From the beating heart of a Black Nor'Easter

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch
“Conditions were undergoing a change, which portended unsettled, 
thundery weather with rain in scattered parts of the State. 
Yesterday afternoon a black nor'-easter raged, 
the wind attaining a mean average velocity of 26 miles.”
- The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 October, 1911

A black nor'easter.

It's one of those terms buried deep in the fissures of memory. A phrase that when heard ignites feelings of deja vu, of dark, brooding skies and screen doors banging in the wind. A generation ago it was a common descriptor, though it's rarely uttered now, overtaken by the cold language of science. Yet last week the Black Nor'Easter came roaring back into being, an evocative title for an amazing storm.

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(Pic Steen Barnes)

It was hard to know what to believe early on. There on the computer screen was a storm of staggering size, startling intensity, and divine positioning. Its overall composition was beguiling, yet the forecast was 148 hours into the future. Seven days. On the East Coast of Australia that's a forecaster's fantasy land.

The computer generated models that forecasters use often falsely report such storms. All the historical data that drive the models, plus the current observations that temper their output, combine to predict phantom storms. Atmospheric disturbances that simply don't eventuate. However, every storm has to be assessed, and it's at this point that human intervention takes place.

There's a strain of thought that surf forecasting is merely number regurgitation. That forecasters simply rehash information from computer generated models. It's a perversion of the truth. Good forecasters know where each model excels and where each one falls short. They watch the models persistently and intently, absorbing the flux and flow of the weather systems till they understand the complex interactions like a language. Something about this storm, even 148 hours away, spoke to them.

“All the catalysts were there,” says Swellnet forecaster, Craig Brokensha, “an unstable low pressure trough drifting from inland Australia, moisture feeding into another trough sitting adjacent the East Coast, with the two predicted to combine.” Yet this alone wasn't quite enough to put faith in the model output. “May 2016 was one of the driest on record across the East Coast,” says Craig. “It seemed like something had to give. And then there was the position and size of that high pressure system..."

As a rule, low pressure systems bounce off high pressure systems like pinballs off a bumper. However it wasn't forecast to be the case in this instance. The high pressure system Craig was referring too was so large it encompassed all of New Zealand and the Tasman Sea. The scale of the high and the strength of the approaching lows turned it into a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. Neither would yield, the lows wouldn't 'bounce' off the high but buckle its western flank, creating an elongated field of winds stretching in a near straight line from New Caledonia in the north to the south-western extremity of the Tasman Sea - a fetch over 2,500 kilometres long.

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"The lows wouldn't bounce off the high but buckle its western flank". Synoptic map Monday 7th June

As the week passed, each day counted down like numbers before an old movie, while keen surfers began staggering their lives in six hourly increments – the time between successive model runs. The anxiety built as the real time synoptic pattern began to align with the computer forecast. The phantom storm would become reality, and the reality of that was slowly being grasped

Before a single wave would be surfed, however, the whole Eastern Seaboard would be battered by rain and wind. The tempest hit Queensland first, dropping up to 300mm of rain in 24 hours in some coastal areas while storm force north-east winds drove up a huge unruly swell. North of the border the Black Nor'easter was in full effect. There was nothing to do but sit and wait till the trough line peeled away from the coast and the westerly winds trailing the change cleaned up the surf.

Sunday dawned in Queensland with blue skies and offshore winds, however there were few places coping with the energy. This wasn't a ruler-edged cyclone swell but something more ragged and mean. Relentless too, owing to the localised nature of the swell. The only option was towing Burleigh Heads or the Tweed Bar. No-one successfully paddled the Gold Coast on Sunday.

As the swell moved south the period incrementally stretched out. Still, the swell could only approximate the great curve in the coastline at Lennox Head. 12 -15 foot sets broke wide of the point ready to clean up even the most cautious of paddlers. A small band of surfers including Dave Rastovich, Glen Curtis, and Joel Fitzgerald took their chances yet it was obvious that the swell needed more time to settle. Monday would be the day, for both Lennox and every point, reef, and rivermouth able to cope with the barrage.

