Tasman bombing range

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Dispatch

I had a feeling about this one.

Call it intuition or whatever you will, but when the ingredients for a significant and prolonged Tasman Low started coming together, it couldn't be ignored.

I penned an article explaining the catalyst for such an event, not expecting the end result to be quite so impressive. The early interest came more from a weather-watching perspective. The moving parts were described thus: a strong low off Western Australia moved through the Bight, advecting polar air up behind it, this cold pool then became cut-off as it meandered across New South Wales and the instability from the initial low moved offshore.

With an infeed of moist and warm air from the Coral Sea and cold air aloft, a deep and powerful low was forecast to develop. As the event neared, the significance and potential of the storm was realised. The low ended up 'bombing' in the Tasman Sea and then lingering all week owing to an upper level ridge effectively cradling the storm.

Also, it wasn't an East Coast Low but a long-lived Tasman Low.

The explosive cyclogenesis occurred through Monday evening and as often occurs with such rapidly deepening and strengthening systems, the increase in size seen into Tuesday afternoon was ahead of schedule.

The local reef came to life with raw and chunky 8-10ft waves pushing through. Standouts were Ollie Dousset who went wave for wave until dark, while Matt Dusmore held on to a deep and throaty one as conditions improved near sunset

Ollie Dousset in nice and early

Sam Jones, eyes on the prize

Ollie from behind the peak

Matt Dunsmore coming in from deep

The low reached a peak in intensity Tuesday afternoon, and with this the largest and most powerful pulse of south-east groundswell was expected to fill in overnight and peak the following morning.

With the low sitting out into the Tasman Sea, the Sydney region got to experience the maximum amount of energy but with the saving grace of offshore winds wrapping around the western flank of the low.

This culminated in 10-12ft+ surf on Wednesday morning which kept cleaning up during the day without dropping too much in size.

Training the lens on the horizon for the morning surf report, I captured Max Hyett taking on the outer bombora, nailing a couple within ten minutes though unluckily coming unstuck on this one.

Max Hyett (and in sequence below) charging the outer bombora

 

With Ben on annual leave I charged through the forecasts all morning aiming to check the reef again in the afternoon. Messages flew in with screengrabs of Spencer Frost's footage of Chris Lougher's wave just before midday and I knew I had to see it with my own eyes.

Arriving around 3pm I luckily scored a car park and when the ocean came into view, I saw some of the biggest, cleanest, and heaviest waves being made. I eyed the rock-off spot for a swim with the camera, but the size, period, and direction of the swell, not to mention the high tide, rendered it way too dangerous.

Sam (Spider-Man) Jones

Not wanting to shoot from land I came up with a plan. Paddle out on my mid-length and sit wide with a longer lens, hopefully looking into the end section barrel.

This sounds simple enough, but paddling out through the reverb and sweep from the inside beach with a water housing washing off the nose of the board isn't easy. It took a long while to reach my designated position, and when I did I fired off a test shot to check the housing.

“Insert Card”

I couldn't believe it! In all the froth and rush I forgot to put a memory card into the camera! I sprint paddled back to the beach, through the reverb and wash to then get the card and do the whole thing again. By the time I repeated the whole process it was 4pm, but I was stoked just to be amongst the energy of the swell and the lineup.

What you can't see from the cliff angle and long lens footage is how much water and volume there is in these waves. The freight-train nature of it and also the growing take-off wedge which needs to be paddled down and into as it continues to lurch up on the ledge.

The inside bowl was the heaviest piece of ocean I have seen and I'd compare some of the set waves to Shipsterns. Everyone charged but there were two standout rides that I luckily captured. A monster bowl by Spider-Man Sam Jones (at bottom), and the cool as cucumber ride by Chris Lougher.

Chris Lougher (in sequence beginning above), with all the time in the world

There was one more and that was a 12ft double up that snuck through the pack. Seeing it come down the line was like witnessing 'that' wave at Cloudbreak, of course not the size or perfection but for this place, one of the craziest waves I've ever seen from the water.

This was a different experience compared to the last swell when Kelly was in town, but the vibe was similar with local underground chargers giving mind-bending waves a red hot crack.

