During one week in January 2024, there were three different swells that would have made a NJ surfer’s month–had they been spaced out that way. As it was, these three swells started on a Sunday in South Jersey, continued midweek with a giant South swell, and ended with a bang on the following Saturday.
Did I mention the days in between were all surfable–offering leftover waves that would otherwise have been a fun stand-alone sessions. Instead, surfers had to align for work, weather, beaten bodies or licked wounds to optimize quality wave count… In other words, during the week from January 7th until January 14th: There were waves every day. And additionally, more often than not, these waves were big, heavy, cold, and absolutely kegging.
A Nor-Easter-style system came up the coast during the first weekend of January. The system moved in a way which offered battering ENE swell. At the same time, the forecast called for a South swell which promised to kick in throughout the day on January 7th.
Even with the surf and weather forecast applications confirming these conditions days in advance, there was still uncertainty. To stay or go is often a choice that plagues surfers from days before a swell event, to the day-of, and the anxiety is usually not silenced until the first barrel of the session (confirming a surfer’s decision).
When the wind whipped Northwest, one particular beach looked like mini Pipeline–offering heavy lefts and spitting rights. The swell angle was perfect for both goofyfooters and regulars who wanted to get slotted left and right.
In this case, that first barrel felt laughable. How could I have ever doubted this decision!? It was ON.
The swell never died throughout the day. Despite the cold and heavy wind, the crew of surfers at this beach committed to two sessions this day–for as long as they could stand the cold beat downs and whipping wind.
Can we call it that? Or is that too much?
Either way, that’s what it was. Wednesday offered 12+ feet of SE swell at a 14 second interval, according to the NOAA buoy at New York Harbor Entrance – 15 NM SE of Breezy Point , NY.
The wind was whipping (again), and this time there were pro surfers from all over the place flying into NJ. Word on the dunes said that Tosh Tudor was around surfing the Sunday Combo Swell. Young Tudor was seen surfing this Wednesday too. Plus, one friend reported Jamie O’Brien to be checking waves at a local spot in Monmouth County, NJ.
Interesting and befuddling as those reports are, the waves seemed to be good enough to support these claims.
A crew of pizza-loving friends found themselves at a beach close to home–with just the boys surfing. This choice in surf spot was the antithesis of the locales that the pros would surf. And by all accounts, it was just as good!
There were giant, out-the-back roll ins which offered cornering caverns. There were chip into absolute death pits. And there were insiders that rolled through, which required dropping in and holding tight.
The session offered everything a surfer asks for in big NJ conditions. This session went down at a spot that is often overlooked and under-surfed.
That Wednesday was non-fucking-stop. It was the last time the ocean instilled palpable fear for surfers whilst bobbing up and down in the water. Yet, the resulting tubes provided a thrill otherwise impossible to achieve. WOOOOO!
And as expected, the next day was… Still firing.
After surfing for hours the day before, my personal choice was to work, chill, and wait for the next swell on Saturday. The upcoming report and forecast looked like a repeat swell with similar offerings.
Licking wounds and looking days ahead was never so hard on that Thursday the 11th of January. The waves looked fun–still offering many tube opportunities. Plus, the sun was out, and there was shade to be achieved.
Thumping Again: Saturday’s Cap to a Tiring Run of Swell
The usual suspects were on the beach Saturday morning waiting for the wind to switch. Everyone looked at eachother as if to say… Here we go again?
The looks were excited, tired, but definitely stoked.
The surfers who got the best waves were out there right before the wind switched. Walking over the dunes, I saw one particular goofyfooter drop in ever so perfectly, tuck in backside, and slide right out of one of the many picture perfect set waves. This particular wave seemed to grace this individual directly. He was sitting in the perfect spot and did exactly what he needed to get tubed. The individuals surfing at this spot stayed out until there was nothing left in the tank.
By the end of the day, photographers crowded the sand–coming away with awesome shots to document a day that capped of a historical run of NJ surf. It’s tough to remember such a run that happened so quickly and which offered so many great conditions.
It’s as if each of the three swells which transpired that second week of January embodied the best characteristics that NJ has to offer… All in one week of one month.
It’s often feast, or famine for NJ surfers. But this one week took the cake. Since mid-month, there hasn’t been a lick of swell to speak of (as would seem customary). The questions that now linger: Was that something we’ll see again in 2024? Or are we doomed for a Winter’s worth of mediocre surf? Maybe we should ask the most famous groundhog to ever exist?
Cmon PHIL! Let’s get some more waves… Soon?
For now, surfers will wait. While others, are just stoked on life…