Ya Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do! 2018 Belmar Pro Contest Report And Results

September 26, 2018 • Competition, East Coast Contests


Story and principal photography by Mike Vuocolo / @mikesshoreshots:

Surf Photographers live by this principle articulated by the legendary Dan Merkel:  “Shoot hot Surfers in poor waves rather than average Surfers in perfect conditions any day.” That is exactly what the 2018 Belmar Pro offered. Hot Surfers in poor waves. No, red hot Surfers in very poor waves. No, really red hot surfers in really very poor waves.

2018 mens winner, South Carolina’s Luke Gordon. Really ( really ) redhot hot surfing in less than stellar conditions kept the Belmar Pro awash with highly entertaining action further validating this venerable event’s importance to the east coast summer contest circuit. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

The Jersey Shore was winding down the standard summer routine, record August heat and humidity and extended flat spells.  As Don Tarrant’s Eastern Lines Surf Shop team set up the beachfront for the 2018 Belmar Pro, a north swell began to pick up. Daybreak on Friday saw “contestable” waves in the barely knee-high range. By 2pm the swell was waist to shoulder high. It could have been worse but, this time of year with the peak of hurrcane season on us, it could have definitely been better.

Just not this year.

Coulda been better… Last years mens winner, Rob Kelly is a glass half full kinda guy and always keeps it positive and gives it 100% no matter what the ocean throws at him. Photo: Tony Costa

But it happens and we all sign-up for it knowing full well it could be feast, famine, a cat 4 monster swell or much, much less and you just go do your job no matter what. Thats why it’s called “professional contest surfing”, not “whiney-ass-bitches contest surfing”. Pull on the singlet, wax it up, paddle out, surf your hardest and try and knock your opponents the eff out of the ring clear to Asbury Park if you can, every chance you get. From all time surf to shit-house surf, it’s not like the event producers can can control that and, ultimately, it’s the competitors themselves who decide their fate win, lose or draw.

What Donny Tarrant’s team could control however, they did. They kept the vibe positive and the event running in the usual clockwork fashion we’ve become accustomed to but with a stepped up heat call that completed the three day event in just two. The forecast indicated that the nasty, onshore wind driven rains that plagued the contest would intensify over the next several days with cooling air temps in the 60’s. Not hardly ideal conditions so Tarrant decided to split the break in two and run double beach heats to wrap it up by Saturday evening. “We paddled out in the dark with the street lights on” said Legends third place finalist Scottie Duerr of Manasquan but, as we often say in Jersey accompanied with a shrug of the shoulders, “ya gotta do what ya gotta do”.

“Ya gotta do what ya gotta do”, go rip the shittake out of it! Budding local pro, Logan Kamen knows that creedo, it’s in his Jersey DNA. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

The schedule change resulted in some competitors ( and, ahem, photographers ) missing the expected Finals but the show had to go on with the craptacular weather bearing down on the event site. Nobody wants to surf – or show up to spectate – in pissing down, wind driven rain so the right call was made to wrap it up and spare everybody being miserable on Sunday.

The Belmar Pro is known for having international surfers, top East Coast pros and local up-and-coming groms and rippers competing in the water against each other. Locals get to hang and get photos with guys like Ben Gravy, Rob Kelly and Randy Townsend to name a few.

Coulda been worse… New Jersey based vlog master of NubTV fame, Ben Gavy on the other side of the tripod making the best of the situation with this nice foamball blast. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

To the spectators delight, Right Coast standouts like Renan Pulga, Gabe Farias and Lucas Rogers of VA, Floridians Chauncey Robinson, Logan Hayes and Giorgio Gomes and NC’s Jeff Meyers slapped the carp out of the slop and showed the crowd how the pro’s sack it up and pull everything out of their trick bags to get the score and the winners check.

Gabriel Farias slappin’ the crap out of it. Photo: Tony Costa

Strong off- the-bottom- off-the- tops, tweaked-out 360 airs and perfectly timed slashes by Jersey’s Logan Kamen, Kyle Tester and Rob Kelly topped the scorecards. Ocean City’s Steve Zakroff and Alex Hayes along with NY/Sea Girt’s Jake DeMatteo delivered their usual precision attacks. Keaton Fourtney of Manasquan hung with the bigs for a 4th place in the Longboard Division combining toes on the nose with some carving laybacks. Entertaining? Hell yeah and, if you weren’t there you should be next year no matter the type of wave quality as it’s gaurnteed you will see something out of this crew you have not see before.

In the end, before the weather deteriorated, it was the cutting edge, small wave surfing earned him a second place while Luke Gordon of South Carolina, who nailed a 9.53, in one of his earlier heats, out battled his worthy New York based opponent for the win. Hot pro surfers destroying poor contest waves? Sign me up anytime!

By Mike Vuocolo / @mikesshoreshots

Great surfing in crummy waves always beats watching somebody flail in perfection. Jake DeMatteo in crummy conditions surfing to perfection. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

2018 Belmar Pro results:

FINS Mens Pro:

Semi 1:

1. Renan Peres Pulga

2. Chancey Robinson

Semi 2:

1. Luke Gordon

2. Gabriel Farias

Currently ranked number 6 on the WQS North American rankings, Central Florida’s Chauncey Robinson has been on fire the past year. Watch out for this kid. Photo: Mike Vuocolo


1. Luke Gordon

2. Renan Peres Pulga

Master Open:

1. Josh Nicastro

2. Dallas Tolson

3. Randy Townsend

4. Jeff Myers

The always masterful Sir Jeffrey Myers is a crafty, seasoned eaast coast pro with plenty of pop and surprises still left in the tank. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

Playabowls Womens Pro:

1. Cassidy McClain

2. Maddie Ryan

3. Morgan Iglay

4. Kristina Hehl

Longboard Open:

1. Dorian Torres

2. Kevin Dewald

3. Steve McClean

4. Keaton Fortney

SRH Legends Open:

1. Chris Rooney

2. Jack Murphy

3. Scott Duerr

4. Dean Schoonover

The pride of Pungo, Virginia’s Lucas Rogers. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

Estaban Chavez. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

Gabe Morvil. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

Bo Raynor. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

The DelMarVa’s Simon Hetrick. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

Ben Gravy had work to do on both sides of the camera. Photo: Mike Vuocolo

Gabe Farias surfed so good we decided to run another shot of him. Photo: Mike Vuocolo