Author: Mike

Surf Expo 2013

For most east coast surf retailers, the winter months bring a quiet solitude that lets us step back, and reevaluate how we stand after a hectic summer season. Walk through traffic at the shop is minimal, and sales are slow. These months let us finally breathe again, and plan for next summer. One would think that January would be a time of relaxation for surf shops located next to the frigid Atlantic Ocean. This is true, except for one beacon of light in the middle of the month. One little get-together, that we like to call SURF EXPO.

It’s 6am on a Thursday morning. I’m yawning, having been up at 2am to make the drive from Wildwood to the Philly Airport. My boarding section is beginning to fill up for a 6:30AM flight to Orlando. If you look around, you can start to pick out who is going where on their winter vacations. Dads with floral print shirts struggle with luggage as their children with Mickey hats anticipate a fun filled week at Disney World. Other passengers, like myself, have just one carry-on. We’re looking to travel light, because we aren’t staying long. Our mission? To check out the latest and greatest surf and skate hard goods, apparel and accessories at the Orlando convention center.

Upon arrival, its clear that while talking business is all well-and-good, some people use this 3 day event as a mini vacation, leaving the cold grey skies behind for the warm sunny atmosphere of Florida. Stories of epic waves are told, laughs are shared between old friends, and a general ambiance of positively fills the convention center. My plan, once in the building, was to knock out 2 full days of hour-long appointments with each of my top apparel, sunglass, watch and footwear brands. These meetings are important for a plethora of reasons, one of which is to discuss new products for 2013. Each and every brand proudly showcases their new spin on a product, and we in turn place orders for the new hotness.

For Electric Visual, it was unveiling their new volt logo for 2013. You’ll hear more about this in the months to come. For Lost Surfboards, it was Matt Biolos’ new Lazyboy collection. These wide, stubby boards will be trickling into shops all over the US as fast as the boys in the warehouse can crank them out. Hurley was proud to announce the absorption of the Nike Surfing team, with the HUGE addition of John John Florence to their squad.

These are just a few of the many exciting new developments that are in the works for spring and summer 2013. After 2 long days in my Rainbows, Hurley shorts and a Jetty “Sandy Relief” t-shirt, I made my way back to the airport with a backpack FULL of catalogs, prebook orders, and some free swag to boot. All in all, Surf Expo is of vital importance to the action sports community, and especially to the Jersey Shore. It allows surf retailers to meet face to face with the men and women that are shaping our industry, one board short, bag or board at a time.

The Monster Moves On

What began as quietly whispered rumors between fellow surfers has now been confirmed as 100% FACT. Beginning in 2013, Nike will be removing its hands from the surf world, and rolling all of it’s sponsored team members under the Hurley name. This is huge news for an industry that is still in the midst of rebuilding after one of the worst natural disasters to hit the eastern seaboard in decades. Nike has the power to influence everything that it touches, and it absolutely left it’s mark on surf culture.

A mega-conglomerate like Nike, in theory, should have no business in the slow and mellow surf world. Their business motto of “Just do it” seems counterproductive to the slacker adolescent who is skipping school to go waste time out catching waves. This was the thought process in the past, but times they are definitely changing. Today’s up and coming surfer eats well, treats his body with respect, trains hard both on land and in the water, and strives to excel in all activities. A surfer like Kolohe Andino fits the mold of today’s pro surfer. And he also conveniently fits the mold that Nike Surfing was looking for. He proudly displayed the sponsorship swoosh on his lost sub-scorcher, which many saw as the ultimate form of “selling out.” Similar to how Nike Skateboarding took time to grow on the culture that it was infiltrating, Nike Surfing’s debut was met with harsh criticism in the early days. But after signing such amazing talent right out of the gate, the critics soon realized that Nike would be a real contender in the surf world. But after 2 years of surfer and contest sponsorships and endless magazine and online media blitzes, the plug has finally been pulled.

One cant help but ponder what a team like Hurley is going to become with the absorption of the Nike team. Hurley was an already stacked team, consisting of 7 hugely talented surfers, 2 of whom are living legends. Rob Machado and Tim Curran set the precedent for younger surfers all over the world. And now the family has 3 new babies to welcome. Julian Wilson, Carissa Moore and Kolohe Andino, all of whom are under 21 years old yet have a TON of experience on the tour circuit.

All told, I feel that 2013 is going to be a huge year for surfing. The east coast is recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and coming back stronger than ever. A huge name like Nike is now out of the picture, with Under Amour possibly sneaking in to take it’s place very soon. Groms are landing airs that were never thought possible 5 years ago. Spirits are as high as they’ve ever been, and hopefully we gets a full year of waves to match.

