Monday, November 30, 2015

11 30 15 morning call

Long waits at Honolua due to the shadowing of Molokai, but when the occasional set managed to wrap around it, it was gorgeous.

This is Nikki Van Dijk in a photo from Jimmie Hepp.

Below the graph of three buoys at 6am.
I put a red line on what was the peak of the swell. Traveling times according to tables and size decay according to mother nature.
I put a second red line on the NW buoy graph to show how the swell steadily declined in those 18h after the peak before stabilizing again around 6f (but with the period still declining).

Pauwela reads
6.0ft @ 9s from 70° (ENE)         
4.3ft @ 15s from 322° (NW)
4.0ft @ 13s from 321° (NW)
and that is a lot smaller than yesterday. Not sure they're gonna run the contest, we'll find out in... 10 minutes!
Surfline forecast for Wednesday calls for 10f 15s out of 330 and that is a MUCH BETTER direction. I really hope they'll wait.

 Wind map shows a nice big NW fetch and a small insignificant S one.
I ran the whole 2 weeks of the model and I counted at least 5 storms following each other off mainland Asia. 3-4 days of big waves, spaced by 2-3 days of smaller waves, that's the beautiful regime that will last for the first half of December.
Unfortunately the trades will ruin most of them, but wind/kitesurfers will be happy.

MC2km map at noon shows the wind that it shows.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

11 29 15 morning call

As forecasted, the swell built all day yesterday. Conditions were poor on the north shore because of the wind, the windswell and the mix of other energy in the water (old swell).
This guy didn't seem to mind around 3pm at Hookipa.

The first day of the Sunset Beach contest was very entertaining. If you missed it, a good way to catch up is to watch the action packed heat videos that you find in the video page of each WSL contest website.
Sunset beach: a surf break I have no desire (and skills) to surf.

Below is the graph of the three buoys at 5am. The red lines indicate where the swell kind of topped and got steady in size. You can observe how the travel times to Oahu and Maui are what you would expect based on the tables we've been talking about lately. It's not rocket science and knowing when a swell is going to hit or what it's going to do size wise is an important information, but definitely not the most important one.

Much more important are the local conditions. The north shore has been ugly for the last three days because of the wind direction (more onshore than usual) and the mix of energies in the water.
For example, this morning Pauwela reads:
6.9ft @ 8s from 41° (NE)
6.4ft @ 16s from 323° (NW)
Both swells will hit Hookipa pretty straight on and you can imagine that the result will be a confused breaking pattern. On top of that there will be chop on the face created by the local wind.
The effect of that windswell instead will be felt a lot less at Honolua, so hopefully the ladies' contest will have good conditions for their first day of action.

Notice also how the NW buoy just went up a notch: 11.2ft @ 15s from 318° (NW) is a pretty serious reading. That increase should happen in the late afternoon locally.
Too early in the morning for an updated MC2km map, let's use the Windguru table to point out that the wind is gonna keep blowing. I circled three major swells, but all those storms/fetches are not getting close enough to the islands to kill the local trades.

We can see that also in the wind map below that shows:
- a big and strong fetch (the Wednesday's swell one) that is now shooting more at California than at us, but we'll still get the angular spreading
- a solid trade wind area extending from 10 to 25 degrees of north latitude all across the North Pacific
- a tiny fetch down south. Too small to do anything for us, but it's there... I HAVE to circle it!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

11 28 15 morning call

New swell is hitting Oahu and the Sunset contest is on.

Buoys 7am

8.9ft @ 17s from 312° (NW)
4.5ft @ 8s from 80° (E)
3.4ft @ 10s from 45° (NE)

4.7ft @ 9s from 356° (N)
4.2ft @ 11s from 349° (NNW)
2.4ft @ 20s from 308° (WNW)
4.9ft @ 10s from 348° (NNW)           
4.7ft @ 8s from 35° (NE)
4.2ft @ 12s from 340° (NNW)
3ft @ 14s from 26° (NNE)

Below the graphs of the NW and the Pauwela buoys. I put two red lines to show when the new long period NW swell was at 2f and at 8f at the first one.
Instead, it somehow didn't make the 7am reading at the second one, but if you look at the graph, you'll already see a couple of 22s readings. So that's a glitch and it will most likely back in the readings in the 8am ones.
As for the Maui table and the GP rule of thumb, a long period swell takes around 12h from the NW buoy to the Maui one and that seems to be true for the 2f reading. If that is confirmed, whatever energy will make it Maui out of those 8f 17s, will be in Maui around sunset.
Direction of those 8f is from 312 and that should make Hookipa pretty big and rising all day, but it will be shadowed by Molokai for Honolua bay. In fact, the contest over there is on hold at the moment.

