Photos by Mike Vuocolo and Dan Stockdale
The surf Gods do listen to prayers, we are absolutely convinced! It’s either that, or it’s just Don Tarrant’s remarkable “Irish luck”. The debate on that still continues. Whatever it may be, consider this: no waiting period, only a 3-day window, same weekend every year, NEVER been called off for lack of surf … and for 20 years straight!
The Belmar Pro consistently gets waves, and its not just because either the “surf Gods” or “Don’s luck”, but also because the Belmar Pro is scheduled right at the climatological peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on that very same weekend with statistically, the most probability for waves. W’d like to think the Leprechaun’s have the Pro’s back year after year but we won’t argue against is just a darn smart scheduling move thats paid off handsomely for the competitors, spectators and event organizers.
Although it started out glassy with shoulder to head high sets, Day 3 saw gradually deteriorating conditions as the tide dropped, and then the wind swung around from out of the southeast. Once it hit dead low (full moon too?) at the same time the wind switched and the infamous rip that forms in the middle showed up with sideshore texture, gradually getting choppier as most waves ended by dumping into a few inches of water. These conditions made it challenging for competitors to complete ending maneuvers, but for those that held on through the mechanical bull like ride, heat wins were had.
Let’s get right to the Mens Open winner for a perfect example; putting together a stellar performance through those conditions, Barbados pro Josh Burke laid down three 9+ rides in his Semi heat against a ripping Tucker Collins, and two 8+ rides in the final against one of the other in-form surfers of the event Bo Raynor, garnering both the single highest wave score, and, highest heat score of the event.
Cassidy McClain achieved her 6th Playa Bowls Womens victory continuing her dominance as the one to beat in the women’s category. Cassidy surfed consistent through her heats and toughed out the declining conditions to score a well-earned 14.17 pt heat. The Womens final was a heated battle with all competitors getting solid scores.
In possibly one of the most feel-good energy vide moments of finals day, Belmar’s own colorful character Colin McNamara, otherwise known as “C-MAC” peeled off some rights from down at the south end of the contest zone off the 18th ave jetty and surfed himself to a victory in the Creatures Of Leisure Masters Open over fellow “Belmartian” Mark Gilmartin, longtime belmar pro competitor FL’s Josh Nicastro, and Dane Hoskins. C-Mac exited the water to being chaired up the beach from his friends and loud hoots and applause from the beach.
To no surprise to anyone who’s been following this event for enough years, The Blue Moon Longboard Open was once again completed dominated by East Coast longboard pro Tony Silvagni. This is Tony’s 11th, yes, 11th Longboard victory at this event, and his surfing on a longboard is so next level you regularly overhear the peanut gallery whispering “why doesn’t he ride shortboard?”. He’s that good. Tony floatered, lippered and cutbacked his way to a win over Jake DeMatteo, Ty Roach and Kai St George who all were ripping and putting in solid scores.
The Kahuna Sr Men, Belmar Legends, and Jack’s Surf Shack Legends Longboards divisions had several crossovers that entered all three divisions like Gary Finnegan, George Melton, Charlie Vanderlindhe, but it was Puerto Rico’s Robert Ferrer who took both the Legends Longboard and Sr Men categories while still getting a 2nd place in the Legends shortboard as well. Longtime industry rep and former ESA surfer Dean Schoonover took the Legends open over Finnegan, Ferrer and Gerry Matthews.
We would like to wish many heartfelt thanks to all the sponsors who helped make this year’s event a success! Also a colossal thanks to Don and Darby Tarrant, and all the staff and judges who worked behind the scenes to make the event go strong in its 20th year.