Stab Magazine | "Biggest Ever?": A Swell Too Big For The World's Heaviest* Wave

“Biggest Ever?”: A Swell Too Big For The World’s Heaviest* Wave

It is currently a delightful time to be in Indonesia. 

news // Jul 24, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Western Australia’s southern coastline acts a warning signal. A swell hitting Margaret River will show its face several hours later at Gnaraloo; within less than a couple of days, lines generated from the same source will appear all across Indonesia – the Bukit Peninsula, the Mentawais, Nias, Kandui – which soaks up SW swells of this magnitude. 

Courtesy of an Indian Ocean storm last week, we saw the Rip Curl Cup run, Koa Smith nearly die at Nias, and just about every other swell-supporting patch of reef in the region receive a proper package. But Indo’s swell season is far from extinguished.  

Yesterday, a significantly larger pulse of swell made landfall in Western Australia. While nothing of (rideable) substance has shown itself yet from the Margaret River region, with the South WA coast plagued with onshore winds, Taj Burrow queried whether it was the “biggest ever?” swell to hit West Aus.  

A query strongly supported by Chris White’s videographic sentiments, shot a little further south at The Right. 

This is what 8m of swell looks like hitting the reef. Quite terrifying, just like an avalanche. I was on the back of the ski with @anjsemark and in the open ocean there was some of the biggest lumps I’ve seen. Normally if you go over a swell line with speed you get air at the top but this day they were so big with so much water behind them you’d just roll over the top” said Chris White in reference to the swell. 

While there’s no-one surfing or in frame for reference, the way this wave breaks alone is indicative of how big it was. The Right is a deep water spot; when it starts to fold in on itself, it’s safe to assume it’s not exactly surfable.   

20-foot? 40-foot? Call it what you want, when one of the world’s heaviest waves essentially collapses in on itself, you know it’s fucking big. 

You also know those same swells are making their way 1000’s of kilometres northwards, elongating and sorting themselves out, before hitting a day or so later. 

The system which generated the Indonesian swell due set to hit Tuesday or Wednesday; 20 to 30-foot faces aren’t a stretch of the imagination.

The storm you see in the bottom left (above) whipped up 40-50 foot ocean swells which resulted in waves that were “[email protected] 19 seconds, with the buoy recording waves nearing 30-feet” near Margaret River, said Ben Freeston from Magicseaweed. 

Nineteen second period energy which is currently making landfall at Indo…

Both this swell and the last one have piled the largest part of their energy into WA but there’s been significant energy headed to Indo, this latest one has a little bit more [energy] and that slightly more westerly direction will help some spots.” Ben continued. 

The remnants of the most recent SW/SSW kick will begin to die off over Tuesday morning, but by the afternoon a stronger pulse will begin to build from five degrees further west than the previous swell. “Model data has the last major swell peaking about [email protected] vs [email protected] for this one in Bali. On paper every bit of that suggests more energy and power…it’s solid!” 

This long period pulse of swell will build into Tuesday afternoon and night, holding throughout Wednesday, and will still be significantly double-overhead on Thursday morning. 

It’s pretty difficult to get to a swell that’s peaking in 24-hours time, but there’s still hope for those that are a few days plane ride away.

“There’s another swell on the charts [for the weekend], looks a little smaller but really strong period again and more westerly again, too” Ben told Stab. 

If you’re there, be safe; if you’re not and aren’t going to be, well I guess just wait for the Instagram wash-up over the next couple of days.

Let’s be real, most of us aren’t going to be driving our beat up quivers through a Kandui cabin anytime soon anyway. 


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