Surf Forecast & Breakdown: 2016 Drug Aware Pro, Margaret River

5 Apr 2016 0

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

The Box as perfect as it gets, Photo by Joel Nankivell / Soutwest Saltwater

The Box as perfect as it gets, Photo by Joel Nankivell / Soutwest Saltwater

COASTALWATCH | Event Forecast

Written by Chief Forecaster Ben Macartney, WA Forecaster Dan Wyer & Photographer Joel Nankivell

Steeped in 31 years of history, the Margaret River Drug Aware Pro has been a long time staple for the professional surfer.

The event made the step back into the limelight as a World Surf League championship tour event in 2013 for the women and then 2014 for the men after being downgraded to a Qualifying Series event in 1991. Well known for its large surf, the contest quite regularly offers up huge waves throughout the contest period.

With the inclusion of backup options at The Box in 2014 and North Point this year, the event is set to shine brighter than ever.

Located 277 kilometers southwest of Perth in Western Australia, the third event of the 2016 championship tour is held amongst some of the countries richest landscape, spectacular coastline and incredible, raw waves.

In 2015, the event saw sets peaking at ten feet, what will 2016 serve up? View the Coastalwatch WAVE TRACKER to see the swell approaching.

Below you'll find;

  • Event Forecast Breakdown
  • About the Breaks
  • Where to Stay, Eat & Shop
  • The Draw
VIEW LIVE MARGS CAM

Margaret River Main Break, Photo by Joel Nankivell / Southwest Saltwater

Margaret River Main Break, Photo by Joel Nankivell / Southwest Saltwater

THE FORECAST BREAKDOWN

Issued by Ben Macartney on Tuesday 5th April 2016 

If you’re anticipating the same, pumping conditions as last year’s Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, you might be in for a bit of a let-down come Friday 8 April. Unlike 2015, Marg’s swell window is dominated by quasi-stationary high pressure located southwest of the state. This feature is double-edged; on the one hand steering a succession of polar fronts away to the southeast as they approach Western Australian longitudes –thereby diluting associated SW swell potential for the region. On the other hand, the static high-pressure pattern instigates day after day of favourable winds; characterised by early-offshore easterlies swinging to the SSE during the afternoons.

The upshot is a recipe for clean, small to mid-sized SSW groundswell during the opening days of the waiting period – and going on latest computer model guidance, the World Surf League will probably be looking to get straight down to business on Friday morning. The passage of a modest polar low tracking deep below Indonesia sets up a broad area of 30 to 40kt westerly gales across Western Australia’s south swell window over the next 48 hours; giving rise to a modest pulse of SSW groundswell for the region on Friday and Saturday.

WA swell-forecaster Dan Wyer explains: “Inconsistent early forerunners of longer period SSW swell begin to make landfall late Thursday filling overnight and into Friday. Wind conditions hold favourable from the ESE through the morning coupled with some fresh lines of inconsistent mid-sized SSW swell. Expect clean 3 - 4ft waves, rising with inconsistent bigger sets into the day. Again we should see some decent options across exposed reefs and beach breaks down south throughout the morning”.

Dan continues: “As we look towards the weekend we see trailing energy of mid-range SSW swell hold some size into Saturday morning under a possibly stronger SE - ESE'ly flow. Expect wave heights speculatively around the 3-5ft range at exposed breaks early down south before easing off into the day. We may see a bit of SE'ly texture with current wind models suggesting fresh SE, tending ESE breeze through the morning before a stronger SSE sea breeze through the afternoon.”

“The Wave Tracker depicts peak wave period, showing the leading edge of the SSW groundswell inbound across the Margaret River region on Friday morning.”  Side Note: Margaret River main break is a swell-magnet and falls well and truly into the “exposed breaks” category.

“The Wave Tracker depicts peak wave period, showing the leading edge of the SSW groundswell inbound across the Margaret River region on Friday morning.” Side Note: Margaret River main break is a swell-magnet and falls well and truly into the “exposed breaks” category.

“The three days of the SSW swell from Friday to Sunday could prove crucial in knocking over the early rounds of the competition”

“The three days of the SSW swell from Friday to Sunday could prove crucial in knocking over the early rounds of the competition”

Sunday and Monday then holds tenuous potential for a couple of reinforcing pulses of SSW groundswell – again amounting to 3 to 4ft or so at Main Break under a similar, early E tending S wind-regime. This hinges on the eastward progression of a couple of weaker, anteceding polar fronts passing through the same storm track below Indonesia on Thursday and Friday, setting up moderate 30 to 35kt WSW fetches over the region. Whether or not this comes to fruition will become clearer later in the week.

However it pans out, the WSL may want to milk these modest SSW groundswells for all they’re worth. If they choose to wait, they may be in for a couple of lay days preceding the arrival of two back to back, long range WSW and SW groundswells late next week. The first, WSW swell arises from a deep mid-latitude low forecast to intensify as it stalls southeast of Madagascar from Wednesday to Friday, giving rise to a long-period pulse of groundswell spreading radially across the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, the strongest fetch area associated with this system is aligned SSW – thereby aiming the bulk of swell northeast at Indonesia – and so WSW swell spreading radially off this source will be substantially diluted by the vast distance it has to cover before making landfall on Thursday 14 April.

