Photos by Cicero, Swenson, Guagliardo & D'Zio
The Fosters Belmar Pro was the exclamation point on the stellar year of surf we’ve had in New Jersey. After a sweet spring and summer and the beautiful surf of Danielle and Earl, the weekend of overhead waves felt like the culmination of the lining up of the cosmos. Though the early rounds of the contest were small, waves began pumping in on Friday and didn’t stop until the final minute of the final heat. And it all came down to Michael Dunphy’s (VA) good karma in the end.
Locked in a tight heat with Michael Powell (NC), Nathan Cavalho (HI) and Kyle Garson (FL), Dunphy was blessed with the wave of the day that was welcomed to the beach with gasps from the massive crowd flooding 16th street. With the aplomb of a typical east coaster, Dunphy dropped in, thwacked the bejeezus out of the bombing lip and pulled in for a five-second barrel that rifled across the beach. The crowd lost its mind, chicks swooned and the buzzer sounded to seal the deal for the young ripper. The ocean and Dunphy definitely saved the best for last. But I’m getting ahead of myself here…
The event went off seemingly without a hitch. On Saturday, P-Dub, Echo Movement and a host of other bands kept the party going, while thousands of people checked out a multitude of sponsors’ wares. Legends (Randazzo) mixed with tourists and groms, while the local boys like Hammer, Keenan and Moran played host to an international assortment of pros from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Mexico, California and the eastern seaboard. More than a few amazingly beautiful women traipsed about too, including Red Bull pro surfer Maya Gabeira, who was signing autographs for a flock of stoked kids and a few adults (i.e. me). While the surf pumped, the NE wind marred the head-overhead high faces, making the men and women negotiate sectiony walls. But it didn’t matter as the talent levels were so high in every division that big airs were thrown, barrels were pulled into and the best was made with what was on offer. The ocean reminded everyone who was boss though right around 2:00 when a wave twice the size of anything previous (double-overhead, at least) mowed down those in the water and spun flawlessly to the beach. Surfers and non-surfers alike were aghast and a collective moan rose from the sand.
Sunday dawned with even bigger surf, bigger crowds and more anticipation. Conditions were clean with light offshore winds, barrels galore and sketchy, late drops. The only factor was the tides, as the sandbars have been funky all over our coast and few places could really hold the swell. Thankfully though, the contest was where it was, because the right off the jetty was firing and just a ½ mile up the road, the swell was missing the coast in a big way. Setting the stage for Dunphy, Dylan Southworth (Sayulita, Mexico) nabbed the coveted Fins ASP Pro Junior with a blistering display of floaters, air reverses and one of the sickest barrels of the contest. But it was no easy feat, as Southworth had to battle it out in a stacked final with Parker Coffin (CA), Balaram Stack (NY) and Cole Richards (SC), who all ripped and earned their spots.
The women charged hard as well in the epic conditions for the Hannah Women’s Pro with Jamie DeWitt-Baittinger taking the crown for the 2nd year in a row. DeWitt-Baittinger has been on a bit of a tear lately and is definitely the one to watch in the area. Hailing originally from NJ and now residing in NC, she was no stranger to the heavy conditions and showed the poise for which she’s gaining a reputation. NY twins Ariel and Alexis Engstrom and local Kim Kepich also held their own throughout the comp.
The longboard finalists fought valiantly despite having to ride the wrong equipment for the conditions, evidenced by the multitude of broken boards. While local ripper Brian Dalton made it a close heat, Tony Silvagni (NC) took the title (his second) with Steve Mangiacapre (NC) and John Ashton (MD) finishing 3rd and 4th respectively.
Overall, it was an epic weekend of surf with everyone stoked to be involved, competing or just attending. Mother Ocean turned things up to 11, the surfers ripped and the kids had fun. And when it comes down to it, that’s really what it’s all about.
1st Michael Dunphy $5,000
2nd Nathan Cavalho $1,300
3rd Michael Powell $1,100
4th Kyle Garson $1,000
Fins ASP Jr. Pro
1st Dylan Southworth $2,000
2nd Parker Coffin $900
3rd Balaram Stack $700
4th Cole Richards $500
Hannah Women's Pro
1st Jamie DeWitt Baittinger $800
2nd Alexis Engstrom $300
3rd Ariel Engstrom $200
4th Kim Kepich $125
1st Tony Silvagni $1000
2nd Brian Dalton $500
3rd Steve Mangiacapre $350
4th John Ashton $250