Posts Tagged ‘Wavefinder’
April 27th, 2011
In the last couple of days Rip Curl have announced that the latest round of the Rip Curl Search will be held at Ocean Beach in San Francisco in November. Looking forward to seeing how the world’s best attack the chilly waters. Here’s our rundown of this spot.
Ocean Beach: San Fransisco’s town beach, in the Sunset District.
Superb quality, sometimes heavy, sucking, dredging beach-break with fangs. This is a truly excellent spot, but it regularly dishes out floggings and broken boards. On a 4-12ft (& holds up to 20ft) day with clean groundswell from almost any direction, one or more of the banks will deliver vertical take-offs, wide barrels and crazed races for the shoulder. Crowded and near parking lots. Constant duck diving, ruthless currents and dead sharks can wash up on the beach. All this against the latte-sipping backdrop of California’s most sophisticated city.
December 20th, 2010
Head North from Haleiwa on the Kam Hwy, you’ll see the bay and the church. The parking lot is just before the bridge.
Waimea Bay: Justly famed big wave arena, ridden from 6-30ft plus. Waimea proper is a right hand parachute drop monster breaking on a 28ft deep reef ledge. Not the world’s longest wave, but perhaps the most exhilarating drop anywhere, followed by a massive wall section and probable annihilation by the foam ball.
Watch sets for at least 20 minutes before jump-off. Ask the lifeguards about the swell forecast; they will have incredibly accurate info from the wave buoy, and will be able to tell you when the swell will peak and how big that will be. There is even a pressure pad by Kaena Point, that gives a few minutes warning if a 30ft plus set is approaching. Wave size can increase from 8 to 20ft in a few hours.
Getting in: wait for a lull, then get in by running down the bank by the rocks at the Northern end and jumping / paddling like crazy. Keep right, the current will sweep you left into the channel. Too far left and you could be in the horrid dumpers at the South end.
Getting out: get a wave, then try to ride the foam ball back into the North end to beat the sweep and hug the rocks. This is your best bet at escaping the shore break, which is at its most spine-snapping in the middle of the bay. Watch the approaching shore break and try to get in on the back of the last wave of the set.
Crowds. Drop-ins. Experts only. If in any doubt, stay on the beach. On smaller days, Pinballs is an option on the inside. Shore break is notorious and menacing, although occasionally surfable.
December 13th, 2010
Home of the Pipe Masters since 1971 (won by Wavefinder editor in chief Larry Blair in 1978 & 1979) and possibly one of the most photographed surf spots on the planet, Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore is regarded as the world’s deadliest wave. At the Southern end of Ehukai Beach Park, going north from Waimea about 2 miles, down a small alley on the left before Sunset Beach Elementary.
Pipeline: Probably the squarest barrel on earth, when it’s on. Pipe needs trades, and the right swell (W to NW at 4-25ft) to work properly. Take one of these away and you can have a shapeless, punishing mess. The rule of thumb is; the more west the swell, the heavier and hollower the wave.
Pipeline is a series of 3 reefs working from the inside to the outside as the swell increases. First Reef: At 4ft you can have the most perfect barrels followed by a short whack-able section here. The crowds at this size will frustrate, and the dropping in is blatant. The wave is so close to the beach that spectators can get closer to the action than any other surf spot. At 6-8ft the peak appears close to dry sucking off the reef and the drop is free fall. A mistake could see you jammed into a crack in the lava reef, but successful riders will make the bottom turn and stand tall in a super-wide almond shaped barrel. Then it’s a speed race out onto the shoulder, which eventually tapers into a sandy channel.
Second Reef: From 10-12ft plus, another crop of lava pushes up bombs another 100 yards out to sea. These can be mountainous jacking peaks which reform on first reef giving 2 rides in 1. Take-offs here are more critical than any wave anywhere. Timing, commitment and a heavy board are essential to manoeuvre into the elusive time-space window between being pushed over the back by the gusty winds funnelling up the face, and too-late drops straight to the bottom. The entire length of the wave is a full-power situation, with the lip ready to cut a surfer down at any moment, and even the latter half of the ride can produce truck-sized barrels. There’s an occasional Third Reef too, for monsters up to a much contested 30 feet. Now a tow-in domain and quite rare to see it perfect.
Paddle out fast, West of Backdoor. Current will sweep you East of the peak into the channel. Crowds to the extreme. Drop-ins are the rule not the exception. Frustrated caged battery-chicken surfing. Experts only.
Backdoor: The right off the same peak as first reef, is an equally if not more heavy tube machine, with even more shallow reef and rocks to contend with. Backdoor tubes often end in shut-down or dry-suck and the successful surfer will make speed his friend. No time for turns here. Works on similar swells, although likes more North than Pipe itself. Too much West in the swell, or too much size and it will be a dangerous close-out. From 3-10ft. Crowded to the extreme. Drop-ins from body boarders and surfers better than you! Shallow reef with deep cracks to get stuck in. Current, thick guillotine lips.