The swell continued to provide slabbing waves for the next three days owing to the longevity of the low, but by this time I'd had hit the road to chase my own slice of the swell.

Post event I chatted to Sam Jones to get his account on what went down last week.

After getting the feet wet, slotting a few, and copping a couple of floggings Tuesday afternoon, I woke up at 3:30am on Wednesday when the bigger pulse was due, checked the buoy and it was maxing.

"Are you fucking kidding, we're gonna die here!" I checked the winds and they were west-southwest and I was like, "Wow, what the hell? I haven't really seen that before."

Rocked up and saw all the whitewater moving on the reef and thought, "Crap, I don't want a bar of this right now."

Ollie Dousett was the only one out, we watched him stroke into an absolutely psycho one. It was that raw and props to him, that was pretty skitz. I decided I'm not gonna surf. I didn't wanna blow it for the arvo cause that's when it'll be perfect.

I got roasted by the boys, especially Maxy for not paddling out in the morning, but I ended up heading for some burgers out the back of the beach. Then grabbed a big board and went for an ocean paddle for a warm up.

On returning I suited up and got out there about 10:45am and rocked-off pretty sweet. There were a few guys out, a few Narrabeen guys and a couple people I didn't know. Saw Chris (Lougher) out there. The vibe was epic, everyone was kinda cruising, Toby Martin was frothing out.

It was pretty gnarly cause the sets were so consistent - it's never usually like that. It's usually one big wave every hour but this was one every five minutes.

I was in the spot for quite a few mental ones but still just getting my head in the game and pulled back on a couple of absolute stoinkers. Just kept paddling into them but not getting under them enough and knocked by the wobble.

The boys let me have it which is fair enough, wasted a few good waves, but after that got a couple smaller ones under the belt.

I was riding my 6'3" Kirk Bierke, but a lot of the guys were on bigger boards, Chris was on a 8'0" which I thought that was too big, but clearly that was the go cause he was knifing the best ones of the day.

Those bigger ones were kinda going wide of the peak, off a chip shot out there - they had this little let-in above the whole ledge. Chris was off the back getting a chip shot into a run in above the ledge, knifing over it which is scary cause you're not under it but cutting through that transition which is nuts.

I never thought about approaching it that way, but it was really cool to see that and obviously it worked. Real awesome to see.

It was also good to see some of the guys I always surf with around here, including guys who haven't surfed it anywhere near that big before, putting their head down. Everyone out there was ready to have a crack and everyone who wanted a set could go and be 100% committed.

I wore a 6/5 mil suit cause I wanted to stay out there all day. I'd surf waves then take the chest zip off on the paddle back out to the top, then put the hood back on and just wait for the next set.

Oh, quick shout out to Max Hyett who got that one that went viral on WSL, I reckon that was the best dismounts ever. I reckon such an expert dismount, not to mention the bottom turn was mental but that situation could have been so bad but he managed to make the best of it.

Sam Jones (in sequence beginning above) and an insane inside bowl

Comments

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 4:03pm

Great shots and great write-up Craig.
That angle tells a much heavier story than the usual cliff-top one. I'd love to see some shots of the takeoff though!

Hope you scored when you went looking!

He who hesitates is lost

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 4:05pm

Bravo, everyone!

Ollie Dousset. Words fail me.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 4:15pm

pumping.. and infomative.

Craig > I've been meaning to ask you - is there a formula to use that calculates the pressure per square metre from a wave? For example, if the reef is 500 metre's x 200M, the depth of the reef is 5M and the swell is 4M, what's the approximate pressure per square metre?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:49pm

Hmm, not sure on this one regarding getting so specific! Something to think about though.. Any hydraulic engineers out there?

Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 9:26pm

Crazy amount of variables so no quick formula would do it justice. Also, any computational modelling would be too 'perfect'.

You could probably come up with something for pressure if you got some dimensions for height/width/lip thickness of wave with depth of water...but yeah very hard to measure.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 4:20pm

first time i have seen people surf some of those places best photos

Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 4:31pm

yeh boys! epic day

Nicko

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 5:04pm

epic write up. well captured.

