Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I sent out the call for starters for the evening paddle this week with the disclaimer "pond like conditions and a 1.5metre Easterly swell."
The wind was a gentle puff from the NE and after several days of zephyrs and calms there was little chance of a downwind blast.
On arriving at Sydney Heads there was no difference between observed and forecast conditions except that the swell was long and fast. As you can see in the photo above, the long wavelength is almost imperceptible in deep water away from the cliffs.
The one important number that the BOM forecast doesn't give you is wave period and these swells were often 10 -12 seconds; not big by SW Tassie standards but when these fat waves collide with the Sydney cliff line head-on then there is potential for a little bit of action.

Neil rounding North Head.

Chris approaching Bluefish Point and the rebound is a little more apparent.

Matt gets a shower.

As we rounded Bluefish point to the North. Matt announced that the "dragon was awake". We couldn't see the "dragon" but it's deep guttural roar and the mist and spray emanating from its den were pretty convincing evidence of a powerful beast in the low overhangs that smother the rising swell as it swings around the point causing these eruptions of spray and chaotic surface conditions.

Matt chasing his Dragon.

Mark enjoying a bit of a bounce.

I think this qualifies as "clapotis" i.e. industrial strength rebound.

It is truly bizarre to feel the force of all the water driving you away from the cliffs but this is what makes this spot relatively safe when the conditions are right. In the photo above Mark and I are pelted hard by the spray.

Above and below you can see Fernando surfing intersecting waves around the point

While the group waited their turn or just enjoyed bouncing around a little further out, there was still enough challenge to prompt a few unexpected rolls and plenty of support strokes and balancing practice.

In less than a nautical mile we arrived back at North Head just in time to witness a classic Sydney autumn sunset and put on our lights in the "pond like conditions"

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