Greg Melega is on the swoop. (Photo by Tim Torchia)
Angler C.J. Janiszewski is hard at work as a full-time tournament angler. (Photo by Connor Johnson)
Long Beach Island is pretty big on ocean and bay pastimes. We have an entire lifestyle built on it. Everyone who lives on the Island, summers at our beach or has simply come to LBI a handful of times knows how special this barrier island is.
From the back bay to fishing grounds far offshore, summer sandbars and lakes in the Pine Barrens, there are watermen and women who are defining the Island life for themselves. A new generation is taking what they’ve learned from those who came before them, adding their own style to create the life they want to lead – hard working, creative, environmentally conscious and engaging.
These are a few of the younger people you’ll see doing extraordinary things around the Island this summer. Go give them a fist bump.
Steff Magallanes, surfer, skimboarder, bartender and founder of Sandy Avocado Surf Camp. (Photo by Ryan Johnson)
Steff “Mags” is the founder and owner of the Sandy Avocado Surf Camp and a dazzling skimboarder. Her relationship with the ocean defines much of who she is.
Loving summers and swimming in the salt water her whole life, she began riding boards at age 12 on the Island and competitive skimboarding shortly after. She premiered as a professional skimboarder at age 19 in California and remained in the top three in her division throughout her competitive career.
Surfing has always been more about fun, allowing her to put her competitive edge away and “just dance on the waves.” It’s a love that has her on the beaches of Costa Rica each winter, where she just finished building a container home.
Local Love: “My love for steady groundswell doesn’t surpass my commitment to the LBI community. This town is my extended family, and I always know that I have love and support anytime that I am home.”
Summer 2022: Monday through Thursday, you can find her at The Sandy Avocado Surf Camp in Beach Haven, running creative surfing/skimboard camps and lessons for ages 7-plus during the height of the summer. By night, she’s slinging drinks to sunsets off the deck at Bird & Betty’s. You can watch her compete at the Red Bull Foam Wreckers event in Long Beach Township this June.
Danny Michelson teaches kiteboarding, Efoiling and SUP on the bay. (Photo by Karl Fisher)
Michelson spends as much time floating and flying over the bay as he does in and on it. A certified kiteboard instructor, he’s the founder and owner of Kainetic Adventures, an outdoor adventure company designed to make kiteboarding (and Efoiling, stand-up paddling, etc.) more accessible.
His goal is to create a customized experience that will lay the foundation for a lifetime of thrills.
“Harness the wind and learn to fly!” he says.
Kainetic Adventures operates out of Baltic Marina in Waretown, holding lessons on and providing rides to “Kite Island,” one of the safest and easiest places to learn or improve kiteboarding skills. First-timers become competent kiters; advanced kiters excel. On calm days, they offer electric foil classes in the bay and SUP tours down inland creeks.
Danny continues to pursue his passion to kiteboard by traveling throughout the United States and the world with his wife to such locations as South Africa, Morocco, Portugal and Chile.
Local Love: “There’s nothing more rewarding than teaching someone to ride for the first time at Kite Island. It’s my favorite spot.”
Summer 2022: Starting in May, Kainetic Adventures will resume operations on Barnegat Bay. Look for the guy floating through the air.
John Gilman, local surfer and accomplished photographer, is working to become an EMT and disaster recovery specialist. (Photo by Amanda Prifti)
On LBI’s biggest (and often coldest) swells, you can be sure Harvey Cedars’ John Gilman is capturing some epic wave photo or riding some variety of surf craft from a big wave gun to a bodyboard. His passion is documenting surfing in the coldest and most remote parts of the world.
His work has appeared in a range of outlets and apparel brands to restaurant walls. He’s also won a few photo contests, including O’Neill Feels like Freedom and Unique Photo Summer Contest, as well as being a finalist in the Clif Bar ColdShot multiple times.
But Gilman’s interests are especially noble. A graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, when he’s not shooting photos, he’s learning water rescue, natural disaster response and humanitarian relief skills. These operations have taken him to Texas, Louisiana and the Bahamas for hurricane responses and locally to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to aid in the Afghan resettlement.
