Liquid Lines

From Corn on the Cob Injuries to Skee-Ball Elbow, Be Safe This Summer

Final Goodbyes to a Legend
By JON COEN | Jun 19, 2019
Photo by: AJ Crisafulli, SunCure Photography Caroline Unger and Michael Lisiewski speak on Saturday at a paddle-out memorial for their father, Richard Lisiewski, the first surfer and boardbuilder in New Jersey. Lisiewski is holding their dad’s original 1940s board.

Any surfers ever wonder what happened to the old Nose Guard that used to be advertised in surf magazines?

(Hey, for that matter, any surfers ever wonder what happened to surf magazines?)

For those who didn’t used to memorize every page of Surfer and Surfing Mag, the Nose Guard was a rubbery protector that you’d glue to the nose of your board to potentially save you from getting punctured by or puncturing someone else with your stick. The ads would sometimes feature a smashed-up face and a testimonial from some surfer who swore the product saved his life.

I have to admit that they were pretty persuasive. I always assumed a surfboard nose injury would claim a life of someone I knew. Turns out, death by surfboard nose stats are pretty insignificant. And thankfully, soft boards were invented, meaning the masses of new surfers since the early 2000s have been much less threatening to themselves and others.

But hey, there are plenty of ways to get injured during summer fun around here. And I’m not just talking about boating accidents and undertow.

I once knew a girl who was scarred for life from corn on the cob.

Yep, her family sat down to a backyard picnic in Surf City. Now, keep in mind that she and her brother-in-law had a pretty contemptuous relationship. Anyway, the corn was good that night. You know, the sweet Jersey corn that you can’t get enough of. So her brother-in-law was veraciously enjoying an ear of silver queen, munching along between his buttered fingers, when he hit an explosive kernel.

Have you ever seen a kernel of corn burst? Well, not like this one.

The veggie based shrapnel flew across the table and hit this girl in the eye, jutting right into her eyeball. It lacerated her cornea and while she has regained some vision, her sight has not been the same since. Of course, it can go down as one of the ultimate summer mishaps, but she still always keeps her good eye on that brother-in-law.

There’s another story of a local basketball great who lost his full ride on account of a Skee-Ball injury. This guy was a monster on the boards and could drain threes at any playground, even on LBI’s windiest days.

Skee-Ball will forever have a place in the tapestry of life on the New Jersey coast. (Well, at least until they all get replaced to make room for those stupid claw games.) But this guy caught the bug and he caught it bad one summer. It started out on weekends, but before we knew it, he was in the arcade, four, five, sometimes six nights a week. He was putting up big numbers and even had a few perfect 900 games. They started calling him “Wooden Balls.”

Before you know it, he was skipping workouts and missing summer league games. His coaches and family started to worry.

Anyway, by late July, he was feeling soreness in his rolling elbow. He had a few off nights but fought through the pain. But then it got to be too much. By mid-August, he was diagnosed with an advanced case of Skee-Ball elbow. Doctors say it’s similar to tennis elbow, but far more painful.

By the end of that summer, he had no jump shot. He could barely dribble to his strong side. It took a full eight months of rehab and he eventually got his elbow back to 90 percent. But he lost his full ride and to this day, he breaks down at the mere smell of popcorn or cotton candy.

SAYING GOODBYE TO A LEGEND: Last Saturday was the memorial paddle-out for Richard Lisiewski, an LBI legend and New Jersey’s first surfer and shaper. The surfboard he built in the 1940s was the first board ever made in this state, or anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line. He was truly a pioneer and passed last February at the age of 89.

I would estimate there were between 100 and 150 people at the paddle-out held last Saturday in Brighton Beach. As he was a member of both the East Coast and New Jersey Surfing halls of fame, you can find plenty of great history on Lisiewski including much in The SandPaper archives.

The south wind made everything a challenge, but his son Mike spoke on the beach and again out in the water. Mike paddled out on his father’s original craft. There were high tide lumps longboarded on the way in. But what I found most compelling at the memorial was the people he interacted with locally through his retail spots: Brant Beach Surf Shop and then Brighton Beach Surf Shop. For 50 years, people came to him for fun.

Local Ryan McBride grew up right next door to Brighton Beach. As he remembers, Richard and his wife, Pauline, were like another set of grandparents. As much as he paved the way for surfing on the East Coast, it was the families in his neighborhood that he interacted with decade after decade. He was an honest guy who built and sold honest products to generations of locals and visitors to that area of Long Beach Township. He’s a part of not just surfing history but LBI’s character and it was wonderful to see all the support.

SURF ROUND-UP: Well, it’s summer. We know this because the surf has been pretty much small to nonexistent for the past month. I know we didn’t have those massive winter swells this year, as we’ve had in the past few winters, but from November through April we did have about one head-high day per week. Now that we’re in the season, it’s been mostly small and weak.

If you don’t have a nice singlefin glider, this is probably the time to get one.

The highlight of the last week was Friday, when we had a decent bit of southerly swell cleanup. The last few weeks have pretty much all produced the same pattern – five days of tiny surf followed by a building south swell and then a few hours the next day of knee- to stomach-high waves. To be fair, last Friday’s sets were more in the shoulder-high range. The wind wasn’t perfect for LBI, and I admit I went north for more straight offshore conditions, not knowing when we might have another day of solid 3-foot surf. But it was rideable on the Island and there were some pockets to be had. Saturday was back down to almost flat. As nice as the weather was for Father’s Day, it was a bust for both boating and surfing. Monday morning had some residual swell but that was marred by deep high tides early. The afternoon showed a few tiny lines with really light winds for those still hungry.

