Plenty o' waves for the weekend, sizeable options long term

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 23rd January)

Best Days: Sat/Sun: strong pulsey E/NE swell with pockets of good winds. Mon: good options in southern corners with another pulse of E'ly swell. Tues onwards: slowly building local SE swell all week, with a chance for a large event, particularly around Thurs/Fri.

Recap: Pulsey 3ft NE swell for the last few days with early light NE winds freshening during the day. A stronger E/NE swell is due in later this afternoon, and it appears to be showing at some exposed  locations with sets in the 3-4ft range (i.e. Manly). 

This weekend (Jan 24 - 25)

Note: forecast notes will be brief this week as Craig’s away

No changes to the weekend forecast. The short range NE swell we’ve enjoyed all week will slowly begin to fade over the coming 24 hours, but it’ll be replaced by a bigger, strong E/NE groundswell from a low that developed in the Coral Sea earlier this week and has slowly slipped south into our swell window. 

Wave heights are already starting to ramp up from this source, and should plateau overnight and through most of Saturday, somewhere between 3ft and 5ft at exposed NE facing beaches. 

Unfortunately, mainly fresh NE winds will create bumpy conditions at exposed beaches but there should a few periods of lighter winds - possibly early morning, and then late afternoon. Smaller surf will prevail at south facing beaches (and it'll be much cleaner here too).

This swell will fade through Sunday leaving inconsistent 3ft+ sets at exposed NE facing beaches early morning (smaller at south facing beaches), becoming smaller through the day. Winds are expected to remain from the same direction but will probably be a little lighter in strength overall, and a gusty southerly change will advance along the South Coast during the afternoon, reaching Sydney after dinnertime. So, not a bad day for some fun beachies.

In Wednesday’s notes I discussed a possible re-intensification of the low in the central Tasman Sea on Saturday, leading to a potential pulse from the east late Sunday. This development looks like it’ll still happen however the timeline has been pushed back a half day until early Monday. 

Next week (Jan 27 onwards)

As mentioned above, a secondary pulse of E’ly swell is expected to arrive in the early hours of Monday morning, generated by a re-intensification of the Tasman Low as a front pushes through from the west. This swell will be aimed towards the Far South Coast, so we’ll see the biggest waves here (4ft to maybe 6ft), with smaller surf as you head further northward, thanks to the off-axis fetch alignment. 

It’s hard to be confident on just how much size we’ll see in Sydney, but it seems reasonable to expect early sets somewhere between 3ft and maybe 5ft (although, the upper end of this maybe confined to more southern locales), with a steady easing trend during the day. 

Thinking along these same lines, surf size from this source will probably be a little smaller along the Central Coast and Hunter regions. 

Overall, confidence isn't super high on this swell event (as the fetch hasn't developed yet, and it may tweak southwards during Saturday's development) but I reckon it's still got a lot of potential.

But the main problem on Monday is a gusty southerly wind in the lee of Sunday’s late change. Furthermore, a brand new trough developing in the Central/Northern Tasman Sea will anchor these winds across most regions (swinging it from the south to the south-east) so you’ll need to keep your quality expectations in check. That is, apart from the Far South Coast where we’ll not only see the most amount of swell, but also lighter S/SE winds. Could be well worth a sneaky road trip if you're that way inclined.

The rest of next week will be dominated by this broad developing trough in the Tasman. As discussed on Wednesday, it’s likely to deliver a period of large, windy and wet conditions to a significant swathe of the NSW coast. In fact by the end of next week we could be looking at the first seriously large swell event for southern NSW of the year. 

But that is still a very log time away, and there’s a lot of ingredients that need to come together beforehand. So, I’ll update this and more in Monday’s update.

Comments

thepest101's picture
thepest101's picture
thepest101 Friday, 23 Jan 2015 at 4:42pm

Thanks Ben,
You've made my day and week. Sounds like the snags and beers on Australia Day may have to wait...

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Friday, 23 Jan 2015 at 4:50pm

Fingers crossed! Lots of options around though.. 'tis a dynamic weather chart.

Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 7:59am

Going off your swell report Ben for Saturday being 3-5 ft I went down to shellharbour to get some waves only to find that absolutely no swell eventuated and it did not reach more that 2 ft at best could you please explain what happened to this ene groundswell

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 8:14am

Was 4ft+ on the Northern Beaches yesterday. Not sure what happened down your way but it was pumping here!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 8:19am

Also, not sure what time you surfed but there were some interesting observations from Cronulla yesterday (being closer to your region, may have mirrored Shellharbour).

Our Cronulla reporter Darryl reported just 2ft surf at dawn on Saturday, but in his notes this morning he wrote: "There's still a bit of NE in this East swell and if yesterday's high tide conditions are any indication the waves increased to 4-5ft over the high tide period but with atrocious and windy conditions."

So, perhaps there was a lully period through the morning (when you checked the surf maybe) before the swell kicked in later?

I didn't notice that trend here - the swell was strong early morning when I checked it for 20 mins or so, and I then surfed around lunchtime and the swell was about the same. 3-4ft at most beaches with bigger 4ft+ bombs at the swell magnets. Winds weren't too strong from the NE so conditions were really good.

Seems to have wound back a little this morning but sets are still easily 3ft, and winds are only light right now so it's clean on top.

Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 1:39pm

Hi Benny, understand what you are saying re cronulla, although we did check all major surf spots in the dawn, morning, mid morning, middle, mid arvo, early evening and early sunday morning during the day to find absolutely no swell and only a small wave at mystics early sat, early sunday we were greeted to more lake like qualities only to come home to bronte to find 3ft swell with the occasional bomb. Leaving on sat we did see a 3-5ft ene swell at bronte, which we thought would be good down south but as they say never drive away from good waves...........

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 2:05pm

Hmmm, that's unusual, and without the Sydney buoy online it's hard to qualify the data.

However, all coasts (and indeed individual beaches/reefs) have their own magic numbers.. So even with swells from similar sources, small tweaks in the period values (or direction) can often steer the bulk energy elsewhere. Although if you checked a number of spots throughout the day, then that'd somewhat discount that theory.

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 3:29pm

could anonymous be kerry?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 5:43pm

Ha! I doubt it. Anyway, just got back from a surf at one off the Northern Beaches more popular locations.. Consistent 2-3ft with a couple of sneaky 4ft sets. Really long lines but a lot more east in direction than yesterday (so hitting the banks square on). Lovely conditions with very little wind, just a light puff from the north.

theinsider's picture
theinsider's picture
theinsider Monday, 26 Jan 2015 at 2:14pm

What some punters seem to fail to understand is that to catch a North East swell, you need to find a break with exposure to the, wait for it... North East! Some places on the map (like Mystics and the Farm...) might be protected from the Northerly wind but don't have much exposure to the Nth East swell. Did Red Sands have waves anonymous? But it would have been fairly onshore there too... The best option for a day when the swell and the wind is coming from the same direction is for a tradeoff between exposure to the swell and protection from the wind... On a Nor East swell, the Northern Beaches of Sydney has more options than most places, and was above average in more than a few spots on Saturday. No matter how good (or bad) the swell forecast are (and they are usually IMO pretty close to the mark) - one still has to throw in some intellect and correlate with knowledge of the local terrain. You can't blame the forecaster if you wasted t your Saturday and a pineapple on fuel driving 100 kays in the wrong direction and didn't get any waves, that just ain't surfing cobber!

Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 at 4:38pm

I didn't drive down to surf the farm and mystics intent to surf breaks around shellharbour such as redsands mini pipe and cowries which are open to NE swell, I had heard from someone who lives down there cowries had good waves in the weeks before on the other ne swells we had and I'm not blaming the forecaster on wasting my sat just asking if he knew the reason the swell didn't eventuate down the coast

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Monday, 26 Jan 2015 at 3:41pm

A quick update: forecast notes won't be updated until tomorrow (due to the Long Weekend). But.. those "sizeable options long term" are still on track for the end of the week which is very promising.

Mr Loose's picture
Mr Loose's picture
Mr Loose Monday, 26 Jan 2015 at 9:42pm

Thanks Ben and hope you've had an enjoyable Australia Day!