How much of that energy will be able to wrap around Molokai and hit the Bay, I have no idea, because I haven't observed the bay for the last 15 years, like instead I did for the north shore of Maui.
My guess is that the shadowing will be significant because the shadow line sits at around 20 degrees more north. But it's also true that the period is real long and that will help the refraction.
Having updates from a live contest (next call at 9am) will actually be a rare opportunity to match what the bay looks like versus the buoy readings, which I won't miss out on.

Also, let's not forget the old NNW swell, still in the water.

Wind map today shows the new NW fetch that will make Wednesday's swell. Looks pretty strong.
A small tiny fetch down south.

MC2km map at noon shows the wind that it shows.

PS. Sorry for the late post. Yesterday I went to see the John John movie and then, after an absence of about 8 years, I stepped into Charley's. The music was good, but it might take me another 8 years to go again.
I did not like the movie at all, btw. Too repetitive, no dialogue, 6,000 aerials. The Pipeline section was good, thanks to the sheer beauty of the waves and the amazing skills of the surfers. A late drop there pleases me more than any off the lip manouver.

Pps. Thanks to Ross Williams for calling the Hawaiian scale for measuring the waves "funky and not science based".

Friday, November 27, 2015

11 27 15 morning call

Yesterday morning I posted this photo on Facebook saying:
You know you've been injured for three weeks when even paia bay looks like a lot of fun.
True to the spirit of the contest, The Invitational's Committee hasn't shown up yet, it's more like a mid day thing.
Hope you go surfing if you can.

A friend of mine commented:
Only the end of summer or an injury can make Paia bay look good
To which I replied:
I was dreaming of being out there, missing the good ones, catching the bad ones, getting disappointed by the lack of shape...All those things I was missing very much.
I like to be a bit dramatic once in a while...

Anyway, the Paia Bay Invitational did happen and the photo below summarizes it.

Halfway through the contest I went to shoot the few windsurfers that I knew were sailing Hookipa.
This is Antoine Martin.

There were some big sets. This is Camille Juban in front of a peak that I measured four times overhead.

The same wave became only three times overhead in the last section. Between the two sections, Camille dropped a nice turn, but that wave wasn't easy to ride. None of them was, actually. Very bumpy and not peeling nicely.

Beauty on the guardrail.

Sunset was nice.

Below is the graph of the three buoys.
NW is reading only 10.3ft @ 8s from 68° (ENE) at 6am and I believe that is one of those glitches when the Surfline software fails to separate the energy of two different swells hitting the buoy. It coincides with the black line in fact, which is what you get when you read the buoys directly on the NOAA site (which I strongly recommend not to do).
I'm pretty sure it will go back to showing two (smaller) swells at the next reading.
Anyway, I tried to spot the two peaks of the swell at the NW buoys (8+ feet) and at the Pauwela (6+).
Travel time around 12/14 hours and a couple of feet lost on the way. Everything as one would expect MOST of the times. But not always.

Still plenty energy at 6am at Pauwela, but that is going to decrease all day.
No sign of the new bigger swell at the NW buoy yet, Maui will not see that happening today.
As a result, no Honolua (nor Sunset Beach) contests today.

For once, I'll add also the real weather map on top of what I call the wind map. They are the same thing, the wind map is made out of a weather map after the some software calculates the wind speed associated with the pressure distribution at sea level.

But the wind map sure is nicer and easier to read for the non experts, so here we go.
Two strong fetches: a NNW and a WNW one.
First one is what we saw on the map yesterday and it shows that the direction from which the waves coming from it are going to arrive in Maui is pretty much perfect for Honolua Bay. That will be around Sunday/Monday.
The second one is "brand new", coming off Japan and just like it is supposed to do in this time of the year, it will move east and get much better in the Maui swell window. That's when I'll talk about it more in detail.

