He may be “Raw” Rob now. He may have called off Kelly Slater at Pipe last winter. He may be one of the top surfers living in New Jersey today, but Rob Kelly was once a grom from the unlikely state of Pennsylvania.
Before father Jim Kelly family moved to Ocean City full time, the Kelly boys would take whatever ride they could get, and that often meant Belmar. “When I started surfing, 16th Ave. in Belmar was my spot. It was the closest beach from where I lived – about an hour and 15 minutes away,” remembers Rob Kelly, “I’d actually only surfed a handful of times in Ocean City before we moved there.
Kelly recalls heading to Belmar after school. “By the time we got out of school, got our stuff together, and drove all the way over, there wouldn’t be more then an hour of light. So, Chris and I would catch as many waves as we could.”
Rob dominated the local ESA and NSSA, and even made the final of the Oakley Heritage Pro Junior in Sea Isle City in 2008. But his very first contest results were here in Belmar. “It was one of the first contests in the CNJ/ESA season and I didn’t even have a wetsuit. My Mom saw a tent as asked Scott Goodwin if I could just surf in. He said ‘sure,’ made a seven man heat, and put me in for free. Thanks Goodwin.”
You can be sure that Rob Kelly will be fired up for Belmar this month. For more on Kelly, check the Surfer Profiles.