Sunday, February 24, 2019

Catching a wave

Having not been out on the board all winter, and only (I think) 3 times in 2018, I've been (more out of idle curiosity) keeping a watching brief on surf forecasts every week or so through the winter.  In case an opportunity came up with a nice looking day where I might be able to drop everything for one day, and go get a few waves in nice conditions.

In general, bigger swell comes to Ireland not much separated from the Atlantic swell that generated it - so big waves with a load of chop and wind-blown chaos and whitewater.  Then around mid last week, the long-range forecasts started showing for this week coming.  Straight away it was pretty obvious that there was going to be a ton of swell... but more unusually, the winds didn't look like they were going to be too crazy.  But forecasts are notoriously unreliable at range (generally ~48 hours out gives you a relatively honest picture), so... marked it down and carried on with work.

Over the weekend, the size didn't go away - but the wind forecast continued to improve, and then some.  During Friday, I find myself looking at the forecast 4 times.  Monday through Wednesday are going to be *solid* - but the winds are up one minute, down the next.  By late Friday night, Tuesday looks incredibly promising, with moderate offshores and *big* surf - most unusually, big long-period  swell.  (In my experience surfing the West Coast of Ireland, 10 seconds is decent - 12 seconds is a really solid long-period swell.  If you can get 12s with a few feet of swell and amenable local winds, you've scored).

I go to sleep on Friday with the forecast showing Tuesday afternoon as something like 10 feet @ 15 seconds (FIFTEEN!), and medium onshores.  I wake up Saturday, and the forecast now says this:


Topping out at 11.5 feet at 17 seconds.  And 5mph offshore.

I spend most of Saturday with a blank face.  I am not a heavily practised surfer - but I have been going out for 12 odd years.  I don't have a huge knowledge of spots, but my favourite spot in the North-West, Rossnowlagh - is more sheltered, and strips some of the volume from larger swells.

Sunday morning, the forecast has gone to this:


I've never been grateful to see the size of a forecast fall, but I am this morning.  9 ft @ 15/16 seconds with 5mph offshores (a breath of wind), is the most extraordinarily unlikely combination of parameters for Ireland ever - especially in February.  I cannot think of another time I've seen this.


I have never had one of those cornball surf movie moments - "all he knew was, it looked like the day of days, and he might never get the chance again"

I've having that cornball moment now.