Tag Archive for: Ponte Vedra Beach
A few GoPro shots from the recent swells generated by Hurrican Florence. After a long, hot, flat summer, it was great to get back into the water and catch some good waves. Prayers to all of those who were negatively impacted by the effects of this storm, including my own relatives in South Carolina.
A few interesting GoPro shots from the Hurricane Maria swell earlier this year. I’m not sure if you would call this “stuffing in” or “getting stuffed”. At the very least, you can’t call it barrel-dodging!
The capability of the GoPros (in this case, a 4 Black), never cease to amaze me. In the first shot, you can clearly see seaweed flying past my face inside the wave.
Between Irma and Maria, our beaches were packed with all kinds of debris, making surfing sketchy at times. Even after larger debris like pylons, branches, 2×4’s, etc. had cleared, there was still quite a bit of vegetation in the line-ups for weeks following each storm.
These shots were two days after the peak swell size for Maria, but were the peak for overall size + quality.
A few GoPro shots from the recent Hurricane Joaquin swell. These were all taken in the Ponte Vedra Beach area and inside Guana River State Park on October 3rd and 4th, 2015. Good times after an unusually long, flat summer due the global El Nino weather pattern that brought waves to most of the rest of the world, but which inhibited tropical storm development this year in the Eastern Atlantic. It seems all of that stored up energy was released in a single storm which provided some pretty epic Florida conditions.
Took a late afternoon stroll with KK, today… A few leftovers from the swell still rolling in… Enjoying the holidays and getting to spend time with my family.
Yesterday was Labor Day and we had some time, so decided to go explore our “backwater backyard” in Guana River State Park. We went up to North Guana Outpost (check ’em out!), rented a kayak and a couple of SUPs and were on our way (you can launch straight out from the back of the store)! The Guana, as always, was spectacular! It is so beautiful. We saw a lot of fish and birds and could hear gators, but never actually saw any. We went out at high noon, and it was pretty darn hot. An early morning excursion might be even better. But it was awesome and I highly recommend it. Great exercise, too! $25/hr. for board/kayak rentals or $50 for a 1/2 day. We may have to invest in a couple of SUPs for Christmas!
On April 6th, I saved a screen grab from the Ocearch shark tracker mobile app showing a Great White shark, just off a local beach (see images, below). Ocearch is a research group that is catching, tagging and tracking the habits of sharks all over the world. The crew were the first ones to catch, tag and release an Atlantic Great White shark, including one that they caught right off the jetty at the Mayport Poles, perhaps northeast Florida’s most popular surfing spot. They almost caught a second, larger one in the same area. The shark they caught, which they nicknamed, “Lydia”, was 14′ 6″ long and weighed 2,000 lbs. Here’s a video of them catching it:
On April 6th of this year, another Great White that Ocearch had previously caught and tagged in Cape Cod, Massachusetts (which they named, “Katharine” (14′ 2″, 2,300 lbs.) pinged in near shore right at Mickler’s Beach, in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, my own favorite spot and home break (I live just one block away). Exactly one week later, a huge Right Whale washed ashore at Mickler’s and it looked like it had been savaged by sharks, which likely explains one of the reasons why Katharine was in the area. I posted a couple of photos of the whale remains (seen here) on Instagram, and they caused quite a stir when they were picked up and reshared by #Igersjax, the local Instagrammers Club in Jax.
It is a shame to lose such a big, beautiful creature as a Right Whale (which are endangered), but the Great Whites are also pretty magnificent animals. It’s the circle of life. Hopefully, Katharine was full, before pushing on…
Above are a few images of 12,000-acre Guana River State Park in the Greater Jacksonville, FL area, between Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine. Even on a cold winter day in December, her beauty shines through. The park runs from the Atlantic Ocean, across dunes, marsh and over to the Tolomato River. The place is gorgeous, loaded with hiking and biking trails, and lots of wildlife (bird sanctuary, calving ground for Right Whales, among many other species). I asked my wife to marry me here at the northern entrance to the park. I love to surf at Guana because it breaks well, handles larger swells better than most places around here, and is typically uncrowded. Gretchen thought that I was stopping to check the surf on the way out to eat one evening when I popped the question to her on top of the highest observation deck in the park. We later built a home right on the edge of the marsh in Guana and lived there for about 12 years or so. We ended up moving, but not too far- just about mile down the road off A1A. Guana River State Park is an excellent place to run, surf, fish, kayak, hike, bike, look for sharks teeth, or just explore and relax. If you’re looking for something to do in the Jax area one weekend, try to check it out. There’s also a great research center with some pretty cool displays at the southern entrance near Vilano Beach.
