Tokyo 2020 Early Forecast

Craig Brokensha picture
Craig Brokensha (Craig)
Swellnet Analysis

A bleak, grey landscape, drained of saturation and accentuated by tetrapods. Dark, dull sands, concrete and a fishing port to boot. This is the site of surfings entrance into the Olympics, Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Chiba.

With the Paris 2024 Olympics using Teahupoo as their location for the surfing competition, there is no requirement for the surfing to be close to Tokyo (as seems to be the reasoning for using Tsurigasaki), there are much more picturesque locations to the north and south of Tokyo, with the south more likely to receive swell at this time of year.

Yet it's Tsurigasaki they've chosen, so Tsurigasaki it is.

The coastal alignment at Tsurigasaki is generally south to north, with exposure to incoming swells from the south-east to the north, as well as a degree of southerly wind protection due to the port and headland to the south.

At this time of year, any significant swell is likely to be sourced from typhoons and tropical activity to the south of Japan, with lower level background swells from easterly trade-swell energy. We're currently in the middle of the North Pacific typhoon season, but right now things are fairly subdued across the tropics.

What we usually see through typhoon season are tropical depressions forming north of Papua New Guinea, tracking to the west while deepening, then being steered north, up and into the Phillipines or Japan, bringing large, though generally short-lived swell events. The typhoons are then swept off to the north-east by upper level westerly winds.

This pattern can be seen in the 2021 typhoon season to date [see image below].

2021 North West Pacific typhoon season. Source: Wikipedia

Looking out into the far end of the forecast, to the start date of the Olympic surfing event (25th of July), there's nothing substantial on the cards for the region.

Without typhoons the region has to rely on the background, easterly trade-swell energy, which there will be small levels of, though it rarely amounts to much size.

Long-range forecasts identify a couple of weak depressions in the trade-flow which could provide the catalyst for a typhoon, though it will require more monitoring which we'll do over the coming weeks.

In the meantime the competitors will be warming up in peaky, 2ft to occasionally 3ft, mid-period easterly swell. It's not hard to guess which country will dominate in those conditions.

Keep an eye on the 16-day Chiba regional forecast and WAMS below.

Chiba East 16-day Forecast Graph
Chiba East 16-day Forecast WAMs

Comments

Bainoh's picture
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Bainoh Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:18pm

2020 Early Forecast? You love to see it haha

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:24pm

Ha, well it is still the '2020' Olympics, just in 2021.

Bainoh's picture
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Bainoh Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:42pm

Damn it, ya got me there well played.

Trentslatterphoto's picture
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Trentslatterphoto Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:40pm

prediction: Shit show

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:44pm

I love this. Brutally precise minimalism.

The Japanese would be proud.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:47pm

Pretty spot on with everything Craig. They should get a bit of surf as there's always something around this time of the year. If they get a genuine typhoon swell I wonder if they have a back-up?

As an aside, I could never understand how the Japanese revere the mountains but treat their coastline like a toilet. From the very bottom of Okinawa to the tip of Hokkaido, the beaches are rubbish strewn wastelands, covered in tetrapods and fortified with seawalls under the guise of 'erosion control',  Basically it's pork-barrelling on a massive scale with Yakuza backed construction companies paying off corrupt politicians to carve up the coast and award multi-million dollar contracts which the politicians then get rewarded with seats on the boards of these companies and the cycle continues.

People have spoken out in the past about the destruction of the coast and more than a couple have found themselves entombed in one of these tetrapods, never to be heard from again.

Sorry to be a downer, but we have some world class waves here and it saddens me how so few can take so much from so many.

Mother Nature weeps when she paddles out here in Nippon.

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:58pm

Thanks Zen, I see there are a few after market tickets to the event, $2,500 USD. It might be worth grabbing one and heading down?!

And yeah, when you gave me a tour of your local region it was shocking seeing all the cement tetrapods, not just an eyesore but also ruining beaches and waves.

Sprout's picture
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Sprout Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:24pm

I've only been to the beach at Kamakura, it was as described.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:46pm

Thanks for the insight Zen. Thanks for the article Craig.

Nick Bone's picture
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Nick Bone Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 6:17pm

Wow. Thats really intense Zen about the corruption etc..

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 6:17pm

That's pretty much what happened on Madeira. EU 'Structural Funds' (designated for the development of the peripheral regions) greedily slurped up by the governor, mayors, and local concrete manufacturer in cahoots. Bingo, here's your tunnel, marina, swimming pool protection wall etc etc.