Both these waves have claimed lives, and may be best experienced vicariously. Try to catch them early if late season or you may not get a single wave.
For a view from inside the barrel, checkout this clip featuring Anthony Walsh
November 25th, 2010
Sunset: Set of reefs dealing with swells from North through West. Northerly swells break the wave up into different peaks and make the place a little more sharing as a result. On a classic big west swell with trades, Sunset is a heavy, jacking peak that develops into a hollow, sucky, thick lipped beast. These swells catch the trades side off-shore, and the result means heavy longboards and serious intent are required to get you into the wave. 4-15ft. Major rips, crowds, experts only.
Sunset Point: Further inside is a quality right breaking at 3-6ft on NW-W swells. It can lose shape on north swells. Crowds, intermediate.
Just East is Backyards: fickle, often shifty proposition that goes left and right, and works from 4-12ft. Currents and unpredictable peaks absorb surfers well. Experts or tow-in.
Finally, Outside Sunset: Huge right tow-in spot when Sunset is closed out. Can work all the way through Outside Backyards, which is a right / left outer monster too, with a shallow reef under the end sections. Hell men only!
November 11th, 2010
Haleiwa: Head north up the Kam Hwy to Haleiwa. Left turn into town towards the harbour. When it’s on, it is one of the heaviest, fastest, hollowest rights imaginable. The main peak is about 300m out to sea, and the wave forms heavy sections all the way across to a shallow close-out spot (Toilet Bowl). Best at 6-8ft with prevailing Northeast trades and Northwest to West swell. When bigger, can get very rippy and bumpy, but quality is possible up to 10-20ft plus. Watch locals paddle out to gauge current and best route. Flirt into the zone to get your wave, then hang wide between sets. Beginners can check the inside shore break. Crowds, crazy in winter. Experts only, unless small.
Avalanche: is a big wave arena several hundred yards further out. Lefts up to 30ft plus are not uncommon in winter. Tow-in spot except Dec-May (Whale season). Unreliable end section means that floggings are common, even if you make the intial drop. Moving peak means contant paddling to re-position, and outside bombs are a constant risk (an Avalanche of water on your head). Experts only.
November 8th, 2010
Few places on earth qualify for the term extreme, but this stretch of coast most definitely does. Extremely big waves, extremely shallow reef, extremely wide barrels, extremely crowded, extremely seasonal, extremely good surfers.
When to go:
The North Shore’s best conditions coincide with the winter season. Northeast trade winds combine with winter West to North swells to create perfect and often massive conditions between October and March. The closer you are to the middle of this window, the more chance you have of big perfect surf … and crowds. Bear in mind that, as an island in the middle of the largest ocean, Oahu is rarely flat, and it may pay to check it early or late season. Kona (Southwest) winds can also hit at any time or season, sometimes for a week of more, making most of this coastline on-shore. Equally, glassy mornings can occur at any time, making unusual spots perfect. Summer is traditionally small or flat, but mother nature can offer unexpected treats.
Big waves, heavy surfer population, reef cuts, occasional sharks, jellyfish, sea-urchins, currents, some theft, expensive beer.
November 4th, 2010
Originally better known as a fishing spot than a surf spot, Snapper is now probably the most crowded wave in all of Australia. Thanks to a project that began back in 1995 clearing sand from the entrance to the Tweed River, it’s now possible to ride a wave from Snapper all the way down to Kirra … rare, but possible! Probably one of the reasons you’ll find the likes of Parko and Mick Fanning at this spot, when they’re not travelling the globe with the ASP World Tour.
Here’s our take on the wave that helps to kick off the ASP season every year at the Quiksliver Pro:
Snapper Rocks: the start point of the longest right-hand barrel machine on earth. The Snapper section gets more swell than Kirra, often delivering a hard-breaking take-off, leading to a makeable tube section and race-track. Can link up across Rainbow and Greenmount for record breaking shack time. Current is mad so get a wave quick and walk back up the beach. Advanced. Crowds … Ah Yeah!!
September 28th, 2010
Autumn – not summer – is the time to hit the beach as the UK enters prime surfing season.
With storm-watchers’ predictions of an especially active hurricane season proving accurate so far, 2010 looks set to be a great year to be a North Atlantic surfer.
Here are our tips for surfers of all abilities.
Above: Fionn Crow Howieson at Porthleven, February 2009. Photo: Tony Plant/Wavefinder.
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
Gentle waves and an abundance of surf schools make this beautiful North Cornish beach a great place for novices to take their first steps on a surfboard. A gentle but consistent surf experience, the shallow, shelving beach knocks much of the power out of the swell to create spilling waves perfect for learners. The outer sand banks can produce nice big peaks on larger swells at low tide. One of the more accessible and consistent waves in the area so can get busy in summer.
Llangennith, Gower Peninsula, Wales
The first part of the UK to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Gower peninsula is home to waves that match the scenery. Llangennith, at northern tip of the expansive Rhossili Bay, is generally the indicator spot for the Gower, picking up the most swell in the area. It’s a huge beach that is popular with all surfers, offering plenty of peaks in most conditions, with plenty of space for surf schools.
