Stab Magazine | Superstorm Riley Day 1: Namibia Comes To New Jersey (A Gallery)

Superstorm Riley Day 1: Namibia Comes To New Jersey (A Gallery)

“Probably the best lefthand setup I’ve ever seen in New Jersey” – Sam Hammer

news // Mar 5, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Waking up at 4 AM, even by personal choice, can be tough. Waking up at 4 AM for work? That’s feels like a goddamned prison sentence. 

But today I woke up at 4 AM — mostly for me, a little for work — and had no qualms about it. That’s because my job (writing about surfing) and my passions (surfing, writing) are closely aligned. For this reason I really enjoy my work, especially when it allows me, encourages me even, to do my favorite thing: surf really really ridiculously good waves and then write about it.

So despite staying up ’til midnight writing yesterday’s dispatch, when 4 AM came along I was excited to hear my oft-dreaded alarm. Because today was one of those days when I got to surf really really ridiculously good waves and then write about it.

IMG 3070

Waves like this. Photo: Ana

But back to the alarm.

No snooze. Brush teeth. Rush girlfriend (“Babe, the waves!”). Hot water jugs. Coffee stop. Drive.

We arrived at the spot, which will from this point forward be called Newmibia, at 6:30 AM. Pro surfers Rob Kelly, Stevie Pittman, and Kevin Schultz, along with Rusty America GM (and ex-pro) Matt Keenan, were already on the sand, pointing eastward and throwing their heads back. A good sign.

Here’s what I saw as I popped over the dune (and what was captured by my selfless girlfriend Ana, who bared today’s chill for the sake of some beautiful photos, seen above, below and everywhere in between.): 

IMG 2971

So yeah, we were out there. Photo: Ana

The next five hours were a blur of paddling, tubes, and debilitating beach walks. My arms felt they were going to fall off — not from paddling, but from carrying a double-six glassed board half a mile up the beach, against the wind, probably more than 20 times over seven hours. But how does one hop off this aching treadmill when the best waves he’s seen since …maybe ever… are running through the lineup with Fanning-like consistency? (Hint: he doesn’t.)

So I kept going. 

Rather than boring you with the details of my (first) session, I thought I’d share some of my Day 1 observations, from the vantage point of an east coast surfer who has lived out west for six years, only to return home for the swell of the decade.  

  • Waves in the east coast jack up and throw very quickly, making them easier to catch than west coast waves, which have a tendency to stand up and roll for miles. However, the quick and oftentimes steep transitions on the east coast can be difficult to handle, even for the best surfers. This change-up took me a second to get used to, but ultimately I prefer the thrill of right coast entries. 

  • East coast surfers are significantly more welcoming than those in California. At the very best spot on New Jersey’s very best swell, there was an incredible sense of camaraderie shared between everyone on the beach, in the water, and in the parking lot. No matter of origins, everybody was stoked for everybody — giving pats on the back, high-fives, etc. — and despite how cliche that might sound, I love that these uni-tribalistic mantras still persist in certain facets of today’s modern surf culture.
    At that very same theoretical setting (best swell, best wave) in California, the locals would be snooty toward all the blow-ins, the blow-ins would exacerbate that snootiness by being dicks right back, and the combination of these two phenomena would result in countless burnings, awkward splash-battles, and a general sense of dread coursing throughout the lineup. I experienced this very phenomenon last year at California’s “dream-wave” Sandspit, which, in my experience, is nowhere close to as good as Newmibia. That brings me to my next point.

  • East coast waves are better than west coast waves. A broad statement, but I believe it to be true. In all my years in California (six), I’ve had very few instances of all-day barrels (certainly less than 10) whereas on the east coast it happens all the time (see: Brett Barley’s Instagram). Also, barrels on the east coast are considerably easier and more fun to ride due to their added girth. Most California tubes feel like you’re trying to put toothpaste back into a dispenser, while east coast tunnels are akin to hot dogs and hallways. And as Rusty America GM says, “California sucks! So glad I moved back home.”

The afternoon low tide produced some scary, definitely unsurfable chest high waves. Randy Townsend swings in regardless. Video: Ryan Mack

Throughout the day I witnessed many great rides. There was Simon Hetrick’s mystery reveal*, Nolan Rapoza’s deep-point doggy-door, Tommy Ihnken’s tube/slash/tube, Jude Clark’s backdoor squeegee, and Rob Kelly’s never-ending snake run. With all these rides (and many more) taking place at one special sandbar, I felt the need to ask around about the relative quality of this wave.