The second, SW pulse arises from a more stable, longer-lasting extratropical low forecast to intensify southwest of South Africa over the coming days before weakening as it tracks east. A leading pulse of SW groundswell generated by this system speculatively shows up over the weekend of Saturday 16 – but this would be substantially diluted by the vast distance between the swell-source and Margaret River. However, with any luck this will be superseded by a stronger mid-sized, WSW swell - arising from a long enduring fetch setting up below South Africa and Madagascar this weekend. This could provide enough size to knock over the pointy-end of the competition over the weekend of Saturday 16, but at this early stage there’s still plenty of uncertainty on how this might play out, so stay tuned for updates.

2015 Margs showing it's finest, Photo by Joel Nankivell / Southwest Saltwater

2015 Margs showing it's finest, Photo by Joel Nankivell / Southwest Saltwater

About The Breaks

SURFERS POINT, MAINBREAK:

One of the most consistent waves in the country, Margies Main break is an A-frame reef peak that holds quality contestable waves from 2ft – 15ft. Light winds from the ESE are perfect. Mid to long period (12-20second) WSW groundswells in the 2-4m range are best.

The right-hander favours a SW swell and holds up to 8-10ft, offering a steep peaky takeoff and tube section before a top to bottom high-performance wall through to the inside reef. The left will hold larger waves in the 12-18ft range. Again a WSW swell is the optimum angle for the left allowing the wave more wall as the swell bends around the reef.

Wave Type: Left, right reef break.
Best Swell Direction: WSW
Best Swell Size: 4-12ft
Best Wind Direction: ESE
Best Tide: Mid tide

THE BOX:

The original west oz slab ‘The Box’ is a thick and gnarly right-hand barrel sitting approximately 500m offshore, north-west of the Margaret River Main break. Optimum conditions for the Box are light/moderate ENE-NE winds, a mid to high tide and mid to long period west - WSW groundswell in the 2.5m-3.5m range.

A perfect ‘BOX’ wave starts with a relatively steep take off ramp section before hitting the inside reef and throwing out a powerful thick tube section before spitting into a deep channel. Short and intense but one hell of a wave.

Wave Type: Hollow right reef break
Best Swell Direction: West - WSW
Best Swell Size: 4-10ft
Best Wind Direction: ENE
Best Tide: Mid - high tide

NORTH POINT:

The jewel in the crown. One of the more fickle locations across the southwest coast but one of, if not the best. For the first time in the events history we see this famous right-hand reef/point set-up selected as a favoured backup location. Needing a solid WSW-SW groundswell this grinding reef break can dish up either the best tube of your life or one of the biggest hidings.

North Point works on most tides although a low tide will create a few steps through the inside bowl. On a good day the wave starts out on the peak (you don't want to go left) and sets you up for the first long and dreamy tube section. The wave backs off a touch before then hitting the inside bowl where the wave reduces slightly in size but gains in intensity with a thick and open cavern.

Wave Type: Hollow right reef/point Best Swell Direction: Large SW- WSW swells
Best Swell Size: 6-10ft
Best Wind Direction: SE-ESE
Best Tide: Mid tide

2015 Drug Aware Pro, Margaret River, Photo by WSL / Scholtz

2015 Drug Aware Pro, Margaret River, Photo by WSL / Scholtz

Where to Stay:

Margarets Beach Resort
1 Resort Place, Margaret River
It's the closest resort to the surf and it's spectacular. They offer loads of great deals and can set you up with the best tours and southwest experiences around. Great for kids too! 

Heritage Trail Lodge
31 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
Probably the most relaxing and picturesque place you can stay in the region. Champas and a delicious hamper of fresh produce from the region is a must, and the included breaky will make your day!  

Where to eat

White Elephant Cafe
Gnarabup Rd, Gnarabup
It's just about as close to absolute waterfront as you can get without being on a boat. The Grilled Polenta for breakfast is a Coastalwatch recommendation. They have a #healthyelephant promo running during the event. Check out their Facebook for details.

The Common 
1 Resort Place, Margaret River
The place to be when you need a good feed. Make sure you get hold of the lamb ribs and the pot prawns! 

Colonial Brewing Co
Osmington Road, Margaret River
If it's a cold one you need the Colonial will sort you out along with a tantalising menu and killer views. Try the Tex Mex Wings and the Spiced Salmon and a sip of the Indian Pale Ale.

Where To Get Wax & A Wettie

Sessions Surf Shop
105 Bussell Highway, Margaret River 

Beachlife Surf Shop
121 Bussell Highway, Margaret River

The Margaret River Resort

The Margaret River Resort

THE DRAW

2015 defending champions; Adriano De Sousa & Courtney Conlogue

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Taj Burrow (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Davey Cathels (AUS), TBD
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW), TBD
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Michel Bourez (PYF), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 8: Nat Young (USA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 12: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Chelsea Tuach (BRB)
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Alessa Quizon (HAW), TBD
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW), Sage Erickson (USA), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 6: Johanne Defay (FRA), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)

Watch the event live on the World Surf League website

About Surf Forecaster Dan Wyer: Dan Wyer lives in the South West of WA. He’s passionate about the waves in this region and is constantly searching and researching the rest of the WA coastline from the NW, to the Perth metro beaches, to some secret spots way down south and has his finger on the pulse of all the action that’s happening in WA.

About Joel Nankivell / Southwest SaltwaterJoel runs Southwest Saltwater photography and captures the essence of the South-West of Western Australia's pristine coastline and its surrounds. Living locally in Dunsborough, he has been involved in photography for over 10 years. His passion is with surf, landscape, wildlife and abstract photos – a keen surfer he often photographs the many surf breaks and landscapes during his daily surf sessions.

Tags: margaret , river , breakdown , topnews (create Alert from these tags)

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