Split EnZed as Cloudbreak and Teahupoo trade swells
Australians can find lots of reasons to shake their fists at New Zealand. Whether it be the Bledisloe Cup, cricket, netball, whatever the sport, the passion between the neighbouring countries always runs high.
Yet Australian surfers, specifically those on the East Coast, have another reason to curse EnZed, not at the people per se, but at its inconvenient location. You see, The Land of the Long White Cloud is like a barrier island limiting the potential in our east and south-east swell windows.
A classic example of this occurred a fortnight ago when a low pressure system set up camp in the South Pacific sending a large and long-lasting swell westwards across the ocean. Australia’s East Coast would’ve been bathed in 15 feet of long-period east swell…if it wasn't for New Zealand intercepting the pass.
Right now, a similar pattern is occurring, however it’s not Australia missing out as New Zealand once again gets in the road.
For the last four days a very broad, intense, and slow-moving storm has crossed the southern end of the Tasman Sea, a system that Swellnet forecaster Ben Matson said was “probably the strongest mid-latitude system I have seen in the Tasman Sea for many, many years.''
The system spawned multiple fronts, each of them spiking the swell size amongst the steady diet of south swell hitting Australia’s East Coast.
The strongest progression began last Friday with a core of 50-60 knot winds aimed north-east up the Tasman Sea lashing the west coast of New Zealand with 15-20 ft of swell and ruthless south-westerly winds.
The swell won’t really blossom till it hits Fiji later today with Cloudbreak expecting sets in the 12ft range. However, further east, Tahiti will lie in NZ’s swell shadow and only build to around 8ft from the same swell, peaking on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, back down in the southern Tasman Sea, the storm kept tracking east and it reintensified late yesterday south-west of New Zealand’s South Island, with the swell from this progression expected to hit Teahupoo with much more vigour on Thursday, building into the 10ft range. It continues Teahupoo's exceptional season of waves, a run that is forecast to continue.
Yet in a reverse situation to the previous swell, it will be Cloudbreak’s turn to partially lie within NZ’s swell shadow, hence only expecting around 10ft of swell on Wednesday.
Rarely do both South Pacific waves, Cloudbreak and Teahupoo, receive significant swells from the same weather system as they lie on opposite sides of New Zealand. However, the sheer size and duration of the storm is providing swell for each.
Over the next few days, both Cloudbreak and Teahupoo will lose some swell size due to shadowing, but each wave will also receive a large, unobstructed swell, so who is it that will be shaking their fists at New Zealand this time around?
Well, as this chain of events is unfolding, with 12ft swells to the east and to the west, both Tonga and Samoa, each of whom lie between Fiji and Tahiti and therefore wholly within NZ’s swell shadow, will only see stray 8ft sets as the refracted swells lose their size.