Surf reporting

allbut3fins's picture
allbut3fins started the topic in Saturday, 6 Feb 2010 at 5:52am

It has occured to me that surf report sites like Swellnet should instruct its "surf reporters" to attempt to use some discretion when posting the morning surf report. Using terms in the morning report like its poor now but will be good on high or low tide or in an hours time leaves no doubt when the average jock should hit it. Further, discretion should also be used in what pictures should be posted again so your average jock needs to put the time in to know (and respect) the coast he or she is surfing. Finally, a crime beyond believe is inflating the size of the surf or its condition so perhaps commerical interest created by greater passing traffic past your business. Allbut3, Mornington Peninsula

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 6 Feb 2010 at 6:27am

Wholeheartedly agree Allbut3.. in fact we've been waiting for the new website to launch a "Code of Ethics" for surf reporters which we hope will set a benchmark for all reporting services. This has been in the planning for a couple of years, and we'll upload it in the next week or so.

nev89's picture
nev89's picture
nev89 commented Saturday, 6 Feb 2010 at 9:27am

Ah darn right allbut3. Hoping the promised code of ethics as a positive impact as some reports (ers) have been over the top.

shifty's picture
shifty's picture
shifty commented Saturday, 6 Feb 2010 at 9:02pm

Winki's 10ft and perfect!!!
Everybody grab your boards and follow me for an uncrowded session...

Image

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun commented Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 at 9:22am

Wholeheartedly agree Allbut3.. in fact we've been waiting for the new website to launch a "Code of Ethics" for surf reporters which we hope will set a benchmark for all reporting services. This has been in the planning for a couple of years, and we'll upload it in the next week or so.

By: "thermalben"

I'm the scab you keep picking off and is there again the next day.

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun commented Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 at 9:27am

"thermalben" wrote: Wholeheartedly agree Allbut3.. in fact we've been waiting for the new website to launch a "Code of Ethics" for surf reporters which we hope will set a benchmark for all reporting services. This has been in the planning for a couple of years, and we'll upload it in the next week or so.

By: "shaun"

"Code of ethics for surf reporters" If they had ethics they wouldn't be surf reporters.

I'm the scab you keep picking off and is there again the next day.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 at 9:10pm

"Code of ethics for surf reporters" If they had ethics they wouldn't be surf reporters.

By: "shaun"

So, I guess you're just visiting Swellnet for the news articles then, eh?

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun commented Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 at 9:37pm

"shaun" wrote: "Code of ethics for surf reporters" If they had ethics they wouldn't be surf reporters.

By: "thermalben"

So, I guess you're just visiting Swellnet for the news articles then, eh?

Well, yes as a matter of fact I am. I live a hundred kilometers from your nearest surf report site, so your reports aren't of great use to me as conditions are very different that far away. Luv Shaun

I'm the scab you keep picking off and is there again the next day.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 at 10:11pm

That's great Shaun.. stoked to see you're enjoying the articles. But.. the irony is that they wouldn't be here without the surf reports. Swellnet's core business - and the reason we have a good level of traffic to the site - is because of the surf reports and forecasts. The articles, galleries and forums - and surfcams - are little side benefits we've slowly added to the site over the last couple of years.

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun commented Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 at 10:28pm

I use surf forecasts cause they are there, not yours cause they dont work for where I want to surf. Surf reports actually work well for me because it is a fact that the surf reporter more often than not work in the local surf industry, so it's in his interest to get that surfing dollar down to his local beach so that he directly or indirectly benefits, so if he can funnel all those surfer/sheep to his beach and not mine I'm happy. But dont make out surf reporters are doing a public service, it's all me,me,me,

Luv Shaun

I'm the scab you keep picking off and is there again the next day.

poket-roket's picture
poket-roket's picture
poket-roket commented Saturday, 13 Feb 2010 at 3:08am

Exactly its all about me,me ,me. I'm stuck in Melbourne and get to surf maybe once or twice a month due to the usual family commitments work etc. With forecasting I can plan ahead and shoot down for a surf in the best conditions so I don't waste petrol, time and most importantly brownie points with the missus. I remember the pre-forecasting days my mate and I used to stumble our way to the coast after poring over the forecast charts in the newspapers trying to figure it all out only to roll up to crappy blown out mush half the time. Obviously these forecasting websites have been set up with some commercial gain in mind - these guys are doing something they love and I reckon are pulling in a small fortune while they are at it. Why not. Thats what we all dream of. As far as toning down the reports go right ahead. I know my favourite spots and their little idiosyncracies. I don't need to know the best tides or even a pic. As long as the swell sizes and wind directions are accurate Ben and the boys are doing a fine job. Goodonya's boys keep it up

sunny's picture
sunny's picture
sunny commented Saturday, 13 Feb 2010 at 11:18am

The best waves are not on the surf report. Sometimes...maybe.
Reports give indicators to where real waves maybe happening and that is the joy of a surf report.
Radio surf reports are a joke though...regurgitated sameness from a quick look at swellnet/coastalwatch I swear I have hear "Flex" say on his radio surf report, word for word, a report from Swellnet.

