Boy, am I having fun with this prolonged windswell or what?
Hookipa is shoulder to head high every day (better on the rising tide), the wind is blowing strong and even if the spot is still overcrowded with pros and photographers in the water, we all still get our share of waves.
"Fun size", I was telling a friend yesterday, "because at my poor skill level, I feel like I can go for the lip without risking to do too much damage"...
Right. One hour later I was on the rocks.
This is the fifth or sixth time this season that I visit the rocks. They're like good old friends for me. I named most of them and I talk to them while I get slammed onto them: "Hi Gertrude, howzit going? Hey Gennaro don't hurt me please. Eat my gear, but don't hurt me, ok?"
Guess what: they listen! I didn't get a single scratch this year. But yesterday I destroyed sail and boom...
The windswell is mean. It hits you relentlessly (thanks Jake for the word) every 8 seconds. There's no lulls, only continuous white water coming at you and pushing you deeper and deeper. And it looks so small from the beach...
Here's my explanation of why the windswell is so gnarly.
A wave of 16 seconds period can shoal on the reef up to three times its size (that happens at Jaws, for example). At Hookipa, I observed that the shoaling factor for such a wave is pretty much 2: a three feet wave can grow up to six feet.
An 8 seconds wave, instead, won't grow much at all on the reef. That's also why it's so hard to read the windswell waves: they don't start feeling the reef until... they're on the reef! So a three feet wave will stay pretty much the same size when it breaks on the reef... IF it breaks on the reef!
Everybody knows that a wave breaks when it meets a bottom that is shallow 1.3 times its height.
What, you didn't know that? Come on, all my surfing students know that!
In other words, a three feet wave will break on a four feet deep bottom. That actually depends on the period too, as we were saying before.
Ok, all this theory to tell you that the amount of energy of a windswell that reaches the rocks at high tide is impressive, because most of it doesn't get released on the reef, but keeps traveling towards the shore.
A confirmation of this is the fact that on high tide the shore break in summer time under a windswell episode is often gnarlier than in winter time with a three times as big long period NW swell...
This picture of the Hookipa shore break clearly illustrates that.
Geez, what do I have to do to get your attention...
I feel like I've been sailing every day for...ever and it doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon. Plus, on top of the windswell, tomorrow there will be a respectable WNW swell (6 feet, 16 seconds at the NW buoy at 6pm).
Now, that's a really good recipe to goo see my rocky friends again (the long period waves knock you down and the windswell ones nudge you to the rocks), hence I'll sail elsewhere. The wind is going to be cranking as usual, hence I'll sail late.
Sounds like a plan.
I usually don't like making plans, but when the plans are like this, I don't really mind having them...
Thanks to Ray for the first photo.
And thanks to Brian and Aaron for reminding me to link Dan's histerical video. Check it out, it's very well done.