Rip Curl Pro Forecast: Update

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Analysis

Last week we had an early look at the outlook for the Rip Curl Pro and it wasn't great.

With the storm track focussed up towards Western Australia we're seeing strong cold fronts steered through Victoria's western swell window, too far north and west to generate significant swells for Bells Beach.

The flow on effects of the northern storm track is that, over towards Victoria, instead of favourable north-west to south-west winds we'll see winds from the eastern quadrant which is terrible for the Surf Coast reefs.

Tomorrow will be a lay day with almost flat conditions until later in the day when a new west-southwest groundswell arrives. This groundswell is good enough to get competition under way on Thursday with inconsistent sets to 3ft+ expected, but winds will shift southerly, which is onshore, mid-morning after a possible early cross-offshore westerly breeze.

Torquay today... tiny

Whether they run or hold off for better surf later in the waiting period is a tough one to call.

A couple of good reinforcing pulses of W/SW and SW groundswell will fill in on Friday with surf continuing around 3ft+ but there'll be an east-southeast wind which will create terrible conditions. It's likely to be another lay day.

Winds will swing more north-northeast on Saturday but this is still average for Bells and Winki. The beaches should offer sets to 3ft if the WSL are willing to get mobile, but that's a story in itself. Swellnet contacted Parks Victoria, who administer Johanna, but were unable to get a straight answer. Keep in mind this is the Easter Long Weekend so there'll be hordes of campers, plus the WSL showed a reluctance to shift 200 metres from Snapper to D'Bah, so decamping 150kms seems unlikely. At any rate, this swell will ease throughout the day.

The outlook starts to improve from Sunday and into next week, but in saying this, the storm track will remain focussed towards WA, albeit a touch further south in latitude and more favourably aligned in Victoria's western swell window.

Firstly, a severe low pressure system will develop around the Heard Island region in our far swell window today, tracking east-northeast towards Western Australia while producing a tight fetch of storm-force W/SW winds.

The low will broaden while weakening and projecting north out of our swell window Wednesday evening, leaving an inconsistent but good long-period W/SW groundswell to travel towards Victoria.

The swell should arrive overnight Saturday and build through Sunday from an inconsistent 2ft to possibly 3ft early to 3ft+ through the afternoon. Winds will again be the problem, with a dawn N/NW'ly giving into a W/SW change mid-late morning.

Still, this looks to be another possible surf day.

Sunday's long-period W/SW groundswell will ease through Monday, but a new close-range W/SW groundswell should provide a fresh increase in size, generated by a tight mid-latitude low forming in the Bight on the weekend and dipping south-east through our swell window.

It's hard to pin down the size of this swell at the moment but we're looking at potential for 3-4ft sets at Bells and Winki with a morning west-northwest breeze, south-west into the afternoon - it's a definite contest day.

Tuesday should be another surf day with easing swell from Monday under an offshore wind most of the morning.

It's from here that the models diverge a little, but on the whole they indicate persistent weak fronts moving under the country, generating moderate-sized pulses of W/SW groundswell from Wednesday/Thursday with favourable winds. So while starting shaky, the contest could finish off in good quality surf.

16 day Torquay surf forecast graph
16 day Torquay WAMs

Comments

vicco11's picture
vicco11's picture
vicco11 commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 2:09pm

I think they'll run for a few hours this Thursday morning (better at winki with the morning high tide) before the wind gets to it too much but it should be fun at first light.
I'm also think there's a good chance they'll get decent 3-5 foot waves the over last few days of the waiting period but it's too far out to know with any real confidence so I wouldn't write it off yet.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 2:38pm

Coupla thoughts from a contest director perspective:

Easter at Bells is a big part of the pro surfing vernacular, and there's a few reasons why they'd be unwilling to move early in the forecast period (despite Friday and particularly Saturday looking ideal for Johanna).

