Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast (issued Monday 14th April)

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thermalben started the topic in Monday, 14 Apr 2014 at 3:34pm

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 14th April)

Best Days: Tues/Wed/Thurs: plenty of swell but winds still a bit iffy (aim for the early mornings). Easter Fri: plenty of swell and all day offshores. Easter Sat/Sun: strong E'ly groundswell with offshore winds. Easter Sun/Mon: strong S'ly groundswell with offshore winds.

Recap: Large S'ly swell building Saturday, peaking late a'noon with 10ft+ sets at exposed south facing spots, easing slightly Sun (and then restrengthening again in the a'noon!) before easing more significantly this morning. Generally fresh SW winds in most areas, sometimes strong S'ly. 

This week (Apr 16-19 onwards)

What a weekend of waves, eh? Although truth be told, from my vantage point on the Northern Beaches options were somewhat limited compared to east or north-east swells, which bathe just about every beach with good surf. The sheer size and strength of this southerly swell overpowered the beachbreaks and was really best suited to the state’s reefs and points (outta town) that are geared up for these kinds of swells. 

Also, the weekend’s swell was a stark reminder of just how much of a size range we see between exposed locations and protected southern corners. A number of exposed locations dialled in easy 10ft+ sets by late Saturday, however protected locations were just a third of the size. And winds remained a little better than expected for the most part - the brief morning windows of early W/SW winds occurred at a few more locations than was had been anticipated, and also lasted a little longer too. 

So the good news for this week is that the same low pressure system responsible for the weekend’s swell is sitting near-stationary in the southern/central Tasman Sea, and will continue to generate good surf through the entire week

In fact there’s almost no change to make to my forecast notes issued Friday. Surf size should hold in the 3-5ft range at most open coasts, possibly with the odd bigger bomb at some of the swell magnets as this swell event ebbs and flows. Picking the precise arrival times of these embedded pulses is quite hard but current data would suggest Tuesday afternoon, Thursday morning and Friday morning are the most likely candidates.

Although the overall synoptic flow will remain moderate to fresh southerly for much of the week, we should see periods of morning W/SW winds in many areas in the early mornings. So aim for an early surf for the best conditions or hit up the protected locations from mid-late morning onwards once the southerly kicks into gear. By Friday the pressure gradient is expected to relax more considerably, and we should be back to all-day offshores.

This weekend (Apr 20-21)

We’ve got some great Easter waves to look forward to. As discussed in Friday’s notes, sometime this Wednesday the remnants of ex-TC Ita are expected to slide through the Northern Tasman Sea, merging with our friendly Tasman Low. This is expected to develop a brand new, intense low pressure system immediately west of Cook Strait (the body of water separating NZ’s North and South Islands), super-charging a fresh fetch of easterly gales aimed fair and square towards the Sydney and South Coast regions. 

The leading edge of the resulting easterly groundswell is expected to arrive overnight on Friday (probably too late for any noticeable increase) with Saturday on target for a strong round of quality surf in all areas. And fortunately, a series of vigorous fronts crossing the south-eastern corner of the country will provide moderate to fresh W/SW tending SW winds for the peak of the swell.

Size wise, we’re looking at a strong but inconsistent 5-6ft at most beaches by the afternoon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some 6ft+ sets in the mix but this will probably occur further along the NSW South Coast, rather than up in the Sydney/Hunter region (although don’t rule it out).

The east swell will then ease slowly through Sunday, however it’ll be replaced by a strong southerly groundswell generated by the fronts associated with Saturday’s gusty W/SW tending SW winds. These fronts - and an associated deep low to the south - are expected to push into our swell window in the early hours of Saturday morning, reaching peak intensity Saturday night (just east of Tasmania). 

This will kick up a strong southerly groundswell for Sunday - building all day, peaking late afternoon - but as per last weekend’s event, there’ll be a large range in wave heights from this source. Fortunately, the decaying east swell will provide a little more size at protected locations but we’re looking at anywhere from 4-5ft+ at exposed south swell magnets (maybe even a shade more in the Hunter) but only 2-3ft inside sheltered southern corners. Winds will remain offshore all day, except for the Far South that may see some influence from the fronts, potentially steering winds around to the S/SW at times.

Next week (Apr 22 onwards)

Sunday’s solid southerly swell will then ease from Monday onwards, and at this stage next week will probably see slowly easing swells. The longer term outlook maintains plenty of frontal activity across Tasmanian longitudes however it’s unsure whether they’ll push into our swell window or not, and therefore whether they’ll generate any swell for us. Let’s re-evaluate in Wednesday’s update.

evosurfer's picture
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evosurfer commented Monday, 14 Apr 2014 at 5:04pm

That easterly swell back on 16th March was absolute garbage for Cronulla but the weekends south swell
especially Sat night for a certain point was just smoking. Thats why I live in Cronulla

IF im not surfing im racing

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Monday, 14 Apr 2014 at 5:43pm

Yeah it's one or the other, isn't it? Northern Beaches pumps under east/north-east swells, hates south swells. Cronulla hates east/north-east swells, pumps under south swells. Never the twain shall meet.

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blindboy commented Monday, 14 Apr 2014 at 6:09pm

Nothing wrong with a south swell on the northern beaches Ben! Well my little section of it anyway. My paddling muscles are aching after the last three days!

