Moments of brillance during a dark and stormy day. Photo: Devine.

Words by John Streit. Photos by Shaun Devine.

In Latin, the word “Pax” means peace.

This is for certain: there was nothing peaceful about the passing of The Weather Channel-dubbed “Winter Storm Pax.” Between Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, the powerful low pressure system traversed the East Coast, dumping treacherous amounts of ice and snow inland while lashing the coast with gale-force winds and fiercely powerful surf.

Depending on where you call home, the storm either delivered periods of epic conditions or a prolonged waiting game of watching current conditions and checking forecast updates for things to come together. Unfortunately for our stretch of coast, the dark hours of Thursday night and Friday morning hosted the culmination of this swell event with still-pumping swell and perfectly groomed faces with hard offshore wind.

For those who kept an eye on it and waited until the latter stages of Thursday afternoon to strike, Pax delivered some of the largest, most powerful and hollow surf Virginia Beach/Sandbridge has seen in some time. By sunrise, the once mighty swell was reduced to a shadow of its prime.

With the powerful swell overwhelming Sandbridge’s extremely shallow sandbars — and a dicey wind forecast — our crew opted for our Party Missile Handplanes over surfboards and swam out in the rugged and raw conditions. Solid 6- to 8-foot sets, rectangular slab barrels, voilent rip currents and full-submersion in 38 degree water had us all in agreement: this was one of the burliest sessions of our lives.

Even our fickle, wave-deprived coast sometimes “Pax” a real punch.


As far as charging with the handplanes, everyone was going for broke. John sized up this mutant and drove into an absolute cavern. Photo: Devine.


Steep, deep and below sea level. Photo: Devine.


While the GoPro has revolutionized surf imagery, the bend of the fisheye lens doesn’t do the size of waves justice. Sandbridge Beach, big and heaving. Photo: Devine.


Eric Coulson, partying hard on his “Seaworthy” Party Missile. Photo: Devine.


Double duty: Shaun Devine charges into a big set wave with the GoPro in one hand, the Party Missile in the other. Photo: Devine.


Shaun’s hungry to capture this camera angle in the barrel. Stay tuned! Photo: Devine.


“Is it on?” Shaun shows the camera his poplar “Humpty” model Party Missile. Photo: Devine.


Battered and drained from our bodysurf session, the afternoon’s improving conditions provided some incredible moments for the lens. Photo: Devine.


Mind surfers welcome. Photo: Devine.


Photo: Devine.


Photo: Devine.


Photo: Devine.


Photo: Devine.

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