HARVEY CEDARS - The field of the fourth annual Jetty Coquina Jam expanded this year.
The result was a wave of new talent from around New Jersey and the East Coast to compete in the fourth annual all-female surfing competition.
When first established, the event was geared toward women from Long Beach Island. But on Saturday, competitors traveled from Seaside Park, Manasquan, Brigantine, and even Long Island, N.Y.
Jamie DeWitt, 29, who grew up in Beach Haven and now lives in Port Orange, Fla., made the trip home for the contest and won the event with her partner, 17-year-old Jessica Kwiecinski of Jackson Township.
The Coquina Jam pairs participants into teams of two. There were 20 teams this year, an increase from 16 last year. Names are picked out of a hat, teaming a woman 27 and older with a younger competitor. The idea is to bring the generations together and keep the contest from becoming too serious.
DeWitt, who won the Hannah Belmar Pro in 2009 and 2010, and Kwiecinski, who won the Belmar event in 2011, were favored from the start and overwhelmed the three-team final with a total score of 62.4 points.
"When you surf with a teammate there's a little pressure to not let your partner down. Jamie surfs so good in big waves and today I was really impressed with what she could do in small stuff," said Kwiecinski, who finished seventh at the National Scholastic Surfing Association U.S. Championships earlier this summer.
Jessica Stabile, 28, of the Forked River section of Lacey Township, and Rae Riccardi, 18, of Beach Haven, took second place with 27.45 points.
Third place (24.75) went to Ashley Sanchez, 42, of Barnegat Light and Selena Moberly, 15, of Montauk, N.Y.
The surf forecast wasn't very favorable. However, the morning high tide offered some fun waves in the 2-foot plus range with light winds. As the tide receded, this turned into challenging 1-foot slop with a southeast breeze.
The highest score of the day came from Moberly, who surfed on the winning team in 2011. In the second round, she connected with a decent section on her forehand, did a bottom turn and executed a textbook snap for an 8. The judges referred to it as, "an ASP-level turn."
"It was so much fun this year, even if the waves weren't perfect," said Moberly said, who stuck around after the contest to help with the youth clinic. "I love everything about Jetty and I'm looking forward to pushing kids into waves."
Stabile and Riccardi had the highest score in round three.
"I haven't been able to surf this contest before," said Stabile, who was living and working as a chemist in Wilmington, N.C., since the inaugural Coquina Jam. "I always wanted to do it and now that I moved home, I could compete. It's such a great event. I wish the waves had been better, but what can you do? I made a new friend in my partner, and got to surf all day."
DeWitt and Jess Kwiecinski were simply too strong in the final. In the opening minutes they both took off on different sections of the same wave, with Kwiecinski getting off one big turn and DeWitt running down the line with a few hits for a 6.3.
Since it's inception, Jetty has run the Coquina Jam as a fundraiser for breast cancer treatment. The past two years, all the proceeds have gone to David's Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation to benefit members of the local community fighting the disease.
David Caldarella, of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, is a local cancer survivor who runs David's Dream and Believe.
"The volunteers were unbelievable," he said, "We had so many people manning the tents that the Jetty guys and I were free to walk around and talk to people about the cause. Last year was such a positive vibe and this year was even more positive. I'm almost speechless at the end of the day."