Bustin’ Down Doors: Right Coast Resilience
Making a living in the surf industry has never been easy. It’s an insulated world of pros and bros with highly concentrated epicenters of industry (think Orange County and Australia). If you live in a place like Florida, your odds for success drop faster than the waves on the backside of a passing hurricane swell. Of course “living” is a relative term. Some associate it more closely with money; others with rich experience. To follow are the stories of three Floridians who haven’t let daunting odds prevent them from building their lives around surfing. Their common themes: equal parts courage, determination and more than anything else– a love for surfing that is all-consuming.
Brian Weissmann: Trident Surf Shop
Brian Weissmann Photo: Mark Sain Wilson
According to recent statistics, about half of all new businesses fail within the first 4 years. Retail stores sit just below that line with only 47% succeeding. And surf shops– well, let’s just say that if you want to jump into those waters, you’d better be a strong paddler, because from a business standpoint, you’re going to be fighting some seriously stiff currents.
Fortunately, Brian Weissmann is that.
The Palos Verdes native and former Lifeguard recently celebrated the first anniversary of his Trident Surf Shop in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and seems to be cruising along just fine. Growing up near the beach in California, Weissmann was a self-proclaimed shop rat, who like most surfers at some point in their lives, dreamed of owning his own shop. Fast forward through an adventurous adolescence, careers as a lifeguard and a project manager for AT&T, and a broken marriage that pulled Brian eastward to Florida to be near his two middle-school aged children; and the dream finally became reality. But it wasn’t without overcoming some formidable challenges.
Most important was finding the right location. Weissmann had become familiar with the surf scene in Ponte Vedra Beach following six years of visits to his in-laws. Northeast Florida is a hot bed for east coast surfing, with no less than 20 shops, including several well-established local players. Next, even if he had found the ideal location, Brian knew that he would next be faced with trying to get access to desirable product lines. Reps for some of the larger, more well-known brands are notorious for not selling their lines to newbies for fear of repercussions from established clients– at least not without demanding huge minimums that can quickly sink a new business or leave them dedicating their entire store to just 1 or 2 brands. Finally, Brian knew he’d have to distinguish himself from the competition in some sort of significant way.
The last hurdle was the least of Brian’s concerns. The independent-minded Weissmann had never envisioned his shop being like anyone else’s. His original idea for the business was actually a “Surf and Rescue” shop that would not only sell surf goods, but also state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment to individuals and organizations. Ultimately, research convinced him that markets weren’t large enough to support his concept. Still, even when his mind turned to a more conventional surf and skate business, it was anything but traditional.
Brian’s vision was of something larger– greater in presence and purpose. Something that would feed his clients’ appetites for escapism (think a Central American style shop with open rafters and an attached taco stand, steps from the surf); and one that could also bring the neighborhood together, like a YMCA or skate park. The only thing stopping Weissmann was securing that ideal location– the one he had identified in Ponte Vedra just a few hundred yeards from “Mickler’s, one of the area’s most popular public beach breaks.
For years, the spot had been home to a well-known restaurant and bar called the “Oar House”, where local surfers would stop for a game of pool and après surf refreshments. Eventually, the business, which snuggles up to the edges of an inland waterway and state park, closed– leaving behind a beautiful decades-old structure that oozes character on a spacious, rural lot. After several attempts at getting information from Realtors were ignored, Brian approached the landowner directly and shared his concept for the business. Trident Surf was born.
Today, Weismann’s’s vision is coalescing faster than a cup of UV-activated resin in the middle of July. Kids visit after school to hang with their friends and utilize several well-constructed skate ramps outside. Ocean breezes blow through open doors and visitors can sip on ice cold Jarritos, just like you’d savor in Mexico. And while you may not find Billabong or Quiksilver boardshorts in Weissmann’s shop, you will discover a treasure trove of hot new upstart brands that your friends aren’t wearing yet, as well as top-shelf surf, skate and SUP hard goods.
Nothing Weissmann does is anything like his competitors, and he’s never shy about promoting his own personal values (no drugs or alcohol), a comforting reassurance in the family-focused area he serves. Brian believes that all children should be able to enjoy a sense of adventure in their lives, just not the kind that leads to poor decision-making. Rather, the kind you might find out in the line-up, on a trip, or just hangin’ with your buddies at the local surf shop– an environment he’s working hard to perfect at Trident Surf.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally written for and published on TheInertia.com, surfing’s definitive online community. I later reposted it here on my personal blog.