1173

yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer's picture
yorkessurfer commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 5:16pm

Craig I think you’ve earned a Xmas bonus from the boss this year! Great article.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 6:50am

He’s already got it. Xmas came in July!!!

Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68 commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 5:32pm

Epic on all fronts! Well done Craig.

"Insert Card" - that cracked me up! :-)

Crystal Clear

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:14pm

epic stuff Craig.

6/5 wettie, sounds nuts but it worked.

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:20pm

A mate (and occasional contributing photog on here) said some of the photos from Craig could well be immortalised. I agree!

Brilliant stuff, Craig.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:25pm

Epic read and pics. Cheers.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:31pm

What’s the difference between an East Coast Low and a Tasman Low again?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:48pm

Here you go Spuddups..When is an east coast low not an East Coast Low?

A quote from the article..

Meteorologists determine East Coast Lows as systems that display the following:

  • Forming within 500 kilometres of the coast.
  • Moving parallel to the coast at one point of its life cycle.
  • Destructive winds of at least gale-force strength.
  • Widespread rainfall.
  • Rough seas and heavy swell.

This one didn't form within 500km of the coast, didn't move parallel to it and winds weren't destructive and rainfall was minimal, heavy across the far South Coast when the trough deepened, but otherwise only 20mm or so elsewhere.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:50pm

Thanks Craig. Love your work mate.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 6:51pm

Thanks for the kind words crew. Pops, that I did and regarding Ollie, he never ceases to amaze me.

To be out there and putting so much trust in your ability and a prosthetic in such serious waves is beyond.

channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 7:20pm

So Ollie surfed Deadies solo Thursday morning? Legendary effort.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 7:24pm

Yep, here's a photo by Murray Fraser..

 

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 8:32pm

Kudos to Ollie. That's an incredible effort.

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 7:20pm

Unreal Craig, epic stuff.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 8:11pm

I see what you did there Craig...you whipped up an ECL then swallowed it whole!
Crew hail The 3rd Wave ~ # Craigstorm

Huey: "You must abide by the laws of the sea tbb!"

Ok! So the ECL has gotta be named after Troubled Ships or that Collaroy Wave Pool.
https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/06/06/00/34F4C59000000578-0-image-a...

tbb co' names Craig's ECL "The Manly Ferry Storm of 2020"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrV8iGZ3Vfg
https://www.facebook.com/9NewsPerth/videos/manly-ferry-struggles-in-high...
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8520565/Terrifying-pictures-Syd...

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 8:06pm

Haha, how has that video reached 3,000+ views. And the background track. More of a time waster than the KS in Texas vid ;p

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 8:55pm

Just for being a good sport Craig...you earn a bonus....

Cyclones & ECL's long ditched Qld to tour Sydney Opera House.

By rights some yuppie 'ECL twitter page' should rate pretty low...

See what you think Craig + plenty of surf action for the crew...
tbb is quite surprised how all are jumping on board the ECL wavelength.
Well worth looking at this from all fronts...interest in Big Ocean is building.
https://twitter.com/hashtag/eastcoastlow

Eugene Green's picture
Eugene Green's picture
Eugene Green commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 9:06pm

Mind blown...

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 9:19pm

jeezus unreal..and the you tube vid of it from side on... faaark

Remigogo's picture
Remigogo's picture
Remigogo commented Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 10:29pm

I am having troubles getting past the photos...

Just amazing..

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 9:09am

A good swell for sure. Much less perfect and harder work than the May swell but probably packed a little more punch at its peak. Really only found waves on the front and back end of it around here...at least a day and a half of unsurfable.
Overall though, it hasn't really stopped since mid Autumn...been a quality run with what appears to be more on the way.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 9:34am

it was surfable the whole way through here.
over-hyped for the second and third day of the swell. back end was very sweet. front end had some good big surf.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 9:42am

Wouldn't say overhyped, I was just telling it like it was when forecasting the size. Though after the initial spike the immediate days following (for your region) where a fair bit under what I expected.

