Watch: Tim Bonython // Wedding Cake's Biggest Day
There's a lot to be said about this swell and this session, however I'll let the video speak for the latter. Tim teams up with drone pilot Sky Monkey to splice a variety of angles, the best, at least for my money, are the soaring vistas of approaching oversize sets and surfers caught horribly inside. Wonderful stuff...from this side of the screen.
The swell itself deserves comment as it was a classic East Coast swell. This week, Steve Shearer wrote about the nature of East Coast swell events, and how the recent three-week run of waves on the Gold Coast was a welcome anomaly.
More commonly, East Coast swells come fast and leave fast. Flat one day, huge the next, then smaller, then flat again. East Coast swells are dynamic and mercurial, especially those that form as this one did: with a pool of cold air moving west to east, the attendant low plummetting as soon as it moves off the coast, blowing up storm-force winds around the gyre.
These mid-latitude lows often move offshore between the Illawarra and the Hunter. The position of each one influencing where the winds will be focussed - and hence which region will receive the bulk of the swell.
On Sunday night the low moved offshore from Sydney, stalled then deepened, setting up southerly winds in the Tasman, blowing strongest from Ulladulla to Sydney. Here's the ASCAT (satellite) wind readings from 10:27pm Sunday night:
Note the band of 45knt winds starting from about Bateman's Bay, blowing SSW till Sydney where they turn SW. Also the thin ribbon of 50knt winds from Ulladulla to Sydney's doorstep.
NSW's last large south swell struck on Monday April 8th, borne of a system south-east of Tasmania, the swell moving from beyond Tassie, past Bass Strait, then up the NSW south coast.
This swell was far more proximate. The fetch extended from, at best, Bateman's Bay on the NSW south coast. If the crow was flying SSW - same direction as the wind on Sunday night - it's approx. 200kms from Bateman's Bay to Wedding Cake Island, Coogee.
An almost absurdly diminutive fetch to realise 20ft waves.
Even if we were generous and added another 50%, called it 300km, then we're still talking about a remarkably short fetch. Yet Monday morning at Coogee showed what's possible when storm force winds are perfectly aligned and positioned to deliver on your doorstep.
Well that was freakin' awesome all round.
Great to be able see it from all those angles, and understand why it was like that.
Imagine SWIMMING into those. Mad respect.
How do you position yourself in the lineup? It's hard enough on a board when you can easily stroke 10-20 metres between waves. Let alone with the voluminous currents surging around WCI on a day like that.
An incredible feat, for sure.
yea the body boarding was insane
Apparently his balls are so big their gravitational pull affects the tide when he paddles out.
Apparently Howie said he has ridden bigger ones at Stonewalls, he is a hellman.
Not too shabby for a 50 year old.
Great analysis Stu.
Epic footage Tim.
Such a short fetch for a monster swell. Great to see storm swell on an city reef.
A tough lineup to stay safe in.
The vid gives a good look at some foil riding in huge bumpy waves. It did not look that great - riding the shoulder and with what appeared to be full concentration to deal with bumps. I was expecting it to be "freer", faster and more dynamic. Then there was the flash of the deadly blade in a wipeout - super scary at any time but massively so for the rider and others in a 20 foot surf.
Traditional big wave and tow surfing remains the way to go.
74 was bigger, the whole place was closing out!
shoulda seen '41
The day foils became mainstream?
I found watching that footage more interesting and the wave and wipeouts heavier than anytime I watch footage of Nazare. That body surfer is mental!
That was by far the best and most entertaining film I’ve seen from Tim, I loved it, the music was great and it even had a magpie on an antenna. Well done and thank you to all who paddled out.
what was the peak swell interval Monday at this WCake Island break ?
'bout 15 seconds.
Love the WOTD caption. Always wondered...who comes up with this stuff?
They're mostly mine, though Ben occasionally steps into the driver's seat when I'm holidaying or injured - as happened recently.
Still a bit amazed by the short fetch that created this swell. Goes to show surprise monster swells are possible and it pays not to be too sceptical of localised close to coast systems when looking at a weather map.
Something about blokes paddling guns into heaving monsters like this does it for me every time.
Loved the part where they were carrying the boards across the grass at the start. It seemed a bit surreal somehow.
**in theory if that wind blew at 80knts would it have been bigger or actually smaller?
Probably need to bust out a bit of Calculus to work that out. Of course, the higher the wind speed, the more energy transferred to the water, the bigger the resultant wave. But then, I imagine there would be a maximum windspeed which would allow the turbulence created over the initial fetch to settle down enough for the creation of a surfable wave over the distance travelled to WCI. An 80knt wind blowing over the same fetch at the same distance from WCI might have needed to travel further to let the swell become organised into waves that could be ridden. I suspect there would be formulas out there to work this out..
Before NWP wave models there was the mighty nomogram. A good thing to get familiar with.
Ok great stuff, all credit to the ballsy chargers like Max McGuigan who got out there and amongst it but I think the size estimations of some here, are way off.
Why aren't we using our "calculus" approach on wave height? "20 ft waves"...
Want to see how big that wave actually was? Check out my estimations below...
It's an issue as old as the hills...
It's why some people will qualify wave size as 'face height', which is the literal measurement of waves. Collectively, the Australian surf community - and the Hawaiian community in its own way - have organically decided what constitutes a 3ft wave, 6ft wave, 12ft wave, 20ft wave etc etc etc.
Every day of the year, at every region around Australia, we have reporters issuing wave heights and people understand what to expect when they get down the beach. There's no surprise; they understand the language.
Personally I like the fact that it's a unit of measurement that non-surfers dont understand. Let them be baffled.
Yes leave it as is. Surfer; "Aw it was unreal yesterday,nice3-4ft sets" .... non- surfer ( shit,thats not very big....glad i went to the cricket )
Haha yes good call...
Well said mate
Definitely in the top 5 of the last 30 years living there. Has been bigger but not by much, but definitely more waves out there than any big swell I’ve seen. Also more south, as south as it could get without missing it, they were taking off on some down at South Coogee.
Did you go for a bodybash in the shorey BF?
Shows us why even the guys who invented the foil to ride big waves have given up on it.