When he’s not working as a camp director at Skudin Surf school, or doing volunteer work with children with special needs for the nonprofit Surf for All, professional surfer TJ Gumiela is training, perfecting the aerials and other dynamic board maneuvers that he has become known for.
At 24, Gumiela, of Long Beach, is considered one of New York’s best surfers, having exploded onto the scene nearly a decade ago by becoming the first New Yorker to win the youth division at the Eastern Surfing Association East Coast Championships.
Next month he will compete against some of the best surfers in the world at the 2014 Unsound Pro. The event, Sept. 18-21 at Lincoln Boulevard, will be presented by Volcom, the popular surfing brand, and is being described as the most important professional surfing competition to come to Long Beach since the Quiksilver Pro New York in 2011.
For Gumiela, a member of Unsound’s surfing team who is sponsored by NYSEA and Reef, it’s a chance to take his pro career to the next level. “There are some pretty big names, and it will be cool to surf with them and against them,” he said. “For me, it’s in my hometown and I really want to win this contest — it will mean a lot to me. I’ve been practicing and working really hard.”
Though the event is not part of the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour, it is part of a loose circuit of major East Coast competitions. “It’s one of the top four events on the East Coast,” said Billy Hume, Volcom’s East Coast marketing and athlete manager. “It sort of turned into an unofficial mini tour for a lot of traveling surfers. We’ll be one of the biggest events in the series, and we’re closing out the East Coast contest season in Long Beach.”