This vast beach stretches for three miles from Putsborough at the south end up to the village of Woolacombe. Putsborough is usually an incredibly easy spot for beginners across a never-ending beach with huge tidal range. Prevailing south-westerly winds are blocked or even offshore at the bottom end of the beach; a plus on a windy summer afternoon although the swell doesn’t always get in here. Woolacombe’s super-mellow beach break works on all tides. The sand just about disappears at high tide when the northern end gets a respectable right-hand peak. Crowds are well absorbed and it’s quieter than Putsborough or Croyde.
BEST FOR INTERMEDIATES
The UK’s surfing capital attracts everyone from die-hard surfers to families and stag and hen parties. Fistral Beach is the spot to head for with waves at all stages of the tide. When it’s too big or blowy at Fistral, look around the headland to Newquay Bay where sheltered waves can be found at Towan, Great Western and Tolcarne beaches. After dark the town’s 40 plus bars and clubs come to life. Nearby Watergate Bay has seen Prince William and the Sunday Night Project’s Justin Lee Collins grace its waves.
Home to a passionate and welcoming surfing community, Newcastle has been the training ground for British champions Gabe Davies and Sam Lamiroy. The cold North Sea dishes up some quality beachbreak surf at Longsands Beach, a bustling but mellow beachbreak. It can be easily blown out, but with good offshore winds this competition venue can get epic – and it’s the most reliable spot around.
Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
‘Fresh West’ picks up the most swell in Pembrokeshire with several sandbar peaks on the main beach and reefs. It’s very consistent, so therefore gets very busy, but the strong rip currents keep the surfers spread out over the various peaks on the rocks (check the south end). Access is sometimes limited by the MOD – the beach is just off a big army firing range!
BEST FOR EXPERTS
It’s a long way from anywhere, but the slate reef at Thurso East can lay claim to being one of Europe’s best waves. The drive and the cold water put off all but the hardiest surfers, but those who make the trip invariably return with tales of fast, tubing waves. For experts only. Spring sees an international field of pro surfers in attendance for a world qualifying tour competition, but the warmest water temperatures and guaranteed swell make September the prime time to visit.
The reef at Porthleven is home to a splendid but fickle wave. Known for its hollow rights over a flat rock shelf, it gets sucky at low to mid tide when gaping wide barrels are possible. For the wave to be at its best requires a very big west or solid/big southwest swell, and rarely breaks in summer. It can get awesome, but word spreads fast and quickly gets crowded when the waves are good.
Arguably the best beachbreak in the country, Croyde Bay is home to a consistent, powerful wave. Shapely sand peaks can be found across the bay at all stages of the tide, but low provides much faster, steeper walls and barrels. Peaks north of the stream are generally better. The reef at the north end is a quality rare right, but is only surfable on very high tides with a big swell – definitely for experienced surfers only.
September 16th, 2010
Just north of the San Onofre State Beach, adjacent to the train trestle is one of the world’s best surfing arenas. Breaks run continuously from San Mateo Point to San Onofre State Beach.
Cotton’s: Lined up left-hander, good in big south to southwest swells. Breaks over cobblestone and sand bottom on any tide, but lower is hollower. Holds 2-12ft plus, all levels.
Upper Trestles (Uppers): Superb quality, long (mostly) right-hand cobblestone point wave. Works best on a wrapped northwest to west winter swell at higher tides, when there will be multi-second barrels firing down the beach towards San Mateo Creek. It’ll work well on south swell too though. Any tide is OK, 2-10ft plus. All levels. Best in winter … generally. Crowded with mini-tankers.
Lowers: Left and right cobblestone peak. Long rights in winter swells from NW, awesome fast peak left and rights in summer south swells. Generally both left and rights have 3 sections, with the first (outside) being more hollow. Rights are often longer/lined up, and longer than Uppers. Lefts punchy with good channel to paddle back from. Any tide is OK, but low tide plus summer swell and morning offshore = hollow green barrels at high speed. 2-15ft, very crowded. Usually better than Uppers in summer, and vice versa for winter.
Down from here in Middles: Mellow right-left summer peak, needing northeast winds and any swell. All tides, although low is better as it can be a mush-burger at the best of times. If your surfing isn’t working here, either get a new board or a coach.
September 9th, 2010
On its day, Freshwater West is one of the best waves in all of the UK and can hold waves up to 6ft. Works best with swell from the west and an east/northeasterly wind.
It picks up the most swell in Pembrokeshire, with several sandbar peaks on the main beach and reefs. Very consistent, therefore gets very busy. When it gets too big here, most people head off elsewhere in the area. There are very strong rips so watch out (a few swimmers have drowned here in the past, so take the warnings seriously). There are various peaks on the rocks (check the south end). It’s just off a big army firing range! Intermediate / advanced surfers only.