Robo's picture
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Robo Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 2:14pm

What channel has the rights to the olympics and will they show much if any surfing?

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 2:50pm

No idea Robbo but I wouldn't buy them if I was running a network, akin to lawn bowls excitement wise.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:02pm

it's live broadcast Robo, just google it.
not a WSL deal, so who knows what the qual8ty, will be.

wally's picture
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wally Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:09pm

Channel 7, on their 3 channels.
I reckon they will definitely show some footage of the Australian surfers’ heats. More coverage than that would require something interesting happening i.e. unlikely.

Jono's picture
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Jono Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:01pm

Also on-demand coverage via their 7Plus app thingo which will possibly provide access to every event?

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:14pm

no, the whole thing is being webcast Iive Wally.

not just highlights.

I'll see if I can scratch up the web address.

Pops's picture
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Pops Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:41pm

I think you're both right - it's being webcast live*, but as far as watching on traditional TV goes it's unlikely that 7 will pick up the feed beyond a couple of parochial heats or momentary crosses.

*I do wonder whether the webcast might be geo-locked to protect 7's rights though?

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 3:48pm

You’d have to assume it’d be streamed live on YouTube?

Solitude's picture
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Solitude Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:03pm

Who would commentate? Could you imagine McAvaney's '' That's SPECCIALLL'' to Julian tapping a knee height peeler?

simsurf's picture
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simsurf Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:11pm

I could have saved you the effort. 1-2 foot slop unless a typhoon kicks in.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:23pm

Have you ever surfed in Japan? If so, anywhere other than Chiba?

Japan has over 2000k of coastline. Trust me brother, there's good surf to be had here if you know where to look.

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:50pm

Hi Zen, any insight on why they chose that site? Plenty of other options as you. Niijima is at least nicer to look at (and within Tokyo prefecture, if that was part of the criteria)

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 5:01pm

You'd think so Clivus. Beautiful blue water and good surf.

Yendor's picture
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Yendor Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 10:29am

Yep, Japan definitely dropped a ball in choosing their venue. From a tourism promo perspective alone they could have found so many better options. I was thinking exactly the same thing about Nijima. I surfed there back in 1990, coincidentally at the same time as the Japanese Nationals. It was thumping 6ft plus beachies, lots of broken boards. So beautiful there with lovely hot springs too.

All of my English students kept laughing at me when I told them I was going until I finally got one of them to tell me it was well known as a place Japanese girls went to lose their virginity!

Had lots of better waves in other spots around Japan too. I can't help but think Miyazaki might have been a good choice (although disclaimer, I haven't surfed there).

I think they were probably going for big beach crowds earlier in the piece. Also Chiba is a tried and tested contest venue if somewhat underwhelming.

They couldn't rely on Typhoon swell as it's so unpredictable and probably might actually be the worst case for the contest venue. Anyone know if that spot will handle big swell? That site will probably be good for QS grinders.

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 2:17pm

Niijima is a nice spot. I had to laugh at a signed surf spot called “secret point” or something similar.

I’d say the biggest I’ve seen Shida working is maybe 4ft. I don’t think it will handle proper size. Zen will know more than me though. I was just a weekend warrior commuting from Tokyo. There’s waves nearby that handle size better (as you probably know).

brutus's picture
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brutus Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 5:21pm

I hate to tell you this but Nijima's sand was taken to build up parts of Tokyo...I wanted to go there a few years ago as it was one of my favourite places in Japan, and they told me all gone!!

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 6:31pm

You're kidding? One of the few bluewater white sand places you could go.

We scored epic waves there about 10 years ago.

shame.

PS- Love to see you back here when you can.

brutus's picture
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brutus Saturday, 10 Jul 2021 at 9:46am

Had so many great surfs on Nijiima.....get dropped off at the end of the beach in a 4wd, and then just surf the peaks all the way down the beach...after surf the hot springs near the Port.......and of course 100% traditional Japanese hotels and food...ahhhhhhh incredible memories!!!

