It is the one day each summer, when everyone drops their guard and becomes a peaceful and giving beach community. There are no hassles. No bitching. No complaining about anything on this day. For this day, we all become brothers and sisters. I see it every year. Surfers from different sides of the fence coming together. Sworn political enemies becoming one with each other. For the sole purpose of giving back to those who have sacrificed so much for our very freedom. I'm talking of course about the Annual HIT THE BEACH. Where local New England Surfers give back to the Wounded Veterans and their families.
In addition to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Manchester VA
patients, there are those from NEDS (New England Disabled Sports). Three unique organizations all descending on North Beach in Hampton, NH for our annual HIT THE BEACH Day. Brought to you by The American Legion Post 35, Cinnamon Rainbows, Summer Sessions, Zapstix, Pioneers, ESA-NNE, Fresh Valley, HFD, HPD, NH Parks & Recreation, Cardis, RPOTW, SFOD, and the hundreds of amazing Volunteers. Men, women, and children. All giving back to those who are less fortunate than we are.
I can't tell you how many times I have heard people say to me. "This is the BEST Day of the summer." In truth it is right along the lines of SURFING WITH SMILES where we take young participants with autism and have other disabilities and take them surfing. The SWS is 10 years old and the HTB is in our 12th year. It is a Big Deal here in our community. If you have ever witnessed this day you know of which I speak. If you've ever participated then you know first hand what it's all about.
I'm always surprised at how many people really want to lend a hand.
Just when I think I've seen it all,
someone or some business will do something that really just blows me away. It really is an amazing day. And not for nothing, but we are 100% at the mercy of Mother nature when it comes to these special days. I'm not going to lie to you. But I prayed and prayed to God this past week. Why? Well we need two things. First and foremost, we need surf. And it wouldn't hurt to get some sun. The day before, there were tiny ankle high waves. That's not enough to push some of these people along. And we had a terrible seaweed problem on the beach. It was also overcast. I was dreading the next day. So I prayed and prayed, Hell I even asked the old Magic 8-Ball that my friend and officemate has. Call me crazy but that thing is 99% accurate. It was looking very doubtful on Thursday.
But as always, we got both surf and sun. Oh, and the water was so warm.
Not to mention the first hero of the day Anthony Currio and his backhoe. He and his wonderful machine
cleared the beach of tons of smelly seaweed. Without him, it would have been a major disaster. We need to hold this event at 18th Street due to the wheel chair ramps. It's the only place where we can get those in wheelchairs down on the beach. Thank you brother Anthony.
My friend Brian Nevins hit the nail on the head when he said. "It's a crap shoot trying to get waves for a surf contest. But it never fails, the Wounded Warrior Project's HIT THE BEACH always has decent surf." And this year was REALLY good. I mean it was good.
(Below) This is me giving my pre game motivational speech. I brought my E-tool (entrenching tool) as a little comic prop. I honestly didn't think we'd get any surf. So I brought my E-tool and told everyone"Rather than build sand castles we can dig two man fighting holes." It was supposed to be a joke. But only the grunts got it. We used to have to dig holes every night when out in the bush. And yes they were called "Fighting holes". We had a saying back then "Home is where you dig it." Any way, I ended up putting my E-tool back in my vehicle. Where it stayed the rest of the day.
Photo above was taken by Martha Lardent. *That's a whistle in my mouth.
I know. It was annoying (intentionally).
The Black and white photos below were all taken by Brian Nevins. And you all know the old saying. "A picture is worth a 1,000 words." Take it all in and then once you're done reading the Blog and get down into the meat of the galleries, there are four galleries of the HIT THE BEACH Event. Make sure you see them all, they are worth every second of your time.
(Above) Veterans helping Wounded Veterans.
If not for the surf shops we could never pull this off. Thank God for the Soft Top longboards and the amazing Soft Top SUP's. Those things are crucial in getting some of these wheelchair bound vets into the surf.
Check that cool beach wheelchair. That thing goes in the sand.
This is Lenny, he's in the water all day long. Here he is leading the team out into the surf to get this brave vet into the wave of his life.
It's all about anchoring the tail to keep them from "pearling" and nobody does it better than Lenny. He's done all 12 years of HIT THE BEACH and he does all the SURFING WITH SMILES too. He's got good help here with Casey Lockwood and Duffy McCarthy.
My man Jerry getting a decent wave with the help of Tony and company.
Jerry has been to 10 of the 12 years we've been doing this. I love that guy. We've become friends since his very first time. The man is 75 years old. He lost both of his hands in Vietnam in 1967. It's men like Jerry that keeps so many of us coming back year after year. photo by Martha Lardent.
(Below) The Hampton Fire Department
comes down each year and flies this large American flag (Garrison) over the wall at North Beach. It has become a beacon for the day. You can see it for miles in either direction. Including the surfers in the water. It's a great icon for this special day.
photo by Cory Fatello
I think for me one of the hidden gems of the day is when I see the four surf shop owners all working together to make this day run smoothly. Dave Cropper of CINNAMON RAINBOWS, Ryan McGill of SUMMER SESSIONS, Mike Zappy Paugh of ZAPSTIX, and Stevie O'Hara of PIONEERS. It warms my heart to see these guys together.
The day had to end sooner rather than later due to the rising tide. Typically we start at 9:00AM and go to 3:00PM but the plus high tides cut us all short. Thank God we moved it up earlier. We ended up doing a 8:00AM to 1:00PM but it was basically over by 12:00 noon with the high tides. I wished we could have gone longer but nature is calling the shots. All in all it was another successful day at the beach. That one special day each summer, somewhere out there Michael Taylor was wishing he was there, and he was, in spirit.
Thank you everyone who helped make this day happen.