Insider, agree with your comments and often the forecaster notes are accompanied by relevant commentary regarding this. Along with wind and swell observations on the day, I'm finding the wave riders more and more useful for selecting where to surf. I'm amazed at how much difference a few degrees in direction can have at some spots for both size and quality. IMO the forecasting provided on Swellnet is pretty damn good, but at the end of the day it is just that - a forecast. You can't beat real time data and your own personal experience. Sorry Anon, If I'd left a 4ft ENE swell at Bronte to head south there are HEAPS of spots I would have stopped before getting to Mystics - Coal Coast is a good start.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Monday, 26 Jan 2015 at 10:30pm

You might find this hard to believe but on Saturday the swell was almost twice the size
at Cronulla southern end than the coal coast including the NE magnets. Checked every
spot from Stanwell well pass Sandon wont name where. 1st time ive been skunked in about 30 trips south in the last 3 months. Was like the swell just didn't make it down there. Go figure.

Wyre's picture
Wyre's picture
Wyre Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 10:01am

evosurfer, wasn't it bizarre?! I had some friends come down to visit from around the Bra to Coal Coast, the night before I was seeing/hearing solid sets at Scarb.. 6am it was 1-2 ft rubbish.

We had a grovel, went back home and looked at the Maroubra cams and it was absolutely pumping!

It's like Sydney sucked in all the swell.

erikb's picture
erikb's picture
erikb Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 9:03am

Surfed just north of Bawley point on saturday arvo and had decent 4ft sets when they came through, it was a bit lully but no-one out so it didnt matter :)

oiley's picture
oiley's picture
oiley Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 11:45am

thur and fri were great in wollongong, but had died off alot by early sat at open beaches.. I suspect SF beaches at shellharbour would have been real flat.. but what do you expect in a NE swell?

Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous's picture
Anonyomous Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 at 4:30pm

Breaks like redsands, cowries, shallows and mini pipe aren't south facing beaches they are open to NE swell

oiley's picture
oiley's picture
oiley Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 at 4:48pm

yeah no worries, thought u were talking about the farm

bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 1:12pm

I drove 5 minutes up the road on Saturday morning (on the Northern Beaches) and scored pumping, solid waves with a good crew trading cranking lefts for a number of hours. Very tidy indeed!

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 2:12pm

Looks like its on for Friday through weekend, windy but over 6 foot whoop whoop!

deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 2:56pm

I'll confirm the lack of swell down south. It was great mid week last week with the NE swell - it was 4-5ft with the odd larger one Thurs when reports were calling 3ft in SYD.

But Saturday / Sunday when forecast was for 4-5ft I was again hoping it to come in stronger but Shellharbour / Bombo / Gerringong area it came in at 2-3ft AT BEST (un-ridable on the high tide).

Did see the SYD cams looked substantially bigger.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 3:04pm

It's bizarre - I reall don't have any explanation for why the Illawarra coast came under so much when everywhere else pumped as expected. The swell source was far enough from the mainland to spread energy evenly across the region, and the fetch hung in the swell window for a reasonable amount of time too. 

bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 4:09pm

The old Mysto swell eh?....

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 4:14pm

Wasn't a mysto swell up here.. was pumping!

ACB__'s picture
ACB__'s picture
ACB__ Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 4:25pm

consistent 2-3ft on the central coast all weekend.

Very happy with the weekend. Last night was super fun.

bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 5:13pm

Sure was, the Northern Beaches cranked on Saturday!

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 at 10:12pm

I can confirm other observations re Sydney's east. Saturday morning 2' with occasional sneaker set in the 4' range (got that second hand). Sunday not a huge swell running but something there in the morning, reported as 2' at Maroubra in the morning, cam check in the middle of the day confirm 2-3 foot and nice conditions in the middle of the day, although you couldn't park within cooee of the beach. Sunday late, 4-5 and pumping through, and not long waits between sets.

I am mesmerised by it all.

And it didn't get to the coal coast? How does that happen?

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 at 8:18am

it did get here mate. the guys that checked stanwell park, bombo and mystics missed out. the vocal minority.