Welcome to Winter - The East Coast Explodes
Words by Ben Horvath
May was magnificent, but the first few days of June were BALLISTIC.
Hot on the heels of the magnificent month of May, the coldest May in 41 years, a month with five outstanding swell events from a variety of angles and only four days under three foot in Sydney, you could be forgiven for thinking things could hardly get much better right?
Well maybe not. Looking back, June 2007 will always be the benchmark but it is worth noting that the 2011 late Autumn pattern was comparable to the autumn of 2000 – which came after the last big La Nina in 1999-2000 – so it is not unreasonable to expect a few more cold outbreaks and associated swell events during the next few months, more so than an average winter.
The upper low actually formed on Monday May 30, dumping over 100 millimetres of rain on Sydney and surrounds on Monday and Tuesday May 30 and 31.
Then BANG right on cue on Wednesday June 1, the very first day of winter, a surface low intensified into the first East Coast Low of the season in the northern Tasman, sending East Coast surfers scurrying back into the garage to add a fresh coat of wax to their step up boards, in preparation for three epic days of thick, clean overhead pits.
The first few days of swell were plagued by howling onshore east-south-easterly winds.
Coastalwatch chief surf reporter JC said, “South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales started pumping on Wednesday as light south westerly winds cleaned up a rising three-to-five foot east-south-easterly swell. All the points including Burleigh, Currumbin Alley, Snapper into Greenmount, The Pass and Lennox fired on Wed through Sat". If you haven’t seen our vid footage of Snapper on Wed and Thursday June 1 and 2 yet check it here.
In contrast Sydney and surrounds was victory-at-sea material early last week as gale force east-south-east winds severely restricted serious surfing potential. However, certain protected Harbour and Bay novelty breaks were a fun three-to-four foot.
By Thursday June 2, the wind eased a tad and shifted south, opening up quite a few south corner possibilities. Owen Wright was hanging in the Gong working on his boards at Byrne. He put in some mindblowing shifts at Sandon during the week with ole mate Parrish Byrne getting shacked and destroying countless chunky six-to-eight foot lips.
On Friday morning June 3, the skies cleared and the wind shifted WNW opening up all sorts of reef, point and beachbreak options.
Out came the ski and tow rope brigade at Solander and various other death ledges and offshore bombies. The usual crew of Solander slab psychos swung into action charging some extra thick death wish chambers.
It was a strange day. The swell and wind fluctuated. There were times when the beachies were a beautiful four-to-six foot, but then a set or two of six-to-eight foot straighthanders would churn through. Similarly some points and reefs were clean and smooth under the influence of light west-north-west winds, whilst other spots were slightly wind affected when the wind shifted north for brief periods.
By mid afternoon the wind settled in from a true WNW direction, the sun shone and most sets ups were a clean four-to-six foot and turning inside out.
According to Mark Mathews Friday was mental at Ours. “There were some real crazy ones,” said Mark, “but the swell direction was a touch too east-north-east. I think it was around 80 degrees, but on Saturday it swung to 90 degrees and it was as good as it gets.”
Between 10.00am and 1.00pm were best, without a doubt the best it has been this year.
Saturday was solid. The wind was straight offshore WNW, the swell period lengthened to a good 12-14 seconds and set waves were up in the eight foot range at times.
Mathews said, “There were some eight to ten footers on Saturday at Ours. The sets were holding at high tide, but death at low. Between 10.00am and 1.00pm was best, without a doubt the best it has been this year, better than the last swell when Kelly and Taj were in town”.
When quizzed on who was charging hardest Mark said, “Lukas Street won the heat. Vass blew his knee first wave on Friday on a ten footer. He managed to handle the pain for one more wave and made a crazy one. Kobe's was back after being out with torn knee ligaments. He probably shouldn’t be surfing yet, but it didn’t matter he still scored some crazy ones. Jesse Pollack busted his knee late on Saturday afternoon and ended up in hospital all day Sunday. There were around 10 plus boards snapped. Caleb Mclean was charging, Jake Scott, Iggy and a 14 year-old grom from the South Coast called Kip. He was going nuts.”
Saturday was truly a day to remember. Everywhere was off chops, and for some reason some spots were strangely uncrowded for a weekend, while others like Narrabeen were chockas.
Reports filtered in from right up and down the coast of chunky, clean, thick pits. Size generally varied from five to eight foot solid, some reefs were up to ten foot on rare bomb sets.
Sunday also dawned picture perfect. Sunny skies combined with a crisp straight offshore Westerly breeze ensuring the smaller three to five foot easterly lines were funneling left and right on most open beachies.
Coastalwatch swell forecaster Ben Macartney is positive about future prospects too. Ben said, “Just as the last of the east swell fades early this week, renewed activity across our south swell window indicates a strong round of south swell is set to kick in this week”.
So stay tuned, and make sure you let us know where you scored last weekend.
– Ben Horvath.
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