Gallery and Recap: Sydney Summer Drought Breaker
Fires followed by flood, flat spell followed by destructive swell.
Swell Recap by Ben Horvath
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There’s no hiding from the fact that before the remnants of ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald sent some chunky ENE swell our way this week, it had been a pretty lame summer.
In brief, pre Oswald, Sydney and surrounds was hot, dry and barely surfable in the 1-3ft range.
Prior to Oswald’s weird southern journey there had been two inconsequential 3-4ft ENE pulses, a 3-5ft south, and day after day of weak, localised wind swell.
The biggest swell of summer prior to this week’s episode hit far southern NSW.
Select deep water reefs and bombies south of Jervis Bay pumped on Sunday January 20, peaking in the 6 to 10ft range from the south.
That swell barely made it to Sydney though, so as far as Sydney surfers are concerned the 2013 surf season began this week.
The timing was uncanny.
The best days of the swell coincided with the masses returning to work and school, which is not to say it was uncrowded by any means, but it probably kept the number of surf borne casualties in check.
Ex Tropical Cyclone was a bizarre beast, it was only an actual cyclone for a couple of hours before it made landfall way up over Cape York.
From there, Oswald began its strange southern trajectory as it moved across northern and central Qld as a rain depression.
Oswald then took an unprecedented path from Cairns to Sydney just inland from the coast, before finally weakening and moving away rapidly towards Tasmania.
It is important to note that the ex cyclone itself wasn’t the actual swell source. Ben Macartney said, “The low pressure system drew in a close range, gale force ENE fetch across the western Tasman Sea in conjunction with a slow moving high pressure system anchored over New Zealand.”
As the low tracked south and moved off Sydney on Tuesday January 29, the unfavourable gale ENE winds that plagued much of the east coast on the wet Australia Day long weekend swung light NW.
Tuesday was the biggest and weirdest day in months. Crew were frothing on the fact that there was finally swell, but many kind of missed the early session due to the intense overnight rain and wind. Many woke to the sights and sounds of more rain, but the wind swung NW and the eerie morning coastal mist kind of disguised the fact.
The flooding rain finally cleared around mid-morning and the wind puffed light NW, before shifting WSW and finally fresh south. If you were on it you scored, if not you dipped.
Coastalwatch northern beaches reporter “The Captain” bolted north up to Forster with partner in crime Matty Grainger. Matty said, “We scored some clean, solid 6 to 8 foot bombs on various sand spits and bars in the region. Due to the wind shifts one minute we were on the southern side of a headland, the next the northern.”
It was a similar story in Sydney and on the south coast. For example early on Tuesday morning North Narrabeen was firing, but by early afternoon Fairy Bower and Manly were the focus.
In the eastern suburbs the outer banks at Tamarama and a un named bombie were the go in the morning, but by lunchtime the fresh Sth wind had ruled out most options other than the novelty harbour break at Nielsen Park.
Same deal at Cronulla and further south. The Island and Point were the focus in the morning, but by early afternoon crew went hunting inside Port Hacking and Botany Bay for fun novelties.
Down the coast the northern sides of headlands in the Bawley, Shellharbour and Bulli regions were most sought after.
The south wind moderated on Wednesday, as did the swell, but there were plenty of chunky 4-6ft plus waves still to be had in southern corners right up and down the coast.
Thursday morning was quite special too, though perhaps a little softer and smaller than initially forecast.
Hey, no one was complaining though, the sun was out, there were some solid 6-8ft sets on exposed stretches between 7 and 9.00am, and the wind puffed NW till about 9 before shifting NE.
The beachies were the focus on Thursday. There were 4 to 6ft peaks and pits being devoured right up and down the coast.
Early on Friday morning there was a brief window of offshore NW winds and sunshine, before another south wind shift sent everyone scurrying back to the southern corners again. The swell was maintaining in the 4-5ft range and Macartney’s forecast points to regeneration on the weekend. Yeeow!
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