Last year, he traveled out to Jackson, Wyoming to get wilderness EMT-certified. This winter, he learned big wave personal watercraft skills in Maui from the water safety pros at the big wave spot known as Jaws. This furthers his goals of exploring and photographing offshore big waves on the East Coast and beyond.
Local Love: “There are two main draws that make LBI special to me: the wealth of natural areas to explore from Barnegat Light to Forsythe (National Wildlife Refuge) and the bay’s many islands that set it apart from the rest of the Jersey Shore. Second are the people of this community, all drawn to the sea for our own reasons. Surfing, fishing or boating, the sea creates bonds that form a tight community and draw generations together through shared passions for the outdoors and hard work.”
Summer 2022: Gilman will be starting as an EMT, while working for Team Rubicon (veteran and first responder-based disaster response NGO) as a team photographer. Check out his new e-commerce site for photography work at GilmanSurfProductions.com. You can also see him surfing in and shooting the Alliance for a Living Ocean LBI Longboard Classic and the Jetty Clam Jam.
Brielle Willoughby skippering her craft. The Southern Regional grad is now sailing for Brown University. (Photo courtesy of Brown Communications)
While surfers and boaters may not love that summer south wind, Willoughby loves it. She came up through Surf City Yacht Club and has been sailing for over 12 years – all over the United States and even in Italy.
She represented Southern Regional High School at competitions up and down the East Coast. Her high school highlight was a win at the Mid-Atlantic Girls’ Championships and being named the New Jersey Female Sailor of the Year as a junior under coach Steve Warren, whom she credits for making her the sailor she is today.
She’s been an asset to SCYC as an instructor as well. Willoughby is currently sailing for the varsity team at Brown University and sails in D1 competitions throughout the fall and spring.
Local Love: “Growing up sailing on Barnegat Bay is the reason that I love to sail so much. The coaches at SCYC and the friendships that I’ve developed over the years have pushed me to be better and made me enjoy every moment I’m on the water.
“I still get a chance to sail against my teammates from SCYC because we’ve all maintained our love for the sport through college, and it feels like an LBI reunion at every event I go to. While I’ve sailed in some amazing places growing up, nothing beats the consistent summer sea breezes on Barnegat Bay and the love for the sport that fellow LBI sailors have.”
Summer 2022: This summer Willoughby will be pursuing an internship to complement her intended biochemistry major at Brown. On weekends, however, you can most likely find her at SCYC, sailing around and trying to get Warren to let her skipper his Lightning or maybe try out his new Melges 15.
Beach Haven’s C.J. Janiszewski has made a career for himself as a tournament fisherman. (Photo courtesy Janiszewski)
If you’ve hung around any Beach Haven fishermen, chances are you’ve heard folks talk about this young angler. Growing up in Beach Haven, Janisewski was fortunate to begin fishing, crabbing, clamming and duck hunting with his family at a very young age. He studied and learned from his uncle Steve Evert and good friend Richie Southwick.
“Some of the most memorable times come from eeling for striped bass at night and making our way into the islands pre-dawn on ice-cold winter mornings to duck hunt sunrise.”
In seventh grade, he began working for the Rich family on The Business, strengthening his skills offshore. With the support of family and these mentors, he was recognized as Intermediate Angler of the Year at the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club for 10-plus years and holds numerous records at Spray Beach Yacht Club.
Capt. Dave Goddard mentored him in navigating and maintaining a large sportfishing boat. With Goddard’s support, he obtained a six-person OUPV/Captains License at age 18 and recently his 100 Ton Masters License. Together they won the Reef Cup and Grand Masters in Key Largo, Fla.; Heels and Reels in Ocean City, Md.; Jimmy Johnson’s Atlantic City Quest for the Ring; and the Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational, while he was also a part of such tournament wins as the Seashell Striped Bass Derby, Turkey Troll and various local tournaments.
Today, Janisewski is a full-time angler, traveling and tournament fishing on a 72-foot Viking yacht, Safari, based out of Wrightsville Beach, NC.
