The Cold War surf contest is a team-based, surfing battle that was recently set to run in Asbury Park, NJ before the end of March 2017. However, according to ColdWarSurf.com the event organizers said, “After much discussion with the surfers, sponsors and organizers, it has been decided that it is in the best interest of the event, to push back the 2017 COLD WAR to late fall/early winter of 2017.”
The second annual Cold War contest had bouts with inclement weather and improper conditions for months. The competition was very well received in its first year, and this is the basis for the event organizers’ decision to delay the contest. “People have put in a lot of time and energy in putting the 2017 COLD WAR together and making this difficult decision. Sure we are bummed, but at the same time, the team is excited to run the contest as fall turns into winter.”
When the event does run, the surfers will again compete in front of the Asbury Park Casino as the crowd and judges watch from beach tents or the boardwalk. Surfing events like the Cold War require a “waiting period” or a scheduled bracket of time when the event could run. This competition’s month-long, March waiting period did not offer the event directors a favorable day of waves for the contest. As a result, the local community will not see the contest until summer has come and gone.
According to ColdWarSurf.com, the event officially kicked off in the afternoon on March 4th with the Cold War Ice Bowl. Surfers and skateboarders alike, gathered at the Casino Skate Park before teams were chosen. Later that evening, the event’s contestants, organizers and interested community members convened at the Asbury Wonder Bar to witness team selection. In a process similar to the NFL draft, team captains and professional NJ surfers, Sam Hammer and Andrew Gesler picked their surfing soldiers.
The stage had been set. However, a sizeable swell needed to run through the area in order for the competition to be a successfully planned barrel-fest. And BAM—Winter Storm Stella. The excitement began to snowball and local surfers salivated at the thought of dark, Jersey tubes. This swell seemed to be the last chance for the event to run on time and as scheduled.
I kicked myself. I was neither in New Jersey, nor in the continental United States and would miss surfing with Ms. Stella. As I sat in the agonizing sun, I wondered what the surf would bring for the hardened NJ surfers. I sipped my ice-cold Medalla and ruminated on factors that could come to play for the event organizers as they met the decision to run the event or continue waiting. Obviously out of the loop, I employed the knowledge of one of the event’s founders, Mr. Tim Donnelly…
“We decided the Mudhole in Asbury Park was the perfect arena. Contestants and the audience could watch from the beach or sit with a drink at the Watermark. But, we needed the right conditions for Asbury Park and were prepared to wait for that,” stated Donnelly.
The Nor’ Easter’s track did not bode well for Asbury Park. Donnelly, Hammer, Gesler and the final co-founder, Rob Cloupe knew that other parts of New Jersey and the East Coast would work better for a storm like Stella.
“We definitely considered running the contest however it was just a logistical nightmare,” said Donnelly.
Southern Jersey beaches handled Stella’s northern winds better than did Asbury. One by one, airports cancelled flights and roads along the eastern seaboard became much too treacherous to drive.
“11 contestants have to drive, while seven others would have to fly. It is not an easy task to get everyone together, especially during a big storm like this,” continued Donnelly.
The contest’s format demanded perfection and asked even more of the event planners than the first year.
“Last year’s contest was strictly local. This year, the thought was to expand the playing field. We invited surfers from Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida rather than only guys from Jersey and New York,” said Donnelly.
Respectively, professional surfers like Vince Boulanger, Brett Barley, Cam Richards and Pete Mendia have all been invited and placed on either team Gesler or Hammer.
Local surfers are waiting for their chance as well. Guys like Sam Hammer, Mike Gleason and Pat Schmidt among others have seen the waves Asbury can produce when punched with the right swell pattern. Local or not, the Cold War would not be an easy victory for any man.
“Last year the heat lineups were predetermined, but this year the captains will pick the matchups on the beach,” said Donnelly. “For the captains, it is almost like baseball strategy now. Similar to the way a team will send a right-handed batter against a lefty pitcher.”
The contest will be fast-paced and serves to test the captains’ matchup decisions. Surfers and contest-goers alike will be waiting and guessing at the surfing matchups, all while the thought of a monetary prize hangs in the salty, shivering stratosphere.
“The event is a fun time, but when you can win $1000 in a 20 minute heat, the guys are ready to slit each other’s throats to win,” said Donnelly.
What’s more, the Cold War rules state that only a team can win the prize money. A single individual win would not be awarded money unless the whole team follows suit. Yet as it occurred, Stella did not provide for Asbury Park, and the organizers now had their backs against the wall. Time was running out, and decisions would have to be made quickly…
“We have Surfline, Eastern Surf Magazine and our own media outlets ready to send news regarding the contest at a moments notice,” added Donnelly.
In addition to the name brands stated above, the contest holds more than a dozen sponsors including companies such as Reef, Firewire, Nixon and O’Neill. With these partnerships, it becomes possible to make contest information readily available to everybody. In addition, these sponsors help to cover travel and boarding costs for the contestants and are working to make the contest a better experience for the fans. However, the sponsors helping the Cold War organizers will now have to delay their efforts.
Senior student-surfer, Tyler Sankey attended the first annual Cold War contest last year and plans on heading to Asbury when the contest does run.
“I thought it was pretty rad, and a pretty cool setup. Wish they could have run it, but it’ll definitely help them call it on a better day with more critical waves. Last year was kinda small and conditions weren’t too good,” says Sankey.
Even the professors at Monmouth have been keeping a close eye on Cold War updates. Naturally, everyone has a favorite athlete and there is no difference when it comes to this surfing competition. John Tiedemann is a long-time surfer and also Assistant Dean to the School of Science. “Favorite surfers? Well, there are a lot of Jersey’s finest, but I have to go with my Ocean County boys…Clay Pollioni and, of course, Sam Hammer!” said Tiedemann.
Waves in Jersey can be quite perfect, however they are few and far between. So, it is no surprise that New Jersey surfers are excellent at waiting. The Cold War contest will be no different. When the surfers finally hit the water in Asbury Park, you can bet the wait will have been worth it.
For a full list of competitors and any further information visit the Cold War Instagram page or website.