Flyer: Bruce Brown Was Wrong

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)

There’s a section in the opening stanza of ‘The Endless Summer’ where Bruce Brown explains the catchy title of his opus.

“It occasionally gets big in California,” says Brown in his laconic drawl, “and it gets biggest in the winter time.” Yet Brown then goes on to make the claim that the warm water of summer trumps the big waves of winter so ipso facto surfers would prefer an endless summer.

Sorry, Bruce.

Not only do I disagree with the big fella, but I disagree with him on two fronts.

You see, where I come from - the upper end of the southern portion of the East Coast - we get swells from the east in summer and from the south in winter. Between those seasons, however, we not only get a mix of the two but the intermingling of residual warm water with cold air outbreaks makes for dynamic weather systems - and that means swell, lots of it.

Yep, autumn is the surfer’s season around these parts, and it’s the same for most coasts around Australia - Queensland and NW WA being the obvious exceptions.

The days get shorter, the beaches get emptier, and the surf gets bigger and more consistent, yet unlike Bruce Brown I never find myself wishing for an endless autumn.

No, call me sentimental, but part of the appeal is the anticipation of what’s to come; of suffering through the humid months of summer with a longing for something you know is coming, but you also know will be limited. Before long it’ll be too windy, too cold, or spring will be upon us and the swell cycles are out of kilter once again.

Right now though, all the southern states are staring down favourable forecasts. The water and air are mild, the swell is on the rise, and the calendar has just ticked over into autumn.

Go and make the most of the surfer’s season.


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Barrel Daithwaite's picture
Barrel Daithwaite's picture
Barrel Daithwaite Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 10:37am

To be fair the wetsuit tech was probably not that good in the 60's and surfing in mid winter in California quite a punish.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 6:20pm

That slight crispness in the morning air,
autumn water surface texture and the warmth underneath. Nothing like it.

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 6:48pm

I reckon I'd be ok with an 'endless autumn'...but despite my best 'wishing' I know it ain't ever going to happen.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 6:59pm

Yep Soli, the most magical time of the year.

Steve Sedgwick's picture
Steve Sedgwick's picture
Steve Sedgwick Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 11:52am

Totally concur Stu. 
I can’t wait for summer crowds and crappy surf to pass. As an inland based surf tragic, the anticipation of Autumn is all the more bitter sweet. 
There’s always the flukey gamble of wind direction, swell force and tide cycle, to coincide with time available. 
The ‘dash’ to the coast is 2 hours each way. We take whatever Huey delivers. 
But at least the chances of hitting all 4 combinations in alignment,  are increased in Autumn . 

Inland surfers are a committed breed and eternally optimistic.
They have to be or they would stop surfing completely and take up golf or checkers.

But now is our time.

Balbero's picture
Balbero's picture
Balbero Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 6:05pm

Ya Think Bruce Brown was wearing the same wetsuit then as you are wearing today when you've made your comment?

Think about it mate!

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups Sunday, 7 Mar 2021 at 7:37am

If he was, that'd be a very old wetsuit.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Sunday, 7 Mar 2021 at 8:04am

I dunno, last few autumns have been total duds.

and we've surfed our arses off this summer.

Maybe Bruiser was onto it?

Robo's picture
Robo's picture
Robo Sunday, 7 Mar 2021 at 4:37pm

eh, last years covid autumn was excellent

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Monday, 8 Mar 2021 at 9:42pm

in Kalbarri we've had about two swells since Christmas i miss south coast NSW.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Tuesday, 9 Mar 2021 at 11:06am

true. last Covid autumn was good. but it took time to get going.

March was OK, April better and May was proper.

2017 March-May pumped.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Wednesday, 10 Mar 2021 at 11:41am

Pretty sure the whole of Oz votes with Stu's feet.
Southern blowins crowd out Goldie in Autumn...
Easter is by default the biggest & busiest East Coast surf celebration year after year.
WSR's peak hour...Noosa / Goldie Stubbies / Byron Easter Classic.

All Countdown & pray as the last Cyclone smashes thru The Seachange Bank.
Backwash stokes up A Frames..."'Hoy! Havin' a bash!"... "What A Smashing Idea!"

Agree there's a lot of wind'N'chill factor in with 1960/70's.
1970's Goldie beachies were barren in Winter Southerlies.
Vests sawed off surfers arms until Rip Curl fold overs of Late 70's
1970's Point wind nooks needed a sock on yer ankle.

"The Golden Breed" money for Jam.
Bruce's mantra is likely swayed by Summer being a more natural surf attraction