Weird Wednesday - Size Discrepancies Abound.
May 16 – 19, 2011.
Words by Ben Horvath
Wow what a blast. I’m sitting here on a mild May Friday morning totally surfed out with a garage full of snapped and/or creased surfboards trying to think of a few brief characteristics that defined this week’s powerful pulse of south swell.
Firstly it’s been well documented already that it hasn’t dropped under three foot in Sydney and surrounds so far this month until today – Friday May 20, so we’ve enjoyed three weeks of consecutive south pulses under mostly sunny skies and offshore winds.
After a very warm, humid summer and wet April, weather patterns have changed quickly this month and cooler, dry weather more typical of late winter spread across New South Wales. A favourable Southern Ocean storm track produced a succession of southerly pulses, the strongest pulse to date bombarded the NSW coastline on Wednesday May 18. Instead of running with clichéd “Big Wednesday” calls though I’ve opted for “Weird Wednesday” because Wednesday’s pulse had a mind of its own defying logic and most historic wave-tracking rules of thumb.
For example, in Sydney the south-facing reefs and beachies off Cronulla and Bondi generally pick up more south swell than the northern beaches. Similarly south of Jervis Bay picks up more south swell than the coal and leisure coast both north and south of Wollongong. Similarly the Central Coast and Hunter Coasts almost always pick up more south than the northern beaches of Sydney. Now I know that is a massive generalisation, and of course there are plenty of individual south-facing magnets that defy that general rule of thumb on a daily basis, but on Wednesday May 18, 2011 all those rules or guidelines were thrown out the door.
Before blasting into Wednesday I’ll just briefly backtrack to where we left off with the last Meltdown last Sunday May 15. Monday May 16 was pretty much a carbon copy of Sunday though a tad smaller. Surfers right up and down the NSW coastline enjoyed clean 3-4 ft. south lines and sunny offshore conditions. The beachies were best either side of high tide. Tuesday dawned similar but built to 3-5 foot late in the day. We knew the swell was coming as reports filtered in of massive Shippies on Monday.
Weird Wednesday dawned disappointing in my hood. Cronulla Point was a fat 2-4 foot and Shark Island was crowded and lully with the odd 3-5ft set. The beaches were generally straight, though The Wall had an interesting 3-5ft hollow right-hander. The outer south facing reefs were strangely only 3-6 foot and they along with south-facing Bondi are widely renowned to pick up the most south swell south of The Harbour Bridge.
Next came the tales of weirdness. In a rapid search and phoneathon to friends and associates up and down the coast I heard tales of lully 3-5 foot coal coast, 4-5 foot Black Rock and strangely 6-8 foot outer reef madness south of Ulladulla. The weirdest calls though came from Sydney’s northern beaches where Matty Grainger and friends towed 6-8 foot plus outer Long Reef bombies.
The size discrepancies were unusual but can be put down to the unique long 17 second period and acute southerly angle of the swell. Some deepwater bombies were picking up 8 foot plus bombs while more sheltered point and reefbreaks were barely 4 foot.
Anyways, no one is complaining Wednesday was an amazing day right up and down the NSW coast. The sun was out, the wind puffed light offshore westerly most of the morning and then barely puffed at all during the afternoon.
By Thursday morning the swell had backed off to 2-4 foot and today it is pretty much gone, but after 3 weeks of May madness no one is complaining and most crew are happy to plan a weekend of catch up time with partners, friends and family and rest those tired limbs in preparation for what is hopefully shaping up a more traditional old school winter of wavers. Fingers crossed.
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