On Saturday August 31st, 2019 a group of Surfers
did a Memorial SURFER'S PADDLE for John Grady. John was one of the older crew who loved to surf here in NH. The Paddle was organized by Steve Clark and John's family. It was a nice and peaceful morning. A cloudless blue sky with a clean little swell running. Everyone who was not going to paddle out had a chance to speak of John on the beach. It was sweet to hear some of the back stories of a man's life that you wouldn't normally hear unless you were in this kind of setting. There's something special about a Surfer's Paddle.
Click on this image above to see a larger version.
photo by Mindy Bocko
We all paddled out and created the "circle" and then, one by one, we spoke of John. There were some funny stories, and there were some interesting eye opening stories as well. His connection to Rick Griffin and The Beatles was something that I was not aware of. I spoke to the family after the paddle service to tell them that my two main influences in my music and art world were/are The Beatles and Rick Griffin. I wished I had known that about John in the forty something years I knew him. It's funny because the last few times I ever spoke with John was at the Art Walk in PR. Any way, it made me feel so good to know that he too loved Griffin and The Beatles.
The other thing about Paddles involving the old surfers is you get to see some old friends in a setting that you wouldn't normally get to see. None of us are getting any younger, so to see friends like Steve Clark, Dickie Burns, Stan Chew, and Stan Bocko is special. We are all brothers of the same tribe and these paddles help keep that bond strong.
photo by Mindy Bocko
So Keep Paddling John. Wherever you are, keep paddling brother.
*There are two galleries of photos of John's paddle down in the
"Surfing and Love Heals All Wounds."
These HIT THE BEACH Days always remind me of the late Ed O'Connell who was there for many of these wonderful days. So I thought it appropriate to run one of Ed's pics from these special events. I'm not sure who this is, but I'm pretty sure this veteran is having fun. Photo by Ed O'Connell
*Click the photo above to see a larger version of Ed's Pic.
Now for Some Local, National and International News
This last week saw some really fun waves during a 3 Day Swell. This is James Morse tucked into a nice green tube on August 27th, 2019. Photo is by Gus Potter.
The waves this day were incredible. I actually walked up and down this beach for 4 hours shooting over 700 stills and a few miles of video.
This was the day after the pic of James. August 28th, 2019.
I swam out with my GoPro Hero 5 and shot some video. That's Jack Madden duck diving this sneaker set.
CULL (KILL) THE FRICKING SEALS!! Something MUST Be Done about the Seal Population on the Cape. It's time to cull the Seals. *I came up with I think might be a good solution. Why Not get robotic ORCAS and have them putter around the beaches of the Cape? Great White Sharks are terrified of them. Hell the mechanical shark (Bruce) in JAWS terrified an entire generation. Let's try the motorized ORCA and terrorize the White Sharks!
ESM (Eastern Surf Magazine) using a READY MAG format did the Best of Ralph's Pic. And while they couldn't possibly use everything thing I've ever done, they did manage to put up some 50 pics of mine, plus two videos. And I was truly humbled by their intro. Mez said some nice things about me. CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SEE THE WHOLE Spread.
Speaking of The Beatles...This show is worth seeing.
COMING FATHER'S DAY 2020.
While I was making the GRANITE GIRLS video I came up with this project and concept. It's never been done before. As hard as that seems to be. I'm onto yet another never been done before Surf Movie concept. This will be an overview of Surfer dads and their sons. It's a work in progress and I'm hoping to get as many dads and their sons as possible in this movie.
Speaking of annual events. This was the itinerary of the 28th Anniversary of SFR. There's a gallery down in the gallery section of the day's exciting events.
Most of you longtime readers know that I retired from SFR after 25 years. I handed over the reins to Duffy McCarthy. He has young kids and his friends all have young kids too. I figured 25 years of fighting pirates was enough.
I still help out without getting my hands dirty or bloody. Lord knows I've fought enough pirates to fill my quota. If you have young surf groms drop by next year on this Annual Labor Day Saturday event and get involved. Trust me, your kids will love it.
The DVD's are available at all the local surf shops. Or by
sending me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org or send a check for $20.00 made out to ADLANTIC and send it here:
c/o OC Studio Suites
703 Ocean Blvd Suite C-4
Hampton, NH 03842
Or RENT or BUY it Online. You have spoken and I have listened. You don't have a DVD player so I made it available Online. Watch it on your Smart TV, your computer, or your cellphone! I can't make this any easier my friends.
GRANITE GIRLS and The RIVER WOMEN from Ralph's Pic Of The Week on Vimeo.
NOW AVAILABLE on VIMEO ON DEMAND.
KSM Photoshop of the Week
This week was full of terrible news. I refuse to comment on most of it. But this story caught my eye. The POPE got stuck in an Elevator at the Vatican. Now I was thinking, only one individual I know of in this messed up world would have something to do with that. And sure enough here's the evidence. Khaliddy. Damn you KSM! Why would you get the Pontiff stuck in his own elevator? What the hell's the matter with you??
And so my friends, please take advantage of this weekly photo shop of the mastermind who planned 9-11 and resulted in the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians by KSM (Khalid Sheik Mohammed).
*Note to self -must pick up a case of hack saws
at Home Depot this week.
CONGRATS TO KAINALU NICHOLS Going PRO!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jaiden Ciarmataro September 4th, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Max Fatello September 14th, 2019!
GET WELL SOON Jody Wiles Goucher!
GET WELL SOON Kim Grondin and Lilly too!
REST IN PEACE Tilly Chamberlain
Lenny Nichols & Colin Madden
Co-Directors, NNE District
Eastern Surfing Association
Support ALL The photographers who contribute to
Ralph's Pic Of The Week every week for the last 13 years.
** BUY a HIGH RES Photo
from any of the weeks on RPOTW.
my friends... Surfing Heals All Wounds.
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.