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 7:14pm

Honto!? That a shame. Best waves I got over there were up through the tunnel at Awaiura

rrr's picture
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rrr Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 3:30pm

hell yea . my wife is japanese and iv been some where . with my japanese mate , way off the main island chain . quality . all over . not gonna name it . dont wanna blow it for them .
do some research . last time i was there i wanted to move there right away . so country , unlike anywhere near the main centres .. not to mention the food culture ... mmmmm

niglooonly's picture
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niglooonly Tuesday, 20 Jul 2021 at 2:59pm

THATS A BAD PLACE

simsurf's picture
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simsurf Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:33pm

Except they aren't choosing spots along 2000K of coastline. One spot. I have been to Japan on multiple occasions.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:39pm

Have you surfed here?

simsurf's picture
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simsurf Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:43pm

What is it any of your business? Your not the only one in the world to have surfed there.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 4:55pm

Simple question mate. Yes or no.

Too many people write off Japan with the blanket 'one foot slop' statement. I'm not having a go at you, but Shidashita or wherever they're having the Olympics could quite possibly get pretty good waves. And no, of course I'm not the only one who has surfed here. I can tell you though, I've had dozens if not hundreds of sessions in beautiful waves people would dream of surfing.

Quite possibly the waves might be rubbish but quite possibly they could be pretty good.

simsurf's picture
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simsurf Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 6:51pm

Yes no. Every dog has its day, but when the Olympic gold medal is decided in one foot wind slop we can revisit this conversation.

brutus's picture
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brutus Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 5:25pm

I'll say it....best surf in the world is Japan........but.....you need to get an invitation to the River Mouths!

Kelly once turned up at Sakawa River mouth and was told to not even get out of the car , and not come back.....the Japanese he was with didn't call up Ikea-san and ask first!!

How ya doin Zen?.......looks like I could be in Japan in October.....

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 10:18pm

I'm doing alright cobber.

Hope we can catch up.

Chiho says g'day.

brutus's picture
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brutus Saturday, 10 Jul 2021 at 9:50am

lifes been pretty rad these last couple of years......next time I come to Japan , I want to shape less and start seeing the North of Japan , and the islands in the South!
Give a hug to Chiho , will catch up hopefully next time and come and srf with you , take care mate!!

Standingleft's picture
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Standingleft Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 5:09pm

Thx Craig, you can't have any more fun putting that 16 dayer together than we have reading it, surfers craving the legitimacy Olympics bring will find it depressing, unfortunately Zen it's not pretty

dr-surf's picture
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dr-surf Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 6:01pm

Surfing Japan is Hard Work and like Cronulla, spots accessible via Trains are Super crowded. Time and Persistence can Payoff but Rarely.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 7:03pm

Hey Zen, are there any pointbreaks in Japan? I did find some on google earth in North Korea but... yeah. There has to be some epic setups in the archipelago. As close as I've been is a small dinghy ride in the Inland Sea, which was stunningly beautiful at sunset.

Also, I'm in love with the name of the spot "Shidashita" - just so apt if it's a grovel-fest.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 7:59pm

About 15 mins from me VJ is probs the best pointbreak in my prefecture. Very localised but I've cemented my place in the lineup over the years. It doesn't really barrel but can get all time, long walls and a blank canvas. Bit like Lower Trestles. In summer the south swells turn the left on which is shorter, but starts off with a long wall then the inside goes square and can really throw out. Not many points though in my area though but some great breakwalls, river mouths and an epic beachies. One in particular, very fickle is like Puerto on its day. It breaks like backdoor and is frightening. Tons of reefs too.

Mate, there's heaps of waves here.

Yendor's picture
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Yendor Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 11:49am

Hey Johnno,
https://ibb.co/NY7YvXs
4 to 5ft bowly fun with an end section to hit. Cedar forest in the background, no one there, but a "locals only" sign in Japanese. Road in was falling down and 1 km away 30 people surfing 1 ft slop.
Where the tetrapods haven't been dumped there are lots of rocky points and reefs. One of the hard things is having the time and money to go exploring

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 4:55pm

Thanks Yendor and Zen, it would be so fun to explore Japan for waves, I loved the place when younger.

Sprout's picture
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Sprout Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 7:29pm

"The Japanese government has declared a state of emergency and is set to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in Tokyo, as the capital races to get surging coronavirus infections under control."
"Venues in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama prefectures will be “completely unattended”, the newspaper reported citing government sources."

wally's picture
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wally Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 7:36pm

“Who would commentate on the surfing?” Excellent question.
One of the treats of the Olympics free to air coverage over the years is the exciting and unpredictable TV host/sports match up.
You will get some unheard of South Australian horse racing bloke doing the Olympic rowing, and often doing a terrific job,

Looking at channel 7’s Olympics team, and relishing a history of odd matchups, I’m thinking Basil Zempilas and Candice Warner.

stunet's picture
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stunet Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 7:38pm

Shannon Brook is calling the surfing. She landed the gig last month.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 7:42pm

As long as the British lady with the impeccable accent still commentates the equestrian

"Oh, what a frisky horse!"