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thermalben commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 5:56am

Yeah that was a little harsh. What I meant was Northern Beaches options are 'severely limited' under large south swells, compared to swells from other directions. I spent around four hours driving look for waves on Saturday - the general NB traffic is insane, regardless of the surf - and there were really only a handful of surfable options, all of which were (at the time) either fat, crowded or weird (or all of the above). I know your section of the coast does pretty well under these swells but I just can't work that wave out!

thelostclimber's picture
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thelostclimber commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 7:57am

is there some secret spot on the Northern Beaches that we dont know about?
If you're talking about where I'm thinking, it was sizable, pretty good, not crowded. But having never paddled out there before I was overly hesitant and with about an hour of paddling against the sweep and only 1 wave, realised that was it for me. I would go back again though. Probably need a bit more big wave practice first.
Sat arvo - Warriewood was back to how I remember it being in the late 80's early 90's when the surf pumped everyday and the banks were always good. But its a 1 spot take off, so very crowded. Still good though.

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top-to-bottom-bells commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 8:07am

"The late 80's early 90's when the surf pumped everyday and the banks were always good"

Isn't that everyone's grommethood?

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blindboy commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 9:10am

thelostclimber there are still a few spots on the NB that are rarely surfed and worth the effort. Happy hunting!
Ben I have only just started surfing it again after a few years. The combination of the crowd and the degree of difficulty just did my head in so I am sort of starting all over again at the moment. This run of waves has been a huge help. To really get a feel for the place you need to put the hours in and given how inconsistent it can be that is a real challenge.........of course if you know everyone at the take off spot by their first name, that helps!

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thelostclimber commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 9:44am

TTBB - sarcasm is hard to convey in print.

BB - I'm pretty sure I know all the spots, there are definitely some that do my head in too. Taking off backhand straight toward a rock ledge in a howling gale isnt really my thing.

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thermalben commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 9:52am

I watched it for a while on Saturday BB and as well as being crowded (with a boardriders comp on too!) it didn't really seem to be breaking very well - only saw a couple of waves ridden properly, and even then they were getting just one or two turns in. Maybe I wasn't there on the right tide (I think Sunday might have been better too).

Also watched a flock of surfers out at the reefs between Collaroy and Fishermans (ie Brownwater, The Kick etc) and it's amazing how dicey some of those waves are - with regards to exposed rocks etc - for what's essentially a very short and fat wave. The Kick looked like it'd be OK on a high volume fish but it was overrun with SUPs and longboarders, who were snagging almost every set wave. Couldn't bring myself to paddle out and hassle.

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top-to-bottom-bells commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 9:55am

Whoops, missed it TLC. Carry on.

thelostclimber's picture
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thelostclimber commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 12:14pm

the kick is only good at dead low tide - for shortboards anyway. the lower the better.
You still havent mentioned where I paddled out Sunday morning, but it was good and not crowded.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 12:18pm

I'm happy not to mention locations that were good TLC.. keep it to yourself! I'm sure there were some good waves but unfortunately they didn't coincide with my windows of opportunity.

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drewdrewdrew commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 12:36pm

Was a joke out there sat! Soo many guys out so much aggro out there too! I got a few and went in wasn't worth it. Reefs werent bad on sunday tho :)

thermalben wrote:

I watched it for a while on Saturday BB and as well as being crowded (with a boardriders comp on too!) it didn't really seem to be breaking very well - only saw a couple of waves ridden properly, and even then they were getting just one or two turns in. Maybe I wasn't there on the right tide (I think Sunday might have been better too).

Also watched a flock of surfers out at the reefs between Collaroy and Fishermans (ie Brownwater, The Kick etc) and it's amazing how dicey some of those waves are - with regards to exposed rocks etc - for what's essentially a very short and fat wave. The Kick looked like it'd be OK on a high volume fish but it was overrun with SUPs and longboarders, who were snagging almost every set wave. Couldn't bring myself to paddle out and hassle.

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blindboy commented Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 at 1:43pm

It never was for the faint of heart drew. You earn your right to waves out there over time, not on a single day. The idiot factor amongst the shoulder hoppers was huge over the weekend and there were countless near misses as people with no idea of what was really going on assumed the surfer coming from deep wasn't going to make it and just dropped in. There was some really shameful stuff too, boards thrown away, stupid over the falls take offs, lots of out of control surfing. So aggro? What do you expect? It's not a church social, the locals look forward to the few days a year when it really cranks and generally don't chase waves all over the NB when it isn't so no, they are not terribly welcoming when a whole lot of people who don't surf there regularly turn up on the quality days.
Ben I was out of the water by the time the contest started and had had a really fun session. Same on Sunday. Not perfect but a couple of good solid waves all the way down the line are enough for me these days. This morning was the best yet from this swell.

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drewdrewdrew commented Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 at 7:48am

Blind boy I'm not talking about the locals being aggro I'm talking about half the clowns that couldn't get under a wave, throwing boards dropping it... You tell them politely to pull it together or goto collaroy! Then they have a massive go at u next wave comes in washes them up and repeat... It's not safe n they aren't learning how to surf, guess they can tell their mates they surfed dy but missed out the part they almost killed everyone. Usually when it's got a big if size they aren't out there but sat was a different story.. Glad u got some good ones mate. see what this east swell brings :)

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scoopmaster commented Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 at 1:59pm

It would be a big gamble to not run the red bull cape fear event this saturday. I'd expect 6-8' sets from the ESE with light offshore winds and sunny skies. On the other hand Mark Matthews and co may be eyeing a trip to west oz for the 15 foot offshore conditions.

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scoopmaster commented Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 at 2:15pm

And in other news i will be recreating Dynamo's famous walk across the Thames river at Shark Island late on Saturday morning, though I freely admit that there will be no magic involved - I will simply be hopping from the back of one surfer / bodyboarder to the next using them as stepping stones. If the crowd is especially thick I may in fact make it all the way to Cronulla point via the shoulder hoppers in the channel.

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rusty-moran commented Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 at 3:19pm

Scoopmaster, classic!!