Rob Kelly’s got it going on. He’s a well-spoken, head-turnin’ surfer with a solid air/barrel repertoire, a wicked competitive streak, one smokin’ hot girlfriend (think fire-breathing dragon standing on the sun kind of hot) and a spanking new Billabong contract. He’s got the vision to be in the moment of his realized pro dream, while working towards a business degree that will set him up for the days beyond his pro career. And he loves NJ. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else… and his job has taken him just about everywhere else.
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.
’Great. Flew 19 hours to get killed in West Oz.’
That was the last thought that ran through my mind, then ran for cover, as I watched the lip of a 10ft. wave detonate five feet from the nose of my board. Before I could even flinch, I was flipped, rolled and thrown backwards until I landed with a two bounce skip, driven deep and dragged for almost 40 yards underwater. The wave beat me like I called its momma ugly. When the pounding at last subsided, I climbed my leash, hand over hand, towards the surface. Though progress was quick at first, it hit a wall when currents swirled around my legs and the water hissed into an aerated, grip-free impact zone. I couldn’t move. Seconds ticked by with a painful laziness until the currents finally released me. I broke the surface scared senseless and immediately paddled to the beach.