Long Range Forecast: Quiksilver Pro G'Land
Quiksilver Pro G'Land - May 28th to June 6th
The question is occasionally asked why Swellnet has a sixteen day forecast. Isn't a swell prediction that far out just fantasy land?
If you live on Australia's East Coast, or indeed any continental east coast, the answer is yes - those regions are too dynamic, too reliant on close-range and fast-moving systems to peer far into the future.
Yet coasts that are exposed to large ocean basins, or extensive Great Circle paths, can receive swells that travel for seven or eight days after they're formed, ostensibly cutting that forecast period in half. Still not entirely accurate, yet better than what first impressions would lead you to believe.
South swells in California fall into that basket, the same with north-west swells running down the points of northern Peru, while for Australians the most obvious region open to long range swells is Indonesia. Following a Great Circle path, Indonesia can receive swells from the central South Atlantic Ocean, 15,000km away, which would take approximately nine days to travel from the source to the reef they break on.
That's the outer limit, with most Indonesian swells forming between the Cape of Good Hope (the southern tip of Africa) and Heard Island. A good example is the low that's coalescing west of the Kerguelen Islands as you read this. Already a significant storm, by tomorrow morning (Friday 20th) the pressure gradient on its western flank will open a deep, broad wind field aimed squarely at Nusa Tengarra.
However, the swell won't reach its destination till late on the 24th, lasting at least three days, which is a five to six day travel time - very typical for Indonesia at this time of year.
When it hits G'Land it'll provide an incredible warm up for the pros. The swell base will already be high, as it often is at G'Land in May, with 5'-6' waves on Monday the 23rd and the morning of Tuesday the 24th, before the forerunners hit the reef around midday. By close of play on Tuesday, the reef should see 8'-10' of new swell, and with a 1.7m high tide at 3pm the pros will be gorging themselves on Moneytrees.
A short word about the tides:
Though Moneytrees can be surfed through the tides it prefers a higher tide, while the premier section of reef, Speedies, requires a high tide - in fact it needs the highest water possible, generally the full moon or to a lesser extent the new moon. Oddly, the Woz didn't pick a full moon window, instead running it through the May new moon. That falls on May 30th with high water of 2.5m at 9am - doubly oddly, that's before the morning trade wind blows.
A short word about winds:
Though G'Land can be surfed early morning it's infamous for morning sickness and requires the south-east trades to iron out the kinks and wobbles. This usually starts around 10am each day.
Now for the swells that'll hit during the waiting period:
Next Monday, a high near the Kerguelen Islands will butt up against a strong low near the polar ice shelf establishing an impressive pressure gradient aimed largely towards Western Australia with sideband energy striking Indonesia a few days later. The off-kilter strike will be reflected in the size coming in under the height of the previous swell. The organisers can expect the opening day of the waiting period - Saturday the 28th - to begin around 6'-8' feet where it will hover for the next three days, sustained by the broad, slow-moving nature of the wind field.
The high tide on both Saturday and Sunday is at 8am - before competition can begin due to no wind - while the low tide is at approximately 2pm. Suffice to say there'll be no Speedies during this swell.
By Tuesday the 31st, and after a long plateau, the swell will be dropping, still in the 5'-6' range but the period will be noticeably shorter and this will effect the waves as much as anything else.
It's also worth flagging the possibility of some funky winds on the Monday and Tuesday as a troughy pattern off north-west Australia threatens to upset the trade flow.
By Wednesday the 1st the fading swell will be replaced by a new one that, while not spectacular, is worth noting as it comes from the most extreme southerly direction G'Land is capable of receiving. A ridge forming over SW WA will squeeze a short burst of swell northwards, to make landfall during Wednesday the 1st and Thursday the 2nd. It's not a high probability scenario, the ridge is a continental feature, more akin to east coasts, and even if it comes off the period will top out at just 11 seconds of straight south swell.
With a strong possibility of four days already in the bag, and a high octane mix running through the Southern Ocean storm track, the organisers will likely wait for a better day to finish the contest.
As the start date approaches we'll have a better handle on what the back half of the waiting period will deliver, so we'll provide another forecast before the first hooter sounds. Till then, keep abreast of developments in the comments below or click on Swellnet's Grajagan Forecast Page.