Local Love: “Beach Haven has been an extraordinary place to grow up. I’m passionate about giving back and mentoring others to explore our boundless fishing, hunting, crabbing and clamming. Weakfish, flounder, tautog, sea bass and striped bass just inshore and my favorite, double-digit white marlin bites, tuna fishing to trophy-size blue marlin, are always a possibility on a given day.”
Summer 2022: Catch him fishing the 53rd annual Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational on his family’s boat, Jersey Devil.
Among the surf community, Jonny Borsellino is among the best crossover athletes. (Photo by Kaitlin Elsenbeck)
Skateboarding and surfing have been Borsellio’s passion his entire life. From learning to drop in on a sketchy backyard ramp to surfing Cedars under the watchful eye of Lifeguard Capt. Randy Townsend, he never lost that focus, eventually surfing for the Southern Regional High School Surf Team.
Once old enough to drive, he would print out directions and navigate the state, finding skateparks all over New Jersey with friends Chris Scarpinato and Kyle Mccormick keeping up his level of stoke and pushing him to get better.
Borsellino, a resident of Beach Haven, credits our community of skateboarders and surfers to keeping up his drive. While he holds his own in the water, he is one of the most talented skaters in the area.
Local Love: “It’s motivating to have someone take a ride with you to a town you’ve never been to, in search of a skatepark that you’ve only heard about … in hopes that it’s actually open, dry and skate-able. It’s the same feeling I get when I surf in the dead of winter and the only people out are the same friends I’ve been surfing with since high school. It’s special.”
Summer 2022: Swing through Farias in Ship Bottom, where Borsellino is a manager. His years of experience in the shop and in the water make him very knowledgeable about any surf gear you may need.
Lizzy Beyer is program coordinator for Long Beach Township’s Marine Education Field Station. (Photo by Krystal Aguilar)
A life living and playing near the ocean has given Beyer a deep appreciation for its magnitude and beauty. And that has made her very familiar with the challenges facing coastal and ocean ecosystems, especially as the climate changes.
Observing all the coastal changes herself, she’s pursuing a dual master’s degree in environmental science and public administration at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She’s also been working for Long Beach Township’s Marine Education Field Station as the program coordinator.
She’s spent most of the last few winters in Puerto Rico, but has no problem putting on a 5-mil wetsuit for a good swell here and loves seeing other females in the water.
“It is pretty common to paddle out around here and be the only girl out, but we have a growing female surf community on LBI, and I am always trying to connect with other girls who surf,” she explains.
Local Love: “My ideal day on LBI starts by waking up to a fun summer swell. It’s so nice that in the middle of the hectic summer, you can still find a sandbar to paddle out at alone or with just a few friends, a perfect reset when you feel burnt out from the summer chaos. I love to finish a long beach day with a homemade dinner with veggies from the garden and fresh clams from the bay.”
Summer 2022: Meet Beyer by stopping into the Long Beach Township Marine Education Field Station in Holgate by day and The Beach House Restaurant in Beach Haven Terrace by night. (The scallops are her favorite.)
Greg Melega, co-founder/surfboard shaper for Le Garage in Beach Haven, is at work on a wooden craft. (Photo by LJ Hepp)
Greg Melega of Beach Haven loves to be in the ocean or around any body of water in nature. He finds a sense of peace and wisdom among the rolling patterns of waves that only the sea can offer.
For a living, he makes surfboards and other functional artwork out of sustainable or reclaimed materials. Shaping custom boards for the waves on LBI is a specific joy he shares with other surfers. He is co-founder/surfboard shaper for Le Garage in Beach Haven, named after the discotheque that was thriving in town during the late ’60s. He is self taught, and inspired by the passionate people around here.
Hiking, camping, paddling, diving, playing music and surfing are his sources of stoke. He also helps manage the Beach Haven Community Garden and builds garden boxes for yards around LBI.
“Growing your own food and flowers is a great way to connect with your ecosystem and neighbors,” he espouses.
A talented log rider, he has landed in the finals of the ALO LBI Longboard Classic as well as the Manasquan Longboard Classic for a few years in a row, but he’s mostly in it for the “free tacos, vintage boards and Greg Warren’s groovy tunes.”