Life is good when ur tubed :-)

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Sunday, 14 Feb 2010 at 9:34am

"But.. the irony is that they wouldn't be here without the surf reports"
I'm not quite with your logic there Ben. Internet surf reporting is a fact of life. Do you seriously expect those of us who would prefer that it didn't exist not to use it therefore putting ourselves a step behind the invasion of the clones. Mate if nothing else your reports very often give me a good idea of where NOT to go!
As for the articles and photos, well all very fine but also available through a huge range of other media....sorry mate we don't have to love you to use you!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 14 Feb 2010 at 6:48pm

blindboy, what I meant by my comment was that you wouldn't be reading articles and looking at surf images on Swellnet if it wasn't for the surf reports and forecasts - it's our core business (Swellnet's first webpage in 2002 had a simple forecast for SA). There's plenty of websites that have started up over the years with just articles and images, and they tend to turn over pretty quickly.

nev89's picture
nev89's picture
nev89 commented Sunday, 14 Feb 2010 at 10:16pm

If you strip all the individual & corporate veneer away surf reporting is about gain, or in other words, greed. Individual surfers use the sites to get one up on the pack, surf reporters want the fame or cash flow in their surf business & the reporting sites like swellnet want the surfers to generate income from sponsors. Its simple. What "Allbut3fins" was talking about in essence was respect. How does swellnet address this issue? If the site puts 10, 20 or 50 surfers on a bank or reef at the one time where is the respect for what has been (our surfing hertiage) and what is present, how can that many surfers have a true surfing experience? dodging & weaving around each other in a fight for a wave or a set wave? Its just becomes another corporatized commodity. Surfing should not be about wave count or the best wave(s). Anyway, there is no going back from here so swellnet, how about you leading the way in educating the pack about surf respect and the laws of surfing. These topics should be a permanent frant page banner having greater space allocated than sponors banners.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 1:49am

^^^I think just about every surfable stetch of coast on earth has a forecast and surf report site by now. Many have numerous sites covering the territory.

You can think about the issue hypothetically, or philosophically, but the simple fact is surf forecast sites aren't going away. To simply wish they didn't exist is to put your head in the sand. If Swellnet were to disappear the void will immediately be filled by another forecast site.

We understand this and are making concerted efforts to use our position responsibly. It's a fine line though, when we rejigged the site we copped a lot of abuse because some of our surf reports became 'regional'.

The rationale for regional reporting was to provide general information and let the surfers join the dots, so to speak. However, there are a lot of crew that actually want specific information (which bank, what tide) to be provided to them. I found this pretty unbelievable, but there you go...

Despite what the those email writers want, specific information is something we seriously discourage our reporters from providing.

So yeah, feel free to call us out if you wish. Understand though, that while some people want us to provide less information there are an equal amount that want us to provide more.

bombora's picture
bombora's picture
bombora commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 2:40am

Surf reports are a fact of life.
It's nice that they are regionalised though.
We can't go back to the 60's so let's just get on with it. I must admit, though, to being happy my local doesn't have a webcam.

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 3:18am

You are kidding right. Complaining about surf reports causing crowds. The reports are on basically urban centres or already crowded and well-known spots where the crowds are there regardless. And if you cannot work out from the information they provide where is more uncrowded and will be good also, and is not mentioned, then learn about your little piece of coast more. Blaming surf reporting for the crowds is being far too reductive. I enjoy this site, always have. I still get uncrowded waves because I bother to not follow the sheep and to use the data to find my own sweet little sessions (and reckon the 'regional' reporting is respectful of this knowledge. I dig the shift to this model). I may not get the best waves of the day but they aren't as busy that is for sure. Name one break reported or named on this site that isn't already crowded? That's what I though, nada. If you want to blame anyone hunt down the big surf companies who sell sell sell surfing to everyone and everything.

As for pulling in heaps of money, I doubt it. It seems that these blokes are relying on google advertising so there cannot be that much coin coming in. Have a look at how advertising revenue on the web works, it's a very marginal game. As far as I can tell Swellnet employs maybe 3 people? Hardly a greedy corporate monster huh?