I wait for this every 4 years

Remigogo's picture
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Remigogo Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 8:20pm

And I am up for French commentators calling lawn bowls.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 7:41pm

who is Shannon Brook Stu?

stunet's picture
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stunet Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 9:36pm

Stepped into Rosie's shoes for a while, did the post-heat interviews and whatnot at a bunch of CT comps, though can't remember specific ones now. Good longboarder and she knows more than most about surf history.

Californian - and part-time Thirroulian.

vbaaccess's picture
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vbaaccess Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 9:30pm

It's likely that the surf will be shit and they should had at the surfing in a wave pool. Like the swimmers, divers and other water sports. Lame event to show your best for gold.

Remigogo's picture
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Remigogo Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 9:52pm

I agree. If ever there is an opportune time to showcase a wave pool... Now would probably... been, it.

Hurricane swell anybody?...

nextswell's picture
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nextswell Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 9:44pm

Roy & hg to call the surfing. Anyone else wouldn’t suffice.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 4:56pm

Harry the Horse, Hello Boys, Flat Bag.

Wonder how they'd call the crouched stances before an air?

lucky-al's picture
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lucky-al Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 11:07pm

Here is a picture of waves breaking off the fishing port at Taito just south of Tsurigasaki:

lucky-al's picture
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lucky-al Thursday, 8 Jul 2021 at 11:13pm

It's from this magazine a Japanese friend gave me about 15 years ago. I still have it and flick through it occasionally - it's a good one:

rrr's picture
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rrr Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 3:35pm

world class waves in that ay .
AB left that here for me when he stayed .
he went most years shaping at byrning spears @ shikoku

stunet's picture
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stunet Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 6:01am

Hey Al,

Where'd you live while in Japan?

Get good waves..?

lucky-al's picture
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lucky-al Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 11:52am

I lived in Kamogawa, near the birthplace of Nichiren! About an hour's drive south of Shidashita. Got good waves, nothing too spectacular, but I loved it - loved exploring the Bōsō Peninsula!

greg-n.williams's picture
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greg-n.williams Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 7:44am

Wave pool would have been the go! Eliminates the chance element of the ocean waves & same wave for everyone to show their talent. By the way what is a tetrapod???

Craig's picture
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Craig Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 8:06am

These things Greg..

lucky-al's picture
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lucky-al Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 11:46am

ryder's picture
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ryder Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 9:10am

So, is surfing most out of form surfer Kolohe Andino still gonna surf and is JJF still gonna surf on one leg?

eat-your-vegies's picture
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eat-your-vegies Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 12:18pm

+1 nextswell
Roy and hg or the sound turned off ha ha.
I won’t watch any olympics anyway.
With people unable to get back to dying parents and kids away from parents , these selfish priks want to fly to Japan to play kids games and then expect to jump the cue to fly home as friggin hero’s.

And isn’t palachuk going as well?
Unbelievable .

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 9:02pm

That's a nice, positive summary Veggie!

I was actually looking forward to the track events to be honest......

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 9:03pm

That's a nice, positive summary Veggie!

I was actually looking forward to the track events to be honest......

lost's picture
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lost Friday, 9 Jul 2021 at 9:43pm

I lived in Tokyo for a number of years and regularly jumped in the car and did a early to Chiba. For a surfing tragic living in Azabu Juban it was a godsend and actually a real surprise to me you could surf so close to Tokyo. Loved every minute of it and had a few really memorable surfs. Mostly friendly and respectful crew (much better than Oz) and many a laugh at my improving but still basic language skills. Mostly peaky little beach breaks but stumbled on a couple of amazing points working a few times. Definitely a different vibe on those days but I got some good scraps. I’m told even better in winter but I always opted for a Shinkansen to the snow when it got that cold. Keep your expectations low for the competition and it could still be fun to watch. Anyone know what the format is ?

matt.evans's picture
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matt.evans Saturday, 10 Jul 2021 at 7:17am

Great preview Craig.
Looks like there will be big tidal swings for the days of the event. Anyone know how much that will affect the surf?

philosurphizingkerching's picture
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philosurphizing... Sunday, 11 Jul 2021 at 7:26am

I wonder if any of the Olympic athletes have ever even heard of the word Tritium.
Now Japans deputy prime minister is saying it is safe to drink.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/02/uproar-over-japans-decision-to-d...

