Photos by Jill Thomas. Words by John Streit.

Though the Atlantic kicked up once again for a fun-filled day this past Sunday, the scene that unfolded in the surf on Monday, April 20 continues to become more memorable. That’s not just because of the pumping southeast swell and offshore winds — the ocean was literally teaming with life in the lineup. From small bait fish to a 20-foot-plus whale skirting the outside of the sandbars, Sandbridge’s waters offered surfers an up-close view of the immensity of the ocean’s life-supporting power. S&A crewman Kenny Mills even had a string ray jump on top of his surfboard for a close call with its barbed tail! It was almost as if the creatures showed up to get their waves alongside the surfers — they are the truest of locals, after all.

From groundswell born hundreds of miles away peeling off across the sandbars to these close encounters with marine life; days like this reiterate the vastness of the ocean that extends beyond our shores. You think you’re big and bad in the lineup, then a gentle giant breaks the surface just yards away to put it all into perspective.  As surfers, we are out there chasing waves in search of fun and soul-satisfication; while the creatures are constantly competing for survival. It’s a reminder of how important it is to treat the sea and its inhabitants with the utmost respect.

The ocean has an amazing humbling power. You think you're big and bad in the surf lineup, then a 20-foot-plus whale skirts the outside of the sandbar to put things into perspective. April 20, 2015, Sandbridge, Va. Photo: Thomas.
Just passing through. Photo: Thomas.
It's rare enough to see a whale off the Virginia coast, but to have one come this close is truly special. Photo: Thomas.
Close-up with our big friend. Photo: Thomas.
S&A's Josh Alley with some lip service. Photo:
Kenny Mills putting the new S&A Disruptor on a heavy rail in the fun conditions. Photo: Thomas.
Kenny Mills finishing strong. Photo: Thomas.
Craig Thomas takes advantage of his craft by fading in early. Photo: Thomas.
Kenny Mills on the gas. Photo: Thomas.
Craig Thomas bangs a big frontside turn on his Walden Enigma. Photo: Thomas.
Craig Thomas. Photo: Thomas.
Craig Thomas. Photo: Thomas.
Kenny Mills. Photo: Thomas.
Craig Thomas. Photo: Thomas.

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