Kirra is a closeout

9 Sep 2008 0 Share

Kirra in its present state is a closeout - Random observations from a swell Greenmount through Kirra, 23 July to 25 July, 2008


Words: Andrew Kidman
From the latest issue of Surfing World - OUT NOW!

There are some grommets out there who have never experienced a true Kirra Point from Big down to Little Groyne. This is what it used to look like before choking on tons of sand form the Tweed River

There are some grommets out there who have never experienced a true Kirra Point from Big down to Little Groyne. This is what it used to look like before choking on tons of sand form the Tweed River

Wednesday 23 July:
By mid morning a southeast swell was thumping into Snapper. There were solid eight-foot sets and reports Angourie was 15 feet and closing out.

Greenmount was holding the swell beautifully on the high tide, breaking wide on the sets and running through to the Big Groyne at Kirra. It was cold, offshore, raining and grey. The waves at Greenmount looked more like something from a Victorian lineup.

On the hunt or those lovely dolphin ladies.

On the hunt or those lovely dolphin ladies.

The two noticeable oddities were the fact that Kirra was barely breaking, which is rare for a swell of this size, and the complete lack of sweep through the lineup.

Usually on a southeast swell of this magnitude the current sweeping north is torrential. But there was no sweep at all on this swell. In fact, the current was actually taking the surfers back towards the top of the point at Snapper.

For some reason, when I surfed just after the midday high tide, the crowd was extremely mellow. The swell was consistent and the participants were sharing the waves amongst each other. This changed instantly the moment one particular longboarder paddled out and thought not only should he get every set but it was also his right to catch every other wave he was anywhere near that reared on the bank.

In his frenzy he dropped in, pushed sections down, paddled up the inside and swung around on folk who had been waiting for 20 minutes-plus. This all came with a smile as he flapped down the line and did his big spazimoto hackbacks on his oversized equipment. This one kook basically destroyed the sanity in the lineup for everyone, as the surfers who were out there taking turns were suddenly forced into competing for waves.

Thanks buddy. It was nice while it lasted.

I drifted down to the middle of Greenmount. The outgoing tide seemed to be taking the power out of the swell and the lulls got longer. I’d noticed earlier a group of dolphins frolicking around out the back when the swell was pumping. During one of the lulls, this group of dolphins moved into where I was sitting and began aggressively playing with each other. There were three of them, tumbling around on top of each other. They looked to be fighting then one broke the water upside down. Protruding on his underside was a huge, stiff, pink, dolphin dick. I wasn’t the only one to see it. Another surfer looked at me and said, “They’re having a root!”

This went on for about twenty minutes all within about 10 feet of the surfers in the lineup. As a surfer I sometimes forget how special it is an experience. I mean, ask yourself if you know what a dolphin dick looks like. The first question my partner Michele asked me when I got home was, “What colour was it?”
“Pink, of course,” I answered, somewhat embarrassed by my newly acquired knowledge.

Wayne Deane executing a classic cutback at Kirra - sadly it's a turn that hasn't been seen at the break since the creation of the Superbank

Wayne Deane executing a classic cutback at Kirra - sadly it's a turn that hasn't been seen at the break since the creation of the Superbank

Thursday 24 July: For some reason the previous day’s swell had disappeared. It was two foot and onshore at Greenmount with maybe six surfers out.

Friday 25 July: Overnight a small, intense low had formed off the coast just above Noosa. An unseasonal east swell was building and by midday it was six foot-plus. The best east swell I’d seen on the coast since March.

I sat next to the rusting eagle on top of the hill at Kirra watching the swell lines pump in from the steely deep towards the Big Groyne. Wayne Deane, a local actually raised in Coolangatta from birth, was scouring the lineup for an opening. The Big Groyne at Kirra was barrelling well for a section before closing out.
I grew up riding closeouts at Narrabeen’s Carpark Rights and am fairly confident I can identify one. While photographers can make these closeouts look like all-time waves, I can assure you that Kirra in its current state is, in fact, a closeout.

I spoke to Wayne about this after his session. “If we had Kirra like it used to be on that swell it would have been unbelievable because that swell was the perfect direction. It would have been Big Groyne to Little Groyne kegs. It would have been quite amazing. Now it’s just a closeout,” Deane said.

Wayne is a member of a group of surfers trying to resurrect Kirra called The Kirra Point Committee. Since the Big Groyne was shortened in 1995 by 30 metres the locals believe the wave at Big Groyne has never been the same.

In 2001 the Tweed River sand bypass project began pumping sand from the Tweed River around to the point at Snapper. From day one the sand began filling in the bay that runs north to Greenmount, through to Kirra and on into Bilinga. Once the pumping commenced, the reef at Kirra was buried over, the rich sea life including Manta Rays and Wobbegongs disappeared.

Andrew Kidman on a wave that appears to be perfect - don't be fooled, it's an illusion

Andrew Kidman on a wave that appears to be perfect - don't be fooled, it's an illusion

In 2003 the Little Groyne was completely buried under the sand. It remains buried to this day.

