Ocean City has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s primary promoters and East Coast architects of surfing.
Consistent waves breaking against an island with a geographical angle favoring swells from the south is part of the reason Ocean City is very much a surfer’s town. The series of jetties on the north end of the island keep the breakers fairly constant, and providing the type of waves necessary for good surfing.
Unlike most beach towns in the Northeast, Ocean City has a large year-round population and a high school right on the beach that boasts one of the most talented surf teams in the country. Many competitive surfers have emerged from Ocean City, especially after the development of the Ocean City Surfing Association back in the 1960s, which is one of the oldest such organizations in the country.
“There are a lot of families with dads or moms who grew up with the surf boom in the late ’70s and ’80s, and now their kids are starting to surf,” says Robert Kulisek, a Wildwood native who now lives in Ocean City. “Surfing has a nice presence here — just counting the amount of cars you pass with boards on them will give you an idea.” Kulisek, who attended St. Augustine Prep in nearby Richland, and then the New York College of Medicine before transferring into the arts, is currently the editor and photographer for the Ocean City Sun by the Sea newspaper (see sunbythesea.com), which he founded this year. Surfing since he was 10 years old, he now rides for Kookbox Surfboards, which is owned by Andrew Blauschild and world-renowned, nine-time U.S. longboard champion Joel Tudor.
“I grew up with Joel as my idol, so it’s pretty cool to be with [Kookbox] now,” said Kulisek, who is currently working on new surfboard models among a slew of other creative projects.
Having surfed all over the world, including Mexico, Africa, Costa Rica and California, Kulisek still considers the North East his favorite place to surf.
“I’ve gotten it really good in Maine,” he says, “and I’m regularly out at the east end of Long Island, which has a great man-made reef break as well as some amazing right point breaks.”
Greg Beck, a 35-year veteran surfer and owner of Surfers Supplies on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City, took to the waves last summer upon Hurricane Irene’s exit.
“Let me tell you, it was crackin’ and it was so good — serendipitous!” says Beck, who believes hurricane season, which is generally June through late October, are some of the best weeks to catch the waves.
For Kulisek, fall is “without a doubt the best,” though plenty of small swells that roll through in the spring and summer can be just as fun too. But any season potentially provides a chance for a good window of waves, with variables like the wind and tide playing a big role in catching it just right.
Beck has owned and operated his surf shop for the last 25 years, crediting much of his inspiration to his mentor, the legendary George Gerlach, who in 1962 opened Surfers Supplies. He was highly instrumental in introducing the island to surfing in the development of the Ocean City Surfing Association.
Ocean City has a genuine and strong surf scene that not only brings forth competitive surfers, but also helps preserve the lifestyle, which to people like Beck and Kulisek are what is most important.
“The Ocean City scene isn’t unlike any other surf scene in terms of its players,” says Kulisek. “There’s the old guys that longboard because it’s easier, the summer kooks who have no idea what’s going on, the mid-life crisis guys trying to relive their former glory, a few B-class pros, and then a bunch of normal people mixed in.”
For some, surfing is a means of escape, as it was for Kulisek when he first became interested. He used the time to float in peace and think.
“Surfing transcends the normal sense,” he says, “Words can’t really describe it because there’s a lot happening, all on very different levels.”
Relaxed and fun loving is the surfer vibe among the Ocean City surf community. Beck recalls hitting the waves with Gerlach during a good hurricane ground swell, which emanated from far away and created nearly perfect conditions.
“The sun was out, the swell was good and it was among good friends,” says Beck. “Overall, it was just beautiful.”
OCEAN CITY EVENT CALENDAR
saturday, aug. 25
Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace & Boardwalk. Xanadu follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980, on a quest to inspire a struggling artist. Tickets $15 for adults, $13 for children under 12. 525-9300.
sunday, aug. 26
Dave Stahl Orchestra
Ocean City Tabernacle, 550 Wesley Ave. 30-piece orchestra, big band sound in hymns & gospel. 7pm. octabernacle.org. 399-1915. Free.
Between 6th and 14th streets. Mummers Strutting on the Boardwalk. 7-9pm. Free.
Sunday, Sept. 2
Ocean City Tabernacle, 550 Wesley Ave. Gospel Music Award winner Lynda Randle performs with pianist Joey Gore and vocalists Gale Mayes and Angela Prim. Free. 7pm. Call 399-1915 or visit octabernacle.org.
monday, Sept. 3
Mayor’s Labor Day Race
Starts at 23rd Street beach. Five-mile beach run and one-mile walk/run. Run starts 9am followed immediately by walk. $20 pre-registration, $25 day of event, $10 for ages 14 and under. Call 398-6900 or e-mail Lrumer@ocnj.us.
Tuesday & Wednesday, Sept. 4-5
Ocean City Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace & Boardwalk. Pops Orchestra presents ‘Hairspray’ in collaboration with the Ocean City Theatre Company. 7:30pm. Tickets $25.
Friday Through Sunday, Sept. 7-9
Street Rod Weekend
Sports & Civic Center, 6th Street off the Boardwalk. Features classic cars on display. Sat. noon–4pm. For more information call 525-9300.
Street Rod Weekend
Ocean City Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace & Boardwalk. Our Three Tenors II. Richard Troxell, Cody Austin and Zach Borichevsky. These tenors will knock your socks off. 7:30pm. $20.
Walk for Children in Foster Care
Starts at Ocean City Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace & Boardwalk. 5k walk-a-thon to raise funds for children in foster care in NJ. Walk goes up and down the Boardwalk. Registration begins 12:30pm, walk begins 1:30pm. 977-4880. Pre-register online at fafsfoundation.org.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12
Ocean City Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace & Boardwalk. A Night in Old Vienna. Featuring favorite Strauss waltzes, polkas, marches and vocal jewels.Sponsored by Manco and Manco in memory of Frank Ruggieri. 7:30pm. $10 and $15.
FRIDAY & Saturday, SEPT. 14-15
Red & White Weekend
Plus, GACGA hopes to lure golf travelers, Drew Toonz and the Album of the Week (Van Morrison)
From lifeguard races, the completion of the Ocean City-Somers Point Bridge, sand sculpting contests and a themed boat parade, everyone has their favorite summer memory.
Showboat will introduce a new after-beach hot spot designed to provide a low-key hangout for surfers and all beach-goers
Dark Fall was one of 10 officially selected, feature-length surfing films and two cult classics screened, winning the top-two awards presented annually. It was up against a wide range of international films ...
If you were to randomly check out any stretch of New Jersey’s 127-mile-long coastline on a typical day during the summer, chances are good you’ll see surfers attempting to make the most of whatever wave action exists. It’s a common sight in a seashore environment, and it’s a sport that appears to be growing in popularity and range of ages annually.
Whether you realize it or not, surfing has developed from an atypical hobby into a full-blown sport that is supported by a multi-million dollar industry. Its characteristics may have evolved over the past 100-plus years that it has been around, but surfing is now one of the most popular summer pastimes and more and more people are taking notice of what it has become. Living in a coastal area, most of us have grown up conscious of life on the beach and in the ocean. However, not everyone has. This is where our South Jersey Surf Guide comes in. We know surfing is appealing and fun for beginners and veterans alike, so we have gone to the local experts to ask their opinions on where the best surfing spots are for every level of surfer. Below you will find a list of surf spots, from Brigantine south to Cape May, with tips from local surfers on everything from the best season to surf there to the overall wave quality. Everyone is encouraged to try surfing; it's a great sport and lifestyle. And this list is to help you have a better-educated surfing experience, whether you live in South Jersey or are visiting for...