The Triple Crown

If you are anything like me, you’ve been glued to your computer monitor over the past week, watching every wave of the Vans World Cup of Surfing. Even right now I’m only half concentrating on the task at hand, fully entertained by the effortless style of Billabong surfers like Jack Freestone and Taj Burrow. So far the conditions have been spot on at Sunset Beach, providing the perfect proving ground for our Pros.

Every year I look forward to this event, and year after year it never disappoints. Sunset is not the kind of wave to paddle into without bringing your A game. Its a big, burly wave with very little patience for those who second guess their take off or a tube ride. You’ve got to have full confidence paddling out, or else you’ll be coming in on a stretcher.

Hawaii heavyweights like Sunny Garcia, Shane Dorian and Occy have put their time in on this wave, and it shows. BIG cutbacks, huge turns and longer than your average barrels are all characteristics that make up a seasoned Sunset surfer. But some of the younger dudes like Brian Toth and Billy Kemper are giving the old heads a run for their money. Most of the competitors are riding much longer boards than what they would normally be riding, due to the sheer size of this wave. Step up tri-fins with sharp noses and tails give way to HUGE drop ins and BIG turns, while providing stability at the same time.

All told, this is one of the most exciting stops on the Pro Tour, especially when the conditions are as good as they are right now. Do yourself a favor and tune in to the Vans website, as this will only be live for a few more days.

Giving Thanks

It’s a good thing that Kona Sports carries all the best brands in training and workout apparel and equipment, because New Jersey citizens have a lot to be thankful for and A LOT of eating to do this Thanksgiving. Those of us whom endured Hurricane Sandy can finally breathe a sign of relief, and sit down to a well deserved meal with family and friends without worrying when the power will come back on. Most of us are back into our homes, but there are some that will have to spend this holiday in the company of old (or new) friends with the room to entertain. No matter what, I have a good feeling that everyone in NJ will be eating well Thursday night.

I am proud to report the amount of donations that I’ve seen come though our doors, and through the doors of all the local charity drop offs and donation locations here in Wildwood. We’ve personally gathered dozens of canned goods to donate, and there is more on the way! Facebook has been a great tool during the storm and its aftermath, letting us see just how generous people can be from all over the country and around the globe. It warms my heart to see a nation divided over an election, pull together for a common good. To help our fellow man in times of struggle.

I am very thankful for the condition of our barrier island here in NJ. We could have been hit MUCH worse than we were, and words cannot express just how lucky we are. I’m also thankful for my friends, family, coworkers and loyal customers, all of whom have been tremendously helpful in the wake of the storm. Kona Sports could not have done it without you all, and that is a FACT.

We’d also like to give a quick shout out to Hurley, Billabong, Nixon and The North Face, all of whom worked diligently before, during and after the storm to ensure that their accounts were safe. While some of us didn’t make it out of this so well, each of these companies went above and beyond to treat their accounts as family, and not just numbers.
Thank you for that. Hearing all of the news involving donations, food drives and charity start-ups is a sure sign that the surf industry WILL REBUILD. And I personally think that out this storm made us tougher, and at the same, time more compassionate towards our fellow man. The east coast surfer has always had a reputation for being tough, and if you need proof, just look around you. We’re NJ strong, and we’re thankful for you and all of your support. Happy Thanksgiving from Kona Sports!

Beasts From the East

Jersey Strong

Beasts From the East

It’s no surprise that surfers and body boarders have been spearheading the movement to rebuild the Jersey Shore. After all, the ocean is our second home. When Hurricane Sandy ripped through NJ and up the east coast, thousands of families were left with nothing. Once the storm subsided, we immediately began to rebuild. I am proud to have been in the company of surfers, body boarders, long boarders and SUP riders, all of whom put aside their animosity towards each other to rally together for a common goal. To help fellow east coasters in need. Companies like Quiksilver, Billabong and O’Neill are taking huge strides to donate to charities dedicated to rebuilding the Jersey Shore.

For the life of me, I’ve never understood why we can judge each other based on the board that we ride in the water. I feel that we have way too many similarities to even begin to make these crass assumptions. Even though a body boarder is in the line up with you, doesn’t necessarily mean that he can’t stand up. We’re all at different skill levels out there in the water, and its important to understand that. At the end of the day, a good day in the water is a good day in the water. And that feeling of accomplishment come to all of us, regardless of what we’re riding.

