Flukey S swells continue this weekend before a solid S swell next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 13th August)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Very small S swell pulse Sat, slight increase Sun favouring S facing beaches
  • Small S swell pulse Mon, easing through the day
  • Solid S swell event expected next Tues/reinforcing pulse Wed, easing back Thurs/Fri.
  • Quieter period ahead from next weekend.
  • Tracking a possible E’ly groundswell event week beginning Aug 23, stay tuned.


Surf finally bottomed out yesterday after a protracted run from the south with mostly tiny surf in the 1ft through across the region. The passage of a front through the Tasman that looked very unfavourably aligned has produced a small pulse of refracted S swell for today, a  notch above expectations with some 2footers around, bigger 2-3ft on the Hunter, with clean conditions establishing through the day. A bit of leftover south-easterly gurgle scuffed it up on the more southerly facing coastline in the Hunter. Certainly worth a surf to end the working week.

This weekend (Aug 14-15)

Flukey S swells on the marginal end of the spectrum are still on the menu for the weekend. Wave models aren’t interested in much at all but the (slight) over-achievement of the current small S swell bodes a little better for the prospect of finding a surfable wave this weekend. 

Saturdays leftovers from the current source and a trailing fetch of SW winds in the lower Tasman should see some clean 2ft surf at S facing beaches , 2-3ft on the Hunter, with tiny/flat surf elsewhere. With weak high pressure nosing into the region conditions should be ideal with light land and seabreezes. All in all, if you’ve got low expectations and a groveller handy you should get wet Saturday.

Sunday looks fun, with a tricky wind forecast that is favourable for S swell magnets. With weak high pressure moving put into the Tasman there’s likely to be a light NW to N’ly flow through Sunday morning before synoptic W’lies resume as the next cold front impacts the south-east of the country. 

The deep low currently passing to the south of Tasmania is a massive system with ASCAT (satellite windspeed) passes showing almost the entire area between Tasmania and 55S covered in gales to severe gales. Despite the very heavy W’ly bias in the winds the sheer width of the fetch is expected to see some stray longer period S swell impact through Sunday and into Mon. 

You’ll have to head to S facing beaches though with the Hunter receiving the lions share of the swell, likely 3-4ft through the lunch-time into the a’noon. Sydney S facing beaches smaller 3ft and tiny surf elsewhere. It’s a very flukey, poorly aligned source fetch but historically these fetches have produced fun waves on the Hunter and other S swell magnets so I'm optmistic we'll we'll see surf come in at the top end of f/cast expectations. 

Next week (Aug16 onwards)

Coming hot on the heels of Fri/Sat’s large but zonal low another complex polar low fires up as it enters Tasmanian longitudes on Sun. This is another impressively large and complex system, with a double headed low centre forming in the deep southern ocean around 60S and a more proximate cold front fetch expected to push NE to be adjacent to Tasmania through Monday morning. The deeper southern fetch tied to the polar low then fires up and aggressively tracks almost due north towards Tasmania with gales and severe gales extending up to almost Tasmanian latitudes later Mon. The system then weakens and transits the Tasman through Tuesday and into Wed. The strength and duration of these fetches will see several strong pulse of S swell through next week. There will be some winds to work around, details below.

First cab off the rank from the series of S swell trains is expected to be in the water Tues morning, likely a bit undersized and ratty at first with shorter period S swell from the cold front past Tasmania dominating. Expect 3-4ft surf at S facing beaches, grading smaller away from S’ly exposure. Clean under WSW winds, although the S’ly component in the winds will put some cross-shore texture on surface conditions on the Hunter. Stronger surf should build through the a’noon as slightly longer period swell trains start to make landfall. Expect stronger 4-5ft S swell at S facing beaches. These longer period swell trains could see wave heights in the 6-8ft range across the Hunter by dark. Winds become an issue as high pressure drifting across NSW quickly builds a ridge along the coast with S’ly winds becoming established. You’ll have to trade some size for quality to get out of the wind Tues a'noon.

Wednesday still looks good to great.

Longer period swell trains created from the northwards sling shot of the deep Southern Ocean fetch should see some real punch and line to the swell with solid 4-5ft surf, 6ft sets, on offer at S facing beaches. Expect bigger 6-8ft surf on the Hunter and deep reefs where the size will really be maximised. Winds should rapidly improve as high pressure moves over the region and light and variable winds become established. All day light winds are a good possibility, suggesting a great day with bluebird conditions. 

With the slower movement of the remains of the low and front through the Tasman there’ll be plenty of strong leftover energy from the S on Thursday. 3-ft surf at S facing beaches is likely to persist through the day, with a slow easing in size and consistency. High pressure in the Tasman brings us back to a morning W to NW flow with NE seabreezes in the a’noon.

By Friday we’ll be in mop up mode but enough residual energy from a super-charged Tasman sea is expected to provide 2-3ft surf, likely dropping back into the 2ft range during the day. Winds look tricky  with a possible trough bringing a weak S’ly flow. We’ll update than on Mon.


Longer Term and a much weaker and more compact low passes well to the south of Tasmania Thurs/Fri next week suggesting a marginal S swell for the following weekend. 

Of more interest models are now firming on a trend of a sub-tropical low forming in an area of instability in the South Pacific SW of Fiji which is expected to consolidate near the North Island and become cradled by a supporting high pressure ridge next weekend (Aug21/22). While it’s a long way off and the fetch is aimed more at targets to the north (NENSW and SEQLD) we’ll flag it as a possible source of E’ly groundswell middle of the week beginning Aug23. Stay tuned for a fresh update Mon.


teaqueue's picture
teaqueue's picture
teaqueue Friday, 13 Aug 2021 at 3:46pm

Sounds bloody wonderful.

scottishsponger's picture
scottishsponger's picture
scottishsponger Friday, 13 Aug 2021 at 3:49pm

Thanks Steve.

I was listening to Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind whilst reading that forecast and the bridge to the chorus sounds like “free ride”.

I’ve no idea why I felt the need to tell you this but it was a profound moment for me.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 13 Aug 2021 at 4:24pm

thats a nice thing to hear on a Fri arvo SS.

jcarraro's picture
jcarraro's picture
jcarraro Monday, 16 Aug 2021 at 10:55am

Morning surf reporter in Newy pushing the 5km rule hard.

The rules are you can travel anywhere within your LGA for exercise - so you can travel more than 5km to the beach. Ol'mate trying to keep the crowds down...

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Monday, 16 Aug 2021 at 1:08pm

Welcome back Steve.

With the 5 km rule there is a bit of hope I may actually get a surf in. Wouldn’t that be nice.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 16 Aug 2021 at 1:24pm

Plenty on offer this week BF.