What would it take for you to surf in sub-zero conditions?
What’s the coldest weather you’ve ever surfed in? Was it thirty, forty, fifty degrees Fahrenheit?
This particular session took place in sub-zero wind chill conditions. ‘Twas the morning after a fresh snow in New Jersey, and the system responsible for the pow left a few ripples in its wake. Post-storm offshores are a consistent meteorological pattern this time of year, making tube time a foregone conclusion. This is what New Jersey surfers live for.
East coast surfing is unique in its reliance on local storm systems. Waves come not from massive low-pressure systems in a far-away corner of the sea, but from the sideways gales of a coastal squall. Because the wave-inducing storms are so close to the receiving shoreline, swells are quite fickle, often coming and going in a few short hours. If you miss the window, you might be out of the water for another two weeks.
This means preparation and an undying commitment to forgo school, work, and familial duties. It’s not a great way to maintain relationships or a functioning bank account, but what are you gonna do? Not surf?
For guys like Sam Hammer and Rob Kelly that’s not an option. They’ve constructed their lives in a way that caters to a swell’s unpredictability, and as a result they get more barreled than most. I won’t try to tell you that the waves in this clip are tremendous, nor that the surfing is a spectacle. But it’s an interesting piece that gives a little insight and a lot of credence towards their chosen lifestyle.
You don’t gotta love it, but you damn well better respect it.