Photos: Three Fins To The Wind

An onshore love affair

stunet's picture
By Stu Nettle (stunet)
Photo: Swilly

Photos: Three Fins To The Wind

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

The Maui crew have always known it.

So too any aerialist who's laid eyes on North Point in a sou-wester. When an onshore wind comes up and surfers begin complaining about devil wind and chop, some eye the options above the lip and start swinging into the wind.

Jack Robinson looking over his shoulder for a landing (Swilly)

The last three years have been anything but normal in south-east Queensland and northern NSW. Persistent easterly swell, rain...lots of rain in fact, and an almost complete absence of northerly winds during spring and early summer.

The period from the footy grand final till the New Year is traditionally a cursed time of year with small swell and relentless northerlies, yet that's not been the case since 2020. During the last three years, as La Nina sat at the controls, there was a near complete absence of of the seasonal seabreeze. This year, things have reverted back towards the norm, however, rather than curse the northerlies, some surfers have adapted.

"It was the perfect ramp conditions," said photographer Simon 'Swilly' Wiliams of the day these photos were taken. Three to four feet of east swell was breaking into a freshening northerly, which required a quick shift in approach. Look for a ramp, get the headwind under your board, look for a landing.

Caio Ibelli counts the hang time (Swilly)

"From where I was standing," said Swilly, "it looked like the best ramps you could imagine. Enough size in the swell to get speed, and each lump was a ramp."

"Dane Henry, Shelly [Sheldon Simkus] and Jack were just sending it. Think they even inspired Mick Fanning to have a go too." 

Though tracking in a lower orbit, Mick still managed to access the air up there (Swilly)

"When the wind came up most surfers went in," said Swilly. "In terms of Snapper crowds it was empty: the boys and maybe six others."

"Dane Henry was just popping off all over the shop," observed Swilly. "That kid is really turning into an amazing surfer. He's going to make a big name for himself."

They weren't all ankle-breakers. Here Dane Henry shows us his planshape during a more othodox fin ditch (Swilly)

"Shelly got the biggest air of the day," said Swilly.  An alley oop where he almost, but not quite, over-rotated. Despite the time aloft some whitewash on the lip cushioned him a soft landing. 

Messy surf, clean oop. Check the towers in the background for a gauge on how far Sheldon travels from takeoff to landing (Swilly)

As well as athletic, the session required some mental agility. A sudden change in expectation and approach. "Somehow Jack managed to find a stand up pit," laughed Swilly

"He won the heat," said Swilly. "What can you say? He has the ability to make the hardest air look so simple."

"With surfing like that he has to get a title soon."

Jack mixing up a stalefish on one wave...(Swilly)

...with an indy grab on another. Meanwhile, the northerly wind suspends his board and slows the rotation (Swilly)


bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Wednesday, 29 Nov 2023 at 8:41pm

wow...! Great surfing and camera work, thanks...
Shelly & Swilly creates a new meaning for skyscraper

conrico's picture
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conrico Thursday, 30 Nov 2023 at 10:00pm

Great camera work. Can see why they blow their ACL’s!

Swilly's picture
Swilly's picture
Swilly Friday, 1 Dec 2023 at 6:28am

It was such a fun session . thanks for the run and all the kind words

Iced vovo's picture
Iced vovo's picture
Iced vovo Friday, 1 Dec 2023 at 1:38pm

It was the perfect ramp conditions said Swilly.
From where I was standing it looked like the best ramps you could imagine said Swilly.
Dane Henry, Shelly [Sheldon Simkus] and Jack were just sending it said Swilly.
When the wind came up most surfers went in said Swilly.
Dane Henry was just popping off all over the shop observed Swilly.
Shelly got the biggest air of the day said Swilly.
Somehow Jack managed to find a stand up pit laughed Swilly.
He won the heat said Swilly.

theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthe... Friday, 1 Dec 2023 at 10:11pm

Mate - you're just being a swilly billy

ouboet's picture
ouboet's picture
ouboet Saturday, 2 Dec 2023 at 12:30pm

Indy is grabbing with the front arm - that's a standard unnamed grab

Hiccups's picture
Hiccups's picture
Hiccups Saturday, 2 Dec 2023 at 6:27pm

An indy grab is with the back hand, and technically it only counts if backside, otherwise it's just a frontside grab. Front hand toe side is a mute grab.

ouboet's picture
ouboet's picture
ouboet Saturday, 2 Dec 2023 at 9:55pm


obviously don't remember the skating lingo as well as I thought. But was pretty sure it's not an indy grab on the photo.