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

nev89's picture
nev89's picture
nev89 commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 4:52am

yep, you are right clif, most surf reports are in urban centres .... for now anyway. if there is a commercial advantage in putting a web cam down the country y guess is that it will be done.

you are also right if you can't work it out by now learn more about the coast ... all good clif.

so if you are so right & I respectfully think you are why do we need these sites to tell us what we already know (or should) & that is my point .... if you put in the time on the coast (and the respect) you don't need the greedy hand emporium to tell you when to have a surf.

i

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 5:10am

Nev89, well, I use this site for a one-stop shop for the data. That is, I get forecast swell size and direction and current wind patterns and period etc. The reports let me gauge what, in general, is going on that day and let me test out my own calculations to see how they fare and whether I am making the right calls. From there my puny little mind calculates the odds for my favourite little set ups. Off I trot. The site provides the resources in one convenient place for me to make an informed decision, more so than I ever was able to when I studied charts in the newspapers (although this data is available now online elsewhere I would have to visit a bunch of locations to work it all out). This one-stop information portal and calculation is worth its weight in gold. I am a busy man lol. And predicting swell size and direction a little way out is done better anyway by the meterologist that is Ben and Co. as they have access to mathematical formulas and data sets I haven't got the time to calculate or search out = more accuracy So I guess what my rambling is saying is that it is a convenience and laziness thing, that is what sites such as this provides or services. As well as some bonus photos and footage for me to see what played out and how well I fared during a swell. Nothing sinister in all that I reckon.

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 5:11am

Oh, I might add that even though there is advertising on the site etc. I have NEVER bought anything advertised. I just ignore that sh!t.

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 8:48am

OK Ben so give us a heads up on your business plan for the next decade. Tell us it doesn't involve more locations and more cams with higher resolution. Tell us it won't involve more sophisticate software to allow your "clients" to quickly identify where the best waves are likely to be at any time.

No? Well of course, you'll be out of business if you don't. I don't really care, just admit that you are part of the grand progress of surfing from an activity of a small minority with deep cultural connections to a mass participation farce about which no-one gives a toss.

I had to laugh at that comment from the Melbourne "local" about how we all just want to make a buck out of surfing......says it all really!

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 9:14am

"progress of surfing from an activity of a small minority with deep cultural connections"

I appreciate the sentiment blindboy. But unless you were around with the ancient Hawai'ians it seems like a long bow to draw. It hasn't been this for a long time and never will be again.

Consider this: the whitefella's uptake of surfing is based upon the commodification of surfing, that's how it was disseminated - think Duke being brought out by companies for swimming demonstrations and promotional opportunities and display for the media in Australia and the spread to California through an demonstration for promoters/advertisers by two Hawai'ian princes.

In other words the ironic thing is you (and I) are part of this mass commercial uptake and bastardising growth of surfing you so lament. This site is a part of this grand growth of surfing but a part so small that its like a grain of sand on a beach.

"a mass participation farce about which no-one gives a toss"; oxymoron? (btw, just because a lot of people do something doesn't devalue it, it just devalues it in the eyes of those who mistakenly think it makes them somehow "special")

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

maddog's picture
maddog's picture
maddog commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 9:59am

steve shearer forecasts far nth and gold coast. The guy lives in Ballina.About 110k s away from the goldy.. He never pisses in his own back yard , never will he tell us how good sth wall is . Just put the charts up and zip it say nothing update them constantly but no comment.Steve is rarely correct about what is going on north of Lennox any way. The recent swell we had here he was wrong by 3 days anyway.Just post the charts and ZIP IT.

pinomatic's picture
pinomatic's picture
pinomatic commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 10:01am

I love swellnet. Since I started surfing this summer I check where to go on swellnet everytime I go surfing. Its really really good for guys just starting out like me. I find it really good because I live in Melbourne and work almost every day and only get a day off every now and then and I want to only go when Swellnet tells me it will be working. Keep up the good work guys and don't listen to those whingers. My favourite breaks are Lorne, Ocean Grove, Pt Leo and Cat Bay but not when they are not too big.

poket-roket's picture
poket-roket's picture
poket-roket commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 10:19am

Internet stat sites have Swellnet at an estimated value of around 40k. Not a huge sum which further underlines the point I was trying to make - it would seem the purpose of Swellnet is in providing a forecasting/reporting service and not money, and perhaps a vehicle for Ben and co to showcase their forecasting skills. So Blindboy if it was me you were refering to me as the Melbourne "local" (actually I grew up in country Victoria - if I may be permitted to set myself apart from the Melbourne crew), I was making a general statement that most people aspire to making a living out of something they enjoy and perhaps bring about a positive influence to whatever that may be. None of this exploitation crap.

