JUNO Beach Pier, jewel of Florida's State Road A1A, the surf highway of the East Coast. This fickle stretch of the U.S. has a reputation for poor waves and consistent onshores. This begs a question: how do the surfers here get so good? Everyone here has just clicked onto hurricane watch, just waiting for those cyclones to start developing off West Africa. In the meantime the last few weeks have produced a series of decent swells for the locals to practise on. Local photog Stuart Browning was there to document the sessions.
When you're tooling up and down the East Coast of Florida, says Stuart, there is only one road, A1A. And there is one stop not to miss, the Juno Beach Pier. Park in the free parking lot. Walk to the planks. Look up and the allure of the ocean will possess you. In some magical way the breeze, the waves, and the sun take control and take you to a place of its own. The water is clear, the temperature is warm, and all you want to do is get wet. The running charge for that first entry into the water tells it all. It's more than a sport - it's an infection that never leaves your soul.
10 years of inconsistency
Using 10 years of data you can see here how the swell consistency drops off massively towards the height of summer. However when the swell does hit the locals make the most of it.
Typical incoming Florida swell sneaking in during a warm May night. Unfortunately the extensive continental shelf sucks the power from the swell. The question here shouldn't be how often it looks like Teahupoo but how often can I get a stoke surf in?
How to surf a shorey Pt I
Whatever you seek you shall find in the breaks surrounding Juno Beach Pier, says photog Stuart Browning. Skimmers rip the shore break. Kids work the inside sets like pros. Full air assaults are on constant display on the first break. While long boards patiently wait for the perfect wave on the outside. It's all here.
Shark bite capital
Recently the site of a hard-fought battle by The Palm Beach Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation (the local authorities and fishermen) to keep the beach open to surfers. You can no longer surf within 100ft of the pier but that's better than not surfing at all. When it's on you will find a few other bodies in the water. Just maybe some aren't as welcome as others.
Local fly boy
Locals Surf Shop pro Jensen Callaway is no stranger to employing unusual tactics in avoiding the men in gray suits. Patent pending...
On the nose
Other locals look far more friendly
On my quest to document a few weeks of surf in this area it was Jimmy Moren from Locals Surf Shop took me around to some very special spots: The Pier, Kite Beach, The Corners, and the Inlet. Here's the man himself.
In just a few hours you realize that you are in the breeding ground of some of the best surfers in Florida.
Making bad look good
Ryan Weiland's only just left Jupiter High School and is Cali bound for the summer.
Alan Boyd's taking off for Mexico for the next two months.
What time is it?
Photos can tell a story, but only part of the story. You might never want to leave. The norm here is - knowing you're late, but asking, "what time is it?" then staying for "one more". We all do it. As you sit in the ocean you know the next set will include the best wave of the day.
Little Johnny setting up for special grom heaven. Watch this kid though he's the devil in the water.
How to surf a shorey Pt II
As I stand on the shore with my Canon in hand, I know the next ride will have that "perfect shot" and so it goes on and on...
Even some of the non-locals do ok here. And others have got it pretty dialled.
I love this shot, the wave might not have been very good but it epitomises the Florida stoke. So if you are on A1A pull over.