Forecast: Keramas, oh yes!
Timing, as they say in the classics, is everything. For the first time in five years Keramas is back on the CT calendar and after a week of downtime the Corona Bali Pro will be the beneficiary of a renewal in Indian Ocean swell activity.
For the last week the Indian Ocean has been largely devoid of major storms owing to a large blocking high extending east from South Africa/Madagascar. That high is currently shifting with the first swell-producing storm moving in and deepening today. It’s located near the Kerguelen Islands in the Southern Ocean and is only a compact system, however it’s well-directed and over the coming 24 hours it’ll aim a mid-range southwest swell toward Keramas.
That swell will hit on the opening day of the competition - Sunday the 27th - at an expected 4-5 feet, although the day might start a little undersized. The only unknown quality at this point is that there’ll also be the remnants of a jumped up SE trade swell still in the water. Keramas requires a long, clean line to taper across the reef and how this opposing windswell effects the wave will only be apparent on the day.
Whatever the case, by the next day - Monday the 28th - the windswell will have gone with the southwest groundswell the only energy in the water. Again, size will be 4-5 feet.
Keramas, slack winds, morning high tide, head-high swell - the ultimate canvas for high performance surfing
Tuesday will start with the same swell tapering down to 3 feet, however late in the day the first of two back-to-back swells will hit Bali. At present, the timing appears such that the first swell will hit after the SE onshore has come up on Tuesday rendering it unrideable.
By Wednesday morning, however, the offshore will again be blowing and the swell will have built to 4-6 feet. By the middle of the day the second swell will hit Bali, and if the early rounds are started at the beginning of the waiting period then this swell should see out the contest.
The swell is the product of a deep low embedded in an elongated wind field, all moving into the Indian Ocean this Wednesday. The breadth of the system will ensure at least two days, maybe more, of sizey surf at Keramas.
Wednesday should peak around 8 feet, however the afternoon onshore may spoil the apex of the swell.
Thursday morning will be around 6-8 feet at Keramas - about the upper-most limit of the wave - then Friday morning around 5-6 feet, and Saturday back to around 4 feet.
The next swell is due on Sunday, however we expect the WSL should have finished up the contest by this point. This largely depends on how many hours the contest runs each day before the afternoon onshore comes up.
The morning offshore at Keramas is caused by downslope winds blowing NW from Mount Agung, the strength of which can hold the SE trades at bay even when the SE winds are blowing across the rest of the island. How long the SE onshore is held off is due to microclimate factors that are extremely difficult to forecast. We just have to wait and see on the day.
Parko won the last Keramas comp, scored a perfect 20-point heat along the way, but how's about a little sympathy for the vanquished? JJF on his way to a paltry 19.20 total.
While we’re talking uncertainties, it’s also worth flagging the tidal effect at Keramas. When the tide is rising towards high there’ll be a pronounced push in swell, with the converse also being true - swell size will drop with the tide. The first few days of the waiting period have an early to mid-morning high tide with a low tide six hours later. The full moon is on Tuesday the 29th so there’ll be a lot of water movement (high highs and low lows).
Another point to consider: immediately after Keramas the WSL will shift to Uluwatu to complete the interrupted Margaret River Pro, and this will almost certainly be factored into the decision-making process at Keramas. The WSL will do well to complete Keramas quickly and move to Uluwatu while Bali is in the middle of a swell bounty.
Stay tuned to updates in the comments section below and visit Swellnet's Keramas and Ulus pages: