thermalben

Large surf easing from Tuesday, then a great run ahead for the Surf Coast

Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 25th March)

Best Days: Tues: early, very large peak, easing steadily, windy in the morning but abating. Wed/Thurs: rapidly easing, but clean with light winds. Fri: moderate new swell building, holding Sat, easing Sun, with freshening W/NW winds. Mon/Tues: very large surf redeveloping.

Recap: The weekend delivered great waves across the beaches with slowly easing wave heights and mainly NE tending N’ly winds ahead of a W’ly change later Sunday. Today has seen gale force (or stronger) W/NW tending W’ly winds with the passage of a deep low to our south. As for surf, we've seen initially small but steadily building swells, though it’s somewhat undersized at the moment (relative to wave heights at Cape Sorell, and Pt Nepean). The main reason for this is that the initial increase was predominantly pre-frontal NW windswell, though the groundswell is now filling in; sets are 3-4ft at exposed Surf Coast reefs, and much bigger though extremely wind affected as you push east from the Bellarine (the late afternoon high tide isn’t helping much on the Surf Coast reefs though).

Mid-late arvo high tide sets at Torquay main beach

This week (Mar 26 - 29)

Today’s Forecaster Notes are brought to you by Rip Curl

*this week's Forecaster Notes will be occasionally brief and erratic, as Craig is on annual leave - to receive notification when they’re updated, please update your account preferences*

As a forecaster, it's easy to panic when the early stages of a significant swell event are falling well short of expectations, as they are right now.

However, in context, it’s only a few hours late: Monday morning was always meant to start off very small, with the building trend kicking in throughout the day and then peaking sometime between later today or early tomorrow. So, we're still well within an allowable margin of error on the timing of this swell. 

There’s been no major change to the dynamics of the low generating this new event - satellite data captured a healthy fetch of gale to storm force winds in our swell window on Sunday, and the latest model observations show the core winds are likely to peak later this afternoon, just W/SW of Tasmania (see below). 

As such, I’m holding steady with my expectation for occasional roguey 6-8ft+ sets across exposed Surf Coast breaks early Tuesday morning (hopefully it doesn’t peak overnight!), pushing 10-12ft across the East Coast. Size will however ease steadily (if not rapidly) throughout the day; we’ll probably be down to 4-5ft sets in Torquay by lunchtime or early afternoon. Winds will remain W/NW at strength into the morning, before tending W'ly as it eases in strength.

I'm a little concerned about the strength of the overnight W'lies through Bass Strait on swell quality for Tuesday along the Surf Coast; wave faces should be clean but the lines will probably be a little mixed up. Moderate SW winds are a possibility for the afternoon session too, as the synoptic flow abates, but I don't think this will be any more detrimental to the surf.

Overall, I'm certainly not expecting epic surf on Tuesday though there'll be chunky, very sizeable offerings at swell magnets. 

East of Melbourne, and there’s no prizes for guessing which protected coasts will have waves tomorrow. With the westerly wind still holding into the morning, Port Phillip Bay novelty spots should still have workable options too. 

The trend for the rest of the week is steadily down, with variable winds Wednesday (still good morning waves on the Surf Coast) tending N’ly on Thursday, ahead of an approaching front that’ll probably deliver moderate to fresh W/NW winds on Friday with a building round of new W/SW through SW swells from a series of fronts pushing through the swell window all week. They’re not terribly strong, but they are persistent and will nose quite a reasonable distance into the Victorian swell window, which gives increasing confidence for some decent waves to finish the working week. 

At this stage Friday will probably start off in the 2-3ft range in Torquay but we should see some sets pushing 4ft+ late in the day. East of Melbourne, size will increase from 3-5ft to 6ft+ though with the freshening westerlies it’ll be clean only inside Western Port and there may not be quite enough size to offer anything of great value. 

This weekend (Mar 30 - 31)

Friday’s late increase in swell is expected to hold into Saturday before easing a little through Sunday. A series of powerful fronts approaching from the SW will steer the winds around to to the W/NW in Torquay both days, and it’ll become quite strong at times - but Saturday should see a little more size (than Sunday) and a little less wind (than Sunday) - so make it your preference.

