Nearly perfect ocean conditions in Seaside Park, N.J. were awaiting four amateur surfers on Sunday, Sept. 14.
Water temperatures in the high 60’s and modest three-foot swells provided an excellent canvas for some wave-shredding.
The recreation department offered a surfing lesson, set for Sept. 7, but was rescheduled due to rough surf, caused by hurricane Hanna. The following Sunday, the list of 10 students quickly dwindled down to just four, but those four were more than up for the challenge.
The “extreme four,” as nicknamed by Lauren Galonski, junior physiology and sociology major, arrived at Seaside Park and were met by several vacant surfboards and a wiley veteran named TJ Forkin, who had just participated in the Bellmawr Pro surf competition in the Legends division the day before.
This was Galonski’s third surf outing, and she admitted that it was her best by far.
“The lesson was really helpful, and I thought TJ went over a lot of good techniques,” Galonski said. “I felt more prepared to go out alone after listening to him as compared to any of the other instructors I’ve had.”
Forkin, along with his assistant Jeff Capone, an aspiring professional, covered the surfing basics, including the proper stance and the pop-up, where a surfer goes from the laying position to standing as quickly as possible, in order to get a first timer to ride a wave successfully.
First-time wave-battlers Gina Mulranen and Jen Wozniak, were grateful of the skills acquired.
“I turned to Gina and admitted how nervous I was while we were waiting to go out for the first time,” Wozniak said. “Once I finally got one though, it was wonderful.”
Mulranen has had a repressed fear of the ocean after being tossed around by a wave as a child, but was all smiles after her first surfing experience.
“TJ and Jeff made me feel safe and I was so comfortable out there on the water,” Mulranen said.
Even the director of recreation and founder of the trip Orlin Jesperson sported the sunburn to prove he had been out enjoying the wake himself.
“It was my second time with surf lessons and I still feel like I have a long way to go,” Jesperson said. “But the guys did give me the necessary info to play around until I was successful.”
Overall, Jesperson was pleased with his efforts, as well as the trip as a whole. “I was happy with the group, everyone seemed to have a great time and it went well,” he said.
Jespersen will run the trip again as soon as the weather will allow for it and stressed the importance of taking advantage of the trips that the recreation department offers.
“These kinds of trips really allow for a person to get a taste of different activities. That way, you’ll know what you want to pursuit when you are out of college,” he said.
Mulranen thought the trip was a great value, at only $20 per person for a lesson and a day down the shore.
“I hear so many people complain about not having anything to do on the weekends, and here we just went surfing,” Mulranen said.
For Galonski, her experiences during the day are not something she will forget anytime soon.
“Surfing is a funny sport,” Galonski said. “For a while you can be frustrated, but than once you catch that one wave, you feel like its time to go take on Hawaii.”
Before departing, Forkin reminded the group of their accomplishments.
“It’s kind of like riding a bike,” Forkin said. “Once you learn it, you’re a surfer for good.”