IMG 3020

Not for the faint of heart. Photo: Ana

How good is Newmibia, really? 

“Like (Cape Hatteras) Lighthouse, but better!” one pro said. 

“Like shitty (Cape Hatteras) Lighthouse,” said another.

Perhaps the most profound statement came from Sam Hammer, future Godfather of Garden State surfing, who said, “I think this is the best left setup I’ve ever seen in New Jersey.” 

So yeah, the wave is was legit. (Too bad the wind is going sideways tomorrow.)

But back to today, which I’m now officially claiming in the top 3 of my life (taking into account waves caught, stoke shared, the family dinner afterwards, and the fact that this is my job). Before settling down for some nighttime R&R, Riley graced us with one final gift — a jaw-dropping sunset of pink, purple, orange, yellow, and red. 

IMG 0191

Everyone revelled in the 30-minute light show, but thanks to a well-timed tube(-dodge, depending on your angle), this was the best part of my day. Photo: Ana

After seven total hours of surfing, I found myself fighting the river-like current at last-light, trying to maintain position for one final ride in sunset’s dying embers. At last that wave arrived, and after a slight stall I found myself in a quickly-warping pocket. Rather than try to park it for a proper tube, I found myself uncharacteristcally happy to cruise in the pocket and get lost in the view. I remember time slowing down and thinking to myself, specifically, I don’t care if I make the tube or not. In this moment, I’m as happy as a person can be.

For a non-spiritual person like myself, this “at peace” feeling was quite unique and exciting. I haven’t stopped smiling since.

After that ride I bellied into shore, basked a little more in the Great Star’s farewell, and fist-bumped everybody I saw on the way to my car. Just when I thought the stoke levels couldn’t get any higher, I realized the water jugs I’d filled this morning were somehow still warm for a post-surf rinse. I told you it was a good (work) day!

So we’ll see you tomorrow, Riley.** Can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us.

*When you’re watching a perfect, seemingly empty gem and then *poof*, the rider reveals himself in a blast of wave ejaculate!

** As I finished writing this up, my computer calendar switched from March 3 to 4, making it technically “tomorrow” at time of posting. I have to wake up in four hours to do this all over again. Should be… fun!(?) 


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

The Pro Surfer Who Filmed A War Documentary In Ukraine

Damien Castera's got a story to tell.

Oct 4, 2022

Honest Review(s): O’Neill Hyperfreak Fire

Pushing the Limits of Wetsuit Tech for Men & Women

Oct 3, 2022

How Much Would You Pay For A Session Like This?

A cost-per-vision breakdown of Kian Martin and Tai Buddha's latest strike mission.

Oct 2, 2022

Ongoing Dialogue: Jack Freestone And Album’s Matt Parker On How They Get Sparks To Fly

"Nowadays, a standard thruster feels pretty alt to me." -Jack

Oct 2, 2022

Davo’s Death Strikes At Surfing’s Core

The underground icon battled demons til the end. His untimely demise is yet another cautionary…

Oct 1, 2022

Macaroni in the Pot

Jaleesa Vincent and 200 Lefts in the Mentawais

Oct 1, 2022

Introducing A Brand New Travel Series (With A Familiar Name)

Watch the first New York episode of Stab & Red Bull's No Contest Off Tour.

Sep 30, 2022

Leandro Dora: Pro Surfer, Businessman, Punk Rock Festival Organizer, Spiritual Mentor, And World Title Winning Surf Coach 

Meet one of the most beloved and effective individuals in the athlete's zone.

Sep 29, 2022


You’re Gonna Click On A New Oscar Langburne Video

Style that can't be denied.

Sep 29, 2022

Long Read: An Angel At My Table

From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…

Sep 28, 2022


Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance

A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.

Sep 28, 2022

Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight

Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.

Sep 28, 2022

Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?

Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…

Sep 27, 2022

Donald Brink and Matt Biolos Win Mick Fanning’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test

And we had a party in Oceanside to celebrate.

Sep 26, 2022

Kanoa Igarashi and Kirra Pinkerton Answer Call Of Duty, Win Medals Of Honor In 2022 ISA World Games

Teams Japan, USA, and France move into Victor’s Village.

Sep 26, 2022

The Best Euro Surf Trips That Mightn’t Be On Your Radar

Want to know which less-trodden nation offers the most potential?

Sep 26, 2022

Former CT Surfer Chris Davidson Passes Away At Age 45

A radical life tragically ends outside a bar in New South Wales.

Sep 25, 2022

Where You Should Be In Europe Right Now

An overview of the region's greatest hits.

Sep 25, 2022