I cannot see surfing ever becoming a mass participation farce. In my own humble experience I have found it takes a certain type of personality - beginning with a slight mental deficiency (speaking for myself)to go through drama of learning to surf and then sticking with it long enough to gain the experience and skill to ride a majority of quality breaks in most places. I have met plenty of people who have tried surfing for a period and then stopped. They just don't get it. Also if surfing was such a great activity that all and sundry would want to take up then why hasn't this already happened? Not every person who lives by the sea surfs. Not everyone goes fishing for that matter. Sure surfing has been made fashionable by the big companies but how far do most people take it? They buy a jacket and boardies, g-string bikini for the ladies, prance about a bit and that is that.

No disrespect to the origins of surfing but it's one thing that I really have never understood about some surfers who go on about surfing being oh so special and everyone will want to do it. There are many different pursuits out there in the wide world and plenty of people are just not interested in surfing. They would rather go mountain bike riding or play table tennis or make origami. For the remaining few who are genuinely interested in surfing, have done the miles and know their coastline, we now have the benefit of Swellnet and other websites to improve the odds of heading off for a surf and scoring.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 11:05am

Hey Maddog,

I think you've got 'reporting' and 'forecasting' mixed up. Steve 'reports' the Lennox Head area where he lives, not the Gold Coast area.

He does however, 'forecast' northern NSW and QLD, something you don't have to live on the actual stretch of sand to do.

I think your 'wrong by three days' call is patently ridiculous too by the way...

maddog's picture
maddog's picture
maddog commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 12:22pm

So who reports on the gold coast area, and why not have them forecast it.. No offence intended , i think the majority of viewers of the sites such as this are looking for the photo essays, and the forums.Then you have the event webcasts.Question do you guys plot your accuracy rates with the forecasting?I saw a show over the weekend red bull big wave ski warrior etc where Ben had made decisions to go to N.Z with T.C and Ross Clarke Jones , the best they got was 12 to 15 foot hideously onshore fat burgers. Do you not think a local pro fisherman or harbourmaster would have had a better handle on the local conditions? Its your business but surely it would be better service to have people living a little closer to an area that they have been charged with forecasting.Steve is very good at keeping it on the down low in his local neck of the woods .

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 2:07pm

maddog, we have a small team of forecasters for a couple of reasons - first and foremost because it's easier to manage. Most of our reporters have day jobs, so even if they were capable and/or interested in providing a forecast, they wouldn't have the time. Steve's a great forecaster with an incredible wealth of knowledge - not just about the effects of different swells across different parts of the NNSW and Qld coasts, but also the complex oceanic/atmospheric interactions in the Tropical South Pacific, which plays a key role in the region's swell potential.

"i think the majority of viewers of the sites such as this are looking for the photo essays, and the forums"

So what was everyone looking at before we introduced the forums (last week) and the photo galleries (a couple of years ago)?

"I saw a show over the weekend red bull big wave ski warrior etc where Ben had made decisions to go to N.Z..."

Without going into too much detail - it's hard to sum up six month's work in a couple of sentences - but there's a lot more to it than what ACA presented.

In the footage you saw, we were at the far SW tip of New Zealand, scoping a never-surfed-before reef west of Riverton at the eleventh hour - all because our primary destination in Fiordland failed to deliver a single large swell within the three month shooting window.

When this particular swell lit up the charts, we thought it'd be enormous at the offshore bommie we were aiming for, as it was completely exposed to the Southern Ocean (in fact, the low pressure system was eyeballed directly to our stretch of coast).

But.. on the day it just didn't happen. Why? Probably local bathymetry, amongst a couple of reasons. At the same time we were surfing and filming, the well known big wave reef Paptowie - 150km to the east, located slightly inside the shadow of Stewart Island, and also off axis of the primary fetch - delivered the biggest waves EVER seen there (according to the local boys.. we saw pics too). Even Cronulla picked up 10-12ft from the same event, despite the fetch being aimed towards NZ. So, the swell delivered - just not where we were, and for no justifiable reason, not even with the benefit of hindcasting.

I won't go into much more detail here, as the footage is incredible and I don't want to spoil the docco (which comes out very soon). But.. it's easy to cast an opinion from the comfort of home.

