Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast long range forecast
This year’s Aussie leg of the Qualifying Series had five contests, the last of which - the Sydney Pro - finished on the weekend. For five straight days the Sydney Pro was held in weak waist high waves, much like every other contest of the leg - save for two days of the Great Lakes Pro which found a back up venue during Cyclone Oma.
It’s not just a case of bad timing, the whole East Coast has endured a lean summer with only Cyclone Oma and the odd trade swell breaking the pattern. Now, of course, autumn has begun and the Quiksilver Pro is nigh. As I type, the marquee at Rainbow Bay is being set up and the surf is barely a foot high out the front.
Fortunately for everyone - competitors, fans, and even just Joe Average living on the East Coast - a more typical autumn pattern is beginning to establish itself. And even though it’s one week till the Quiksilver Pro begins the longer term signs are promising.
Autumn on the East Coast is characterised by storm activity in the Coral Sea, Tasman Sea, and Southern Ocean, resulting in swells approaching from a range of directions. This will be the case in the coming week as a long period south swell will brush the Gold Coast tomorrow, followed by the first hint of an east swell, then a short range south swell is due next Sunday, and after that the east swell will slowly ramp up in size and period.
Each swell will fluctuate around three-to-four foot at Snapper - the Sunday south swell potentially a bit larger - with the quality also fluctuating due to swell direction and wind. Though they fall outside the waiting period, each swell will play its part. As Rabbit explained last week, south swells are required to fill the hole at Snapper, while the east swell will provide a showcase for the state of the bank and the form of the surfers.
In fact the aforementioned east swell is actually the early stage of a slowly evolving system that will provide swell through the opening days of the Quiksilver Pro.
A tropical depression is currently forming near Fiji and will evolve into a tropical low as it tracks slowly south-east - see MSLP chart below. As it pushes up against a large high east of New Zealand, we’ll see a long fetch of easterly winds aimed towards the Gold Coast. This is a bread and butter system for the Gold Coast, though we haven’t seen many of them this season.
Synoptic chart for Wednesday 3rd April showing the low south-east of Fiji squeezing the high pressure system
At this stage it appears the swell will hit begin hitting its stride on Tuesday - the day before the contest begins - and by sundown be around 3-4 feet from the E/SE. For the following five days - Wednesday to Sunday - the swell will shift around the 3-to-4 foot mark with occasional larger spikes. However, unlike the swells due this week, the period will be up around the 10 second mark making for defined lines of swell. It’s a great period and direction for Snapper - if the sand is in order.
The wind may be slightly problematic with a persistent south to E/SE flow. It’ll be light southerly in the mornings, but the organisers can expect some bump, especially behind the rock, by midday as the winds swing towards the E/SE. As is always the case with winds from this direction, surface conditions will improve down the bank. The swell will not get big enough for Kirra.
The organisers will almost certainly run from Wednesday, the first day of the waiting period, and they’ll be looking to capitalise on the east swell as the Gold Coast’s swell windows close towards the second half of the period. The high pressure system creating the east swell blocks south swells from moving north through the Tasman and slack isobars fill the Coral Sea.
We'll keep an eye on developments in the comments below.