A Red-Hot Olympic Preparation

Craig Brokensha picture
Craig Brokensha (Craig)
Swellnet Analysis

With all eyes on the South Pacific in the lead up to the Olympic Games, it’s impossible not to notice the big purple blob of swell forecast to soon hit Tahiti.

At present, surfing's Olympic athletes are in Teahupoo preparing for the games. Yet as they familiarise themselves with the reef, a potent mix of weather is combining 3,000 kilometres to the southwest of them.

Yes, that purple blob.

In the coming days, a significant Southern Ocean frontal progression is set to develop south of New Zealand, squeezed by the near record-breaking high pressure system currently straddling southern Australia. 

It’s this squeezing between the high pressure system and polar westerly winds that will set in motion a swell that, from this vantage point, will invite comparison to the infamous Code Red swell from thirteen years ago - August 27, 2011, to be exact.

The driver will be a strong node of the Long Wave Trough (LWT) developing southeast of New Zealand. The Long Wave Trough is an upper atmospheric feature which effectively steers surface features, such as cold fronts, towards where it is amplified. 

With the LWT focussed southeast of New Zealand we’ll see Southern Ocean storms steered toward this region over the next week.

The undulation is the path of the Long Wave Trough, which storms broadly follow. Later this week the path of the Long Wave Trough will shift to be southeast of New Zealand setting up a corridor of swell aimed at Tahiti.

During today and tomorrow, an initial polar frontal system will generate a broad swathe of westerly gales south of New Zealand, setting in motion an active sea state.

An active sea state is essentially an agitated sea surface that works as a primer for any following storm, allowing wave growth to accelerate faster than it would off a placid sea state.

Over that active sea state, an even stronger frontal system will pass this weekend and early next week. With wind speeds expected to reach storm-force (55kt - 100km/h) as it moves past New Zealand’s East Coast, we’re expected to see open ocean seas reaching 45 feet, or 13.5 metres, aimed squarely at Tahiti.

It will arrive in Tahiti amid a week of large surf with the peak being either late on Wednesday 10th July or sometime on Thursday 11th - two weeks before the Games begin.

It'll create a spectacle only witnessed every few years. The surf will be in the 15 foot+ range - or five to six times overhead - and most definitely tow only. Quality of the surf will depend on local winds which we'll monitor closely over the coming days.

The image that came to define Code Red 2011 - Nathan Fletcher loses contact deep in the maw of Teahupoo (Brian Bielmann)

The Code Red swell of 2011 got its name from the signal used by Tahitian authorities to shut down any nautical activities for 24 hours. To date, it's only been exercised twice, the second time in July 2022, yet despite the bureaucratic stop sign, surfers have ridden waves at Teahupoo during both Code Red swells.

With the eyes of the world on the region, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of policing will be called upon if a third Code Red is announced.

There’s also the expected damage to local infrastructure due to the inundation of the Tahitian coast in such swells.

The Paris Olympics begin on Friday 26th July, with the waiting period for surfing beginning the very next day.

// CRAIG BROKENSHA

Comments

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 1:17pm

Booyah!!!

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 1:55pm

Could be Code Brown if another purple blob rears it's head during the waiting period.

hamishbro's picture
hamishbro's picture
hamishbro Saturday, 6 Jul 2024 at 3:15pm

Code Violet? Doesn’t have quite the same ring.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 4:02pm

That photo is insane. Just incredible what humans can survive... then fall over putting on pants and die. Fearlipe took 6 months off to pray to Brazzo Jeebus for 4ft Chopes, will his prayerth be answered?

Matt Davies's picture
Matt Davies's picture
Matt Davies Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 4:05pm

Hey craig
Mate is there Any chance any of this swell could push across to Fiji?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 5 Jul 2024 at 7:06am

Not ideal, there'll be some radial spread off it but it'll struggle to reach CB. Hitting more exposed locations to the east.

Matt Davies's picture
Matt Davies's picture
Matt Davies Saturday, 6 Jul 2024 at 12:28pm

Thanks mate

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 4:10pm

bet they are pulling the scaffolding /tower already.........

southernraw's picture
southernraw's picture
southernraw Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 5:04pm

That wave of Nathan Fletchers is still the highwater mark of heaviest waves ever attempted imo.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Friday, 5 Jul 2024 at 6:24am

It's funny cause out of the water Nathan is so Mellow, Respectful.
Maybe it's just he was exposed to such heavy / big surf at such a young age?
Having uncle Marvin tow you on his legrope out to waimea.....

Matlyn878's picture
Matlyn878's picture
Matlyn878 Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 6:36pm

The place is locked down for the Olympics no one will be allowed to surf.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 7:14pm

I've heard similar.

stanfrance's picture
stanfrance's picture
stanfrance Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 7:46pm

F that!

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 8:03pm

That's insane. wtf.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 8:33pm

They would probably have to literally confiscate or disable Matahi's skis.

DeXtrus's picture
DeXtrus's picture
DeXtrus Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 6:55pm

Craig how long will the LWT stay in place and what's chances of a follow pulse during waiting period?