And, for what it was worth - we were guided to this location by the local big wave surfers. My job was to pinpoint an ideal swell event within the waiting period, so that we could mobilise some twenty-odd staff who were on standby. The night before the swell, we met with one of the local charter fisherman from Riverton (who also worked with the Coast Guard) and he refused to come out with us on the day, saying that we'd be experiencing 7-8m swells and suicidal conditions (he told us a harrowing story of being caught inside 30ft surf right near where we were heading to). Everyone had much different expectations than what occurred at that particular reef on that particular swell.. that's the inherent beauty of surf forecasting. There's always a curveball coming your way.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 9:33pm

clif, so by participating in surfing but not taking the dollar, which I had every opportunity to do, I am just as bad as those who, from pure self interest promoted surfing to increase their business or personal income? I don't think so. Yes we are all part of it but some lost a lot more dignity along the way.

Surfing is just another mundane example of the "tragedy of the commons". Self-interest leads individuals to massively over exploit a shared but limited resource, thus damaging it. The individuals benefit in the short term but we all lose in the long term. If you seriously believe that surfing has not been devalued by the increase in participation I can only imagine you live on a remote part of our coast or have only recently taken it up. Nice sentiments, shame about the reality.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 9:36pm

Oh, on a positive note, Swellnet is nowhere near as bad as Realsurf. If you want an example of how not to do a surf report check it out some time.

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 10:43pm

Fair 'nuff. But, I guess, no matter what we do for work/employment/business there is a cost for our "dignity" - environmental, human, etc. Unless you work for purely altruistic reasons and via purely eco means. Surfing was never going to escape capitalism, comrade. Nice sentiment, shame about the reality. Sorry. Better to have those who use it for income to do it ethically as possible, yes? As it seems Swellnet is trying to do: regional reports, etc. Surfing was always going to be hugely popular because it's bloody fun, first and foremost. Don't put the cart before the horse. As such, it is always going to be capitalised on.

Forgive my stupidity, but this 'tragedy of the commons' seems flawed. So if everyone ate vegetables rather than meat that would be a tragedy for us and the planet? No. So I fail to see how the logic holds up across numerous examples rather than those, ironically, drawn from a capitalist economic system that relies on scarcity and capital and never-ending growth.

BTW: I have been surfing a looong time now. The thing is I have learned to be adaptable. Under 6ft it is a free-for-all. I expect nothing less anymore. Ce la vie. I either go to the effort to surf out-of-the-way places or I adapt and bodysurf hollow and shallow ledges and pockets around my area. No crowds there. Not everyone has to have the best waves either. When you bodysurf there are too many waves, many slip under the radar as those with less experience cannot see them or ride them.

Anyways, good points you make.

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

nev89's picture
nev89's picture
nev89 commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 10:55pm

Hey blindboy I'm with you these guys are highly likely to have access to empty waves somewhere, perhaps here or overseas on their mates surf charter boats. Either way the surfers living and working on the coast are paying.

As for the most recent comments from that Melbourne "local" where do I start? Well I don't it.

Swellnet is not going away nor are the crowds decending on the coast from over crowded ugly ciites via ever increasing highway networks. On one level crowded surf isn't the problem its the attitude people bring to the water. It can be social or it can be war. Personally, I prefer social but many just want it all ... good size, off-shore, empty ... and that is the false dream Swellnet & the surf industry in general "markets" to the masses. Instant gratification like a BigMac with fries that leaves you sicker for the experience.

Swellnet is educating its reporters on what not say & going regional with its reports ... a good start guys but you have a broader social responsibility for "line-up" outcomes of your business.

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Monday, 15 Feb 2010 at 11:33pm

Nev89, it sounds as if you are an out of town local. As such you get local privileges. Sounds good to me! At least you get the pick of the waves when they are pumping. Think about us poor city-folk who have to settle for the dregs whenever we come to your neck of the woods. Your not that much under siege, really, are you? It must feel like it though when losing your monopoly on the surf huh?

"These guys are highly likely to have access to empty waves somewhere, perhaps here or overseas on their mates surf charter boats: That is a pretty bloody big generalization. Who, exactly, are you referring to?

"Either way the surfers living and working on the coast are paying." We are are all living and working" and just trying to get by so we can get a wave in. You're not more important than anyone else, are you?

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Tuesday, 16 Feb 2010 at 8:02am

clif the "tragedy of the commons" was exactly that. In England several centuries ago villages had land held in common...that is anyone could graze their animals on it. As populations grew the commons were destroyed by over grazing so it's not really tied to capitalism, it's human nature to a large extent.

I note you're from Maroubra, I am from Dee Why, so we probably have similar day to day experiences in the search for a few decent waves so good luck with it mate.