How To Forecast Your Next Surf Trip

17 May 2017 0 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

COASTALWATCH PLUS | FORECASTING TRICKS & TOOLS 
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How to forecast your next surf trip

Surf trips are a dime a dozen — unless you’re on one. Then, the surf trip becomes all sorts of magic. The special new “trip board”, the time out from your life’s routine, pointless time with your mates, and always the rising anticipation of surf, surf, surf. You can’t ever tell how any of it’s gonna turn out, but you can give yourself a head start thanks to modern surf forecasting. Here’s six DIY tips to help you get the most of the magic.

#1 Season

When are you going? What are the general conditions like at that time of year? Get advice on this; many surf zones have little ups and downs through what’s supposed to be peak season, and many are surprisingly good off-peak. So, yeah, ask around. Ask us, for example. CW is an epic traveller’s resource. 

#2 Hind-cast

Go back to the last epic swell you heard about at the joint, and see if you can match the swell to its source. Backtrack for synoptic charts relating to that time; start looking at maps from about a week before the swell hit, and follow the maps toward the swell’s arrival date. In this way, you can get an idea of what weather patterns really switch on your spot.

#3 Watch 

Six weeks out, start watching the daily weather maps that relate to the location. Look for signs of things resembling whatever your hind-casting showed you. It’s only two or three minutes out of your day and it’ll give you a sense of how the weather patterns are evolving as your trip departure date approaches.

#4 Local weather

Most good surf trips (Indo is the classic example) take you to surf zones where swells are created a long way away. Local weather at such spots almost never relates to the storms that made the swells you’ll be riding, but local weather can totally blow it out. So start watching it too, maybe 10 days out. Among other things this will give you some idea of what gear to take (rain jacket? warmer stuff? full wetsuit or just a vest? or just T-shirts and boardies?).

#5 Moderate whatever you see and hear

Forecasting a trip can lead to heightened expectations and even possibly mad fantasies about the excitement ahead. Try to be aware of this — don’t read too much into what you’re seeing develop on the charts (or not).

#6 Once you take off, let it go

We strongly advise you not to carry your forecasting any further than the moment before you set off. At that point, what’s done is done. Focus on the experience, absorb everything you can about the location itself, ride the waves you find, and leave the forecasting behind.

Crusie through our Gear Guides for Surf Travel
- The Ultimate Indonesian Surfboard Guide 2017
- The Essential Board Bag Guide For Surf Travel 2016
- 6 Things That Will Improve Your Surfing

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