The Committee has had little success lobbying the local and state councils. Deane believes the surfing media has been naive and irresponsible in its recent portrayal of Kirra. “The problem we’re facing trying to deal with the bureaucrats and the people running the local and state councils is when we have an argument of why Kirra should be brought back, they throw at us all the media releases like, ‘All-time Kirra’,” he says. “Like when Tracks did that article, they put on the cover, ‘All-time Kirra!’ But in reality it was just closing out, it was shithouse. I mean I’ve sent e-mails to the Queensland environmental minister and to Peter Garrett. I never heard back from Garrett but the Queensland environmental minister just threw the Tracks article straight back at us. ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘It says here, – All-time Kirra!’ It’s really hard to get anywhere with it.”

While I didn’t surf Kirra in the ’70s, I have seen many of the photographs taken during the era -- pulled back lineup sequences, showing the wave in its entirety. During this latest swell it was definitely not the famed drainpipe of yesteryear.

I can attest that a split second after this photograph was taken, the wave completely closed out. While it doesn’t look like it, I’m actually pulling out of the barrel in this shot to avoid being smashed by the closeout that is coming at me from the other direction.

Mick Fanning gets ski assistance while Deane (paddling) can look forward to the chopped up remains of the next close-out set,

Mick Fanning gets ski assistance while Deane (paddling) can look forward to the chopped up remains of the next close-out set,

Jetski dramas
You’ll also notice the jet ski behind me in the lineup. For many reasons, most of them greed, jet skis have riddled the Kirra lineup every time there has been a decent swell over the last five years. Obviously the current at Kirra is fierce when the swell is running and many of the local pros use their skis to run each other back to the top of Big Groyne.

This creates a number of ethical problems. Some of the most talented, wave savvy surfers are suddenly back in position and on the inside for the next set within moments of riding their last wave. This is extremely frustrating for the recreational surfer. After paddling themselves into the lineup they then find themselves having to hold their ground against the sweep, hoping for the chance at a decent wave before being swept down the point.

Another problem is the series of wakes thrown by the jet skis. When a surfer is dropped off on the first wave of the set, or a ski drives directly through the lineup, a series of wakes spills from the craft into the wave zone. This basically destroys the face of any wave that is forming by putting a wobble of corrugations through it.

Wayne Deane is not a fan of the use of jet skis at Kirra. “They create a bad situation because the wake from the ski sometimes lasts for two sets,” he says. “If they are out wide and they tow into the first wave of the set and there are half a dozen of them then there’s 50 wake lines going in all different directions all over the wave face. It makes the lip break. It makes it really hard to turn on the wave. It basically makes it impossible to ride the wave.”

The biggest problem, though, when the skis are running at Kirra is the danger posed to recreational surfers. This day there were only two skis in use. Mick Fanning and Bobby Martinez were running one of them and to their credit they stayed a decent distance from the other surfers using the lineup. But the other ski team out there, no doubt thinking, “If Mick Fanning can do it, I can do it”, were nothing short of absolute idiots. The driver continually blazed through the lineup within ten feet of other surfers. Dropped his partner in on waves recreational surfers were already riding and for their own thrills soured the experience for everyone else out there.

I’ll leave the last word to Wayne Deane, as I believe after surfing and looking out for Kirra for near on 50 years he deserves the respect.

“They have to start to think about the repercussions of what they are doing and begin taking some responsibility for their actions because they are going to get it banned. No one has been hurt yet but believe me they have come so close. Then, when it really comes to the big stuff, when you literally could use them, when it’s 15-feet out by the shark buoys, they won’t be able to go out and do what they want to do.”


For more information go to www.kirrapoint.org/kirra

GO CAMPING, GET TUBED!

Issue 290 of Surfing World - Out Now!

Issue 290 of Surfing World - Out Now!

Is there anything more satisfying than packing the car, driving a few hours from home, pitching a tent, lighting a fire and scoring uncrowded perfection? This issue we pay tribute to the great tradition of going camping, still the easiest and most rewarding surfing experience around. We catch Kelly Slater's epic one-day helicopter mission to pumping G-Land where the Eight-time World Champ spent most of his time getting uncharacteristically ragdolled along Indo's most famous stretch of reef. We profile NSW Central Coast shredder Ace Buchan, join Steph Gilmore, Chelsea Hedges and Jessi Mylie-Dyer on a Northern Pacific shredfest, talk surf with Australia's best living author Tim Winton and find out why athletics prodigy Sally Fitzgibbon ditched a shot at the Olympics for a career in pro surfing. We also examine the current shabby state of Kirra's banks, take a look at the ever-changing relationship between Clubbies and Surfers and sniff out the odds of Australia ever getting worked by an Indo-style Tsunami. Jon Frank went and hung out with Koby Abberton in the cold urban wilderness of Maroubra for a revealing and powerful photo profile and there's also all the usual insane images and stories you've come to expect from Australia's most respected surfing journal.

Surfing World. It's cranking in here: www.surfingworld.com.au

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