By John Streit. Photos by Mickey McCarthy, Jon Carter, Eddie Compo, Shaun Devine, Karis Reventas, Billy Ficke, Vinnie Abijaoudi, Briar Nelson, Lisa Milspaugh & Streit.

Tough Love.

As cold, cruel winter winds blew across the sea, the hearts of surfers across the region become warm with stoke and anticipation. It’s only natural to view the love of wintertime Mid Atlantic surfing through rosy lenses. Valentine’s Day was approaching, after all. However, those of us who charge the icy winter swells know the other side of the equation.

The brain-freeze beat downs. The hypothermic change outs. The dagger of frigid water as it rips through the sanctum of the wetsuit.

As it is an undeniable law of the Universe, for all of the pain there is pleasure. For the negatives, positives. The duality of our wintertime ritual transcends surfing. Through sacrifice and suffering comes enlightenment. Through endurance of the unyielding physical elements comes a spiritual elation.

It all comes down to the love of surf defeating the forces of nature that conspire to keep us out. It’s a true love and devotion that St. Valentine himself would have appreciated. It just happened that the most powerful swell of the winter nearly fell on his day.

The rising sun shines its light on pumping conditions at First Street Jetty on Thursday, Feb. 12. Photo: Ficke.
Virginia Beach at its absolute best. Photo: Ficke.
Morning glory. Photo: Ficke.
King Neptune has his back turned to this A-frame. Photo: Ficke.
Pick your peak: Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Photo: Devine.
S&A team rider Conner Barnes likes what he sees! Photo: Devine.
Kitty Hawk putting on quite the show. Photo: Carter.
Bill Ceaser needing every bit of his 6'7'' to get into this Kitty Hawk beauty, and how about the bomb behind it? Photo: Carter.
Eveyone had a good view of this wave but Ken Baittinger had the best view. Photo: Carter.
S&A team rider warming up for Australia's Noosa Surfing Festival on his longboard in Croatan. Photo: Milspaugh.
North End Sandbridge, Thursday morning. Photo: Reventas.
This Sandbridge freight train boasts groomed perfection. Photo: Reventas.
From the Oceanfront to Sandbridge, it was a memorable morning of surf on Thursday. Photo: Ficke.
Billy Ficke made sure to put down the camera and score some great surf! Photo: Abijaoudi.
Hiller Jennings slides through this Sandbridge peeler. Photo: Abijaoudi.
Sandbridge S-Turns fires off an unchallenged A-frame. Photo: Ficke.
All-time form in Sandbridge. Photo: Nelson.
More dreamy perfection captured in Sandbridge. Photo: Nelson.
This Delmarva slab delivered some memorable bombs for The Wildlyfe boys! Photo: Compo
Jason Wilson makes a heavy drop into this shorey grinder. Photo: Compo.
The pilgrimage to the top of the peak. Photo: Compo.
Meanwhile on Hatteras Island, Rodanthe Pier was no match for the raw power of this swell. Photo: McCarthy.
The manmade dunes that once stood in front of Rodanthe Pier's parking lot didn't stand a chance against the angry Atlantic. Photo: McCarthy.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse -- the site of many an epic session on big swells -- was maxed out on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Photo: McCarthy.
Mike Zeiner charges hard in the Avalon Pier shorebreak. Photo: McCarthy.
Any ID help on this unidentified charger would be appreciated! Photo: McCarthy.
An unidentified surfer braves the shorebreak. Photo: McCarthy.
Sky high. ID help please! Photo: McCarthy.
Tommy Hill ripping apart the Avalon inside. Photo: Carter.
Though a pesky north wind gnarled things up for the afternoon across Virginia, a few nuggets could be found before a gust front put the day to rest. Little Island Pier, Sandbridge. Photo: Streit.
S&A team rider Coeltryn Kirkland banks it off the top
Sandbridge 6-year-old Rhett Kirkland was charging in way-overhead conditions -- for him! Photo: Streit.
The ice-cold devil wind shredded what was left of the swell. Photo: Streit.


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