THE END OF THE WORLD SWELL

We’ve been hearing about the end of days for years now. 12/21/2012 to be exact.

As the date approached, misinformation and utter confusion accelerated. Some thought the end of the world was near. Others claimed it was the coming of a new enlightened age. More fantastic ideas like the entering of “Planet X” into our solar system sounded straight out of a Sci Fi novel. 

There is some scientific evidence to suggest this date did hold some significance. According to many scientists, during this year’s Winter Solstice on 12/21/2012, the Earth would be positioned in direct access to the Milky Way’s magnetic field. What does this mean?  Honestly, I don’t fucking know.

Bay Head, Photo by Matthew Lang

What do I know? Well, as a surfer it was obvious we had an extremely large swell to officially kick off winter. In fact, it is one of the biggest swells I can remember in some time. The westerly winds were slowly grooming the swell in the early morning hours. As I checked my favorite local spot, I noticed the waves were innumerable as they incessantly rolled in. The set waves were breaking well outside, about three times the length of the jetty. I watched a pack of surfers try to paddle out, most of them getting washed to shore again and again. One person managed to make it out the back, quickly drifting northward up the beach. As waves rolled in, he frantically paddled trying to catch one. It became obvious, there was way too much water and wind coming up the face to catch one on his small board. Also the swell was even bigger than it initially appeared from the beach. I watched him for about an hour, he had no luck getting into any of the enormous waves.

I soon got a text from my friend, Robbie Grieb. The surf was much more manageable and “all time” down south. It was going off in the Bay Head area, with many of New Jersey’s top surfers charging the double overhead gaping barrels. The End of the World swell as it is now called, produced waves that resembled a solid day at Backdoor Pipeline. Many of the waves coming through seemed almost unbelievable for New Jersey.

Local Monmouth County photographer Matthew Lang was in the area to document the visuals of a truly epic day of waves. Matt has been covering action sports for the last eight years, and his work is nothing short of excellent. His approach is one filled with a passion and love for his work. I think this is very apparent in the quality and feel of his photos.

The first shot is of NJ surf legend Zack Humphreys on one of the biggest bombs of the day. The second photo is a line up shot, basically as good as it gets here in Jersey. Both of these photos were taken in Bay Head, NJ.

THE DAY AFTER

The “End of the World” came and went. We were still here and things appeared to be normal on planet Earth.

I got a text early Saturday morning from local Bradley Beach surfer Davie Sincox. There was still some surf left over, about chest high or bigger on set. Substantially smaller than the previous day, but fun nonetheless.

Shawn Zappo, Tube, Bradley Beach. Photo by Timmy Smith

Pulling up to the beach, I saw peeling lines coming in off the jetty. The winds were blowing hard out of the west, gusting at nearly 30 mph. The water was root beer brown and it seemed people didn’t get their fill of waves from the day before. The lineup was getting crowded fast as we suited up. But just as soon as a couple of guys would paddle out, a few would leave as the brutally cold weather was making many call it a day quickly.

Davie Sincox, Cutback, Bradley Beach. Photo by Timmy Smith

Timmy Smith came up to shoot some photos of us after a long night of slinging drinks at Bond Street Bar. I can’t believe he lasted up there for our whole session, it was actually warmer in the water then it was standing on the beach.

Shawn Zappo, Grab Rail Cutback, Bradley Beach. Photo by Timmy Smith

Davie and I surfed for a solid two hours or so, trading off a number of really good, fast and long waves. The wind chill was getting harsh, I needed some breakfast, and my feet started to feel like blocks of ice attached to my legs. Time to get out.

Two good days of surf in a row was a perfect way to kick off the winter season. Not a bad early Christmas present from King Neptune.

Photo at top: Zack Humphreys, Bay Head. Photo by Matthew Lang

Shawn Zappo is a local surfer and skater who rules the stoves at Kaya’s Kitchen in Belmar. He’s also a musician and will be writing about his surf and skate related experiences as well as reviews on bands and whatever the hell else he feels like writing about. 

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