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Lennox Head, Sunday 6th June (Pic Lennox Head Surf)

“Four of us paddled out early,” said Blair Hall of his Monday morning session, “and when the crowd saw we were handling it, two more guys came out.” The six surfers tackled a rare rivermouth on the Mid North Coast. The sand hadn't been good there for a while, the same spot barely broke during Tropical Cyclone Winston back in February, but on Monday it was throwing oversized Hawaiian-style barrels.

Because of the sand situation the pack was sitting inside, where they normally would on a 6-to-8 foot day, only now it was much, much bigger. “I was thinking to myself this isn't good” recalls Blair. “Two sets came through that were way bigger than anything else that came through that morning. One of those sets everyone managed to escape but the second one caught us all.”

Blair rode a 9'2” while the other guys - “all younger and fitter than me,” says Blair - rode 7 and 8-footers. Age and conditioning didn't help, these were waves that demanded foam, the only entry being a long and committed series of strokes. Those with the paddling advantage got the waves. “They were all saying I was on the board,” said Blair with a sly chuckle, admitting that, yeah, he got a few.

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The pack scrambles as a set pours through. Monday on the NSW Mid North Coast (Pic Shane Chalker)

Lachlan Rombouts knew foam was key. On Monday morning he was perched on the rocks at North Avalon with a sleek 12 foot gun shaped by Dave Howell at Misfit under his arm watching Paul Stanton and Hughy Morris trying to line up the sets. It took 45 minutes but Lachie got off the rocks and with 100 litres of foam under his body stroked into one of the biggest waves of the swell.

Around the same time Lachie was dropping into his beast Beau Mitchell was standing atop Queenscliff headland amongst a tight huddle of friends. Before them, a kilometre out to sea, the Queenscliff Bombora was breaking with uncommon majesty. Collectively the group were animated yet individually they were experiencing a tangle of emotions. Fear, anxiety, and excitement all vied for primacy while each approaching set rejigged the order. All up and down the East Coast surfers were gathered on headlands experiencing similar feelings as the largest north-east swell in recent memory powered headlong into a light westerly wind while waves without names, waves that some locals had never even seen break before, were firing off like some crazy North Pacific onslaught.

Some of those assembled were simply there to gape, maybe take a photo for Instagram and give it a clever hashtag, but others, such as Beau, had genuine intentions to surf. This was a day he'd been waiting for, yet despite the improbable scene he fought the impulse to rush. “It was clean but it was also really shifty so I sat and watched it for a while." It was a session that would require strategy.

When it started to clean up he made his move. On the paddle out Beau remarked to his brother that he hoped to get a couple on the head early in the piece. “I always think it's better to be conditioned like that,” says Beau explaining his unconventional wisdom. “Otherwise you go through the session wondering what's going to happen. I don’t want that thought in the back of my mind.”

On the first wave Beau's wish came true; he went down hard and despite wearing a floatation vest was held underwater for two waves. “After that I thought, well, if that's the worst that can happen then bring it on!”

And so began a perfect session. “It was so big and it just kept getting better and better.” Fittingly, Beau's last wave was his biggest and best. So well shaped was it that it may have been a product of the Kelly Slater Wave Company...except it was every bit of 20 feet. Three days later and Beau could still barely believe it.

“All the stars aligned that day: I had the day off, the kids were looked after, and I picked up my board just the day before.” Yep, it was that close for him. Beau took delivery of his 9'6” Warner just 24 hours earlier. “I told Brett it was gonna be 15 foot and I was gonna need it.” The board was shaped and glassed – two layers of six ounce – in double quick time. It wasn't cured but it survived intact.

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Beau Mitchell and the last wave of a monumental session (Pic Agnes Durlik)

“I'm definitely shaping more big wave paddle guns these days,” says Northern Beaches shaper Mike Psillakis. “The boards I'm making are mostly between 8 and 9 feet long, though some are even bigger. 3 ¼ – 4 inches thick seems to be the go, which is huge volume, and that thickness holds forward.” All that forward volume is to serve one simple purpose – paddling speed.

Associate Professor Ian Goodwin leads the Marine Climate Risk Group at Macquarie University. He reported that open ocean wave heights, at least in the northern half of the state, were "unremarkable", but the wave period is what got his interest. On Monday, peak wave periods in Sydney reached 15 seconds, and while Sydney may occasionally get longer wave periods it's usually on small swells. They're the product of remote storms in the Southern Ocean, already severely diminished by distance and further eroded by the acute angle of delivery. In contrast this swell formed the optimum distance offshore and hit the coast but a fraction off plumb. All the wind energy conveyed by those waves was unleashed with maximum efficiency. 

