Swell, Surfstars, and Cyclones

We are in the last month of Summer, and as every surfer worth his or her salt on the Gold Coast knows, this is the time of year everyone waits for. 

Surf Season. The low pressure systems in the Coral Sea are constantly watched by surfers around Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales, hoping for one or two or more to develop into a cyclone that will produce the world class waves that appear every year at the end of Summer into Autumn. It might seem that surfers are praying for disaster, but truth be told the best swells are the ones that come from thousands of miles away, and travel across the Tasman and Coral Sea for days before reaching the beautiful sand bottom points of the Gold Coast.

As I write this I have already had one call from swell chasing videographer, Tim Bonython, looking for the peak day for the swell from Cyclone Olga, the first spinner of the season, perfectly placed to deliver some solid and powerful lines of swell our region. Pro surfers from around the world book tickets each time they see a system like this developing on the map.  It’s their job to be present and get footage of themselves to do the best for their sponsors. Tough job, huh?

This is also the time of year when the circus comes to town. What circus? That is what local surfers call the World Surfing Tour when it arrives. Maybe it gets that name from the carnival atmosphere that pervades the southern end of the Gold Coast, or possibly it could be because of the massive entourage of human soup that turns up to watch the world’s best surfers take on Snapper Rocks and hopefully Kirra.

Surf groupies, company executives, brothers, sisters, Dads, Mums, mates, media, and every grommet in town head on down the beach, with some trying harder than others to get a hold of those VIP all access passes to the world’s best. Of course those passes are held by the company and surfing executives, and the interplay that is involved in the distribution of said passes can be comical to watch. It is rather disconcerting sometimes to see the VIP area, where the consumption of beer seems to be more important than the action in the water. But I digress…..

In the end, the unique things about surfing shine through the ridiculous crowds at Snapper, the frothing industry parties and all that other neon stuff. You can get to surf with your heroes. It is amazing that you can sit there and watch the world’s best on waves on metres away from you. You may even get faded by Kelly or John John, but I suppose then you do still share a wave with one of your heroes. You cannot have a game of tennis with Novac Djokovic, you can’t get on the MCG when the Aussies are batting and be part of the game. That is the difference with surfing. Maybe that explains the crowds!

The events are on and there is of course the Quiksilver & Roxy Pros (28th February to 11 March), but also some other events,with some great surfing and hopefully some pumping waves as well. The Kirra Teams Challenge tags onto the end of the Quiksilver Pro from the 13th to 15th of March, with 36 of Australia’s best board riding clubs fighting it out to get their name of the coveted Kirra “Eagle” Trophy. This is the 31st year of the event, and with the quality of surfers and surfing, it is a great 3 days of competition to check out. Hopefully another fantastic swell like last year will see the event returned to the fabled Kirra Point; for the guys in the event, the chance to surf this break with only 3 other persons out – a dream.

To me it is a great time of year to surf.  This is when we get swell, warm water, and beautiful people on the beach. But with those crowds at Snapper I would rather surf anywhere else. Maybe a great solution is to take a trip down the coast, and not run away with, but run away from the circus.

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