Or have we effectively shot our load too early and now need to wait to do another lap round the planet?

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Friday, 5 Jul 2024 at 6:25am

LOL

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Thursday, 4 Jul 2024 at 9:27pm

Will the Olympics be gazumped?
experienced volunteers only apply

Barrel Daithwaite's picture
Barrel Daithwaite's picture
Barrel Daithwaite Friday, 5 Jul 2024 at 6:25am

Are there other fun/novelty waves around when this happens?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 5 Jul 2024 at 7:02am

Looks like the storm is moving a little quicker and not as intense. Still tow size but not to Code Red levels.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Friday, 5 Jul 2024 at 10:13am

The 'lympics needs four days out of a ten day window.

Here's the forecast for eight days from next Wednesday to the Wednesday after it.

Just for a bit of fun, imagine this forecast was over the Olympic period. Organisers would be foreced to choose two days out of this lot.

monkeyboy's picture
monkeyboy's picture
monkeyboy Friday, 5 Jul 2024 at 11:00am

Is the new tower up and running ?

basesix's picture
basesix's picture
basesix Saturday, 6 Jul 2024 at 1:07pm

dunno, any word, footage? they were certainly actively avoiding it in the wsl coverage..
(tbb's exhaustive reserach, up till a month ago: https://www.swellnet.com/news/swellnet-dispatch/2023/12/02/barge-olympic...)

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Saturday, 6 Jul 2024 at 6:09pm


spitting blood at the end of the heat, discussing surf strategy...

caj's picture
caj's picture
caj Monday, 8 Jul 2024 at 12:58pm

What's Pottz doing these days? I miss him on the commentary...

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Monday, 8 Jul 2024 at 1:58pm

Did you see the post he put out about Lisa Anderson,
Think he moved onto another career.
Best of luck to excellent surfer and world champ.

Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2 Saturday, 6 Jul 2024 at 6:38pm

Tickets to Maui for that right hander I’m not gonna try and spell?

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Monday, 8 Jul 2024 at 1:50pm

True, didn't that come from a hurricane though ? Ma'alea....

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free Monday, 8 Jul 2024 at 12:51pm

Winds have come good for Tahiti and Ma'laaee or whatever it is will be pumping in Maui

Swany's picture
Swany's picture
Swany Monday, 8 Jul 2024 at 2:18pm

Pretty interested to hear reports from the front line if any are out there

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 8 Jul 2024 at 6:34pm

"Over all the years i have been filming this spot this (is) one of the best days ever for sheer perfection."


Special thanks - to Simon Thornton & to Air Tahiti Nui
Cindy Drollet from Teahupoo Boat Tours
and Tahina David for putting me in the spot to get the shot & GoPro ANZ

Good luck Olympians, choose waves wisely.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 8 Jul 2024 at 8:29pm


pro surfers pulling in, shmick editing and glam flam bango

girls taking on cross shore bump; guys dropping in deeep with smooth offshore; aka pipeline finals

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 9 Jul 2024 at 6:50am

A couple of good ASCAT passes from the progression with some 50kt barbs..

Tim Bonython's picture
Tim Bonython's picture
Tim Bonython Tuesday, 9 Jul 2024 at 7:45am

Frothing!

ryder's picture
ryder's picture
ryder Tuesday, 9 Jul 2024 at 8:25am

Lets play a little game of 'Where's Filipe'...

Juliang's picture
Juliang's picture
Juliang Tuesday, 9 Jul 2024 at 9:00am

Back in the day, we used to just turn up at the beach and paddle out . These days you need a degree in meteorology, oceanography and travel, to work out where and when in the world you’re going to surf!

wavie's picture
wavie's picture
wavie Tuesday, 9 Jul 2024 at 9:19am

back in the 60's ?

Juliang's picture
Juliang's picture
Juliang Tuesday, 9 Jul 2024 at 9:58am

Back in the push bike days

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free Tuesday, 9 Jul 2024 at 12:38pm

Filipe is there with the Brazzo crew. John John and Griff are already there and Ned Hart is going over. Should be bigger and better than the last best day ever.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 10 Jul 2024 at 2:24pm

40ft+ seas recorded south of Tahiti..

southernraw's picture
southernraw's picture
southernraw Thursday, 11 Jul 2024 at 8:34pm

Aint looking like much in the first few days of the forecast from the long range.
Looks like they're just gonna miss a coupla weeks of pumping surf.
Pretty active Southern Ocean though so lets hope.
A fijian mate of mine sent me a pic from Cloudy today of him and EE.
No doubt clocking up his backhand tube count away from the growing hype.

walkar's picture
walkar's picture
walkar Friday, 12 Jul 2024 at 2:02pm

No video footage floating around yet from the last 36 hrs, was the wind bad on Thursday?

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Friday, 12 Jul 2024 at 2:43pm

How big did she come in @ chopes today ?

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Friday, 12 Jul 2024 at 7:50pm

21st July GFS chart has a high pressure of 1089hPa over Antarctica, in the section below Aus ... is that insane???
Guessing high pressure there is good for pushing storms north into the pacific.