East of Melbourne, Saturday shoud have small waves at Western Port but I fear Sunday may dip just below the rideable threshold. Everywhere else will be too wind affected.

Next week (April 1st onwards)

We’ve got some really large waves due early next week. And in contrast to the current swell event - sourced from a powerful low, positioned relatively close to the coast - next week’s waves will be sourced from a polar low developing SE from Heard Island (off the Ice Shelf) later Thursday and Friday, before is pushed NE towards Victoria over the weekend. These are my favourite weather systems for Victoria, as the slightly more S’ly (of SW) swell direction provide a little more size across the Torquay stretch compared to SW or W/SW swells. And the bulk swell production happens much further from the mainland so the groundswell quality is better. 

If model guidance holds true - and we’ve still got a few days to go before confidence starts to increase - we could be looking at a peak somewhere near 8-10ft across exposed Surf Coast breaks, with solid 12ft+ surf east of Melbourne. 

More on this in Wednesday’s update. 

Comments

The green wall's picture
The green wall's picture
The green wall commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 6:21pm

Cheers Ben, great notes.
Hopefully Craig still has got his job when he gets back.

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 6:28pm

Cheers Ben. It turns out it was worth refreshing the page 20 times over the course of today. If you can keep up forecasts like this, Craig might be out of a job.

Ninja's picture
Ninja's picture
Ninja commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 7:50pm

There no way Craig should be out of job!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 7:51pm

So, you thought Cape Sorell was impressive today, reaching Hsig 6.5m and Hmax 12m?

It's just jumped in the last few hours.. Hsig is now 8.2m (27ft), with Hmax of 16.5m (54ft).

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 8:03pm

A stiffy on top of a stiffy.

I am the bone

switch's picture
switch's picture
switch commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 7:59pm

I reckon that 'step' in the Cape Sorrell buoy is a mirror image of Shippie's Step!

stylemaster1970's picture
stylemaster1970's picture
stylemaster1970 commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 8:57pm

So even though the Pt. Nepean bouy has dropped you still think the swell is coming? How many hours does it take for the Cape Sorell swell to get to Pt.Nepean?

If you argue with a fool long enough you will loose sight of who the fool really is........

willibutler's picture
willibutler's picture
willibutler commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 8:58pm

fun waves in PHB today

willibutler's picture
willibutler's picture
willibutler commented Monday, 25 Mar 2019 at 8:59pm

until I stepped sea urchin

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 12:33pm

Any firsthand reports of size at the magnets this morning? Many giving it a crack?

vicco11's picture
vicco11's picture
vicco11 commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 2:08pm

A few 10ft sets at Bells early but mostly 8 foot and dropping, between 8-20 (Lakey Peterson was having a dig) out at the bowl and a few more at winki through the morning. Not perfect but some very solid waves, you know it's big when a wave breaks from the bowl through to winki which happened on a couple of occasions.

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 4:26pm

Thanks vicco and others for the reports. Good effort giving it a crack.

gdh's picture
gdh's picture
gdh commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 2:13pm

paddled out at Winki around 645, it was about 6ft with the odd bigger one. Crowd wasn't too bad at all.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 2:54pm

No wonder the crowd wasn't "too bad".......it was pitch black at 6.45 this morning.

Anyhow, after surfing for 2.5 hours from 8am I reckon 6 - 8foot with the odd bigger one was a fair call. Quality wasn't unreal, lots of paddling.....probably due to the system that produced it being too close but I'll trade that for the relative lack of crowds any day.

No doubt it'll be chockas tomorrow proportionate with the drop in swell size.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 2:48pm

So, mostly 8ft with a few 10ft sets. Or 6ft with the odd bigger one. 

Bloody hard to gauge size from independent reports!

Forecast was a straight 8ft, which I’m happy with.

Just for the record, I called this swell at 8ft+ last Friday and also last Wednesday (note: not 6-8ft+, which allows for a little more flexibility). Monday’s notes also mentioned ‘large SW swell’, and the notes Friday prior (Mar 15th) had “we’re more likely to see a resumption in typical autumn frontal patterns - and thus larger swells generated more close to the region - from next weekend onwards”.