Local Love: “I appreciate the full spectrum of people and water we have on LBI. They can be pretty similar. Some days Bay Village is raging with teens on a mission and the ocean is snapping half the boards paddling out. Other days you can bike down the middle of the road without a worry and get a 300-yard wave no one would believe when you tell it around the fire that night. I’m grateful for all sides of the coin.”
Summer 2022: You can find him surfing most days in Holgate early; then you can actually watch him build boards at Le Garage on Coral Street in Beach Haven. He invites anyone over to demo and talk boards, take a surf lesson, enjoy a paddleboard meditation class or stop by one of the surf movie nights. Also catch him at the ALO LBI Longboard Classic.
Scotty Meggitt of Surf City lives for the outdoors. (Photo by Greg Melega)
Meggitt grew up in Surf City. He has a bachelor of arts in anthropology with a minor in outdoor pursuits, although his actual outdoor pursuits are pretty major.
Last year, he graduated magna cum laude from Ithaca College. His concentration was on the developmental, social and physical benefits of outdoor education in comparison to western education. He was later inducted into the National Anthropology Honor Society and was co-founder and president of the Ithaca Outing club.
Currently he is working for the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation at Wells Mills County Park, taking clients on hiking and historical trips all over New Jersey as well as working under a sculptor in Brooklyn.
Scotty has been a member of the Surf City Beach Patrol for seven years and received the 2021 Life Saving Award from Ocean County. He also won the prestigious Men’s 2000 Paddle Race at the Island Lifeguard Tournament and took second in the Paddle Pickup.
He has tried it all, including swimming and sailing at the the Surf City Yacht Club. He competed at the North American championships in Kingston, Ontario.
“Surfing always fascinated me, but no one in my family did it, so I just watched. When I wasn’t at the beach, I was skating from place to place barefoot, hanging out in John Law’s fine art framing shop on 20th Street (in Surf City) and talking his ear off about surfing and sailing, or with Neil Sulish at Boulevard Clams.”
As a grom, he was drawn to high-performance surf boards, going fast and moving some water. Now he’s found more relaxation and stoke in logging. Last summer he was added to the ALO LBI Longboard Classic and surfed to the finals. He went straight from the contest to the Island Lifeguard Tournament, where he competed in the paddle pickup (third place), mixed doubles (fourth place) and surf boat relay (second place).
Local Love: “When you’re on LBI, you are on LBI. It’s an island – one way on, one way off. There is a social mentality that comes with that, a geographic understanding. To be surrounded by water is to be surrounded by the reality of life itself. There is an energy to the Island when I walk, skate, surf or bike around. The same faces become familiar, then friendly quick.”
Summer 2022: This summer Meggitt is committed to Surf City’s Lifeguard in Training program, as a full-time instructor. He will be training for this year’s Ironman lifeguard race and guarding Fifth or 13th Street. On weekends, you can catch him at Wells Mills County Park leading hikes, tours and canoe trips. He will again compete in the ALO LBI Longboard Classic.
Reese Evert, one of the up and coming Island surfers, will be charter fishing this summer. (Photo by Steve Evert)
It’s quite a life being 16 on LBI – nothing to think about but surf and Slurpees …
Actually, that’s not Reese Evert at all. This North Beach Haven surfer and skater is all about the hustle. He will be a mate this summer on the Benita J, Capt. Dave Wittenborn’s 38-foot Down East-style fishing boat, and busing tables.
Evert surfs year ’round, gravitating toward the south end of LBI. He skates for The Surf Shack South, at Schooner’s Wharf in Beach Haven, just a short skate from his house.
“Donny and Moses hold it down there and always hook us up,” he says.
Much of the year, he is driving around the state to different parks and street skate spots or sessioning a homemade box or ramp in the neighborhood. He had a very good season last fall with Southern Regional High School’s team, even taking first place in their meet against Mainland, and wrestled for the Rams.
Local Love: “I surf mostly on the south end of the Island with a group of friends I’ve known since I was young, a couple beaches about 3 miles from my house, or up my street on the right days.”
