The First South of the Season

16 May 2012 0

Words Ben Horvath.

The majority of standout swells in Sydney and surrounds during autumn 2012 have been from the East or ENE. There was one solid SE episode back on March 9 off the back of an ECL, but generally the biggest and best swells in the last few months have been straight out of the E or ENE. 


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Ollie and TC dropping into solid LR Bomby on Monday morning May 14, 2012.

Ollie and TC dropping into solid LR Bomby on Monday morning May 14, 2012.

It is not unusual for E or ENE swells to be the dominant swell train during autumn, especially considering the region has been under the influence of a secondary, albeit weakening La Nina pattern until recently. 

The focal point of this swell wrap though is to review the first south swell of the season. What struck me about Monday’s episode was how similar it was to the first south of 2011. 

The first south of 2011 hit Sydney on Wednesday May 18.  Coastalwatch posted a story titled “Weird Wednesday” 

It was weird because 2011’s first solid south pulse, like this week’s episode had a mind of its own. Both swells defied logic and most historic wave-tracking rules of thumb.  It was bigger on Sydney’s Northside than the south-facing reefs and beachies off Cronulla and Bondi – locations that generally pick up more south swell than the Northern Beaches. 

Monday morning May 14, 2012’s south swell was like a May 2011 re run. The common characteristics of both swells were uncanny. As per last year there were major size variances, depending on where you surfed, and the degree of exposure to the acute S, almost SSW angle of the swell.

Matt Grainger and Tom Carroll surfed Long Reef Bomby on their Stand Up Paddle Boards on Monday morning May 14, 2012. Matt said, “Tom and I decided to take the Sup’s out for a number of reasons. Firstly there was a bit of bump on the face as the wind was more SW than W, and we also wanted to do something a bit different as we were filming an episode of Manly Surf. There were some solid six to eight foot waves ridden, even the odd ten foot bomb.” 

Matt also recalled the similarities between Monday’s pulse and last year’s May 18 swell. Matt said, “It is bizarre hey Benny. I can recall having a similar conversation with you this time last year, almost to the day. Last year’s swell was definitely cleaner, but I vividly recall you telling me Bondi, Cronulla and the Coal Coast were heaps smaller than the northern beaches, which is extremely rare in a south swell.”

The size discrepancies up and down the coast were extreme. Some deepwater bombies like Long Reef were picking up 8 foot plus bombs while more sheltered point and reef breaks were barely 3-5 foot.

Long time Cronulla local Steve Hare said, “Cronulla Point was a fun 3-5ft on Monday with a very rare bigger one. Dee why Point on Sydney’s northern beaches was more like 6ft with plenty of 8ft bombs.

The Coal coast was 3-4ft with the odd 5ft set, whilst the Central Coast was chunky, in the 6-8ft range at south facing locales.

Tuesday morning was smaller but cleaner. Most point and reef breaks were 3-5ft, ultra clean and cylindrical.

Coastalwatch forecaster Ben Mac said, “Monday’s first winter-like episode was generated by a deep low pressure system that moved gradually out of Tasmania’s swell shadow beneath the Tasman Sea over the weekend. Monday’s peak in swell was generated by an extensive gale force SSW fetch that elongated southward off Tasmania during Saturday and Sunday; its influence exacerbated by the slow movement of the low beneath the Tasman Sea.”

Bring on winter. Let us know where you scored.

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Tags: Long Reef , Dee Why , Coal Coast , may , 2012 , swellwrap (create Alert from these tags)

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