An East Coast Hurricane Story …and the Groveler That did a Gun’s Job

The stage was set, Ali Mendia was about to step into a surprise house party her husband Pete had been brewing up for her birthday for some time. There would be karaoke and dancing on tables and laughter…all buttoned up in a proper family friendly rager that went till dawn. That’s how the Mendia’s roll; figuring out ways to have a good time while blessing the widest group of friends and family possible.

Fast forward to the following post-blitz morning: Pete’s phone rings and buzzes and beeps and blurps, “Hey man the waves are pretty good!”

Pete: “I was planning to just cruise today and help clean up and stuff.”

Caller: “It’s pretty dang good — you may wanna check this out.”

Pete’s wife Ali overhears and says, “It’s fine, just go.”

That’s when it happened: the local spot just down the road that hardly ever breaks had turned into a sand sucking tube machine the like of which only acts of God can produce. An anomaly? A once-in-a-lifetime event? A miracle of blessing to those who have blessed? That’s what people were saying as Hurricane Sandy sent the swell of the decade in 2012. For one brief shining moment, Pete’s local spot turned into a sand churning, inside-out, East Coast Pipeline beast. A hurricane was to blame — and while much of the coast north was seeing out-of-control winds and horsewhipped conditions, this small zone in Florida was unusually clean for its size. However, beaches were closed as telephone poles and electrical wires floated through the lineup. Lifeguard boats were blaring bull horns keeping people out of the water.

Pete rolled up solo with a 6’6” Ante-up step-up and a 6’0” Greased Pig groveler — ’cause that’s all he had arms to grab on the way out of the house. (Pete’s an easy 6’1” / 190-200lbs so you can get an idea about the boards.)

Now, we all know that during hurricanes or times when nature grits her teeth, the rule of law can be a fluid thing sometimes, but this day was strictly off limits to surfers…until the Yeti stepped onto the beach. You can watch Pete tell the story here:

A boat swooped him up and he was off and out there. Pulling into the first few on the 6’6” …felt good, but he thought he could get deeper. Next wave, on the foamball, deep deep, and pop-goes-the-weezel; board hit a rib, creased, and then snapped clean in two. The only board left back in the boat was a small-wave groveler Pete had asked me to make him because Florida “had been so small for sooo long that particular summer.” It was the unlikely candidate being epoxy, teamlite, flatter rocker, fuller outline, stringerless with carbon rails; it was designed to generate speed in gutless stuff, not to be able to handle gutterball raw power…but it was all that was left on the boat, and there was no going back to land. It was during this window that the best waves of the session rolled through. Pete’s barrel prowess navigated him through the caverns like the groomed years of wisdom gained by a seasoned tiger stalking the kill. The funny thing is that the little grovel board felt even better than the step-up. How could this be? Watch the shaping room break down of the hydrodynamics of a self adjusting rocker here:  

The session landed a cover shot during the golden era of the surf mags, but most importantly it was simply the session itself that was the apt reward for a hubby who was willing to sit the swell out to do party cleanup duty. Funny how some of life’s most satisfying moments come from letting go….in the end it was the wife’s blessing to rush it that garnered quite possibly the grandest tube America’s East Coast has ever seen. Pete still helped clean up when he got home. 

Sequence: Lugo

READ THE STORY ON SURFLINE

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