"Surfers Splash at Chilly Shore," Jon Clemen's report on the Polar Bear Surfing Meet in Ocean City, New Jersey, ran in the December 1966 issue of the Hackensack Record. This version has been slightly edited.

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Despite the rays of a timid winter sun glinting across snow-covered Ocean City beach, it was a cold day to ride a wave’s crest to shore. But at the second annual Polar Bear Surfing Meet here yesterday, 100 avid surf riders from all over the Eastern Seaboard paddled around for several hours in 34-degree water and managed to make it a contest despite a complete lack of raw material —the surf turned out to be one-foot waves.

“All you got out of it was a short, small ride,” one contestant complained over a hot cup of coffee.

The Polar Bear meet is the only winter surfing contest in the Northeast and is sponsored by the Ocean City Surfing Association and the municipality. For a nominal $2.50 entry fee, a contestant wins the right to crunch out across the snowy beach and plunge, with board, into the icy Atlantic.

A more conservative group of 500 well-bundled spectators stood on the boardwalk and the pier near the 14th Street Beach and watched the day’s madness for free.

Yesterday’s semifinals were limited to a paddling contest because the surf was almost nonexistent. Ten judges decided that the best paddlers were probably the best surfers, too, so a mile-long paddle began, out to an anchored boat and back.

Contestants were required to wear rubber wetsuits during competition, and except for a few diehards, most of the contestants kept them on from 9 AM to 2 PM when the meet ended.

In the finals, surfers were given 25 minutes in the water, could take as many rides to shore as they wanted, and were judged on their four best rides.

Freezing temperatures caused the wax on well-prepared surfboards to flake off in white chips. The wax, applied to the top of the board, gives the surfer a better grip.

A rock-and-roll band playing on the boardwalk helped to warm chilled spirits, and after the meet a local hotel opened its doors to the surfing contestants for a banquet.

Contestants from Newport, R. I. and the Jersey Shore dominated the competition. Vince Tronrec of Long Branch won the men’s competition for contestants over 18, Bill Schwab of Ocean City took the boys’ class, and Janice Domorski, a Bradley Beach teenager, won the women’s open event.

Newport was represented by Bill Bollender, who won the junior men’s competition for contestants under 18, and Gill Charboneau, who garnered his first tournament win in the novice class event.

There were no casualties, but one surfer quipped: “We still have an awful lot of blue-looking people down here.”