This shows that the model guidance has been pretty steady for the Southern Ocean at long range in recent weeks.

vicco11's picture
vicco11's picture
vicco11 commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 5:42pm

Definately over 6 foot Ben, I can assure you that! I got a few pics on my insta instagram.com/wavvyday which although no one is on those particular waves it's safe to say it's over 6 foot and they weren't even the biggest sets! Plenty of failed paddle outs and some very close calls with the button.

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 4:42pm

Everyone was paying for their waves today with lots of clean up sets. Saw a genuine 10ft set clean up everyone in the water late morning. Long lulls meant a few surfers thought a 6'0" was the right board. Fun waves when you were in the right spot.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 8:50pm

Vic local corroborating wave size calls.
What a time to be alive.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 8:48pm

Haha. When will VL ever be welcomed back. My arms are wide open sir.

I am the bone

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 12:32pm

Just calling it how I see it from the water. That way you get some accuracy.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 8:19pm

Great to hear you lot are scoring. Sounds like my kind of day, slightly less than perfect, kind of hard work but plenty for those out there.
Hang on it was over 6 foot, where were all the PWC’s?

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 8:50pm

For each border you cross heading South, you subtract a decade. Simple math

I am the bone

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 10:14pm

haha! So that means a trip to Tassie will see fluoro wetsuits, crazy bright board sprays and Tom Carroll posters on walls?

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 5:30pm

Haha - there's just no one in the water down there :) its bloody awesome

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 8:21am

Yep, worked a winter down there armed with nothing but a 3/2 (short sessions!)
The locals would ask me to paddle out with them (give them better odds I guess)!
Can get a bit more busy nearer Hobart tho.

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 9:34pm

Judy Scanlon’s Insta has some classic shots from today. E.g. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvdwgd_gkXO/

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019 at 11:16pm

Was on the road for much of today so didn't manage to get many surfcam grabs, but here's a few from late morning at Lorne (and early morning at Torquay).

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thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 11:03am

Small dreamy lines at Lorne again.


Though plenty of overlapping swell trains - creating the odd double up, but also causing other waves to completely stop.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 12:50pm

Haha has Ben been keeping the swell tap running since my absence :p

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 12:53pm

Phew! You're home. Looking forward to handing back the reins tomorrow.

I'm taking two and a half years off as a reward to myself.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 12:58pm

Haha, more than deserved!

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 12:59pm

He's done a stellar job the last few days Craig. Better keep that form up! Looking forward to a story and photos on the homepage from your US trip. Looks like you scored!

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 2:13pm

Gary would like to congratulate you on what appears to be a Gary G level of lurking around Craig's personal life.

Gary would also remind you that his congratulations is a consolation prize; Gary saw him first.

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 1:24pm

Thank Allah you’re back Craig.
Bens been dishing up west coast winds and swells since you left. If you could organise a week of NE winds and 4-6ft swell that would be much appreciated

rishwil's picture
rishwil's picture
rishwil commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 2:01pm

Some talk it up, others talk it down to save looking like they're full of sh1t.
10 foot my arm lol

Line_up

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 2:34pm

Here's my assessment of yesterday's waves. I would call it an inconsistent and wonky 8ft. There were plenty of smaller 4-5 ft waves in the mix which made paddling out difficult. It was the constant little ones that softened me up before getting whacked back to the beach twice by the bigger sets. Turned back nice and early so the button never came into play. Third attempt out was well timed and I got out relatively easily.
Every 20 minutes or so, a big rogue set would pour through the lineup. Because it was wonky, the bigger sets would break much further out and clean up everyone in the lineup. If you were in the right spot, the 8 footers were great but I didn't see anyone catch one of the big bomb sets. Also I didn't see anyone on a regular short board (under 6'6") catch a set wave. So 6-8ft with the occasional bigger one is a fair call. The swell did have a mean streak as well.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 2:47pm

One more from Judy. Right click and open in a new tab if you need to see it bigger. 

