My Session: Peyton Willard’s Venice Jetties Cristobal Photo Gallery!

June 12, 2020 • Local Photographers, My Session, Phlogs, Photo Portfolio, Photos, Swell Gallery

Presented By Wave Riding Vehicles

Photos, Words, Video & Captions By Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

A fairly benign system, Cristobal tracked up and over Lousiana’s barrier islands, rolled over NOLA then followed the mighty Mississip’ up to the Lakes and lanced deep into Canada before losing tropical characteristics.

Where: Venice Beach North Jetty, central Gulf Coast Of Florida

When: Sunday, June 7, 2020

Why: Tropical Storm Cristobal Swell

Air/Water Temp: The water temp was 83F and the air temp was 90F.

Swell Direction/Size: The swell direction was SSW and the evening before, the East Gulf Buoy (The buoy isn’t anywhere near Venice) was at 5.7ft @ 10 seconds.  Wave heights were roughly  2-3ft overhead on the largest sets.

Wind Direction: Winds were south all day until they switched SSE and went side offshore.

Photographers Rating:  I would give it a solid 7

This is Logan Coluccio bottom turning as this right moves into the inside and starts to section up presenting some truly smack-able sections. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

The Story: Tropical Storm Cristobal’s development was fueled by what’s called a Central American Gyre, or CAG. This “gyre” is a large, broad area of low pressure that often forms in late spring and early fall over Central America and the western Caribbean Sea. It also helped spawn a separate Eastern Pacific Tropical Storm Amanda.

I was planning on going to the Panhandle of Florida to go shoot because that is where the winds would be offshore and the swell would be largest. Those plans were kind of ruined so I took a crew that contained Cole Smyth, Curren Burkley, Logan and Gavin Coluccio, Blane Willard, and myself.

Gavin Coluccio with a tight wrap on a super rippable Cristobal right. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

We left at 4:30am and drove nearly four hours across the state. When we neared the west coast, Evan Gesielman texted me and said that Venice Beach North Jetty was the move since he had received reports that Anna Maria and areas near Clear Water weren’t good. So, we headed to North Jetty.

Venice Jetty’s, blowing up. Literally. Hoping to gain easier access to the line-up, surfers would try and time Cristobal’s bigger set’s and  jump off the end of the rocks. Pictured here is a group of surfers waiting their turn – and probably wondering if a beach paddle out might be a little safer – while watching this violent wall of white water, froth and sand explodes off the tip sending a 20 ft. geyser of up into the air. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

We arrived at around 8:30 and it was just ok, way better than nothing and certainly better than what was on offer back home in Saint Augustine. Chasing Gulf Coast hurricane waves are based partly on numbers, science, reading the forecast tea leaves and keeping your fingers crossed. The fickle factor is high, very high, but if you go you just might be rewarded so we hung tight and wisely so as patience paid off.

When sets pushed in, especially as the afternoon wore on, they occasionally would open wide on the rights when the offshore / sideshores hit them properly. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

Arriving at the iconic Venice Jetties at the mouth of Casey’s Pass, the winds were strong side shore and the swell was missing the jetty because of how southerly the swell direction as Cristobal churned out to our west headed for landfall at the barrier islands of Grande Isle, LA. It was only waist high in the morning so we kept the fingers crossed and, as the day went on, the swell grew and winds slowly clocked to side offshore.

Video clip above of Evan Geiselman and Gavin Coluccio by Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

At around 4pm, the swell was the largest we had seen and winds changed side offshore, bringing super fun overhead surf.  The sets broke on the outside and rolled into the inside where they walled up super nicely. After shooting for around six hours, we left and started our four hour journey home thankful we took the chance and the long, day trip drive over from North Florida. – Peyton Willard –

Noah Schweizer flashing fins and boosting high on this right!  He landed this air and unfortunately the very next shot in this sequence was ruined because of a spectator walking in front of me at just the wrong mila second time. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

Noah Schweizer having a good time while watching the waves. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

An unknown surfer goes right on a smaller set wave. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

This shot shows one of the larger set waves sweeping through. That was on the outside.  Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

The water was crowded!  This shot shows it.  There had to be easily 100 surfers in the lineup, probably half of them from the East Coast side of the Peninsula. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

Gavin Coluccio going for a major straight air on the end section. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

This is an unknown surfer. This was one of the very few barrel rides throughout the day. Waves would open up but wouldn’t stay open for very long uless you picked off the right one. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

Gavin Coluccio going up for the air.  I took this shot on the jetty shortly before they closed it to the public because of life threatening conditions from the gulf. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

Curren Burkley (@currensurfs) walking back to the jetty. The current was strong and it pushed the surfers down the beach quickly so they had to do walk backs pretty often. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

Logan Coluccio laying it back on the closeout section .Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

A nice right and left off this split peak that pushed through. Photo: Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_ Check Peyton out at his youtube channel at