I usually surf at a beach that has a fun little right hand point (flaggies), a dredging, powerful left sand-bar (middles), a cluster of mal- friendly banks (chickens) that usually produces better rights than lefts, and a beach break tucked near a break wall (unimaginatively called "break wall") that also usually produces better rights than lefts (with a few exceptions - got my first barrel there while going left). Its a north-east facing beach.
One afternoon in early December (weekend of 5th and 6th) there was a nice swell delivering some overhead, long and fast right waves at Chickens (see above for its description). What made this session interesting was an easterly wind. if this was an east facing beach it would obviously have a straight onshore, producing 4ft of crumbly slop. However this easterly wind was blowing from the side at this north-east facing beach and not turning this lovely swell into an un-rideable mess. I was wondering what effect side winds had on waves?
Because you were riding the rights at this location (Port Mac?), sideshore winds can be quite OK as they push down the line. You'll often have to let the first wave of the set go through to clean up any residual lumpiness, but it's usually quite workable as any chop generated by the wind is moving in the same direction as the surfer. Often, once you get into the wave it'll clean up markedly because by that point of the wave, the breeze has very little length to generate much new chop (it's smoothed out by the whitewater of each passing wave ahead).
However a cross-shore wind up the face (i.e. in your case a W or NW wind) is generating chop that pushes into the path of the surfer, creating successive bumps that have to be ridden over. Additionally, as there is a much greater fetch length, the surface chop can build to a greater height and really disrupt the wave quality. It's also known as a 'devil wind'.
I can be quite good too when the cross shore wind is heading in the same direction as the swell - sometimes, it can make the wave 'run away' from you and have no wall, but if the location is right, or sand formation good, it can make otherwise sloppy conditions quite a bit of fun.
The 'devil wind' into the breaking wave, against the direction or the breaking wave, or up the face of the wave can be fun too if you're in the groove with it and can get the timing of the bumps. If timing out, or you're not feeling it, can be bloody frustrating.
depends on swell direction, and bank/reef direction i reckon. often works out at lighthouse of a late afternoon with a northerly wind if the above is all playing together nicely...it can either hold up the wave on the bank and produce a nice little steep wall, shut it down, or make it crumble in front of you nicely or run away too fast. so many variables.
and how good was last Sunday! i felt sorry for all the QLD'ers struggling to get waves with all the crowds....chickens had a great right wall running all the way through to the breakwall, and barely a longboarder in sight. rare for the retirement capital of nsw. just one goatboater doing his best to kill everyone.
Thanks for your help guys, you all explained it very nicely. Ben you called the location correctly. And Markus, chickens was very good on Sunday. Pretty crowded for pmq, but only really 30-50 guys. Some solid waves at nobbies on Monday to, but I dinged my good board there and now I'm stuck on this crappy mini -mal cross -dressing as a fish. You can see why some call LHB the "summer saver"!