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G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wave Knowledge, Forecasting and Fun

With not much going on my thoughts turn to forecasting. Today anyone with a computer and an internet connection can become a surf forecaster. And with forecasting websites devoted to or including forecasting in the format it's pretty easy to stay updated on the action. Surfline, wetSand, Storm Surf and WaveWatch are just four of the pre-formatted data dispensers. Where in the past an entire swell may have alluded the inattentive, it's almost impossible to miss out on a bonfide swell unless you goofed it big time with your sweetie, or work sends you to Iowa or Khazakstan.

And with the proliferation of web cams you don't even have to leave your dwelling to see if there's anything ridable, yet...it's still possible to miss out on a good session. Why? Because nothing replaces putting your eyes on the waves and knowing the nuances of your favorite breaks like the back of your hand. Not everyone has a "secret spot" like Water On Mars, or Daniel Duane's north coast kelpy point in his novel Caught Inside. But you can score waves in uncrowded or relatively uncrowded spots by checking them regularly and knowing how they break, when and why.

For instance I've got a couple spots that I like to call secret in plain view. The reason is because these spots break under certain specific conditions and the rest of the time they don't. One break needs the tide to be between minus one and plus one foot. Anything less or greater and it either washes out or closes out. And if the swell is too big, it doesn't work. But on those magic days when it fits the criteria...you're looking at a high wave count in a post a-bomb population. Throw in a lusty offshore scenario and it's time to journal an epic session. The other spot needs a ton of sand covering the rock ledge bottom. No sand, no good waves. When does this happen? Well, not in the winter when the large swells and strong currents scrub the bottom clean for months.

Fun surfing is about so much more than the short time we spend standing upright on a surfboard. Surfing is beyond the merely physical. Surfing is a sport, a hobby, a vocation for some and an avocation for most that should sharpen our intellect, all our senses and our awe at the majestic powers that create the objects of our love, respect and fascination.

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