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Is It Wrong To Score While Others Suffer?

New Jersey fires while the rest of the world burns. 

news // Sep 9, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The world is on fire.

Or, at least California. Not in terms of waves, of course, as those are very bad, but in the very literal sense that California’s northern regions, and even parts of its southern and central regions, are engulfed in increasingly dangerous flames. 

Then there’s Mexico, who last night suffered its biggest earthquake in over a century, resulting in widespread destruction, major healthcare complications, and dozens of deaths. 

Then there’s the Caribbean – particularly St. Maarten, Tortola, and few other islands – that has been completely leveled by Hurricane Irma, who promises nothing less for the Bahamas, the Keys, and much of mainland Florida. The UN estimates that 37-million people will be affected by this spinning behemoth.

Lastly there’s New Jersey, which somehow found itself on Irma’s good side, resulting in a day of waves that were rounder than a pizza pie. What more, these conditions overlapped with one of New Jersey’s longest-running and most beloved surf contests, the Belmar Pro.

But some New Jersey surfers felt torn by their blessings. With Irma causing unfathomable destruction in the southern atolls, is it wrong to enjoy the perks of another’s prolific loss? Ben Gravy, a Pennsylvania-native turned YouTube sensation, walked me through the mental gymnastics of scoring while others suffer.

Stab: Gravy! How ya doing? I heard you had a big day.
Ben Gravy: Yeah, it was sick. Every heat (at the Belmar Pro) was being won on barrels, which is pretty much the dream. In my heat I just got in a really good rhythm, found a couple, and then I ended up getting that nine (see below). Anytime that you’re getting 16+ heat totals by getting barreled, it’s a great day.

So what do you think about the people getting the raw end of Irma – the Caribbean and soon to be Florida?
Oh my god dude, it’s horrible. It’s so gnarly down there. Some of those places in the Caribbean got pretty devastated, and now they’re gonna get rocked in Florida. They’re saying like 185 mph winds. Don’t people start freaking out around 100?

I think so.
Yeah, so what’s gonna happen man? I think they’re fully claiming like… unprecedented winds. If there are people that are gnarly enough to stay… I’m just praying for them.

Aren’t there always?
Yeah, that sucks man. This could be heavy.

Do you ever feel guilty surfing good waves, when you know the same storm that’s producing your enjoyment, is also ruining people’s lives?
Dude, that’s so weird because I was thinking about that today. I was watching waves hit the rocks when I was surfing and just started thinking, People get pulverized by those things. And we’re only getting a fraction of the energy up here, you know?

I’m also in a bit of a weird situation, where I have to make videos about these storms and make it like… happy. My videos are all about being stoked, you know? Then at the same time people are getting smoked while we’re having so much fun. It’s kinda fucked up.

How do you reconcile that?
I don’t know, just… pray. Send good vibes. Because obviously it’s outta my hands. If it were up to me, nobody would die, but, you know, I’m just a man as well.  

So, is it wrong to score while others suffer? To be honest, I don’t know if we’ll ever reach a conclusion to this moral quandary. The jury is still out (surfing). 


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