Summer 2022: Evert will surf the Jetty Clam Jam. If you’re returning from a late night at the Beach Haven bars, you might see him riding his bike at 4 a.m., on his way to the dock for work. Otherwise, you can ask what’s up while he’s hanging at The Surf Shack South or clearing your plates at The Beach House.
Emma Pahlow surfs year ’round, from warm, fun summer days to big windy winter swells. (Photo by Diane Pahlow)
Pahlow thrives whether on a longboard or shortboard, and she takes to the ocean all year. She has no issue with big winter swells when the wind is whipping.
Along with her wave skills, day-to-day, she’s a project coordinator for a furniture company called Spacestor, bringing goods from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible
She started surfing when she was 9, growing up with a dad and older brother who were avid surfers. She actually started by trying to stand on a Boogie Board, but once her father pushed her into a wave on a surfboard and she stood up, it was the end of Boogie Boarding.
“With a lot of push from them, I also naturally took to surfing, as the ocean has always been my happiest of places. It’s where I feel the most confident and safe in all aspects of my life. The ocean has offered a safe place to fall when I have needed it most. I am forever grateful to have this sport and passion to lean on and embrace.”
Local Love: “Growing up on LBI, I have gained such an amazing sense of community here. I love surfing with familiar faces, hoots in the lineup, and chatting with everyone in and out of the water. It’s home.”
Summer 2022: Catch her usually in Brant Beach, surfing whatever board the day calls for and participating in the Jetty Coquina Jam.
Barnegat Light’s Hugh Shields has paddled the Molokai2Oahu, 32 miles between Hawaiian islands. (Photo courtesy Hugh Shields)
Shields had been surfing since the age of 4 and joined the Barnegat Light Beach Patrol Lifeguards in Training program at 11. He used his knowledge and experience of the ocean to his advantage and quickly became a standout paddler.
When he was 18, the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol took him to the Regional LIT Tournament in Wildwood, and he came home with two gold medals. Later that summer, he became national champ in the Open Paddle at the National Championship in Virginia Beach.
As he developed, he became a strong paddler quickly. He started training, paddling through the freezing winter, and qualified for a spot in the Molokai2Oahu Paddle, a 32-mile open Hawaiian paddle that is considered the World Championship of Paddling. That summer he won the Barnegat Bay Challenge, the very race that helped him fall in love with the sport.
Shields became a lifeguard in 2020 and won the Cape to Cape Paddle in Cape May, then traveled to Texas, where he won three gold medals at the U.S. Lifesaving Association National Championships.
He credits three people for his succes:— his father for support, Ship Bottom’s Jonny Skolnick for his coaching and Hawaiian Kai Lenny for inspiration. He trains with Ship Bottom’s “Torpedo Boys.”
Local Love: “The main thing I love about LBI is the community, the ability to go anywhere on the Island and see someone you know. I feel like that’s unique to LBI.”
Summer 2022: Shields will again be lifeguarding for Barnegat Light and also serve as sergeant for the Barnegat Light First Aid Squad and Fire and Rescue Squad, responding to calls and recruiting young volunteers. (And yes, he is sergeant at 18 years old.) You can watch him compete in the local lifeguard tournaments and the ALO LBI Longboard Classic.
Chances are if you’ve had dinner or drinks out on LBI more than a handful of times, you’ve heard the music of Greg Warren. Warren is a Barnegat Light musician/surfer/sailor who’s been around the Island his whole life. His parents are still competitive sailors, raising him to sail in competition and ultimately for fun.
Surfer/sailor Greg Warren is also a talented local musician. (Photo courtesy Greg Warren)
“I was fortunate to have grandparents with a house in Surf City on 23rd Street, which is arguably one of the best stretches of sandbar on the Island. I grew up on that beach learning to swim, bodysurf, bodyboard, skimboard and eventually surf.
“I was lucky to have my older brother Mike, who was just as passionate as I was. He pushed me to surf more-challenging waves and eventually throughout the winter. We were also surfing with our neighbors and friends Pat and Dennis Harrington, all competitive with each other. Pat would always seem to get the biggest wave, and even if he got completely worked, he would pop up smiling and laughing.”