1. The event (and the event sponsors) rely on the Easter crowds through the turnstile. This is a big deal.
2. If there's a brief window of light morning winds on Friday (with the forecast easterlies), then don't be surprised if they press the hooter - even if just for a couple of heats (i.e. the Womens, which has less heats per round than the Mens). 
3. With a glimmer of hope for better conditions through the back half of the waiting period, it's more preferable to wait it out rather than knock out an early round down the coast. Relocation can happen at the end of the waiting period when all other options have been exhausted. 
4. We contacted Parks Victoria re: Johanna accessibility over Easter and they couldn't tell us anything (!). In the past I've been on the assumption that Easter is a no-go for the event due to campers etc. Fair call I reckon.
5. Banks can be pretty fickle at Johanna. Small swells and favourable winds doesn't always guarantee good surf (unlike some other beaches).
6. Phillip Island is very reliable for banks, but the main issue as a WSL contest venue is the lack of accomodation. Unlike Johanna, in which its feasible to drive back to Torquay after a day's surfing (2 hours), Phillip Island requires a cross-Melbourne commute, and the 3 hour one-way trip can easily blow out. However there are limited accomodation options (especially at Easter!).
7. Any relocation (Johanna, Phillip Island, even 13th Beach one year!) requires a massive effort to pack the broadcast trucks and get them set up before competition starts. Ideally a couple of days, though I imagine it's possible to bump in/set up the afternoon before. But then the following day needs to be considered - are they back to Bells (requiring another packdown, bump out, travel, unpack, re-set up again), or will they continue at the relocated spot for a second day? So, accomodation, food, etc... All sounds easy on paper ("But.. but.. I can stream video from my iPhone!") but the reality is an absolute nightmare.

Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 2:52pm

Any chance of a mysterious 'great circle path swell' saving the day Ben?

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 5:38pm

Not so phased about the sunday crowds in GC... There were thousands milling around burliegh etc who would have come down to Dbah if the comp was called, beach would have been full.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 1:54pm

Ben if they shift it to the MP I will put a couple of pros up for an exorbitant rate.

samuelnorwood's picture
samuelnorwood's picture
samuelnorwood commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 2:40pm

Hi Craig, this doesn't really line up with my schedule. Can you please make Thursday, Friday & Saturday an ON day? TIA

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 2:43pm

Will try, hear Dunbar needs a bit of re-arranging to fit his schedule as well :p

tworules's picture
tworules's picture
tworules commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 3:19pm

Strider and Gary G live in the Bells shore dump is enough for me.

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 3:33pm

Gary has heard that Strider is more of a 'dump on the bells shore' kinda guy

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

greyhound's picture
greyhound's picture
greyhound commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 3:29pm

Well what’s the bloody point of having backup venues then, with such reluctance to actually use them. I’m sure all the surfers wood give up their hot showers after heats to surf better waves. Move the broadcast gear, a food truck, dunny truck. Bang your on!!
Who wants to go and watch 2/3 ft bumpy/onshore surf at bells anyway.
They’ve got to get away from this tying it in to Easter shit. The whole comp suffers, not to mention the surfers losing in the crap surf.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 5:00pm

"They’ve got to get away from this tying it in to Easter shit."

Why?

Most years have great waves at Bells. 

And for the record, I disagree that having any Australian contest "earlier" or "later" in the season (in the order of several weeks) either decreases or increases the chances of having good waves.

Ironically, 2019's calendar is later than normal, and would have thus (if discussed months ago) been considered to have a "better than average" chance of scoring better surf than other, earlier years. 

ouboet's picture
ouboet's picture
ouboet commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 9:11am

Definitely not for Margs. Late May/Early could see the primary venue uncontestable for a week on end, easily. And North Point being any good then is the exception rather than the rule. There's a lot of apprehension about how things will pan out.

ouboet's picture
ouboet's picture
ouboet commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 9:13am

that should've read late May/early June

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 10:26am

My point is that you can get a great run of waves and conditions any time of the year. Margs can produce a great run of swell in summer, so can Bells. And we've seen unreal waves at Snapper in spring.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 12:12pm

You'd be an extremely ambitious gambler to back a swell with any kind of decent winds for Snapper in spring.

Thats totally off season.

greyhound's picture
greyhound's picture
greyhound commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 5:29pm

Please forgive me Ben.I Didnt explain that to well. I love Easter time down here. I agree,the surfs normally great. What I meant was the powers that be always seem so desperate to run the comp at bells across the Easter wkend.. even when it’s average.they should promote the rare use of these backup venues as a good thing. Put a positive spin on it. Fun Road trip for great waves. And we’ll be back at bells when’s it’s worthy. Pro Surfers happy, online viewers happy,

Fleazool's picture
Fleazool's picture
Fleazool commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 3:32pm

Is the Tulla pool ready for action?

pigdog's picture
pigdog's picture
pigdog commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 8:50pm

didnt wave garden say there would be first testing before easter....then open to public in spring..