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 4:30pm

I wonder if the guy out the back made it under that one that's breaking? If he did, he would have been royally smoked by the one building ominously behind it.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 8:38pm

That is a 10ft wave every day of the week

How big rishwil?

pittsy's picture
pittsy's picture
pittsy commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 3:36pm

Thankyou to the bloke who hopped out at steps this am and started bleating like a sheep at the crowd and yelling 'pack of fucking sheep' and rambling incoherently, gave me a good chuckle, hope the rest of your day was better ya big sour-puss.

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 3:51pm

He was probably having a nice quiet surf until a couple of car loads of young dickheads showed up, saw the waves were good, and then started ringing their mates and putting photos up on instagram.

rishwil's picture
rishwil's picture
rishwil commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 6:33pm

Lol.. Sounds like he was from a time long long ago.. when it was considered rude to paddle out at a break and disrupt the waves to surfers ratio.
That rule still applies at some breaks.

Line_up

Vic Local's picture
Vic Local's picture
Vic Local commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 7:02pm

I know a bloke who surfs Steps all the time, fits the description, and uses the phrase "fucking sheep" all the time. Nickname is Grumpy and he'd never paddle out with a pack of mates and overload a line-up.
Look at it from Grumpy's POV. He's surfed here for 30 + years and the crowds have been getting worse and worse. Every single year new people arrive and paddle straight up his inside. Groups of surfers are now surfing in packs and playing silly buggers in the lineup. Taking off way too deep knowing their mate is going to drop in down the line. And some people wonder why Grumpy gets the shits.

rishwil's picture
rishwil's picture
rishwil commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 7:45pm

Overcrowding is the norm for these new kids on the block. I don't think they intend to be rude, they just don't understand how an uncrowded line up actually works when everyone waits their turn and shares waves. They're like brazzos.. won't make eye contact, appear to have no respect, and deny having any idea what they've done wrong. Or do they really know? It's hard to tell lol. Are the games they play just survival tactics they use to get waves.. followed by the "no one owns the ocean" response. No code or no idea? Don't get me started on insta surfers lol.

Line_up

Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 at 6:10pm

Was solid further down the go road but also raw and unpredictable. It was around a solid 5-6ft mark mostly at a roadside point but with the odd random 8ft wash through that'd catch everyone off guard and out of position. Was entertaining to see it give them a good thrashing through to the inside but not really worth the sum of the effort. The raw swell didn't have much shape, sure clean faces but with a massive westerly wonk. Another point further south was fun and waist to shoulder high and hectically busy but provided a fun option. A nice start to Autumn, let's hope it's a sign of things to come.......

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 8:28am

Yes it's been good, great to have the bigger size waves again. So clean and such big long lines. Did anyone else notice a few of the waves having a smaller 'bump' wave in front of them? I did on both Tuesday and less so on Wednesday.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 10:30am

Overlapping swell trains.

Good example at the bottom of the image below, from Judy Scanlon.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 2:41pm

Thanks Ben, good to have it visible in a pic.

Would I be right in thinking that when you or Craig show those satellite wind scans, that is what causes this?

eg - an area of ocean has wind of 50kts over 1000km direction 225 degrees, then another section close by has 60kts 1500km fetch direction 240 degrees, these cross over and make the bump.

I was thinking it could be outer reef formations or any wrapping of swell doing this closer to shore as well, depending on the break.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 2:46pm

Kinda. More so two different swell sources, I'm not sure what generated this swell but there could of been the primary large swell producer mixed in with a more localised lower period front moving through the swell window.

Also locally if winds overnight were generally onshore there'd be a bit of lump/bump cross-contamination of the swell lines even with local offshores and clean conditions.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 10:24am

Nup.....didn't see that at all.

Main thing I noticed was the exponential increase in crowds on Wednesday compared to Tuesday.

greyhound's picture
greyhound's picture
greyhound commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 4:34pm

Geez what a surprise.!
At a guess, they’re probably not as confident in the bigger stuff.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 at 7:53pm

Haha. Seriously. Conditions get more user friendly and you see a crowd increase?

Scholars maintain there is absolutely NO correlation between the two..

I am the bone