I personally enjoy all types of water sports, both ocean based and fresh water. I’d really like to get into wake boarding next summer if I can. Those guys are pushing their sport at a faster pace than anyone else out on the water. Do yourself a favor and watch a wake boarding video when you get a chance. You’ll see what I am talking about. On days when the ocean is flat, stand up paddle boarding is the activity of choice for most of us long boarders. There’s something very calming, very introspective about focusing your mind and body on one common goal. To achieve the perfect paddle. This takes a lot more effort than most people realize. We all depend on the ocean for enjoyment, and agreeing on that is the first step to accepting your fellow waterman, regardless of what he’s riding.

So the next time you are out in the water, remember who’s got your back if we ever have to go through another massive natural disaster. That grom that snaked your wave? Yeah, he’s the one helping you rip out soaked insulation. The old head with the 20 foot long board? he’s going on a coffee run for everyone helping out. These are your friends and your neighbors, even though they take to the water in a different fashion than you do. Remember that. We’re all watermen and waterwomen. and we’re all JERSEYSTRONG.

The O’Neill Coldwater Classic

As the east coast works to rebuild their hurricane tattered shore communities, Californians were gearing up for quite the showdown at Steamer Lane. Relief efforts are well underway up and down the east coast, as we all try to give what we can to repair New Jersey, New York and Delaware. The storm ripped through these areas, leaving many without homes, jobs or any of the belongings that once meant so much. The storm put into context how quickly material possessions can be taken from your life by mother nature. While mother nature was busy taking things from the east coast, she was also in the process of giving the west coast some great weather and conditions for the O’Neill Cold Water Classic.

The competition began on November first and finished up just yesterday, November seventh. This stop on the world tour also signified a 60 year anniversary for the O’Neill surf company, who as we all know, were pioneers in the surf industry. Jack O’Neill himself opened the first real “surf specific retail site,” AND invented the surf leash, tethering your board to one of your extremities. He also took a dive wetsuit and augmented it, making it more flexible and thus easier to wear when surfing in cold water. Jack was a man ten years ahead of his time, and for that we are thankful. O’Neill continues to be an innovator in today’s surf world and this can be seen in all of the technology behind their Superfreak Boardshorts and Technobutter-infused Wetsuits.

Steamer Lane has a reputation for being one of the trickier stops on the world tour. Just getting into the water requires a leap of faith off of a slippery rock outcropping. Once in the water, you’ll recognize the intimidating grunts and howls of the local elephant seals that call this famous surf spot their home. The wave does not break in a predetermined pattern, and will actually throw 6-8 foot walls of water at you from a few different sources. This creates an amazing playing field for the pro surfers, whom have to be ready at a moments notice to take off on good wave.

The competition was fierce, and luckily the waves were consistent over the contest’s duration. Surfers like John John Florence relied on their aerial skills, nailing huge front and backside reverses and grabs. Other pros like Joel Parkinson supplied giant hacks and cutbacks, upping their scores in each 15 minute heat. There can be only one winner, and at the end of the day Taj Burrow was declared the king of Steamer Lane. He was carried by his peers to the winner’s podium as heavily favored contenders like Kelly Slater sat quietly out of the spotlight. All told, the conditions couldn’t have been better for the Coldwater Classic. 6-8 foot waves and sunshine provided an excellent proving ground at the last stop before the boys head to Hawaii. Make sure to check our site for all the newest products by Taj’s biggest sponsor, Billabong. Congrats on the win you crazy aussie, and here’s to another big win in Hawaii!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The weekend was a rough one for us here in NJ. Thousands of families are still without homes, power, and their belongings. Hurricane Sandy took a huge chunk of NJ into the ocean with her, and we will not be getting that back any time soon. It’s a terrible situation when the elements take from you things that you worked hard to earn. Imagine saving up money for many ears for a new house by the water, just to have the ocean swallow it up without a second thought. This is the grim reality for many New Jersey residents, and will not be easily remedied any time soon.

On Sunday I took the time to clean out my closets, drawers and everything else that held my wardrobe, picking the things that I was going to donate to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts. Many people were forcibly evacuated from their homes (for safety reasons) without the time to pack bags for the lengthy amount of time that they would be away. Others had their clothes, and homes taken from them by the hurricane. Either way, there are many American citizens on the east coast in need of warm, dry, clean clothes regardless of the size or type. I ended up filling two trash bags with things that someone out there deserves more than me right now.