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 1:58pm

Yeah I signed up for a tester but got zero back.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 3:34pm

They're gunna need to polish this turd EXTRA hard.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 5:39pm

it takes pressure to make diamonds!!

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 4:08pm

I quite enjoy watching WSL events when it's pumping, but I hope the entire year gets skunked and the whole shit show fucks off and dies.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 4:10pm

Waves, quickly, to Sprout immediately!

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 4:15pm

*breaks down in tears*
It, it's just been so shit for so, so long.
*prays to Huey for forgiveness*

nevertuold's picture
nevertuold's picture
nevertuold commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 11:30am

Snap

Alunaone

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 5:34pm

Being an east coaster I obviously don't understand the subtleties of the surf coast but geez the low down south on the current synoptic chart looks pretty good. Wouldn't there be a swell with more southerly direction coming off that?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 6:08pm

That swell is arriving Thurs/Fri, but the issue is local winds. Essentially the same as fresh northerlies at Snapper.

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 6:49pm

OK cheers.
Looking at that low I'm just surprised there's no swell train with more south than WSW and that its only gonna be 3 foot at Bells.
I guess any SW swell coming off that must get mowed down by the next system.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 7:46pm

Yeah the models aren't really resolving the SW component of the swell on Friday and showing mostly the W/SW energy.

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 5:54pm

Should also mention that high tides are 9-10am. Any swell is going to be mega fragile given the direction. If there are decent winds in the mornings they will coincide with high tides.
Don't put any bigger goofy footers in your fantasy league teams. Those blokes will have no chance in fat onshore/devil wind-effected Rincon.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 10:19am

What’s your devil wind VL?

I am the bone

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 1:17pm

NE. Put's ridges in the face at Bells and Winki. Strong Northerlies at Winki is also no good.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 8:11pm

Thought as much, so I propose a trade. No strings attached, no fees, nothing. Just devil for devil and we call it a day..

Interested?

I am the bone

mackdog's picture
mackdog's picture
mackdog commented Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 at 9:12pm

The commish will move it all to winki at the first chance they get after the Easter weekend.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 9:47am

Surfline are suggesting some unusual swell sources in their WSL forecast video (below Madagascar for "larger surf at the end of the waiting period"?).

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 1:20pm

WSL and Surfline are talking out their arses. It's like snow reporting in Australia. The $$$ determine how good the conditions are. Reality doesn't matter.

stylemaster1970's picture
stylemaster1970's picture
stylemaster1970 commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 11:28am

E/SE....trouser snake point. Fuel the boats and ski's!

If you argue with a fool long enough you will loose sight of who the fool really is........

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 12:02pm

Banks would have too be tip top at Joeys for them too handle that swell.

P.I would be a safer option?

I am the bone

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 12:04pm

Yeah looks too big for Joey's IMO.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 2:01pm

Nick you wouldn't like them on the MP even with Ballots for lodgings? Could be a money maker $2,000 at night?

Tenn's picture
Tenn's picture
Tenn commented Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019 at 12:47pm

Distant low looks like a shark

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 5:43am

The Sorell and Nepean buoys has the new swell in looking good, and winds are temporarily offshore.

Winds are however W/SW at Cape Otway and King Island gusting 25-30kts, and W'ly at South Channel Island and Point Lonsdale (gusting 15kts). This shows the broader synoptic pattern that'll eventually kick in across the Surf Coast too.

Assuming they can kick off at 7am, they should be able to get a couple of hours of heats under the belt with clean conditions though it'll be inconsistent thanks to the swell direction. High tide at 10:20am won't help much either in this size range (max surf size peaking aorund 3ft, maybe 3-4ft).

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 6:39am

Early sets at Torquay (via our surfcam) - very slow and inconsistent with long flat spells between waves. Add another foot on this for Bells.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 6:46am

Five blokes out at Torquay, one is on a Foil SUP! I am uncomfortable with those percentages.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 6:46am

Dead flat at Bells.
Layday.

KP reckons they will go tomorrow in 4-6ft surf.

I just don't know what to think.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 6:50am

Ah that's yesterday's vision Steve ha.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 7:05am

shit! thats caught me out before.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 9:17am

Here's KP 7am call (to hold off until 9am).

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 9:18am

And here's the most recent call (30 mins ago) to hold off until 12pm.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 9:31am

We still on hold?

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 18 Apr 2019 at 9:32am

Wait surf league.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 7:21am

On hold until 12:40pm.

KP's banking on the easterlies easing: "they're expected to drop off this morning so we're hoping for good conditions this afternoon".

