Wipeout! Surfer fail during Monday’s rough surf at Jersey Shore goes viral

The wild ride off Bay Head was all caught on video and in spectacular photos, which went viral within minutes. Surfer Brendan Tighe was not seriously hurt.

Jim Murdoch

Dec 20, 2023, 10:35 PM

Updated 187 days ago


It was a wipeout felt around the world. Some of the biggest waves ever ridden at the Jersey Shore nearly turned deadly for a surfer on Monday.
The wild ride off Bay Head was all caught on video and in spectacular photos, which went viral within minutes. They have now been seen by hundreds of thousands of people.  
“The wave stood up, I opened my eyes, and it had gotten too vertical to put my board down to face the wave so I had no choice but to leap,” said surfer Brendan Tighe, who survived the spill with minor injuries. 
Tighe plummeted two stories into chest-deep water, before the estimated 22-foot-wave crashed down on top of him. 
“My foot yanked up like this and my whole body went sideways. I landed sideways on the flat part of the water - we call it the flats - and then the lip came down, landed on my body,” Tighe said.
Dave Nilsen’s photo of the wipeout went viral within minutes, even before Tighe got back to his truck. 
“Brendan is an animal of a human, and I don’t know how many people would actually go for a wave like that. I think it’s the fact that just how big that wave was and the commitment because he was going for it no matter what,” said Nilsen. 
Tighe’s plunge was also captured on video by Ryan Simalchik, who joined dozens of other photographers and videographers at Bay Head’s Strickland Avenue beach to watch and capture Monday’s epic storm swell. 
“I can undoubtedly say that that was the biggest wipeout, the tallest, heaviest wave I’ve ever seen here. We played it and must have watched it 100 times back and forth watching every part of the wave because it was mesmerizing,” said Simalchik. 
Tighe shook off the bruises and pulled muscles by taking in a much smaller morning surf session Wednesday at Point Pleasant Beach.  He is a semi-professional big wave rider and says conditions on Monday were only meant for the most experienced surfers.
“I’m really happy to be alive and go home and see my wife and kids for Christmas,” he said.

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