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In the days of the ancient kings, when King Kamehameha lorded over Cape Island, the brave men of the Hui Nalu rode hardwood surfboards – alaia – through the breaking swell off Broadway Beach wearing little more than loincloths.Surfboard riding was an ingrained part of Cape Island culture for centuries and when Captain Cornelius Mey first sailed past the tip of the cape, he was fascinated by the slim and muscular Cape Mayans riding the waves, as noted in his logbook…
They wait until the time of the greatest Swell and then push forward with their Arms to keep on its top.
It sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity – the great Art is to guide the Plank so as always to keep it in a proper Direction on the top of the Swell and direct it to avoid any Obstacles.
“All I had to do was look out the window; if it was high tide I could see the waves, if it was low tide I had to get up and look.
My room was on the third floor, so if I could see the waves from the second floor, it was really good. There used to be a jetty at Trenton and it used to be a good break.
For others it’s a later-in-life hobby that’s now a passion.
Anyway you look at it, surfing, even in Cape May, is nothing short of a religion for its most ardent followers.Surfing was probably born in the Polynesian culture of the eastern and south Pacific.The exact timeline of when men first paddled into the surf on planks of wood is uncertain, but it’s a good guess that the modern version of surfing was perfected in Hawaii.Not anymore.” Stephen and I talked one night for almost an hour about surfing.We talked about the basics like history, changes, good beaches, and surf culture, but what I began to realize was that Stephen’s life is all about surfing.The guys I surfed with were Terry Randolph, Paul Gibbons, Jim De Scala, Joe Gilmartin; that was the four musketeers, and there were a few others. resize=300,199&is-pending-load=1" srcset="data:image/gif;base64, R0l GODlh AQABAIAAAAAAAP///y H5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" “I started in 1970 – I was 12 years old – a kid from Texas taught me. I didn’t join sports because you had to drop what you were doing to surf,” said Mike. “My daughter Eliza was learning to surf and she was having so much fun. I stayed away from people at first and it took me awhile to learn, but it’s just so much fun being in the water.That was my generation.” Mike Owen was 12 years old when he started surfing. The surfing lifestyle is a familiar theme in the surf community. I fell in love with it.” Sue has been known to close up her clothing store on a brilliant autumn day when business is a little slow.Everything he does revolves around the ocean; whether it is the ocean’s impact on us, or our impact on the ocean, Stephen seems tuned to an oceanic vibration.We talked about Cape May’s 50-year beach replenishment program, which pumps untold cubic yards of sand onto Cape May’s beaches to keep them from eroding. Even though he was a business major in college he wrote his research papers on surfing: the economics of surfing, the statistics of surfing, the Oedipus Rex syndrome of surfing (okay – maybe not that one).Maybe that’s not exactly how surfing was born in Cape May, but it sure makes a good story.As far as I can tell, surfing first hit the beaches of Cape May in the early 1960s. Trying to describe the impact of surfing on Cape May is like trying to describe the impact of baseball on America – it’s an incredibly broad topic.