Unseasonable Waves Hit The North Shore

North Shore Surf News

Aloha surfers and ocean lovers,

This is week three of North Shore Surf News, and there’s a lot to cover. We’ve had big events and big waves.

Mid-month we had a swell that peaked bigger than anyone forecasted, including WW3 (Wave Watch 3 from National Weather Service and NOAA).

These third-generation wave models are usually very accurate. They had us going for some 6to 8-foot surf Wednesday and dropping Thursday. However, I had reports of much bigger waves from hardcore big-wave chargers, including Arnold Dowling of Natural Flow surf wear, and board shaper and Turtle Bay employee Jeff Johnson.

Arnold surfed Sunset at 8-12 feet with even higher sets late Wednesday, while Jeff surfed 10 feet of Ali‘i Beach Park perfection. One interesting quality was long lulls yet numerous waves per set. We often get three to four waves in a set, but on this special episode we had eight or more waves — big, beautiful ones.

This was a winter-caliber event that was still delivering 10 feet at Sunset Thursday morning.

Why did this anomaly occur? My theory is that the storm produced high winds with some pockets nearing hurricane force, thus creating 20to 22-second period forerunners. (Periods measure waves through time, and higher periods create faster waves and produce more energy.) A 20-second period can create a group of waves moving at about 60 knots. That’s fast!

In addition, long wave periods make a huge difference when it comes to refraction and shoaling (swells bending and pushing up off the bottom). That same 20-second period can be felt 1,000 feet down. As the water gets shallower, there’s more refraction and shoaling until we finally get to ride the swell’s final journey as a breaking wave.

It is well known that Sunset is one of the North Shore’s greatest refractors of swell energy. That’s why it’s usually the biggest spot and why it jacks so much. The refraction at Sunset helped create the miraculous 12-plus-foot bombs late Wednesday. It’s humbling when Mother Ocean reminds us that all the science, models, technology and experience cannot tame her. She always will have surprises and challenges for us to learn from.

Tour News

The ladies finished up at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro with California’s Courtney Conlogue taking first place over Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, who finished second.

“It’s just phenomenal,” said Conlogue. “Carissa’s been on such a stellar run, and I was thinking maybe I can end it. I had a bit of a tricky start to this event and was feeling out of rhythm. On the off days I just went surfing a lot and had a bunch of fun, and I think that it got me all psyched and happy for the end of the event.”

That is a common theme you hear from top pros again and again: Just try to have fun. That may sound easy, but at this level, where careers are made or broken, that state of mind is not so easy to create.

Congrats to you, Courtney. You are now No. 2 in the world. Carissa still wears the gold jersey as the tour’s No. 1 with 28,000 points. Next stop: Rio in May.

Big shoutout to the Sustainable Coastlines crew, volunteers and Turtle Bay Resort for supporting the Earth Day Beach Cleanup April 22 at Waialua and Mokuleia. The talk story session at Surfer, the Bar that night had the best vibe. How could it not with such a great group of givers? Mahalo!

See you back here next week, and thank you for your support!