Long Beach Magazine

‘A September to Remember’ in Long Beach

With an active storm season, the holidays came early for local surfers


“This was definitely a September to remember, for sure,” said Long Beach resident and professional surfer TJ Gumiela. “It’s been hurricane after hurricane, and the waves were really good. Surfers from all over have been coming.”

For about a month, Long Beach surfers had it good — consistent waves, many of them with six- to eight-foot faces, kept rolling in, courtesy of an above average hurricane season beginning with Hurricane Irma and followed by Jose and Maria.

“It’s definitely been the best it’s been in the past five or 10 years,” Gumiela said. “The best thing about it was that it was consistent — we had waves for like a month straight.”

It’s no secret that the best surfing in Long Beach usually kicks off in September, but big-wave surfer Cliff Skudin, 35, co-owner of Skudin Surf, said it’s been more than 20 years since Long Beach had such amazing waves. Hurricane Jose in particular generated waves with eight- to 10-foot faces during the popular RVCA Unsound Surf Pro competition that month, and it’s been firing regularly since, Skudin said.

“It’s been great — we’ve been staying really busy here as far as surfing,” he said. “It’s got to be the best season since ’95-96, where it’s been this good in terms of consistency and the amount of storms. We had three solid weeks of waves, which is rare for over here.”

Skudin added that the season has also been a boon for younger surfers, or groms, who belong to the Hurley Surf Club powered by Skudin Surf on the boardwalk.

“We had our fall surf team that really kicked off and the kids had a good time,” Skudin said.

(Surf for All, a Long Beach-based non-profit co-founded by Cliff and Will Skudin, launched a Hurricane Maria Relief Fund recently to help Puerto Rico’s Rincon community, a popular surfing destination).

Gumiela — a camp director at Skudin Surf who rides professionally with Unsound, NYSEA and Wave Riding Vehicles — said that he teamed up with Long Beach resident Etan Blatt, a New York City firefighter and videographer who films local surfers in action, to capture Gumiela boosting airs and riding barrels.

“With my surfing — and his editing — it goes really well,” said Gumiela, who also coaches at the Hurley Surf Club. “We’ve been posting a lot of stuff on Instagram, and Etan’s been putting out full edits on Surfline, Magic Seaweed and a few other sites.”

The East Coast swells have been so good lately, even Kelly Slater, an 11-time World Surf League champion, recently hit New Jersey to experience the action.

“It’s actually slowing down right now but last week, there was one of the best swells in New Jersey, and Kelly Slater actually showed up,” Gumiela said on Nov. 6, adding that he also visited the Jersey Shore that week. “I drifted by him a few times and said what’s up. That was cool — it’s not every day that Slater shows up.”

Check out Etan Blatt’s videos featuring Gumiela on Instagram @etanblatt_digital_media_ or @gumielagram. To donate to Surf for All’s Hurricane Maria Relief Fund, visit www.surfforall.org.