The magnificent month of May

17 May 2011 0 Share

Mikey Wright deep inside a foamy pit on the far north coast of NSW

Mikey Wright deep inside a foamy pit on the far north coast of NSW

Meltdown Lowdown.
May 7-15, 2011
Words by Ben Horvath

The magnificent month of May rarely disappoints. Historically May is traditionally a standout month on the east coast of Australia, both in terms of swell size and consistency. In fact it is generally a great month to be a surfer in all states. WA, SA, Vic, Qld and Tasmanian surfers have all enjoyed consistent swell in recent weeks. This feature though focuses on the magnificent start to May on the East Coast, specifically post the May 1-3 East event.

Beautiful thick empty cavern sneaks through unridden at Shark Island on Saturday May 7

Beautiful thick empty cavern sneaks through unridden at Shark Island on Saturday May 7

Since enduring the well documented lean swell period that lasted a good six months, it seems fortunes have well and truly changed for the better recently in NSW. The much talked about lame October 2010 through March 2011 period, was punctuated by a few random swell events, but the day to day consistent surfability the NSW coast is renowned for was totally missing.

However, in recent weeks that’s all changed as a favourable Southern Ocean storm track has produced a succession of Southerly pulses, providing plenty of highlights to help us forget the tragic months, by cramming 2 and 3 surfs a day in an attempt to make up for all the lost sessions. Right now we forgive you Huey because much of the NSW coastline has been, and still is awash with swell. It hasn’t been about overhead death pits by any means, but the consistency of mid - size swells, the quality of the banks, and the regularity of favourable offshore winds have all combined to make it a very pleasurable few weeks of waves.

Northern NSW set up as seen from the air last week

Northern NSW set up as seen from the air last week

It hasn’t dropped under 3ft so far this month in Sydney and surrounds.  We have enjoyed consecutive pulses from the Sth and SE hot on the heels of the solid East event that kick started the month - May Meltdown

Immediately after the May 1-3 Easterly event the banks right up and down the East Coast were set up perfectly for a follow up Sth. Fingers of sand were

jutting out, groomed and guttered, and running on perfect angles everywhere you looked. Predominant Westerly offshores complimented the sand bank quality, and the combo of cooler land temps and the fading May sunlight put an instant cap on the carpark kook population. Yeeow – surfers season is here at last!

Five cold fronts and associated low pressure cells pushed into the southern Tasman swell window during a very fruitful fortnight, a period when the southern ocean storm track has been extremely active. The strongest, coolest cold front and associated low pressure cell was the system that moved through last Wednesday May 11, bringing 10-15cm of snow to Orange and even light snow in NE NSW. Last week’s cold outbreak was the coolest May spell since 2000. This week a large high is moving over NSW bringing sunshine and milder temps and eventually smaller waves by the weekend. We have seen the last of the cold air for a week or so at least.

Last weekend May 7 and 8 was an incredible weekend of waves in Sydney and surrounds. A clean 4-5ft plus SE swell was airbrushed by light offshore W winds all day on both Saturday and Sunday. Standout sessions went down everywhere.  Mark Mathews, Dean Morrison and a small Cronulla crew scored some of the best paddle in Solander in yonks. Shark Island and The Cronulla beachbreaks were also firing. In fact beachies and exposed reefs from the Sunshine Coast right through to southern NSW turned on.  Coastalwatch contributor Lee Kelly said, “A super sucky bank smack bang in the middle of Tamarama/Bronte was amazing on Sunday morning May 8 with only a handful of guys getting waves. Mick MarJenovic was the main man. Word filtered through the Eastern Suburbs surfing community, so the arvo session was packed. Perth Standlick scored two messed up 6ft bombs on dark.” Lee was frothing claiming he shot and surfed some of the best pits he has ever seen at Tama in his 20yrs surfing in the hood.

Straddie pit on Tuesday May 10

Straddie pit on Tuesday May 10

Empty mid week Sunshine Coast perfection

Empty mid week Sunshine Coast perfection

Successive south pulses last week and the week before have returned surf stoke levels to normal. While the swell only hovered in the 2-4ft range, conditions were pretty much perfect every day. On Friday afternoon May 13 the swell kicked to a solid 3-5ft in Sydney and surrounds, and the wind stayed offshore all day. Yet another Sth pulse peaked mid morning on Sunday May 15 in the 4-6ft range at certain Sth magnets again under sunny skies and offshore winds. It’s been a great run and BM’s forecast for this week looks fun too.

There’s been plenty of punch in the pits up in Qld and northern NSW too. Whilst it has only really been 2-3ft on the Goldy, the Sunshine Coast, Straddie and northern NSW have been bigger at times. JC said, “We have had a great run of Autumn offshores, sunshine and clean, fun beachies as well as some small, zippy ones on the points at times too. On Sunday May 8 there was a tragic death at The Alley when a surfer was killed by a boat at The Alley, and mid week at Straddie Dazza Scott from 'Lord Of The Dings' (Coolly ding repairer).  saved Benny Goodwin's life after Benny got knocked out by a board.  Dazza dragged him out of the water and worked on him until a careflight arrived.”






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