"The long wave period was highly unusual," says Professor Goodwin, "and it caused higher wave power than normal along the NSW shelf and coast. The long period caused waves to shoal and break far offshore."

For years, East Coast surfers have watched their West Australian, American, even European brethren push the paddle resurgence. It hasn't really happened here and one reason is geology: big waves on the East Coast usually mean ledges and slabs which require a different approach and different equipment. Yet, as per Professor Goodwin's observation, the sheer enormity of this swell moved the playing area out onto dormant bomboras and deep water rock shelves that could theoretically be paddled. The paddle revolution that took hold elsewhere a decade ago was happening on the East Coast.

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Hayden Blair dwarfed by a Wollongong beachbreak (Pic Steen Barnes)

Everywhere, that is, but a shifting beachbreak near Wollongong. On Monday morning, 'Gong surfer Dylan Robertson chose to put his paddle guns aside and opt for horsepower. “I've done a few seasons in Mexico and it was just like that: big peaks broke 100 metres this way, then 100 metres that way," says Dylan. To get between the scattered peaks they twisted the throttle and whipped into huge Mexican-style beachbreak barrels.

“It was probably 15 foot in the morning,” says Dylan, which put it beyond the realm of paddling, yet as the swell settled throughout the day a few paddlers had a shot at it. Dylan and the other tow drivers escorted them through the impact zone and played water safety. “When a paddler spun around then the tow teams pulled back,” explains Dyl. “It was an exercise in co-operation and everyone got some bombs: Dylan Longbottom, Jackson Forbes, my brother Joe, Eddie Blackwell, and some of the younger guys like Luke Wrice who paddled into huge waves.” The camaraderie amongst the gathered surfers was clearly apparent.

There's a narrative in surfing that we're all one big tribe. It's fostered by older surfers who speak of trips to Bells or Hawaii as the gathering of the clans. But that story is hopelessly outdated. Surfing today is too big and too fractured for any consensus across the sport so we band together in small factions, and each faction is a bit wary of the others. We're suspicious of those who come from other beaches and those who ride different craft. Yet watching Monday's swell was to realise that unity lies only just below the surface.

Just as tow and paddle surfers co-operated in Wollongong, so to did the various factions mix elsewhere. On Monday, just being out in the water was the new bond. That afternoon I surfed one of the most localised waves on the East Coast and saw strangers getting called into the waves of their lives. Between sets the pack chatted freely irrespective of local standing, while up on the headland a communal vibe was in full affect amongst the gathered throng. All it took was a little swell.

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“I've done a few seasons in Mexico and it was just like that." - Dylan Robertson (Pic Steen Barnes)

If you want a straight ahead account of the swell then Mick Mackie is your man. Laconic and honest, the Ulladulla shaper lives his life in a hyperbole free zone. "The swell was 15 feet at its peak," says Mick getting straight to the point. The swell came at a great time for Mick, lately he's been experiementing with big single fins shaped from old style Burford blanks and what better conditions to test them in?

On Monday, Mick paddled a 10 foot single fin gun, this one shaped from a windsurfer blank, to a reef near his hometown. On the paddle out a strong rip dragged him toward an offshore bommie, a wave he'd had his eyes on for many years. "I got a real good look at it," says Mick. "And it almost looked doable, but..."

Mick leaves the sentence hanging, an unconcious imitation of his thought process while watching the bommie. He watched, deliberated...but ultimately opted out. Does he regret it? "Aw nah, it's past tense now. Though I'll be too old before I ever get a chance again," says Mick dolefully. "Swells like that don't come around very often. This was the biggest one since July 2001."

This seemed to be the consensus up and down the coast, that July 2001 was the last time the East Coast got this big and this good. Before that there was April 1989, then May 1983, May 1974. There may be others, no-one quite knows what the threshhold is for qualification, but suffice to say swells of this magnitude are very rare, hence why they're remembered by surfers forty years afterwards.

