Stab Magazine | That Indian Ocean swell is an over-achiever (here's how:)

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That Indian Ocean swell is an over-achiever (here’s how:)

Words by Magic Seaweed‘s Ben Freeston The Indian ocean storm we highlighted five days ago still has legs! It’s already hit Western Australia and Indonesia, and the storm has lost none of its energy in passing beneath Australia, looking set to deliver overlapping pulses of long period swell to Fiji and Teahupoo this week. These same […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Magic Seaweed‘s Ben Freeston

The Indian ocean storm we highlighted five days ago still has legs! It’s already hit Western Australia and Indonesia, and the storm has lost none of its energy in passing beneath Australia, looking set to deliver overlapping pulses of long period swell to Fiji and Teahupoo this week. These same swell trains traverse the Pacific to smash into Mexico in almost a fortnight’s time. A surfer with the desire and budget could potentially hit Indo, Cloudbreak, Chopes and still have time to get to Puerto Escondido, riding waves from the same storm in every location!

Kanduis, absolutely fabulous. Photo: Johnny Jungle

Kanduis, absolutely fabulous. Photo: Johnny Jungle

The forerunners of the Indian Ocean swell have already hit Indo (see above). The swell, topping out at almost 60 feet, is in the upper range of observed conditions and it doesn’t stop there. The same storm has maintained momentum with peak heights barely dropping below 40 feet as it moves East. We’d talked during the Fiji Pro about Cloudbreak’s exceptional exposure. While our standard Mercator swell charts suggest a fetch terminating South of Australia, this is an artefact of their attempts to represent the globe on a flat surface. In reality Fiji will get hit by swell originating in the same window as Indonesia – we can draw a direct line from the Kerguelen Islands, that typically sit in the middle of the deepest Indo lows, all the way to Fiji.

Because the fetch is so long and because the storm is moving along that fetch it’s had time to build considerable peak periods in some cases travelling faster than the storm itself. Because of this, and coupled with a second pulse whipped up in the tail of the original low, the swell will arrive in a series of long period pulses with two standouts, one from the original swell and one, potentially, a couple of days later, from this tail wind.

Another part of Western Australia, doing its thing. Photo: Robson Images

Another part of Western Australia, doing its thing. Photo: Robson Images

Stu Johnson of Fiji Surf reckons there’s a lot of buzz on the ground, albeit with the uncertainty you’d expect from a swell still several days away. “I’ve had a handful of emails from freesurf pros lining up boats and skis,” he says with nervousness that the wind will play ball. The positives though, are that with such long period, the reef will refract enough even at high tide to create thumping tubes and a broader window to hit the right winds. “The tides won’t change it too much,” Stu continues. “There’ll still be massive pits at high tide.”

Kelly Slater

Cloudbreak will be like this, only much, much bigger. Photo: Rod Owen

Beyond this the swell swings past New Zealand and into the Tahiti window. At this stage the numbers here have been moving around a bit over the last couple of model updates, but a similar story of multiple overlapping pulses of long period in the upper end of the size range at times.

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Two oceans straddling the Tasman Sea and three warm water locations set to fire thanks to this remarkable storm.

Even crazier, we can draw a straight line from the Indian Ocean all the way to Puerto Escondido in Mexico. This same storm and every one of these same pulses will hit there in about a fortnight. The long periods that have become the hallmark of this swell will work with the natural refraction of the standout spots on this coast at numbers that, right now at least, will be of interest to the big wave paddle contingent.

Mick_GUR_1573

Mick Corbett, steaming at The Right. Photo: Chris Gurney

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