Cyclone Oma: Hoax Or Slow Burner?
Here’s what you missed (didn’t miss) from day one on the Gold Coast.
Is it the threat of destruction or the potential of experiencing something special that transforms the average surf enthusiast into a meteorological obsessive?
For the last week, Cyclone Oma is all anyone’s spoken about on Australia’s northeastern seaboard. The unpredictable nature of its journey south from New Caledonia has had the nation transfixed (and still does).
Two and a half or eight metres of ocean energy? Eight seconds and messy or nineteen seconds of groomed perfection? Destructive onshore gales or a reasonable breeze from a preferable direction? Will it make landfall and really fuck shit up?
Nobody really knew, but we all had an opinion.
The Bureau coined Oma a category two cyclone, with 130km per hour winds, and considering its proximity to the mainland, it is kind of a big deal.
Now day one of Oma’s reign has passed and all we have is the evidence that’s surfaced from national news and social media to hold up against our generally uneducated predictions. Rumours mix with honest recounts, someone got something crazy, somewhere else was better. The grass will always be neater a few hours up or down the coast.
By the time the sun surfaced, it was confirmed that the spiralling menace planted off Brisbane was real. The sky had darkened and exposed beaches were reaching their limits. A few swung left in the northern corner of D’Bah before tide and energy took it out of bounds.
Reports of the system steering towards the mainland concerned locals. Coastal structures were sandbagged and preparations were made for worst case scenarios.
For surfers, most eyes were on Snapper and Kirra.
While clips and frames may suggest something magic was going down, the truth was clear for any wave-educated bystanders lining the shoreline, or keeping a close eye on Instagram or live cams.
It just wasn’t right.
The skis were out there, darting over double-overhead-plus set waves, shifting surfers into the rough takeoff zone. Gems were had, but they needed precise excavation, in the right time at the right place. Nothing seemed to link correctly, it was pure frustration for all, an anti-climax.
Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson predictably dominated the shifty conditions, picking the best lines that were available and even sharing a little shade together.
Jack Freestone and Mitch Crews blasted up from Currumbin on a ski, using their assistance for energy saving purposes rather than to jump the queue. Both attested to their dissatisfaction with Oma’s first impression, yet remained hopeful for the following days.
Owen Wright, Matt Wilkinson, Connor Coffin, Seth Moniz, Wade Carmichael, Soli Bailey (even Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth) were among the many scratching around the Kirra rock stack, trying to find a clean roll-in that didn’t end in a decisive clamp or inescapable closeout. They mostly failed.
Heads often turned to Greenmount, it looked far better than Snapper, but like Kirra, it struggled to run smoothly down the typically ruler-straight sandbank. Word was circulating that dredging in the Tweed River was on hold and that the redistribution of sand was responsible for the broken banks. Another theory was that the swell was simply too north and direct to wrap neatly down the line.
Either way, the sun was out, the wind was mild and entertainment was had. Tomorrow is another day and a building swell from a new angle could yield better results and the Gold Coast sure isn’t the only Cyclone-friendly zone for wave riding.
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