Jono's picture
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Jono Monday, 12 Jul 2021 at 11:26am

Current models have the opening day starting off with a real bang...


thermalben's picture
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thermalben Monday, 12 Jul 2021 at 11:41am

... andit's half a foot either side of the peak!

That'll bring well-rounded surfers to the top, eh?

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Tuesday, 13 Jul 2021 at 9:08am

Latest model run has downgraded the swell to an onshore 10ft, and pushed it back 48 hours, to Tues 27th.

Certainly doesn't instil much confidence.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Tuesday, 13 Jul 2021 at 9:30am

You guys are usually pretty good with the reports here. Wednesday is probably the day, fair bit of residual swell and side-offshore at Shidashita I'm guessing.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Monday, 12 Jul 2021 at 6:22pm

It'll be unsurfable.

Having said that, there's been some fun little waves around recently but me mate Simsy above is probably right- 1-2 ft dribble is what they'll be out in I reckon.

But, when a typhoon swell goes through here, more often than not the next day is massive. with a hard, all day offshore. They might get one day of epic, but extremely challenging surf.

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AlfredWallace Tuesday, 13 Jul 2021 at 8:36am

Good one Zen. Always enjoy your honest and open appraisal about the place in which you live, you give us all a little insight into a country that we hear or know very little about (regarding surfing ) if we were all to be honest, you’ve slowly educated a lot of us. I’m sick of these Google keyboard warriors who go click, click and garner minute tidbits of info and convince themselves, yep I know it all now (i.e SimSurf, yes, we all acknowledge you’ve been there) about Japanese surfing. It’s great to read or listen to those who’s feet are firmly planted on the ground. Surfing should never be at the Olympics. What would Greg Noll and others think of the event, so far removed from what surfing is. Zen, if I’m ever heading your way, I’d definitely like to catch up. Thanks again for all your insights.

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zenagain Tuesday, 13 Jul 2021 at 9:27am

Cheers Brad, if you ever are, drop Ben or Stu an email and get in touch with me that way. October peak months IMO for surf, plenty of swell and water still warm. Winter has plenty of swell and all day offshores but polar cold. You have to have the right rubber and be pretty keen. But, winter has the bonus of glorious snow if you're into that.

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Spuddups Tuesday, 13 Jul 2021 at 10:27am

Lived in Tokyo for six months in the late 90s. Had some fun waves in Chiba and also just to the south of Tokyo Bay at a place called Chigasaki. Overall I enjoyed my surfing there. The locals generally all surfed in the same place so quite often if you walked around the next corner there'd be no one out.

I can confirm that they have right royally fucked the coastline. Some of the works appear to have been entirely unnecessary, but bearing the 2011 Tsunami in mind, a lot of them did the job they were built for.

In regards to the waves there are a heap of man made spots. Saw some great wedges breaking off the sides of concrete. Plenty of rock groynes to surf off as well.

It's a super interesting place to visit. Probably the most memorable country I have been to. I really enjoyed my time there and am hoping to take the kids there one day soon.

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Ardi100 Thursday, 15 Jul 2021 at 1:31am

Hitchhiked to a spot in Chiba with a Japanese mate. Couldn't see much from where the driver dropped us off. Over the dunes and it was almost flat. Decided to go out anyway when we heard shouts from over the dunes. The driver had been around the corner, seen swell and driven back to pick us up! Ended up in 2-3 ft beachies that were a million times better than we'd been preparing to go out in.

That was 20 years ago but I can't imagine that ever happening in Australia.

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 15 Jul 2021 at 8:43am

Ha, no way, that's gold!

Zen kindly took me for a tour of the coast during the middle of winter and the quality of waves and setups I saw were great.

How's this slabby beachy firing on all cylinders!

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 15 Jul 2021 at 9:27am

Same slabbing beachie, different angle.

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 15 Jul 2021 at 9:30am

Oh my. 

Jono's picture
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Jono Thursday, 15 Jul 2021 at 9:31am

Pumping!

Pops's picture
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Pops Tuesday, 20 Jul 2021 at 3:01pm

Yes, please