...and still the swell muscled up as it moved south. Two hundred kilometres beyond Ulladulla lies Eden, the southern-most town in NSW. At 4am on Monday morning a wave passed the Eden wave buoy measuring an incredible 17.67 metres - 58 feet in the old scale. The period was also stretching out beyond 16 seconds. After crunching the numbers, Ian Goodwin estimated the Eden buoy reading was a 1 in 85 year event. Reason indeed for surfers to remember this swell.

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NSW South Coast (Pic Chris Lovell)

By Tuesday morning the whole coast had been under the effect of an offshore flow for 24 hours. Every kink and wobble was duly ironed out so the only undulations visible on the ocean were thick lines of easterly groundswell. Everywhere was pumping, from south-east Queensland to Eden and beyond into Victoria's secluded Gippsland region. While coasts further south, such as Flinders Island and Tasmania's east coast were coming off the storm's peak. They'd see a slight delay owing to distance but there'd be no reduction in size or quality, and they were even better positioned for a long wag in the swell's tail.

Although the East Coast gets swell from many directions, the one thing it doesn't have is staying power. Often our big swells are localised, so when a wind change comes through the swell engine shuts down. The rule here is to jump when you see a swell because it'll be half as big tomorrow. Yet this swell broke the pattern and it threw surfers into a welcome spin. The gales extending out into the Tasman promised three more days of swell. And as the size tapered the quality remained - the wind not straying from the western quadrant. Those surfers who read the play knew that pacing themselves would be paramount.

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NSW North Coast (Pic Matt Carlin)

The 'Black Nor'Easter' swell of June 2016 reshaped parts of the east Australian coastline. Backyards fell into the sea at Collaroy, the houses abutting them structurally condemned. Bridges, piers, and walkways collapsed. Almost every north facing beach suffered some degree of erosion, from simple scouring of the foredune to waves eating into the brown dirt. It was a stark reminder that the coast is always in flux, even our apparently immutable sandstone rock shelves weren't exempt. At Cronulla, a number of car-sized boulders were thrown from below the tide zone up onto a rock platform.

For surfers, the swell of June 2016 reshaped our view of what this coastline is capable of. Everyone who saw it, and especially those who surfed it - they being afforded a more acute appreciation - witnessed a rare spectacle indeed. That of a truly huge swell being transformed by local bathymetry into something utterly breathtaking.

If only it happened more often.

Comments

the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 6:23am

Great article Stu. As we get older we understand the importance of volume, it's why in my mid 40's I appreciate the counsel of older shapers. It's not to say a young shaper doesn't know what to shape but rather there is a little wisdom and conservative approach afforded by the older guard. Like you they're possibly thinking 'he/she needs to get into it as soon as is possible.

My 9'0" is 3 3/4 and my 10'0" is 4 1/2. Overkill, maybe. But if you can't paddle into it you can't ride it. And I for one like to be down that face with time on my hands.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 8:27am

Best story I've seen on the swell.

Cheers.

jaunkemps's picture
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jaunkemps Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 5:45pm

100 % correct dumb my end, never to be mentioned again !!!!!!!!

Faz's picture
Faz's picture
Faz Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 9:40am

Cracking read Stu, loved it. Rare that i feel undergunned on an 8'4 but thats what I was on this swell.

tonybarber's picture
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tonybarber Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 9:50am

Yep, good story .... Good basis for a script for a good movie. With all the footage from top to bottom - what a story.

1963-malibu's picture
1963-malibu's picture
1963-malibu Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 10:10am

Nice read Stu - well done. Mahammed Ali died the same time this swell hit and by all reports the swell 'packed a punch'....maybe there is some legs in connecting the two? cheers,

wildenstein8's picture
wildenstein8's picture
wildenstein8 Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 10:47am

That weather map shows the isobars running down the Tasman meaning the wind would too., so why was the swell just off east? Was that a forecast chart and the actual chart was different??

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 11:10am

Winds veer in towards low pressure, and away from high, so if you look at the surface wind forecasts for the same time you'll see the winds are more E/NE than NE, with the swell spreading into us mainly from the east.

The swell tended more east-southeast as the fetch drifted south-east towards New Zealand.

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 12:19pm

I'll echo the comments above Stu - Great story, well written and gripping to the end. My only criticism is that, based in SA as I am, I missed the whole fargin thing!

