Tom Petriken is a 23 year old professional surfer from Point Pleasant Boro, New Jersey. He’s the newest member of the Insight team and contributor for The Inertia. Instead of focusing on contests, Tom’s tracking the next swell in his 1971 Volkswagen Bus. In this interview, we decided to take a peek inside Tom’s world.
Describe a day in the life of Tom Petriken.
I’m partial to getting up early so I can exercise and start the day. When there’s waves, I like to spend the majority of my time in the water. I always try to take advantage of what the Atlantic Ocean produces, you never know when the next flat spell is coming. On days where the ocean is taking a rest, I’m writing and searching for new adventures. Yesterday, I took a drive down Whipporwill Valley Road. It’s one of the haunted roads in New Jersey.
How did you first get into surfing? What was your first board?
Both of my parents surf; it was in my blood to become a surfer. My dad pushed me into my first wave when I was 7. Since that moment, I was hooked. My first board was a custom 5’6″ Gary Linden swallow tail. It’s blue with a huge dragon on the bottom and it’s still in my basement. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of that board.
As a professional surfer, do you feel you have a certain duty or image to maintain every time you paddle out? In other words, is it all business when you hit the water?
Mixing business with pleasure is a risky endeavor. Its always good to remember why you started in the first place, to have fun. I consider myself very privileged that another day in the office means another day doing what I love.
What’s with building igloos? How did you learn to do that? And what’s in it for you?
When 4 feet of snow keeps me trapped inside for a week, there’s only so much TV I can handle before going insane. I’ve been making igloos since I was in 3rd grade. Every winter I try to outdo myself with a better creation. Last year I constructed my greatest masterpiece which contained 3 rooms. A 15 foot long tunnel led to a game room and my bedroom. Some say building igloos is crazy but at least I’m entertained.
Any other sort of art that you are into?
I’m lucky to live an hour away from NYC where there’s museums like the MoMA, MET, and AMNH. A day inside of any of those places will have your mind overflowing with inspiration.
Tell us a little about your blog and what you are doing on there? What do you feel about your personality or life experiences that people will find interesting enough to check in on your blog?
I started The Tommy Log while I was spending a week inside my ice palace. After surviving the first night, I realized that I needed to share my story. I hoped my words could bring positivity into the lives of those who were undergoing harsh times during the blizzard. I keep my blog updated daily with ramblings and photos from my life. I just want my readers to be inspired to go on their own adventures and smile while they think back to a similar experience in their past.
For those of us who haven’t had a chance to explore the New Jersey surfing experience, describe the scene over there?
New Jersey has a love/hate relationship with most surfers. Some days mother nature provides the waves of your dreams while other days have the side shore winds from your worst nightmare. It’s a fickle surf destination. We spend our summers staring at a flat ocean and a beach blanketed with tourists. The colder it gets, the better it gets. Its possible to encounter waves that resemble French beach breaks but you might need to climb into 5 millimeter of rubber to surf them.
What has been getting you the most stoked lately?
Trading off waves with my friends during an evening glass off. When its windy all day, the best sessions are when you least expect it.
Photos by Mike Incitti and Melissa Dilger