New York vs. New Jersey. New School vs. Old School. Worldwide Names vs. Underground Locals. Billabong vs. Hurley. The first annual Cold War showcased it all. And the one thing all of the competitors had in common was the mutual respect for one another. After over a month of patiently waiting for the right conditions to pan out and send a solid pulse to Asbury Park, New Jersey contest director's pulled the trigger and gave the green light for the contest March 25th.
So what exactly is the Cold War? A bunch of guys reenacting ancient political history along the Jersey Shore? Not exactly. Sixteen of the top surfers hailing from New York and New Jersey were drafted into two seperate squads by team captains Sam Hammer and Andrew Gesler. The day of the event the two captains would alternate between picking matchups they believed were in their teams favor. Eight seperate man-on-man heats with the team with the majority of wins taking home $8000.
Thanks to less than par conditions accompanied by foggy, overcast skies and sparse rain showers the contest got off to a late start with the matchups being drawn at 2:30pm. As soon as the last front passed through, hundreds of spectators and photographers littered the beach in anticipation for the show about to take place. Since Hammer had first pick in the initial draft, Gesler was on the clock to chose the first matchup. He gave the fans what they wanted. One of New Jersey's best vs. one of New York's best. He paired his darkhorse Rob Kelly vs. #1 overall pick Balaram Stack. This heat did not dissapoint as it was decided by less than a point with the two exchanging snap for snap. Rob got the better of Balaram in this heat and set the tone for Team Gesler. They never looked back.
Zach Humphries followed up by defeating Asbury local Phil Brown with his power surfing. The next heat had fireworks written all over it and was easily one of the most exciting heats of the contest. It featured two of the east coast's best aerialists. Long Beach Island's Randy Townsend topped Montauk New York's Leif Engstrom in another close battle of high flying maneuvers. It was now 3-0 Gesler.
Team Hammer kept it interesting when alternate Brendan Tighe got them in the win column by narrowly defeating John Glenn. The next heat was also close, with Lavalette's Clay Pollioni taking down Ben McBrien in another heat that could have gone either way. 4-1 Gesler.
With the contest hopes and dreams on the line, Team Hammer sent Conor Willem to bat against seasoned ripper Mike Gleason, needing a win to stay alive. Unfortunately for Hammer, Gleason was locked in and totaled the highest heat score of the day, making it look easy while ferociously dismantling mushy section after mushy section. With Gleason sealing the deal for Team Gesler, Point Pleasant's Tommy Ihnken went out and added to the win total by downing another Asbury Local, Ryan Matthews.
Although the contest had an official winner, there was still one heat to go. This heat was worth much more than the thousand dollar's that each member of the winning team received for the two guys about to paddle out. It was about bragging rights for the next year. Hammer vs. Gesler. All eyes were on these two as they went blow for blow. Ultimately, Hammer took down Gesler in another nailbiter. Hammer may have won the personal battle, but Gesler and co. won the war.
Congratulations to Andrew Gesler, Rob Kelly, Randy Townsend, Zach Humphries, John Glenn, Clay Pollioni, Tommy Ihnken and Cold War MVP Mike Gleason.
Until next winter...