I plead not fair your honour.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 1:44pm

It was a good read Stu.

I'd like to see some more detailed hindcasting of the event, which so far has been lacking.

On Fri evening less than 48hrs from Sun Ben in the written notes called 8-10ft for the Northern Rivers Sun and 6ft+ for Mon.

By lunch-time Sun surf had built to 12-15ft here and Mon had solid 10ft bombs. Thats' orders of magnitude greater than what was called - a call I agreed with - and seemed likely given the modelled fetches.
Why did this swell over-perform so radically here in terms of size and period?

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 8:47pm
freeride76 wrote:

It was a good read Stu.

I'd like to see some more detailed hindcasting of the event, which so far has been lacking.

On Fri evening less than 48hrs from Sun Ben in the written notes called 8-10ft for the Northern Rivers Sun and 6ft+ for Mon.

By lunch-time Sun surf had built to 12-15ft here and Mon had solid 10ft bombs. Thats' orders of magnitude greater than what was called - a call I agreed with - and seemed likely given the modelled fetches.
Why did this swell over-perform so radically here in terms of size and period?

I have my theory on this, and kinda mentioned it in the comments sections of Ben's forecast either on the Wed or Fri before. I'm not going to necessarily repeat it here again as I use this theory quite a fair bit to my advantage.

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 10:50pm
donweather wrote:
freeride76 wrote:

It was a good read Stu.

I'd like to see some more detailed hindcasting of the event, which so far has been lacking.

On Fri evening less than 48hrs from Sun Ben in the written notes called 8-10ft for the Northern Rivers Sun and 6ft+ for Mon.

By lunch-time Sun surf had built to 12-15ft here and Mon had solid 10ft bombs. Thats' orders of magnitude greater than what was called - a call I agreed with - and seemed likely given the modelled fetches.
Why did this swell over-perform so radically here in terms of size and period?

I have my theory on this, and kinda mentioned it in the comments sections of Ben's forecast either on the Wed or Fri before. I'm not going to necessarily repeat it here again as I use this theory quite a fair bit to my advantage.

I watched in real time , at about 0030-2000am Sunday morning a tight Cold Cored/hybrid Rotation form up about 200K's offshore from Moreton island proceed down parallel to the coast before coming in down near Coffs . At some stage it had very symmetrical form and would have moved toward warm core before fizzing out on approach to land near dawn well south of Ballina .
This tight system road the trough line down . And probably supercharged the already building long fetch energy from its east passing in its path . So perhaps this saw conditions ( all be it shorter periods ) than south of there out do forecast conditions . I have a photo of the radar showing said eye form for a short period of time east of Byron . Unfortunately none of this helped me where I went on the Monday .

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 1:50pm
Yeah, we were hoping to go back and look at the data but haven't had the chance yet. Ben's been flat out, as has Prof. Ian Goodwin. Maybe another article to come. Certainly warrants it.
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 3:18pm

Thanks for a great article, Stu.

This swell will always have a place in my heart. I was stupidly lucky to be visiting from NZ, and after three soggy and windy days in Sydney, I hit Lennox on Monday armed with my brand new Bourton Reef Swallow. Apart from the obvious joy of riding perfect waves at one of my favourite spots (and on a beauty of a board - thanks, Muzz), I got to watch insane surfing and share good vibes with strangers.

As a bonus, friends back in Welly sent pics of one of our secret spots pumping, courtesy of the 16sec SSW swell on the eastern flank of the high.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 6:53pm

I only just got to this and echo the sentiments of above, wow, what a great read and what an amazing swell. I wish I was there to see it and at the right spot even have a bit of a dig. I'm waiting to see how my bro went, my dad said on one of the days he couldn't get out, nobody succeeded. I'm guessing he would have been on his 7'2" (and probably still undergunned by the sounds of it).

One bit in the piece resonated with me. When I was younger I used to like getting flogged early in the sesh too, then I'd try and convince myself that it couldn't get any worse and go on to enjoy myself. A swell like this would probably prove me wrong I reckon.

