5mm Bliss: Tom Petriken Enjoys the Spoils of Winter in the Garden State

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
- Joseph Campbell

Photo: Christor Lukasiewicz

Photo: Christor Lukasiewicz

For most donning a 5mm wetsuit, to enter water in the mid 30s, coupled with air temps that are in the single digits, sounds like the antithesis of bliss. Yet in New Jersey and other cold water destinations the globe over, some of the best surf is to be found in the most unfriendly of weather conditions.

After years upon years of enduring the elements, I can tell you based on experience, winter surfing in New Jersey is no adventure for the faint of heart. More often than not, when the surf is really good, the winds are blowing grimly hard offshore, feeling as if they are ripping through the back of your wetsuit and piercing you straight to the marrow of your bone. The waves appear as thick as stacked bricks with cavernous hollow barrels. Timing your paddle out is an art in and of itself. Get it wrong and you’re taking more than a few set waves to the head, this feels like 10,000 pounds of frigid force trying to crush you into nothingness.

Feeling adventurous yet?

This past January, Tom Petriken navigated through numerous dark barrels with ease, poise and style. Below is a short film that took place over three sessions, capturing Tom enjoying some playful bowls as well as a glimpse at some of those harsher conditions that have been offered this winter season.  Welcome to the state of 5mm bliss.

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Growing up in New Jersey, Shawn discovered and quickly immersed himself in the sub-culture of surfing and skateboarding in the mid 80’s. With a diverse and eclectic background, Shawn has walked the path of a competitive surfer, Hare Krsna monk, action sports industry player in NYC, DIY theology and religions major, and a touring punk rock musician. Now a father and self-proclaimed seeker of the “soul” of surfing, Shawn enjoys sessions with friends at uncrowded peaks along his home state’s shoreline and writing about his surf related experiences.

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