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.