On a positive note, I noticed a few things while I was digging through the back of my drawers and closet. I noticed how the surf style travels in a circular pattern, always returning to its roots after an undetermined period of time. One good example of this is the pullover hooded sweatshirt. For the last 4-5 years, zip ups were 90% of my orders for mens and womens apparel orders. But there was a time when pullovers, like this Hurley Icon Pullover. dominated the market. Recently, I’ve seen more companies manufacturing pullovers instead of zip ups, and the style seems to be returning. The pullover keeps you warmer, fits the body a little better than a zip up, and it is also less expensive.

Another trend that seems to be returning full-force is the use of neons in the color pallet. Men’s and women’s wardrobes are now allowed to have some of those day-glo greens and yellows that we can all remember from the late 80’s and early 90’s. It isn’t rare to see surfers and skaters decking themselves out in crazy neon colors, like you can see here in these Volcom womens snowboarding pants.
Even one of the most distinguished surfers on the pro tour right now is rocking neon. Mr. Mick Fanning, the poster child for the Rip Curl E-Bomb Chest Zip Wetsuit, can be seen from space in his neon green wetty.

So the next time you’re cleaning out your closet, take some time to remember what the styles were back in the day, and how we are heading right back in that direction as we speak. Please think about donating anything that you can to the Red Cross, whom have been a HUGE help in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Please feel free to message me if you’d like more info on how you can help those poor NJ souls who are in need of everything from food and water to warm clothes and dry shoes. At the end of the day, we’re all on this planet together, and every little bit helps.

New Jersey Will Rebuild

Well, Hurricane Sandy has came and went. But boy, did she leave her mark all over the Garden State. I’m still knocking the sand and salt water out of my ears, after a complete thrashing by this category 1 hurricane. She took a hard right almost directly into the Delaware bay, and hooked in completely engulfing everything from Rehoboth Beach Delaware all the way up to Manhattan, NYC. It came ashore with 90 mph winds, pushing 25 foot walls of water into our dunes and seawalls. They were no match for the ocean’s power, and our barrier island quickly flooded. We did everything that we could to prepare for this storm, but you can only do so much with the time allotted. Luckily, our structure withstood the barrage of wind, water and debris, and came out unscathed. Sadly, this was not the case for some of our fellow shops.

The storm took a sharp turn north once it came ashore, and proceeded to wreak havoc on the barrier islands to the north of us. Shops like Heritage, 7th Street, and Faria’s took on a ton of water, damaging their buildings and all of the products and equipment inside. These friends of ours are now at the beginning of what will be a long process of rebuilding what once was a local haven for surfers, skateboarders and New Jersey youth in general. Each shop needs all the help that they can get right about now, and this is a great opportunity for our small beach communities to come together a support local small businesses.

The storm affected every part of our lives here in NJ. Thousands of people are without homes, and many lives have been lost. The storm has also affected the surf industry on every front. East coast warehouses are without power. Without power, these suppliers cannot ship goods to the retailers that can’t even begin to think about the latest holiday orders that are technically supposed to be arriving as we speak. The surf world took a huge hit with this storm, and it’s not going to be a quick recovery to say the least. We’re all going to have to take a step back, and reevaluate the industry after this catastrophic event.

On a positive note, my good friend Cory is spearheading a movement to help rebuild the Garden State. Cory is a fellow surfer and owns the Jetty brand surf company, and was affected first hand by the hurricane. He quickly bounced to his feet in the storm’s wake, and immediately began helping those around him. Based out of Long Beach Island, they took the majority of the storm head on, and it left thousands with nothing. To help the cause, Cory designed a t-shirt geared towards promoting the relief efforts here in NJ. 100% of the profits made from these tees will go directly to those who put themselves into harms way to help evacuate, protect and save those affected by Hurricane Sandy. This generous act is one of many efforts made by surf companies around the world to help the east coast. I’ve also been told that Hurley and Quiksilver will be running similar campaigns to help get New Jersey back on it’s feet.

Even if you don’t live in the storm’s wake, do yourself a favor and look into how you can donate to the cause. Hurricane Sandy was deemed a national disaster by President Obama, and this status is held for only the worst of circumstances. The Red Cross are working tirelessly to care for those in need, and any donation would be greatly appreciated. At the end of the day, we are all affected by mother nature’s wrath, and these are the times when we need to have compassion for our fellow man. Even if he did steal your wave during the last big swell.

There’s a Storm a Brewing

Is it weird that I could sit and watch the weather channel all day? I have a feeling that I’m not the only weather nut on this planet. After all, they have a television channel dedicated to it, and the app is constantly running on my phone. The weather is one thing that as humans, we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Luckily, I work in an industry that helps protect people from the elements, and is some cases, lets them take advantage of inclement weather.

