Stab Magazine | Superstorm Riley Days 6 & 7: When Our Luck Ran Out

Live now: How Surfers Get Paid, Season Finale


Superstorm Riley Days 6 & 7: When Our Luck Ran Out

The winds went funky, but even that couldn’t kill our high. 

news // Mar 12, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Day 6, the day after Riley’s best day, was supposed to be Riley’s best day. Forecasts were calling for solid (but not too solid) groundswell on the Outer Banks, accompanied by pure west winds. For some odd reason, a reason that even Outer Banks surf-mayor Brett Barley couldn’t fathom, the winds chose to go northeast instead. While the entirety of the U.S. east coast was blessed with pumping swell and offshore gales, our 100-mile stretch of beach was a swirling vortex of bleh.

This was a blessing and a curse. While it was unfortunate to lose a day of the swell, I think everybody needed a break. After five straight days of hunting tubes, your body becomes tired, sore; your brain chemically imbalanced. The dopamine hangover can make surfing seem like a drag, even if the waves pumping. This is a wonderfully terrible state to achieve, and because of its recent prevalence, nobody in our crew was devastated about a day off.

IMG 0780

A common occurrence on Day 6.


Michael Ciaramella

Well… almost nobody.

Brett Barley didn’t have a great Winter Storm Riley experience. On Day 1 he tried to surf the Lighthouse but got denied by 15-foot whitewater, eventually retreating to the Sound for a novelty sesh. Day 2 he came to New Jersey, scored Newmibia, then headed back to the Banks. Days 3-4 he couldn’t get home due to waves washing over the dunes, which eventually forced him to take a boat back onto Hatteras Island to surf on Day 5, which was expected to be pumping. Day 5 was too big, and despite Brett witnessing one of the biggest tubes ever on the Outer Banks, the sandbar disintegrated by the time he made it into the lineup. Day 6 was as described above.

“I could cry,” Brett expressed on his Instagram, after the let-down that was Day 6. This was virgin territory for the OBX local. Typically, he’s the one scoring while other east coasters are chasing their tails. But Riley was not a typical swell in any capacity. 

So for Brett, everything was riding on Day 7. Once again the wind forecasts looked good — which, frankly, didn’t give us much confidence at this point — but the swell was meant to drop significantly. We banked on the fact that the Lighthouse was one of the coast’s biggest wave magnets and hoped that it would remain solid through the night. Unfortunately, we were met with chest high leftovers.

IMG 1008

Pretty, but not what we had driven through the night to surf.


Michael Ciaramella

But it was hard to be bummed. What we’d found the five days prior were, as most surfers not named Brett will attest to, the best string of east coast surf in recent memory. From Newmibia to New York, through Delmarva and Florida, all the way to the Caribbean and beyond, Winter Storm Riley was nothing short of incredible. So we headed home in remarkably good spirits despite getting skunked down south.

For me, after covering 1,800 miles on the road, subsisting on a diet wholly bereft of health benefits and achieving no more than four hours of sleep per night, I can state unequivocally: this was the best surf trip of my life.

DSC 1129

Your author, in a moment of pure elation.


Jay Rutkowski

Thanks to all the friends and family who helped me along the way, to the New Jersey state government for replenishing Newmibia’s sand at the perfect time, and to Winter Storm Riley for providing such a historic run of surf. You will not soon be forgotten.  


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

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Watch: ‘Haiku’

Scenes From a Remote Reality, by Vans & Karina Rozunko

Mar 25, 2023

Sun Room: The Overnight Success Of A Young Surf Band

What's it like touring the world and living off of McDonald's?

Mar 25, 2023

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 6

An instructional manual for the modern professional surfer

Mar 23, 2023


Caity Simmers — Extreme Competitive Surf Vlogger

Cool is chemical.

Mar 23, 2023

Globe Pulls Out Of The Apparel Game

…and, Taj Burrow and Dion Agius are now looking for new main sponsors.

Mar 22, 2023

Owen Wright Announces Retirement From Competitive And Heavy-Water Surfing

But will surf final CT event at Bells.

Mar 22, 2023


Fancy An Ale, Some Good Music, And A Bunch Of Tubes?

Ballet's minimalist full-length will satiate your needs.

Mar 22, 2023

João Chianca Spent Seven Years On The QS Without A Sponsor

And look where he is now.

Mar 22, 2023

Take Stab’s 2023 Audience Survey, Win A 3-Board Quiver

Stab towels and Premium subscriptions also up or grabs.

Mar 21, 2023

Jessi Miley Dyer On The New Challenger Series Schedule And More

Did you know that you could miss the mid-year cut and still theoretically win the…

Mar 20, 2023


Don’t Miss The Last Wave Of The First 2023 SEOTY Entry

Jacob Willcox's ‘Into Dust’ just set the bar.

Mar 20, 2023

Warren Smith on New Welcome Rivers Range and Buying Jaguars on Facebook Marketplace  

Now available in the Antipodes...

Mar 20, 2023


Wavegarden Spills How The Sausage Is Made

BTS of their global air wave rollout ft. Yago Dora, Dion Agius, Reef Heazlewood and…

Mar 18, 2023

Minds, Machines, And The Magic Of Hands

How modern shapers split their time between designing files and hand-finishing boards.

Mar 18, 2023


Are Hectic Lefts The Final Finless Frontier?

William Aliotti is on the right-foot-forward fringes.

Mar 17, 2023

Watch: Luke + Eddie

A mostly unknown, on-duty lifeguard won the most prestigious big-wave event in history. How Luke…

Mar 17, 2023


A Pipe Master, Ryan Burch, And Some Pickle Forks On The Eastern Seaboard

This one ticks a lot of boxes

Mar 16, 2023

Brazil Has A Talent Problem

And three other things we learned from the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

Mar 16, 2023