Warren sailed for Southern, was on the SRHS Surf Team and has surfed in the Jetty Clam Jam and ALO LBI Longboard Classic almost every year, gravitating toward riding a longboard. He also gets to crank his amp as loud as it goes and jam for the crowd when he plays live on the beach.
He worked at Barnegat Light Yacht Club for 11 years, teaching and coaching sailing, a vocation he considers very rewarding. But Warren is best known around town for his musicianship. His original solo work is groovy, mellow throwback. His record Easy Does It is on Soundcloud.
Local Love: “I love the variety. This area allows for so many awesome activities, lifestyles, passions and pursuits. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the surf community here and love the feeling of paddling out on a cold, blustery day and seeing familiar, friendly, frozen faces giving you a smile or hooting you into a close-out.”
Summer 22: Warren plays music full time, including guitar duties for local faves Chevy Lopez, The Danksters, The Fourth Son, and with brother Mike (the Warren Brothers). Catch him at the Daymark most Saturdays, The Arlington on Sundays and Bird and Betty’s on Mondays.
Krystal Aguilar is a surfer and photographer. She teaches swimming to kids of all ages in the summer. (Photo by Laurita Polvorilla )
Though she thinks it might sound clichéd, taking a pause from “normal” life during the pandemic allowed Aguilar to reevaluate her future. Prioritizing travel, surfing and photography meant she needed to let go of the idea of a traditional 9 to 5.
She has spent the last three years pursuing creative endeavors, working on her surfing, connecting with people through travel, and truly trying to live the life she’d always dreamed of.
Swimming has been a huge part of her life, starting competitively at around 10 years old with the St. Francis Sharks, and later becoming a lifeguard for Long Beach Township. She spends summer and fall in Ship Bottom, teaching private swim lessons to kids.
This winter, she found herself living in a colorful little surf town in Mexico where she can really focus on getting creative with photography while surfing as much as possible. Aguilar had her art displayed with the Mexi Log Festival. She’s not much of a competitor, but being a part of the Jetty Coquina Jam was the most fun she had last summer. In addition to competing, she was also the official event photographer.
“I love events that empower women, especially in a sport that has historically been male dominated.”
Local Love: “Both in Mexico and at home on Long Beach Island has been my main motivation to keep pursuing surf photography. There is still a lot I don’t know, and it’s such a good feeling to have so many people pushing me to learn more and put my work out into the world.”
Summer 2022: Find her surfing her favorite blue longboard and taking photos in Ship Bottom or Holgate. You can book a photo session on krystalaguilar.com or contact her about private swim lessons.
Max Dimon, shop manager of Wave Hog Surf Shop, doesn’t just run the shop and surf. He does the lessons, fixes dings and builds surfboards. (Photo courtesy Max Dimon)
There was a time when a surf shop manager or owner fixed dings, shaped boards and gave surf lessons. That’s not the case so much anymore, but Dimon is something of a throwback, holding down the fort at Wave Hog Surf Shop in Ship Bottom, having studied the lost art of making boards.
Dimon grew up surfing Seaside. By about 12, he was working for a local surf school, which led to fixing and repairing any boards that camp threw at him. Turned out he was pretty handy.
At the same time, he was trying his hand at a few contests, but realized that wasn’t his scene. Instead, he fell in love with longboarding and a more relaxed style of surfing.
“Don’t get me wrong, I still ride short boards and enjoy them when we have the right waves.”
After graduating from high school, he was taken under the wing of Mike Lisiewski of Brighton Beach Surf Shop, who shared the crafts of repairing, restoring and building boards. He has surfed the entire East Coast from rocky Maine to sunny Florida. But at the end of the day, he prefers grabbing either his 9-foot-4 noserider or a 6-foot fish and surfing right here on the Island. Now living in Little Egg Harbor, Dimon still teaches lessons for the shop and loves to share his knowledge.
Local Love: “It has every thing you need – some of the best breaks around, outstanding food and the big one, great, supportive people.”
Summer 2022: You can literally find Dimon every day, working at Wave Hog, fixing boards or giving lessons. After the shop closes, he’s surfing Seventh Street in Ship Bottom with the shop crew.