I’m writing this blog, and at the same time tracking Hurricane Sandy. It’s probably one of the last hurricanes that we will see this season here on the east coast. But this is absolutely no reason to take her lightly. This mama is BIG, and shes already got an attitude. east coast dwellers from Florida to Cape Cod are strong advised to watch this storm, as it could bring detrimental effects to all of us, depending on when it decides to hook into shore. As a surfer, I pray that the storm hooks out into the ocean around Ocean City Maryland. This would provide the southern hurricane swell that the Jersey beaches love to take on the chin. Big, clean periodic sets without all the messy wind, rain and destruction that we’ve come to know so well here in NJ. Different forecasts show the storm taking a few classic patterns, one of which includes slamming directly into us as a category 4 out of 5. Hurricane Katrina was a category 4 Hurricane.

When gearing up for storm swell, there are a few different things to consider. First off, the huge amounts of cold deep ocean water will be pushed out from the Atlantic and strait to shore, so it’s imperative that you’ve got a suit that can handle the sharp decrease in temperature. I recommend the Psycho 1 Zen 4/3mm Mens Wetsuit. The thick techno butter neoprene will keep you warm for an extended stay out in the water, while never constricting your muscle movement. The liquid taped seams won’t leak, and you’ll be able to last longer out there than most of the other guys. Next, you’ll need a board that can paddle through the crap if the wind makes it messy, but can also lock in on possible barrel rides if the swell cleans up. Yes, we get barreled here in NJ. Deal with it. I’d grab Kolohe Andino’s board, the Mini Driver by Lost. Short and stubby yet super quick down the line, this board got him through some massive surf in Indo, and would work just the same on some east coast bombs. Finally, we have to remember that it is almost November, and the temp is dropping every day. Be prepared for the harsh wind and rain with a Patagonia Torrent Shell. This jacket changed the game when it was released into the market almost ten years ago, and has been crushing it ever since. Amazingly lightweight with 100% wind blockage, AND its DWR coated, so you wont be getting wet when you’re simultaneously being blasted by sideways rain.

So yes, you can say that I am frothing at the mouth for what kind of surf that this storm could bring. Lets all hope that it hooks out to sea, so I don’t have to board up the windows of my shop again. Either way, people may think that only the summer is for surfing on the east coast. But no, no, no…. the FALL is when hurricanes hit, and the fall is when the locals have their fun.

Quality is the Name…

Quality is the Name of the Game

Looking in the mirror today, I can see the last hints of what used to be a very apparent sun glass tan. I try to bring my Oakleys with me everywhere I go, and it has kind of become my “look.” I don’t wear them for the brand popularity, or for the insanely talented surfing team that Oakley has assembled. I wear them because I understand the hand made frame technology behind them. I wear them for the ridiculously tough materials that withstand my daily carelessness. And I wear them because they have the best lens in the game, hands down. After years of switching from Flak Jackets to Half Jackets, and then to the Five squared……I have finally landed on the Holbrook. The pair that I own are polarized, with a grey lens and a matte black finish. I like that the lenses are coated in a layer of iridium, making it impossible to see my eyes through them. All told, they’ve got a throwback style, reminiscent of the big wave surfers of the North Shore and Mavericks, but at the same time they provide updated technologies that protect me from the sun’s rays.

I apologize if this came across as a plug for the Oakley brand. It was not. Recently I was asked which sunglasses I wear and why, and wanted to answer the question in the easiest way possible. Here at Kona we carry a ton of popular brands, each of which have their own positive qualities. I try to cover all of my bases when buying sunglasses for the shop, making sure we’ve got everything from the $10 “weekend warrior” shades up to the pristine and often imitated Oakley M Frames. We now carry youth-sized frames for the tiny groms, and whole display cases of female specific shades and accessories!

A follow up question that I usually answer a few times a year is: “But why would I spend all that money on a pair in the glass case when I can just get one of these pairs for ten bucks??” Well sir, you are logical in your thought process. You can easily purchase the pair in your hands with the sprayed on polarization. Although flimsy and machine made, they will get the job done if you are just looking for something to wear on the boardwalk for your vacation. But if you are serious about protecting your eyes and care about quality, you’re going to have to look somewhere else in the shop.

We offer stylish top-quality hand made acetate frames by Raen, and Ray-Ban. We’ve got water sport specific styles by Costa Del Mar and Maui Jim. We’ve EVEN got the best snow goggles in the game, by Dragon Alliance and Electric Visual! With an ozone layer that is depleting every day, we should never leave our houses without sunscreen and UV eye wear protection. Take some time to check out the huge selection on today! And if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot them my way, as well.