Hawaiian Swell Journal – November 25, 2011

25 Nov 2011 0 Share

Report and photos by Anthony Walsh

This week finally saw some consistent surf on the North Shore, with Rocky Point the pick of the week.
Early in the week a four-to-five foot north-northwest swell. The best spots were Rocky Point and Backdoor. That swell lasted for the best part of three days before a new northwest swell kicked in. Though around the same size, the new swell direction delivered waves to Haleiwa, allowing the Reef Hawaiian Pro to kick off in one-to-three foot for the first two days of the contest. As that swell was dropped another northwest swell filled in. This was a little bigger at around the five-to-six foot and the event finished in slightly larger two-four-foot waves. Taj Burrow took out the event to post an early lead in the Triple Crown ratings, with Adam Melling in second.

This swell saw some good conditions for Sunset, and the guys were out there in full force practicing for the second Triple Crown event -the Vans World Cup of Surfing which starts Saturday, Australian time.

The Forecast looks pretty good for the Sunset Beach contest to kick off on Sunday, with another swell on likely to arrive Tuesday in Hawaii.

Check back next week for some great surfing action and a look at the final location for the Triple Crown series: Pipeline.

Aloha

- Anthony Walsh


Spotcheck – Sunset Beach       


Sunset beach has many different faces and moods. Holding swell from one foot to fifteen foot plus, it’s one of the most consistent waves on the North Shore; no matter the swell size and direction there is always a rideable wave.


It’s open to all winter swells - anything from the west to east-northeast will get in there. The downside to this is that it’s also open to the wind, made worse by the fact that the wave breaks far from shore.

Surfing Sunset well takes loads of experience. It’s such a huge playing field with lots of water movement, so you need to put in the time to gain an understand of how the wave works. There are four main peaks at Sunset: The Point, The North Peak, the West bowl and Val's reef – and with the lineup so far out to sea, it’s hard to get your bearings.


The Breakdown

Vals Reef
The inside section, close to shore, is where you surf as a last-resort when its under three foot. However, you can also link waves into this part of the reef from the outside sections. Vals is back-washy, soft and a super-tricky pace to surf - unless you get the right wave it is almost impossible to surf this part of the reef well. The super-shallow end-section has claimed many fins too. However, Vals is the most sheltered spot at Sunset because it’s close in and tucked away behind Sunset Point. Stuart Kennedy rides his standard shortboard 5'11 to fit the turns it and to get through the flat sections.

The Point
When the swell is in the three-to-five foot range you will most likely be surfing Sunset Point. This tricky setup has many little sections over a thirty metre area. The more northerly the swell, the better this part of the reef is, as the waves become easier to read and peel for longer. With more West in the swell, it gets hard to read, shorter, and breaks further toward othe end of the point. There are barrel sections and it’s really ripable when you get the right one. The point is open to the wind, but anything from the northeast to southwest is offshore. Lighter winds are better for most of the Sunset Peaks. You’ll need a little more length and thickness in your board to cover the Point and to hold in when it gets more power. Stu rides his 6'2 step-up board.

The North Peak
When the swell is six foot and above and from the north-northwest to northeast The North Peak is the place to be. It’s the longest of the breaks and also the most predictable. The wave begins with a really peaky take-off, sometimes barreling straight from the start. Once you’ve negotiated that you’ll find yourself on a long, powerful wall just made for carving. This is one of the main reasons why bigger surfers like Pancho Sullivan, Jordy Smith and Joel Parkinson have done so well at Sunset. With the Peak far out to sea, the wind plays a huge roll in determining the quality of the wave. Light winds are best; anything from the east is good. Once it gets over six foot and over you’ll need a bigger board. Stu will ride anything from a 6'5” up to a 7'2 - which is short compared to some of the bigger guys who ride boards 7'10” upward.

The West Bowl
In a six-foot plus westerly swell, the West Bowl starts doing its thing. Barrels are very common here but it’s not a simple barrel, changing from wide to narrow, smooth to bumpy and from slow to fast as the wave moves down the reef. You aren't safe until you are on the shoulder. As with the North Peak, you’ll need a big board. Stu steps up to a 6'5” or bigger.

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