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 12:32pm

Unreal yarn. The step in that insta shot gives a good indication of how shallow it is, too.

The thing I can't get my head around is the 6/5 wetty (and not just because it's so warm in Sydney, just imagine what the Tassie boys are thinking). That would be almost like wearing a flotation vest and be most unkind for getting beneath anything. He must have copped some serious floggings with all that rubber on.

Woulda been unreal to watch from the water. 10 points all.

suchas's picture
suchas's picture
suchas commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 7:46pm

Ahhhh- got it!!(I hope)

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 7:49pm

farrk did he make it past that?

Remigogo's picture
Remigogo's picture
Remigogo commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 7:51pm

Jeez... that is a shot and a 1/2. Bravo!!

suchas's picture
suchas's picture
suchas commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 7:53pm













Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 7:55pm

Yes!!! Wow, insane. And you got Sam Nolan taking the craziest pig-dog line on that foamy monster. Great shots!

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 8:01pm

Love that backhand bottom turn too!

suchas's picture
suchas's picture
suchas commented Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 8:08pm

and a few more- some serious commitment on show out there-




truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 1:51am

Qldurrz Salute yer epic Tasman session..
Looks so wild...but it just keeps calling yer name...

So spoilt with Craig's storm fronting & suchas' eagle eye.

Huey : "I know what you guys did last ECL."
Capt Goodvibes : #@!% ***** Burp!
Astro : ! | /(C`...
Beast : 'I can do That.'
Roary : "Just say when!"...nsw : wwWhENNN ! Stop! STop! STOP you crazy old #@%!
WSL : "I wish I could do that!"

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 2:21pm

How do you paste pictures in here? I have a couple of phone shots from the cliff and it would be interesting to see if they marry up with others from different angles....

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 2:50pm

Thanks.

Here's the end of a sequence:

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 2:52pm

Epic, that's Jonesy.

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 3:01pm

Nice, I'll add the preceding shots when I get a chance..

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 2:55pm

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 3:03pm

Wow, Sam Nolan! Haha animal.

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 3:05pm

Haha, yeah, that one really stood up - I'll add the earlier ones later...

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 3:06pm

One for scale...

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 4:56pm

Tough to get in under the "wobble"

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 6:12pm

Hell of a wobble.

cdawg's picture
cdawg's picture
cdawg commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 4:56pm

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 6:40pm

Crazy shots one and all.

I echo the sentiments from above- there's some serious commitment going on there.

1173

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 7:10pm

Bucking huge. Thanks for sharing!

Clam's picture
Clam's picture
Clam commented Friday, 24 Jul 2020 at 1:09am

That's big

groovie's picture
groovie's picture
groovie commented Sunday, 26 Jul 2020 at 5:49am

GR8 article Craig. Taking it on with a 6'3" just shows how crazy & committed some surfers are! No one tops Ollie though, one leg, in the dark with a peaking 10+angry unorganized swell! Fucking mad man legend right there. Give the Para Olympics a big shake that lad!!!

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Tuesday, 28 Jul 2020 at 10:08am

Great story and pics Craig and everyone else. That swell was insane, I spent so much time watching it on the eastern beaches. The Wednesday was just too wild for anything here, backed off a little Thursday, Friday morning again but still big, then it pulsed huge again on the Friday arvo but cleaner and more organised.

I can’t believe the commitment levels and the skills, again, how does a Sydneysider get so good in such heavy water. We just don’t get that many swells that big, and quite a few locations would require intimate knowledge of that particular break. Sort of wish I had those commitment levels, and sort of glad I don’t. Hats off to everyone.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Tuesday, 28 Jul 2020 at 10:10am

And ‘insert card’, hilarious. It’s damned hard to think straight when there is so much adrenaline rushing through your arteries. Betting you will check before paddling out next time.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 28 Jul 2020 at 1:22pm

Thanks batfink! Insane and then to see yesterday so large again, incredible!

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Tuesday, 28 Jul 2020 at 1:57pm

Best run of surfable large surf I can remember in this part of the world...

Then again, my memory is sh*t!

He who hesitates is lost