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As the rising tide helped enhance the bombs aimed at Virginia Beach’s North End, Steven Owens rose to the occasion. March 10, 2013. Devine photo.

Photos and words by Shaun Devine & John Streit. 

From day one, Winter Storm Saturn’s swell was sent from another planet. As the massive storm pulled off of the Mid-Atlantic coast, it interacted with a confluence of phenomenon that delivered unpredicted, cosmic conditions from New Jersey to North Carolina on Wednesday, March 6 during a short window of offshore winds.

Virginia Beach sat in the bullseye of the cold-core cyclone for more than a week as it spun in the North Atlantic — a track that’s light years away from the usual pattern of winter storms racing off to the northeast.

The result: heavy, long period waves in the eight- to 10-foot plus range alien to Sandbridge‘s and Virginia Beach‘s more sheltered conditions.

But sometimes, the cosmos aligns just right and makes amazing things happen.

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S&A team rider Tyler Balak shined in the heavy, against-the-grain conditions on March 10. North End of Virginia Beach. Devine photo.

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March 8 in Sandbridge was one of those days when you could watch the ocean for hours. This beast detonating on the inside sandbar made the time spent on the cold, windy beach well worth it. Devine photo.


Glimpses to the south revealed both enticing optical illusions and 42-degree perfection. This beauty peels off through the 15-knot north-to-south current ripping down the beach at Sandbridge on March 8. Devine photo.


Virginia Beach standout Alex Burdett threads the needle at one of the many Oceanfront banks currently working. Streit photo.

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Saturn’s swell produced some UFO’s in the form of perfectly cylindrical barrels. Sandbridge, Va. March 9, 2013. Devine photo.


The Sanctuary and Little Island Pier frame this outside grinder. March 8, 2013. Devine photo.

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“You’d take off and just keep dropping in,” says Steven Owens of this North End takeoff. March 10, 2013. Devine photo.

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There were few shoulders to be had at this North End bank on March 10. Tyler Balak makes this one pay. Devine photo.

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The consistency of the Saturn swell was its trademark. One of the thousands of barrels that opened during the swell runs away from the lens in Sandbridge. March 9, 2013. Devine photo.

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It’s easy to see that right-handers were dominant for the whole swell event. Tyler Balak sniffed out some of the lefts and took full advantage. Devine photo.

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