Throwback: A Week in Florida- March 2018

Florida

I work in Florida for a couple months each winter. Sometimes I’m conflicted. Florida provides an interesting place for new adventures and new ecosystems. Rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, The Everglades, Miami, gators, bald eagles and manatees, sometimes fun waves. However, winter waves are generally much better in San Diego than south Florida.

The winter surf of 2018 was historically dismal in Southern California. The winter surf of 2018 in Florida was possibly the greatest of all time. I had been in Florida for a few weeks prior. I usually go for a dawn swim a couple times a week regardless of the conditions. 40 minute drive to Juno Pier at 5am and make it to work at 10am. But I had been watching the surf forecast when a monster purple blob began to form.

Winter Storm Riley

Winter Storm Riley moved off the coast of Massachusetts on March 2nd and went through a period of explosive development known as bombogenesis. Unfortunately, wreaking havoc across New England and beyond.  On the morning of Sunday March 3rd, 1,200 miles south, I arrived at the Juno Pier at dawn. Nonstop waves were already breaking 100 yards past the end of the pier. The swell had definitely begun and wasn’t scheduled to peak for 2 days.

Juno Pier

This swell quickly became the most impressive I have experienced anywhere. Five days of overhead to double overhead waves without a lull. It was like a 5,000 wave set bombarded the coast. Most Florida surf spots were overpowered by the immense energy as the swell peaked but a few mythological spots lit up for a select few. Winds remained light and even went offshore for extended periods. 

I bodysurfed every morning and my employers were gracious enough to give me a day off to chase this incredible swell. I didn’t have to go too far. The closest beach to my hotel is a little nondescript beachbetween the Lake Worth Pier and West Palm Beach called Phipps Ocean Park. It was firing all week! Peaky lines of neon blue swell going below sea level and exploding on the sandbars. I also swam epic Delray Beach, pumping Jupiter Inlet and all-time, incredible Reef Road.
-KS

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Intergalactic Whomparama: Carolina Beach, North Carolina

After moving to North Carolina from West Coast USA, Alex Torres was a lonely bodysurfer. When he got the time off work and family duties his favorite pastime would find him alienated amongst many beachgoers who had never seen anyone swim onto a wave and ride it to the shore spinning and getting tubed.

One day he found a couple of other guys who knew what to do when riding waves on their body he thought, “We should have a contest and give it a fun name, call it Whomparama and make it fundraiser for the local Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation and other charities” Such as Life Rolls On – a group that facilitates an assisted surf experience for people with disabilities. He thought, “Lets get the local community involved and have a lot of fun!”

Soon after the inception of Whomparama, somebody from California contacted Alex claiming to have sanction rights on all bodysurfing contests, particularly regarding rules. So Alex in his nonchalant manner suggested, “That’s ok, our contest doesn’t have any rules.”  That same antagonist then claimed authority over every contest in the world. So Alex said, “Thats ok, we’re not of this world…we’re intergalactic!”

Don in Carolina

That was seven years ago and since then, The Intergalactic Bodysurf Championships- Whomparama has attracted large numbers of local bodysurfers, lifeguards, surfers, bodyboarders and many local businesses for donations and support.

I was fortunate to attend this year and I witnessed every contestant and spectator having an immense amount of fun. Laughter filled the beach regardless of conditions which were not the greatest waves of all time. But that wasn’t the point. This contest is all about genuine beach fun and raising money for worthwhile causes.

The pre-contest work that goes into Whomparama is all volunteer based. The Carolina Beach community pitches in to provide everything from tents to colored caps for the competitors and t-shirt design/printing. The trophies are made by Alex and one of his buddies, Peyton Chitty. One year the trophies were over 6 feet high. This year they were donated leftovers from an old trophy factory and sprayed in Rastafarian colors. Each winner received a large trophy and along with it, a helmet with recycled trophy bits attached, spray painted and adorned with doll body parts.

Alex and Peyton wax lyrically on the microphone all day with banter akin to a comedy sketch, in between some great music from an eclectic playlist. Heats are called, locals are heckled and any surfboard that enters the Whomp zone better lookout! Divisions included of kids, women’s, men’s and the SUPER KOOK EXPRESSION SESSION for the uninhibited, which fought in the best spirit of fun.

The after party was held at the Lazy Pirate and nobody missed it. Music, fun, ceremony, live music and dancing. The waves remained half to one foot onshore tidally affected throughout but nobody cared. They raised $3,800 for their charities and everybody, I mean everybody, who went near the Whomparama had an absolute blast.
-Don McCredie

Tripping Fins: South Florida

Where are all the East Coast USA bodysurfers? Hundreds of miles of  beachbreak (albeit inconsistent) barrels. As we know from Eric’s Tripping Fins to North Carolina, there is a lot of bodysurf potential on the “Right Coast.” 

Over the past couple years, I’ve spent some time working in South Florida. Last year, I bodysurfed ankle-high waves a few times and missed the swell of the winter by about 8 hours. This year, I scored numerous fun sessions. It was never over chest high, but the water was warm and stunning turquoise. A Nor’easter moved off the coast of New England, sending north swell down the Atlantic while windswell mixed in from the south.  The end result was beautiful, blue, peaky barrels over shifting sand.

Jupiter, Florida
Jupiter, Florida
Palm Beach, Florida. In front of Mara-Lago "The Winter House." Donnie should bodysurf...would probably do him a bit of good.
Palm Beach, Florida. In front of Mar-a-Lago “The Winter House.” Donnie should bodysurf…would probably do him a bit of good.
South Beach, Miami. You can hear the party from inside the mini-barrels.
South Beach, Miami. You can hear the party from inside the mini-barrels.
Miami, Florida. Sometimes South Florida even has waves.
Miami, Florida. Sometimes South Florida even has waves.
Rocket launch from Sebastian. Maybe the only thing better than being in the barrel would be launching into space from Cape Canaveral.
Rocket launch from Sebastian. The only thing better than being in the barrel would be launching into space from Cape Canaveral.

 

Florida
Florida -KS