Rumson Surfer Inducted Into NJ Surfers Hall of Fame

first_imgGary Germain will be one of the first inductees to the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame on June 6 at the Saltwater Festival in Manasquan. Photo courtesy Gary GermainMANASQUAN – Gary Germain’s passion for surfing began at the age of 8, when his father bought a surfboard kit at a local shop.“I was hooked from that point forward,” said the Rumson resident.Though his father only surfed that first season, Germain found a new hobby that would last him a lifetime. Over the years, he has braved the cold waters of New Jersey’s winters, which he says is the best time to catch a good wave in the Garden State. He traveled the world as a competitive surfer in the 1970s and even modeled swimsuits and wetsuits in Surfer, Eastern Surf and Surfing magazines.“I’ve been to Indonesia, Africa and Europe,” he said. “For the best waves, it’s a toss-up between Bali and South Africa.”Germain, 60, is proud to be among the first group to be inducted into the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame, at a ceremony that will take place on June 6 at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.“For me, it’s the honor of my lifetime,” he said. “To be recognized for something that you love is awesome, and the fact that they thought so highly of me really means a lot.”Germain, who has surfed all over the world, has been surfing since he was 8 years old. Courtesy Lou PerezThe inductions will take place during the Saltwater Festival on June 6, an event at the Algonquin that will include a pig roast luau. There will be a cash bar, live entertainment and a DJ celebrating the best of surf music from the 1950s to today. A pop-up museum will display the works of New Jersey-based surf artists, and some special guests are expected to attend. There will also be surfer movies playing on screens during the event.“We want it to be a full audio-video experience,” said Event Coordinator Kris Kopsaftis, who owns NJ Surf Show, a boutique and art gallery in Manasquan and Lavallette. “Surfers are extraordinarily talented and tend to like art and music.”Kopsaftis began surfing in seventh grade, and to this day he finds it a relaxing and spiritual endeavor. “Anyone who ever caught a wave and rode it successfully will tell you it’s like nothing else they’ve ever done,” he said.Germain can vouch for that, but it was also the surfing culture that drew him in. “Surfing has its own lingo, culture, music, heritage and fashion,” he said. “There is no other sport that can say that. And although it’s not a team sport, there is a lot of friendship involved. I’ve met so many great people, I’ve traveled the world and seen a lot of great things. It enriches your life in a lot of ways you would never expect.”The inductees include 16 people who are already in the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame, as well as 18 new members who are all at least 60 years old.“The criteria may change in the future, but this year we wanted to concentrate on the elder statesmen,” Kopsaftis said. “It’s better to get your flowers before you die.”The inductees include competitive and free (noncompetitive) surfers, those 
who are influential in the industry, surf artists and photographers, and those with legend status.“This class represents just a small fraction of the people in New Jersey who should be recognized for their contribution to the sport,” Kopsaftis said.The New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame is partnering with the Tuckerton Seaport Museum to set up a permanent installation, which will include surfboards, photography and many other visual items.Vince Troniec, 65, of Allenhurst is also in the first round of inductees. Troniec started competing at an early age, and by 17, he was invited to participate in the World Trials in Puerto Rico.“It was really wild,” he said. “I saw all the best people in the world.”Troniec was fortunate enough to make a career out of his hobby. He has worked in sales and owned his own surf shop, and he still gives private lessons. He believes if a person can surf New Jersey’s waves, they can surf anywhere.“The waves break a lot harder here than any other place on the East Coast,” he said. “It’s very challenging and it’s a great place to learn. Surfers from New Jersey are getting a really great reputation worldwide.”Along with Germain and Troniec, the other inductees are Mike “Monk” Monroe, Ron Curcio, Allen Wolf, Carl Tinker West, Chuck Allison, Kim Floriglio, Bob Simon (Bayhead), Regan Quail, Steve Adeskavitz, Ray Hallgreen, Les Reitman, Greg “Grog” Mesanko, Bill Devereaux, Jim “JJ” Jefferey, Jack Homer and Tom Eadon. Each will receive a custom made surf trophy created by a local artist.The Saltwater Festival begins at 5 p.m. June 6 at the Algonquin Arts Theatre, 173 Main St., Manasquan. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit www.njsurfinghalloffame.com.– By Mary Ann Bourbeaulast_img

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