West, west, west

Craig Brokensha picture
Craig Brokensha (Craig)

Victorian Surf Forecast by Craig Brokensha (issued Monday May 27th)

Best Days: Today exposed beaches, tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday afternoon Surf Coast, early Saturday Surf Coast

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Small-moderate sized W'ly swell tomorrow with N/NW-NW winds, tending N/NE into the PM to the east
  • Moderate-large sized W/SW groundswell Wed, easing later
  • N/NW tending N/NE winds, strengthening to the east
  • Easing swell Thu with strong N winds
  • Tricky, localised W swell Fri with strong NW tending W/NW winds
  • Easing swell Sat with NW tending S winds
  • Small Sun with E/SE winds


The weekend offered easing levels of swell from Friday afternoon with bumpy conditions across the Surf Coast thanks to east in the wind, best across the beaches as the tide filled in through the morning.

Yesterday was cleaner and smaller across both regions, fun on the Surf Coast magnets and on the beaches to the east into the afternoon.

This morning we’ve got an inconsistent, long-range SW groundswell in the water that’s maintaining 2ft waves on the Surf Coast with the rare bigger one and 4ft sets to the east. Winds will remain favourable all day for both regions but the swell is expected to ease.

This week and weekend (May 28 - Jun 2)

West, west, west.

We’ve got a weather pattern shift underway across the west of the country, with a series of back to back storms rolling in generating tricky westerly swells for the coming week.

This looks to remain the theme through the coming forecast period as a strong node of the Long Wave Trough peaks near Western Australia, resulting in storms pushing northwards in latitude, which is then in our less than favourable western swell window.

The main issue is the shadowing effects of Cape Otway, decreasing the consistency and size the further west the swell shifts, and also the closer you get to the cape.

So keep this in mind when surfing over the coming fortnight and keep your expectations in check.

Coming back to tomorrow, and the first and weakest W’ly swell is due to arrive, generated by an initially strong but weakening mid-latitude front pushing towards and under WA on the weekend.

This system is currently weakening south-west of us, with the swell due to peak tomorrow at 2-3ft on the Surf Coast magnets and 4-5ft to the east. N/NW-NW winds will favour the Surf Coast all day, with conditions improving east of Melbourne into the afternoon as winds tend more N-N./E.

Into Wednesday, our stronger pulse of W/SW groundswell is due, thanks to a strong low firing up in the same spot as the weaker front before it.

This low generated a fetch of severe-gale to storm-force W/SW winds in our western swell window, with it now weakening while dipping south-east, a little more favourably aligned in our still western swell window.

We should see a moderate-large sized W/SW groundswell arriving overnight tomorrow, peaking Wednesday to a slow 4-5ft across the Surf Coast, with 8ft sets to the east, easing later. The Surf Coast magnets will likely see rare bigger ones, but be very slow in nature.

Winds will swing and strengthen during the day Wednesday, starting N/NW-N, then shifting N/NE while increasing to the east, staying a little lighter on the Surf Coast.

This will be ahead of stronger N winds Thursday with the groundswell due to ease quickly, back down from 2-3ft on the Surf Coast and 4-5ft to the east.

These strengthening winds will be linked to the next incoming swell producer, that being a deepening mid-latitude low in the Bight on Wednesday and Thursday.

This again looks to be generally too far north in location to generate any decent swell, with some tricky westerly energy due Friday, but not likely above 3ft on the Surf Coast into the afternoon, 4-6ft to the east and with strong NW tending W/NW winds. The models diverge around the strength and position of this low so we’ll have to check back Wednesday for a clearer idea

Following this, further model divergence complicates things but it looks smaller next weekend along with a S-S/SE change during the day Saturday as a trough moves through followed by high pressure. Conditions will improve rapidly into next week with some new swell but more on this Wednesday.


obsession's picture
obsession's picture
obsession Monday, 27 May 2024 at 10:07am

Hi Craig, regarding the shadowing effect of Cape Otway, does this effect reduce as you go further down the coast (ie closer to the cape)? Ie, is it likely to be bigger and/or more consistent closer to the cape?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 27 May 2024 at 10:14am

Ha I explicitly mentioned that. Have a reread.

obsession's picture
obsession's picture
obsession Monday, 27 May 2024 at 10:39am

Indeed you did in that very sentence sorry.

dbut's picture
dbut's picture
dbut Monday, 27 May 2024 at 11:25am

Your definition is a simplified version, but it involves more than just the distance from the cape. Understanding swell dynamics requires considering the complex interplay of factors like the gradient of the coastline, local bathymetry, and the characteristics of reefs. Years of exploring coastlines and hiking to seemingly unpromising spots often reveal unique surf conditions that defy simple rules.

The gradient of the coastline is crucial, especially on the surf coast, where the ratio of the distance east from a headland to the distance north can determine swell reception. For example, a reef 10km east and 1km north of a cape (a 1:10 gradient) might receive as much or more swell than a reef 100km east and 50km north (a 1:2 gradient). Central surf coast spots often sit on steeper gradients, while spots around the Bellarine Peninsula protrude further, requiring less swell wrapping.

Local bathymetry, or underwater topography, also significantly affects swell behavior. The shape and angle of a reef relative to incoming swells determine how much energy the reef attracts. Some reefs act as "magnets" for smaller swells, focusing waves that larger swells might bypass.

In summary, this all means that sometimes spots further west can attract more swell than those further east, depending on the interplay of these factors. Plus, mother nature’s quirks can create unique surf spots that defy the usual expectations. If you put in the effort to explore and understand these details, you’ll often find better waves.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 27 May 2024 at 11:34am

Of course, but that's not for the FC notes..

dbut's picture
dbut's picture
dbut Monday, 27 May 2024 at 11:50am

Gotcha, science is all good but I wouldn’t bother as there are no spots West of Torquay this applies to anyway better off going to the sunshine coast on a SW swell and testing out this weird gradient thing I dumbed down.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 27 May 2024 at 12:07pm

Some people have a go for us giving away too much info when just forecasting the swell direction, period, size and local winds.. to then say spot x will actually suck in the swell west of Lorne, we'd be crucified.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Monday, 27 May 2024 at 10:36am

Seems similar to Green Cape on the far NSW south coast and a southerly swell. You just watch it go by and head north.

RockyIsland's picture
RockyIsland's picture
RockyIsland Monday, 27 May 2024 at 3:20pm

No that feeling.

rogerdodger's picture
rogerdodger's picture
rogerdodger Monday, 27 May 2024 at 3:34pm

Yes Memla...seen that many times
PS Why are you 'cancelled'?

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone Monday, 27 May 2024 at 5:38pm

Always a bit of fun when you go from notes to forecast and you get taken to another spots forecast. This time it was chopes and got about a second or two before it clicked what had happened.