were Ideal Summer Conditions
By JON COEN | Aug 09, 2017
Photo by: Jon Coen

On the beach Sunday night, just after the sunset and that gorgeous full moon came rising over the ocean, I was sitting with a bunch of folks who were trading tales of incidents during their workouts: tire blowouts, trips over the handlebar on the Boulevard and Gatorade vending machines not working in the middle of a 25-mile run.

Then someone mentioned the idea of an “LBI Triathlon.”

It’s worth noting that there is a Long Beach Island Tri Club that hosts local training and races. But while triathlons and such are pretty standard, we were talking events specific to LBI.

The first thing we came up with was the LBI Triathlon, consisting of paddling a longboard, (not those ultralight competition paddleboards, just a heavy log) racing 3 miles on a beach cruiser with a flat tire, and finishing up with running up the dunes with one of those beach carts completely loaded down with chairs, cooler and sand toys.

I’ll put a father of three with a beer belly up against your best LBI ironman any day in that.

Our ideas got better (or worse, depending on your sense of humor) as the moon flirted with the few clouds above the horizon, but it gave me a fantastic intro to this week’s Liquid Lines.

What if we took a bunch of LBI activities and tried to find out who has the most Island skills and stamina? This could be good.

We may start planning for 2018 now. How about The SandPaper LBI Olympics? Someone call Volatile Media Management. See if Jetty or South End Surf N’ Paddle wants to sponsor this. It’s going to be huge.

Nice ring to it. None of this is set in concrete yet, but here’s what I’m thinking. An actual decathlon is a 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, hurdles, pole vault, yada yada yada …


This isn’t my final list, but here’s what I’m thinking: We start early in the morning with registration and bagels. Believe me, you’re going to need the energy. We start off with the crabbing portion. Pretty simple: Go out and catch a half dozen blue claws. Use chicken necks, bunker, whatever you want. They have to be keepers.

Next is the sprint – Taylor Avenue in Beach Haven from the beach to the bay. But here’s the thing: no shoes. You’ll be like those Kenyans who run barefoot, only not nearly as fast and in far more pain. We’re doing this on a 100-degree day, so expect the road to be 115. And yes, there will be those tiny rocks that stick into your heel. I suggest not wearing shoes for the next 12 months.

Next up is the paddle relay. This consists of a team of four people with one paddleboard. While each member of the team paddles around the buoy on the bay, the other three stand at the shoreline yelling, “It’s my turn!”

After that, we get into the high jump. You have to jump a wall in Loveladies and go pool hopping without sounding the alarm. We could mix in a triathlon where you down six Sandys from Shore Good Donuts, three Woody’s burgers and a half pound of fudge in an hour. You tired yet? Next is grappling. Pop into the Port Hole and beat bartender Ben Scola at arm wrestling. This is where we really thin the herd.

Of course, this thing has to have a surfing component, so in true summertime LBI surf style, we will have man-on-man heats, but you have to ride a soft top board. And don’t expect anyone to clear the water for you. This will take place on a weekend and you have to navigate 20 hapless beginners who just rented boards and two surf schools on the inside.

Just when you’re totally out of breath, you have to get on stage with Ryan Zimmerman and sing every word to “Scarlet Begonias” and skateboard over the bridge. The final leg is a car race (no air conditioning) from the lighthouse to the end of Holgate on Saturday, during turnover. Who’s in?

A WEEKEND FOR THE BOOKS: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that more kids rode their first waves last weekend than any other weekend in the history of fun.

Everything about last weekend was truly epic, from the little swell to that offshore wind. Do you ever remember a Saturday and Sunday with summer waves when the wind was offshore that much?

Between the nice water temps, the well-shaped sandbars, lack of active beach replenishment projects, waves and wind, those two days were absolutely stellar for getting little people into waves.

We’re in a pretty ideal summer pattern right now – south windswells every few days and ideal air temps. I’ll take Monday’s rain to keep us in that pattern. Keep in mind that August can be a sweaty mess, but this month has been gorgeous so far and the week ahead barely shows us cracking 80. Aside from that one spell in July, this summer has been pleasant and we haven’t hit triple digits.

The surf came in the form of a little local windswell perhaps helped out a bit by the full moon. There wasn’t any significant size to the swell, but when everything else is coming together, one to two with an occasional 3-foot set is pretty nice in the summer.

And while it was fantastic on the inside for the groms, it was damn good for anyone on pretty much any board.

The front moved through early on Saturday with some rain. The winds behind it went dead, making for mostly clean but lumpy conditions. But by mid-day, the wind went offshore, which rarely happens in the summer and the incoming tide was pretty much idyllic summer bliss. The tide may have gotten a bit fat around sunset, but all in all, a good day of waves.