We’re looking at more of the same this week. There’s nothing happening in the tropics. And while there’s nothing of real interest at all, the forecast doesn’t call for totally flat. It’s a pretty typical summer pattern, which means get ahold of a longboard or look into a good fish or other groveler board. Look for the low tides and times that they coincide with west winds and do your best. By the end of the week, low tide should coincide with dawn patrol, which is a plus. Either that or if your job isn’t directly tied to the tourism industry, buy a plane ticket.

WILL OUR WEATHER REPORTS BE GETTING BETTER? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association announced last week that it has made major upgrades to its weather model. I don’t want to spoil this for you, but there’s a lot of nerd talk in this section. But this could mean improvements on surf forecasting as well.

Apparently, every time scientists fired up the GFS, it tried to tell them to upgrade to the next operating system. But the scientists were all super busy and kept getting annoyed with the notifications. Well, they finally had a chance to upgrade and it seems we may be getting some better weather intel for the future. They also got a whole new keyboard of weather emojis.

Most forecasts are created by computers. Programs take current weather and patterns into consideration and then spit out forecasts of what’s going to happen. The best forecasts then have a human component to verify and break it down to the rest of us.

For years, the Global Forecast System program used by the U.S. has been considered inferior to the European program. You may remember it was the Euro model that predicted Superstorm Sandy would make her famous “left turn” right into our lives back in 2012.

Now, the GFS has a new “engine.” It’s called the FV3. I would tell you what that stands for, but then I would lose the last three people who are still reading at this point.

We could get into volumes of science talk here, but the general gist is that the computer models will now combine large-scale global climate modeling with day to day operational weather predicting. The new model has been tested for some time now and it has proven much more effective than the old GFS when predicting the precipitation for the Bomb Cyclone in 2018. I’m told this is the most significant upgrade since 1980.

I think for us coastal folk, one of the biggest effects will be on hurricanes and tropical storms. When there’s a dangerous storm or potential wavemaker in the ocean, we tend to compare all the global models. Having a more accurate GFS could create more agreement in the aggregate of all the different models, hence in New Jersey terms, the “spaghetti models” might look a little less like 12 pieces of capellini and more like three pappardelle noodles. (Take it easy, I’m doing my best here.) But in all seriousness, the FV3 could potentially give us a more accurate idea of not only storm tracks but storm intensity.

I’m kind of curious if aspects of the new model will take climate change into account. Earth is generally warmer now than it was in 1980. Parts of the ocean are warmer, too, which helps to fuel these storms. I’m wondering if this is going to shift predictions to better handle some of the rapid intensifications of the last few seasons.

Of course, it will be better to know when a storm is coming for us so we have more time to prepare. And with more certainty, we can more efficiently prepare.

Now think of it the other way. What if we know with better science that a storm isn’t heading our way?

Imagine if there was a powerful storm churning up through the Atlantic and we knew with better authority that it was staying 100 miles out to sea? One hundred miles seems like a lot but when you’re predicting where a storm might go over thousands of miles, it comes down to the most minute details. So if we know that a hurricane isn’t going to hit us, folks get warned that it may not be the safest day to swim, but we don’t have to evacuate 200,000 people from the Island and lose a valuable summer week of business. It will be interesting to see where this takes us.

WHAT’S GOOD?: For those looking for a good time, it’s here. Behold, summertime on Long Beach Island.

First up, season three of Just Beneath the Surface starts this Friday with Episode One at Ship Bottom Brewery. In the spirit of transparency, I have some skin in the game and I’d love to see everyone that night as we take a look at LBI’s signature dishes, but also some of the toothy critters that we share the water with.

With schools out, everyone will be descending on our little Island. Here we go.

This Saturday Farias will present Lost in Jersey with Mayhem. Matt Biolos (known for his Lost/Mayhem shapes) will be at Farias designing custom boards on a CAD program and talking shop. This is a chance to shape your dream board with one of the most celebrated shapers in the country. All custom orders will be $100 off. They will be shaped in California and shipped back to LBI.

Next Thursday, June 27 Chris DeMakes of Less than Jake will be playing at Bird & Betty’s. That weekend is the return of the Warp Tour, which many of us grew up on. It’s only playing three cities this year and one of them is Atlantic City this weekend with a lot of the legacy bands from the ’90s and early 2000s. Less Than Jake is playing and DeMakes is going to do a solo show in Beach Haven on his way to AC with JT Turret. He will be playing a lot of LTJ classics acoustic and it should be a fun night of singalongs for those familiar with their 25-years of ska punk.

Saturday, June 29 is ShapeFest at South End Surf ’N’Paddle. This early event has become something of a tradition in the past five years. This year will again feature shaper Mike Karol of Stoke Surfboards, giving shaping instructions all week. The Ellamano Beat will play on Saturday night and there will be a free BBQ at this kid-friendly event. Ken Gallant and Sheryl Painter at South End are very welcoming and do a nice job with this each year.

Looking into July, the California-based surf-reggae-ska outfit Tunnel Vision will be at Bird & Betty’s on July 1. South End Surf ’N’ Paddle’s LBI Paddle Classic is July 13 at Bayview Park. And Jetty is about to open registration for the 2019 Coquina Jam. Teams will be picked on a Facebook Live event and there will be a BBQ on July 18, with the actual Coquina Jam on July 28. Jetty is making this a bigger event again as a fundraiser for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation and will announce more details shortly.

Buckle up. It’s summer. Safety first.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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