More S/SSE swell on the way, with some troublesome wind to work around

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Friday 6th August)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Fun blend of residual S swell and reinforcing refracted S swell Sat with light winds, easing through the day.
  • Blend of mid and long period S swell Sun, with mod/fresh S’ly tending SE  winds to work around.
  • Mid period S/SSE swell Mon/ easing Tues with light N’ly winds Mon, freshening Tues.
  • Flukey N’ly windswell possible Wed/ easing through Thurs.
  • More S swell on the radar for next weekend, stay tuned.


South swell from the latest Tasman low has filled in close to expectations since Wednesdays forecast. Thursday was a slight notch below with the bulk of the initial Bass Strait fetch favouring the Mid North Coast up to the border, though reliable S swell magnets like the Hunter coast saw plenty of 4ft surf. Swell filled in through the lunch-time in Sydney from a secondary pulse with exposed stretches seeing 3-4ft surf. Greater tidal amplitude as we approach Sunday's new moon saw the incoming tide mostly swamp that pulse through the afternoon.

Today has seen solid surf in the 3-5ft range hold with some bigger sets on offer in Newcastle though it was a bit ragged after southerly component winds blew up yesterday as forecast. We are off the swell peak now with a slow easing trend  in place- clearly seen on the MHL Waverider buoy array from Crowdy head southwards - though with plenty of residual southerly energy on tap to end the working week.

This weekend (Aug 7-8).

Not much change for the weekend as outlined in  Wednesdays notes. Our complex Tasman low is now approaching the west coast of the South Island with a large high tracking through the south-west of the continent. A long trailing fetch of SW winds streaming out of Bass Strait  associated with the low and more cold front activity below Tasmania is expected to maintain fun-sized S swell through Saturday. This fetch isn’t as strong as previous Bass Strait fetches but the already active sea state and residual S’ly energy in the Tasman sea lends a high degree of confidence of surf holding through the 3ft range at S exposed beaches through Sat. Models are also picking up traces of longer period S’ly swell generated in the southern Ocean, which will add some sets to the mix. With a W/SW flow expected to ease through the day, possibly tending to a light S/SE breeze in the afternoon, and bluebird conditions it’ll be well worth hunting down a wave tomorrow. 

Fill up Sat if you can because Sun looks a tougher nut to crack.

There’ll be plenty of S’ly swell on offer as mentioned in Wed’s notes. A small low forms in a trough line east of Tas during Sat a’noon and substantially boots up the Tasman sea south swell window as it punches NE into the Central Tasman. 

The approaching dominant high quickly sets up a ridge in the wake of the front pushing northwards, bringing a blast of mod/fresh S’ly winds up the coast. Slim chance these winds tend SW through the morning, especially in the Sydney basin but expect any reprieve to be short-lived with prevailing S’ly winds tending SE through the day as the high pressure ridge matures and moves northwards. With a mix of short period S’ly swell, long period S’ly groundswell and developing SSE swell later in the day- all adding up to surf in the 3-5ft range- it might be worth hunting semi-protected locations for a sheltered spot but expect a size sacrifice as you get out of the wind. Low expectations are in order for Sunday.

Next week (Aug 9 onwards)

Our “long tail” is still on the menu to start next week.

With the small but intense low becoming slow moving as it drifts NE up towards the Northern peninsula of the North Island, crossing it overnight Sun. This residual fetch keeps plenty of mid period SSE swell through Mon in the 3-4ft range, slowly easing back during Tuesday. Winds will be the determining factor as a slow moving dominant high sets up camp in the Tasman, roughly due east of Sydney. Quite unusual to have such a large high (1034Hpa) at this latitude during late winter. This will set up a N’ly flow along the western side of the high, which will dominate near-shore winds until the next clearing cold front late Thursday. Expect those winds to be light on Mon, likely with a NW period in the morning, before a freshening trend sets in for Tuesday.

With the high drifting E through Wed and an approaching front tightening the squeeze, Wed looks a chance for a developing NE windswell. It looks flukey-the fetch doesn’t really wind up until later Wed, and models are divergent on windspeeds in the fetch, so we’ll need another look at on Mon. At this stage late Wed is a chance for some 2ft windswell through southern NSW. Winds tilt NW then W as the front pushes through early Thursday so it’s likely whatever is there will get ironed out very quickly Thurs morning.

Heading into next weekend and longer-term models are still progging a complex polar low system to pass through the lower tasman later next week and into the weekend. Compared to the current systems the fetches involved look more zonal (W-E) and the system doesn’t ride up into the Tasman nearly as well. That suggests a much more subdued S swell potential but we will have a series of S pulses from this pattern, with the first one likely late Fri13.

We’ll dig into timing and size with fresh eyes on Mon. Have a great weekend.


Simon Roberts's picture
Simon Roberts's picture
Simon Roberts Friday, 6 Aug 2021 at 7:03pm

A great day of waves, classic winters day and more to come

John Kimble's picture
John Kimble's picture
John Kimble Friday, 6 Aug 2021 at 8:25pm

It’s smaller other locations. A lot beaches are not are not hanging the swell with their small waves sandbanks. Waves are a little full at the morning with the morning high tide. Things should get better with lesson water on the sandbank. Conditions are clean with a light westerly wing blowing and should remain clean for most of the day. May need a little searching around to find that location a bit better bank. Enjoy your day. :D

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney Saturday, 7 Aug 2021 at 12:50am

So long at that searching is within 10kms…..

Dan87's picture
Dan87's picture
Dan87 Saturday, 7 Aug 2021 at 8:50pm

Love this update!
Really fun today. Long runners.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Saturday, 7 Aug 2021 at 9:28am

Was going to say that Joe. Apparently there are thousands of surfers who live within 10 kms of Maroubra, and they’re surfing all day. It was a zoo all week. Had a great body surf Friday with just a few others while the surfers either side of the flags were packed in like sardines. Pretty much given up surfing the local, will have to wait till lockdown ends to get up or down the coast.

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Saturday, 7 Aug 2021 at 6:26pm

Frustrating isn't bud dealing with the travelling circus. We're all getting overrun (figuratively and literally). 2.5kms I say, or is that being selfish.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Sunday, 8 Aug 2021 at 11:00am

So good yesterday if you could dodge the crowds. Clean, fairly consistent and peaky 3ft sets all day and under beautiful weather.