Hats off to alll the crew that got amongst those beauties.

tworules's picture
tworules's picture
tworules Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 7:09pm

nowadays a flogging takes too many waves off a minor tally, never could convince myself it is part of the fun

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 7:57pm

I know what you are saying tworules, an arse kicking is never fun but when I was shitting myself out there and then got smashed and came up ok it kind of gave me confidence. Weird I know.

By the way, above I meant my bro didn't make it out, not my dad.

TLand's picture
TLand's picture
TLand Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 9:16pm

My old man occasionally used the term of the Black Nor'easter when Newcastle was being ripped to shreds by those rare howling northerlies.

PS - Really enjoyed the story Stu! I was a just a boy when the May '74 storm hit and sank the "Sygna" ship north of Newy. Selective memories maybe but that was still the biggest waves i've ever seen on the East Coast. But last week was right up there and maybe more prolonged & rideable.

tworules's picture
tworules's picture
tworules Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 9:28pm

zen, ask dad if he knows what a pyker is. A term not used much anymore, and when ya shitting yourself and its your turn to go you don't get a second chance

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 9:41pm

We all know what a piker is.

And I'd be a liar if I said I've never pulled back.

But for the most part, if I'm stupid enough to paddle out then I'm stupid enough to go:)

PS My dad's not a surfer, my bro is and neither of them take a backwards step. It's always funny when you see your bro get creamed though.

Hope you got a couple in the last week or so. (Waves, not floggings that is)

tworules's picture
tworules's picture
tworules Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 10:27pm

took me back to the generation before me and the expectation they had for someone wanting to surf their waves

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 at 10:59pm

Great article Stu.
See the Eden wave buoy was then ripped from its mooring (by a largere wave?!) before being caught in an eddy and collected off the coast
http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-14/new-map-shows-journey-of-weathe...

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 17 Jun 2016 at 5:59am

The new shark listening station buoy ended up on the rocks at Lennox Sun morning too.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Friday, 17 Jun 2016 at 11:41am

"Yesterday afternoon a black nor'-easter raged, the wind attaining a mean average velocity"

A mean average! Not like the SMH in the old days to pull out such a tautology.

As for getting a bit of a flogging to start off a session, I'm with others who say it has settled them down and provided the confidence to get amongst it. Not at that size though, way out of my league.

Heard of a fit, 20 or 30 something surfer, no novice at all, who tried the coogee bombie took 45 minutes to get in that Monday and was thinking he might not get in at all. It was that sort of swell. So much water was moving around you couldn't tell what was happening.

mbuckis's picture
mbuckis's picture
mbuckis Friday, 17 Jun 2016 at 7:03pm

Was lucky enough to schedule a week off from a hectic work schedule and scored Lennox all week, although I snapped my leggie on the Monday and dinged my board putting me out of that session - but as Bruce McAveney would say, this swell event was "special".

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 18 Jun 2016 at 11:02am

Great writing Stu. The swells are the stars of the show in this thing called surfing.

SimoSurf70's picture
SimoSurf70's picture
SimoSurf70 Saturday, 25 Jun 2016 at 5:43pm

What a read, what a SWELL.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 6 Jun 2019 at 7:43am

Memories of a swell....

Three years ago today.

J Barlow's picture
J Barlow's picture
J Barlow Thursday, 6 Jun 2019 at 9:26am

"Fear, anxiety, and excitement all vied for primacy while each approaching set rejigged the order."

What a brilliant sentence.

That describes perfectly how many who are preparing to push the boundaries of your own abilities have felt in that situation.

Well worth re-posting the whole article Stu.

helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose Thursday, 6 Jun 2019 at 10:04am

I concur, that was a great read Stu. It's nice to read something "historical" too....seems everything on the internet is immediate and new. Thanks for the reminder.

Yippee's picture
Yippee's picture
Yippee Saturday, 5 Jun 2021 at 1:45pm

I remember the swell of ‘74. After watching from the South Avalon headland, jumped on the double decker bus to school. From upstairs, Bilgola to Long Reef, the view was incredible, lines of swell feathering way beyond the headlands, single swell lines stretching as far as we could see north and south. I heard Bower was attempted, and Box Head was ridden. Pittwater had waves. We grommets rode novelty waves in the harbour.

willibutler's picture
willibutler's picture
willibutler Saturday, 5 Jun 2021 at 2:36pm

would love to speak to some who scored Gippsland on this swell