Tahiti Pro Early Forecast
If you've been following any sort of social media over the past few months, you'd be hard pressed to have missed all the Teahupoo action. From the second coming of Code Red to multiple perfect-though-heavy 8-10ft sessions.
It's been a drama-filled start to the year in Tahiti but will the WSL see their luck continue to flow on from pumping Jeffreys Bay?
Unfortunately, at this early stage the odds are stacked against the travelling tour, with a couple of large blocking highs set to disrupt the flow of Southern Ocean frontal systems up past New Zealand.
The prime swell window for Teahupoo is directly south and southeast of New Zealand. Cold fronts that project up New Zealand's east coast produce swells from the southwest, providing those west bowl sets that corner in hard on the end of the reef.
However, if the Southern Ocean storms form any further east then the swell arrives with a more southerly direction, providing less of those west sets with waves peeling from deeper on the reef - still great shape, just not as heavy.
And if the storms form even further east and create southeast swell..?
Before we answer that question, let's back it up a bit.
The Tahiti Pro starts on Thursday the 11th of August. The long range forecast shows the first half of the waiting period has a less-than-ideal pattern occurring in Tahit's swell window. That being, high pressure systems will dominate the polar latitudes at which favourable storms develop. In turn this will see a couple of low pressure systems positioned at a more northerly latitude in the lead up to the start of the waiting period.
One of these lows is positioned in the Tasman Sea, which obviously isn't great for swell generation as New Zealand blocks the swell. However, next weekend - during days three and four of the waiting period - a small, mid-period westerly swell produced from the northern flank of a low should make landafll in Tahiti.
Yet this swell looks to be overshadowed by a localised southeast windswell. That southeast windswell will set the scene for the first half of the waiting period. Let's take a look at how it'll form.
When the event kicks off on the 11th, a strong high pressure system (1043hPa) is forecast to move slowly under Tahiti as a tropical depression to the southeast squeezes its northern flank setting up a windfield aimed back towards Tahiti.
A vast fetch of 25kt east-southeast winds will produce a dominant southeast tradeswell signal for the event window - see image below - with the tropical depression possibly deepening, generating some stronger pulses of surf from the same direction.
Now, Teahupoo is partly sheltered from swells arriving out of the southeast but with the amount of energy currently expected, and a lack of significant southwest groundswell, this may be the only source of size.
So, what does a southeast swell look like at Teahupoo?
We had to trawl through the memory banks, yet the following 2013 wave of John John's comes to mind. Caught from very deep on the reef, it begins as a regulation point wave before slowing down and opening up as it approaches the usual takeoff.
For trivia fans: John John got a ten for the wave, and still lost the heat to Ace Buchan.
Truth be told, we're not exactly sure how a mid-range southeast swell will perform, except to say that it won't be classic Teahupoo.
Local winds revolve around the location of the tropical depression and could be variable to gusty east-southeast. The latter would see more size out of the south-east but we'll continue to monitor this closely. Additionally there'll likely be some background south-southwest swell energy in the mix but only an inconsistent 4ft at this stage.
As a further digression, there are one or two waves on or near Tahiti that will pump under that southeast swell...
That paints the picture for the first half of the waiting period, and looking into the second half, there's still time for something more substantial to develop on the long-range charts, but the extended outlook shows higher than normal pressure persisting across the prime swell window.
We'll provide an updated forecast closer to the event next week with possible run days.