Solid Long-period South Swell hits Sydney

7 Nov 2011 0 Share

Long-period lines pushing in north of Sydney.

Long-period lines pushing in north of Sydney.

Words by Ben Horvath.

It has been a solid three to four weeks between swells of note in Sydney and surrounds. The late September - early October school holidays were awash with waves but since then conditions haven’t been anywhere near as inspiring.

Historically November and December are traditionally the leanest two months of the year in terms of swell activity on the East Coast. It has been hard work staying motivated to surf on a daily or even weekly basis during the past month or so. There’s been a bunch of  two-to-four foot days, but the wind has been predominantly onshore, the water cool and the banks horribly straight.

Late last week though the elements aligned to allow surfers in Sydney and surrounds the opportunity to get wave quotas and natural serotonin levels right back up.

Despite the wind, this South Coast Beachie was lining up well.

Despite the wind, this South Coast Beachie was lining up well.

Reef power on the southern outskirts of Sydney early on Saturday morning, November 5.

Reef power on the southern outskirts of Sydney early on Saturday morning, November 5.

Point cylinder mid morning on Saturday November 5.

Point cylinder mid morning on Saturday November 5.


A solid 15-second period southerly groundswell pushed up the coast late Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning November 4, the water warmed up, the sun was out, and offshore northwest winds were fanning solid three-to-five foot lines.

Friday was fun, but Saturday morning was the real deal. Matty Grainger and Tom Carroll paddled out at Long Reef Bombie at dawn on their SUP’s and were pleasantly surprised mid session.  Matty said, “At 6.00am it was only three-to-four foot and still a tad full and slow - it kind of justified our equipment choice. However by 8.00 when the tide dropped there were consistent five to six foot sets and it was quite hollow.  There was quite a bit of water moving around. It wasn’t big, but it was definitely thick for this time of the year that’s for sure.”


South of Sydney conditions were similar.  One or two south facing reefs that I checked on the fringes of Bate Bay (Cronulla) were four foot at dawn, and pulsed to a solid five to six foot mid morning on the sets. The weekend hordes were well onto it, but few were complaining about the burst of power.

On the Coal Coast Coastalwatch contributor Clarrie Bouma said, “Most of the beachies were closing out on the sets, but several reef and pointbreaks were the best they’ve been in a month or so”.

South facing set ups from Forster to Ulladulla pumped most of the morning until a freshening northeasterly seabreeze kicked in around 11.00am, limiting surfable options to extremely sheltered northern corners.

By Sunday the swell had eased back into the two-to-three foot range and the period dropped off to nine or ten seconds. The episode was over but all the water movement definitely improved the banks. Here’s hoping for another swell soon.

-    Ben Horvath

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