Yeah, they'll be a little lighter thru' the arvo (than this morning), but even if it goes light and variable, it won't allow the easterly wobble to dissipate much.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 8:33am

If the Easterlies do ease, couldn't they potentially give into seabreezes?

I am the bone

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 8:40am

It's one of those funky days where a trough drifts south resulting in winds tending variable NE. This will likely keep sea breezes, if they develop weak as well. Keep an eye out for variable winds all afternoon.

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 8:26am

I'm tipping the WSL will run a few heats this afternoon to get the punters to buy event passes and make sure the vendors don't take an absolute financial bath. They will then put the event hold for a while (running the very occasional heat to keep the punters coming out to Bells). Finals day is going to be the last or second last day in the waiting period.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 8:31am

Is KP on a sweet wicket (that's a saying yeah?), cause surely you don't want too be a part of this. I'd feel like I'm dodging arrows all day when I'm just the messenger.

I am the bone

greyhound's picture
greyhound's picture
greyhound commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 8:58am

Lay day surely !!

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:09am

What’s Pat O’Connell doing? Is this his job?

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:40am

No, his job is SVPTHC.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 20 Apr 2019 at 12:32pm

So what they have a separate commissioner for each event? Isn’t KP supposed to be stepping down?

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:43am

Hey Craig, is it true we *sort of* get similar swells to the Mid Coast in SA here (maybe they come in a bit more westerly if the Mid is in the sweet spot)? There's that fantastic WOTD Mid pic on the banner of Swellnet today, I guess it didn't translate to the Surf Coast?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:46am

Yeah the sweet spot for the Mid Coast is to have fronts squeezed up under WA's South Coast, pushing east onwards to the Bight. It's a small swell window but great for SA, though this is too far north for the Surf Coast.

Totally blocked by Cape Otway but will get into the Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:57am

Out of interest, how far north will these swells impact, as you drive up towards Pt Augusta?
I've been on the other side coming back from the Pt Lincoln on the Eyre, and was surprised to find reefs breaking about 1/2 way up!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 12:37pm

West, not as much, but south swells, quite a way.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:53am

Chinese water torture if they run 3 heats this afternoon to complete Rd1.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:55am

Ha.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 1:41pm

I watched one wave yesterday, when wiki looks like that with that wind, if you have the time and energy you drive to jo .....
One wave .....shirthohouse.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Friday, 19 Apr 2019 at 9:56pm

In my experience of Vicco, the coming week and half looks like plenty of swell is going to round the cape regarding direction and period . Wouldn't panic just yet. Winds looking good too.

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope commented Monday, 22 Apr 2019 at 7:09pm

Blue diamond in the rough!
Your early forecast looking good.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Monday, 22 Apr 2019 at 7:12pm

I'd say my early FC wasn't too bad either ;) Calling for average Bells for the first half of the period, a week before it started. Not going to fire until the last two days.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Monday, 22 Apr 2019 at 9:09pm

Great job as always Craig. I owe you guys many Vonu's for the waves Swellnet have given me. Yew!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 23 Apr 2019 at 5:10am

My pleasure, cheers mate.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Monday, 22 Apr 2019 at 9:00pm

Cheers Dawny. It's all about the Otway coast. Best to take your readings form there. If it's got enough period, most W/SW swells (13+) will find their way around the cape without losing too much energy....just a little less consistent in their approach to the reefs but Bells always picks up the most out of the Apollo Bay to Torquay stretch so it's a reliable proposition once theres swell and period. Looks like it could be bringing some wind with it but it's West so should be okish.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 20 Apr 2019 at 1:15pm

Later next week is looking a little better though still very west in direction. Friday/Saturday has a lot of potential at this stage. Still not a great storm track though. And there'll be a lotta wind with it.

vicco11's picture
vicco11's picture
vicco11 commented Saturday, 20 Apr 2019 at 8:56pm

Friday looks like it could be pretty solid!

peabo's picture
peabo's picture
peabo commented Saturday, 20 Apr 2019 at 9:49pm

Shame they're not willing to move it. Some pretty excellent waves down south today. Sure all the pros indulged.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Tuesday, 23 Apr 2019 at 7:42am

They will have to run fri but gonna be windy alright,but cant wait to see occy and curren in some big stuff also see how caroline marks goes......maybe a marks /occy heat .

simba

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 23 Apr 2019 at 9:32am

And the final update is here.. Rip Curl Pro to end with a bang!