The official call to hold the 8th Annual Jetty Clam Jam was made early in the morning on Friday, October 17th with a surprise location change: surfers would report to Holyoke Avenue in Beach Haven at first light instead of the previously publicized Taylor Avenue. The committee felt that LBI’s most storied wave would hold Hurricane Gonzalo’s swell best. Before sunrise on Saturday, October 18, 2014, the event staff convened on the beach to prepare for a day of surfing, music, cold clams, and good times.
The Clam Jam is a team-oriented, bracket style surf contest. Over three hundred Long Beach Island area surfers are invited, and the first 96 paid entries are added to the bracket. The contestant pool is split in half at the median age, and a surfer from the older generation is randomly paired with one from the younger generation through the pulling of clam shells during Selection Night at the Black Whale Bar & Fish House These teams are entered into heats in the order they are pulled, and the anticipation builds during the waiting period. Although the first potential date for this year’s contest was October 11th, the committee waits until waves & weather will result in the best possible surf. Much to the delight of all involved, Hurricane Gonzalo promised waves & the waiting period only lasted a week.
Hundreds of people lined the beach on Saturday morning to watch local area surfers compete in head high, clean surf. As soon as the first heat hit the water at 8am, the competition was on. The early morning surf was smaller than forecasted, but contestable. The frequency of waves firing through Holyoke Avenue provided plenty of highlights, and the contest progressed with an impressive show of surfing by all involved. Kevin Cheeseman held down the Best Barrel of the Day until Jetty Team Rider Randy Townsend got pitted, and subsequently won the Hankook Beach Cruiser courtesy of BC Tire & Auto. Additional standouts included Conor Willem, Jetty Team Rider Pete Machotka, Chris Huch, Torr Cohen & Carter Vanderslice. After five rounds, Rick Huegi and Jetty Team Rider Brian Bowker faced Pat “Surfcat” Emery and Greg Warren in the finals. Careful calculations resulted in a tenth of a point lead by Huegi & Bowker, earning them the win. Their names will be engraved on the Clam Jam trophy, sending them home to check off an item that lies high on the bucket list of many LBI natives.
Jetty would like to thank Red Bull, Black Whale Bar & Fish House, Black Eyed Susan’s Café, Farias Surf & Sport, Hyperflex and Ann Coen Photography for their presence on the beach, Old Causeway Steak & Oyster for hosting the after party, and all loyal sponsors for their support over the past 8 years. Many thanks to head judge Ric Anastaci and judges Ken Gallant, Andrew Halikas, RJ Hanson and Tabulator Katie Cummins. Jetty is also indebted to Bill Machotka, Randy Budd & Jon Coen for their help organizing & running the contest, and to the surf community for making the 8th Annual Jetty Clam Jam the most successful one to date.