Sunday morning’s high tide was slow and the size was down a bit, but the wind went offshore again and it proved to be another super fun day. Of course, I say this knowing full well that we have great days of offshore, peeling barrels in March, but when we’re talking about overall summer fun, it was more fantastic conditions. That is, until that sea breeze came up in the afternoon. Leave it to that southerly wind …

Monday was a bit of a washout, but sometimes you need a cool day to cook a nice sauce with everything you’ve been pulling from your garden. And the wind came up pretty good in the evening, setting up even more swell. Tuesday wasn’t all that big, but there were some chest-high sets. That morning high tide was a bit untimely, but another day of northwest winds (feeling a bit like September?) definitely made it fun.

AND IN HARVEY CEDARS: Harvey Cedars, which has one of the strongest waterman cultures on LBI and a great history of surfing, is the latest topic in surf access on the Island. The designated surf beach in Harvey Cedars is Hudson Avenue, and has been for decades. It also happens to have some fine facilities for a day at the beach, being adjacent to Sunset Park with its parking, playground, bathroom and showers. I would say it has some of the best in the state with waves to match.

Last summer, Long Beach Township decided to open all beaches outside the flags to surfing. This is a policy that Ship Bottom has had for 17 years. We followed it closely this summer when a petition was started asking the town Surf City to allow ╕outside the flags. This policy was adopted and it’s been working just fine.

I reported earlier this summer that now all of LBI was open to surfing outside of swimming beaches.

But I was taken to task with this, as Harvey Cedars had not officially enacted this policy. As many have pointed out, it’s not simply that there just aren’t safety issues, but it’s actually safer to have all those people who are skilled in the water and able to scoop up a swimmer in distress. Clearly, Harvey Cedars has a top-notch beach patrol from their competitive record, but a few surfers who might show up before or surf until after guarded hours sure doesn’t hurt. Then there are the economic factors.

Now Harvey Cedars residents have started a petition for surfing outside the flags. They don’t see any reason they should have to leave their families on the beach in Cedars to drive to Hudson Avenue or another town just so they can get a few waves. The petition garnered nearly 2,000 signatures by press time. I will keep you posted.

COOKING ON THE EQUATOR: Now it’s August and we are ramping up to that most active of times for hurricanes. As I state every year like a broken record, no one is “rooting” for hurricanes to do any damage anywhere.

Surfers stand to lose as much as anyone else from a landfalling hurricane. So while we anticipate and hope for their formation, we certainly don’t need them all up in our mug, nor do we wish storm surge on another coast so that we might score waves. Admittedly, though, we may like them to come a little closer than the average waterfront homeowner. (Those buzz-by hurricanes do give us some nice swells.)

The Atlantic finally showed a bit of life with the formation of Tropical Storm Franklin last weekend. Franky boy fired up in the Gulf, headed to the Yucatan Peninsula and unfortunately made two landfalls in Mexico. We won’t be seeing any waves from this one.

This was forecasted to be a pretty average to quiet season on account of a gradual El Niño pattern setting up. El Niño usually means that the trade winds that typically back off in the late summer don’t lay down and, instead, sheer apart storms coming across the Atlantic. Since the El Niño indicators are not there and the ocean water temps are creeping up, it appears that we may see elevated tropical statistics this season, after all.

If what you just read was confusing, we may have a more active hurricane season than the scientists predicted. Right now, there is a system that came off the coast of Africa that meteorologists are watching to usher in the Cape Verde season. The models have yet to come into agreement about the future of this one. Hey, what do models know about weather anyway? Fingers crossed for wet dreams instead of wet Sheetrock.

CRUCIAL GOOD TIMES: The last two weeks have been the absolute apex of Island watersport and ocean-related cultural events around here, and it has been nothing but good times. Check out the story on the Alliance for a Living Ocean LBI Longboard Classic also in this issue. It was one of the best to date.

I recently caught up with surfboard shaper Brian Wynn while he was on LBI. He was delivering a batch of freshly shaped boards to Farias surf shop. Wynn is easily the most prominent surfboard shaper in New Jersey and Farias will now be stocking his sticks, which is a pretty exciting prospect. They’re made by hand and in our state, so they don’t have to be shipped out, making them less expensive from the start. One thing I have noticed about Wynn is that he can shape everything from a summertime fish to a classic noserider to a performance shorty. Go check ’em out.

This Thursday night, Aug. 10, Sink ’R Swim, which has been a hotbed of Island activity this summer, will host This and That, a collaborative art gallery show with the favorite works of Donna Deely and the SandPaper’s own Victoria Ford. This one promises live music and treats. (The treats have been very good at this venue. Just sayin’. They must know somebody.)

Sink ’R Swim will also host a screening of "The Oysters Farmers" film, a must-see documentary for locals and lovers of LBI on Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.

The MakeShift Union, which has been nonstop opening their collective venture, Union Market & Gallery, will hold this month’s Maker’s Pop Up at their own gallery at Tuckerton Seaport on Aug. 17.

This is your friendly public service announcement from Liquid Lines: Start training now. It’s only a year until The SandPaper Olympics.



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