Maui county @ 2 km map at noon shows the wind that it shows.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

11 26 15 morning call

As predicted, poor conditions all day yesterday on the north shore because of the sideon wind.

I'll keep using the photos from those couple of epic days as long as the photogs keep posting them. This is Tyler Larronde in a photo by One More Foto.


Below are the three buoys at 6am.
I put a red line on all of them when the swell was 2f and as you can see it seems that the travelling time was correctly forecasted, but, if one wants to be super precise, they actually weren't.
Those 2f that passed under the NW buoy around 5-6am yesterday got smaller by the time they got to Waimea and Maui. How much smaller we don't know exactly and so we can't exactly measure the travelling time.
But I'm pretty happy to just observe and state that it took 12h for the Maui buoy to get to those same 2f level. Which is actually more useful for our practical means of knowing when and where to go surf.
Just remember that if a NW swell peaks at X feet at the NW buoy, you will never see those same X feet at the Maui buoy, because they are going to be less than that, but you can still use the travelling times table to guess when the swell is going to peak in Maui.

In this particular case, those 2f kept building up to 8.7f 14s at 6am, and we can expect the swell to have a similar rise throughout all day here locally and by sunset time it should be pretty big.
BTW, the original 2f were at 17s and a little bit from a NNW direction (before turning more NW later in the day), so my rule of thumb applied beautifully: 12h at 16s, 16h at 12s. CANNOT BE too precise in these things, a vast margin of approximation has to be considered. Don't book plane tickets based on this stuff...

And also BTW, I looked at Hookipa at sunset and it was tiny. If that was 2f 17s, it was sure very different from the 2f 16s that provided well overhead waves two days ago. I still haven't quite figured out what happened then. I probably never will.

So, swell on the rise all day, but still not big enough to start the contest at Honolua.
Notice also the short period component that will make things look pretty messy and ugly, together with the wind shown in the MC2km map at noon below.

Wind map shows a solid fetch from the storm we've been monitoring in the past few days, that is the one that will send the big weekend swell.

On nov 21st, I posted what the GFS model predicted the same map to be (which I repost below), and you can see it's pretty damn close. When there's a storm that is pretty deep and strong, a 5 days ahead forecast is usually reliable.

PS. Just in case someone was wondering if "forecasted" is the correct past tens of to forecast:
Both forecast and forecasted are widely used as the past tense and past participle of the verb forecast, but the uninflected form is more common. In 21st-century English it prevails by a large margin, but not by such a large margin that anyone should consider forecasted wrong.
I'm old school....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

11 25 15 morning call

The wind went onshore pretty much at first light yesterday, so conditions were poor all day after two days of total epicness.

Here are some more photos by Jimmie Hepp of those days.
First one is local ripper Joao Marco Maffini in a very peculiar position/situation. His board is under the JP logo and the leash has been photoshopped out by one of Jimmie's friends (under my suggestion).

On the following three photos I left the comment "I hope the guy sees this photo!", so I'm trying to help identifying the protagonists. Not many kneeboarders out there, so this one should be easy.

Not a fan of aerial maneuvers, but when they're nice they're nice.

In particular, we need to find this guy. Beautiful wave with Tatiana Weston-Webb duck diving right in front of him... that is a keeper!
If it was me, I would totally buy that shot, print it out as big as the resolution allows and put it on my wall.

Buoys 5 am
5.7ft @ 8s from 9° (N)
5.4ft @ 10s from 16° (NNE)
2.7ft @ 5s from 11° (NNE)
2ft @ 17s from 344° (NNW)
3.3ft @ 6s from 19° (NNE)           
2.9ft @ 9s from 21° (NNE)
2.6ft @ 11s from 333° (NNW)
2.4ft @ 10s from 296° (WNW)           
1.4ft @ 15s from 199° (SSW)
1.1ft @ 6s from 297° (WNW)

2f 17s from 344 at the NW buoy at 5am means that that same energy (minus a bit of decay for the extra travelling) will hit Maui roughly 12h later around sundown. But if you look at the graph (link n.11), similar levels were recorded already around midnight, so we should start seeing sets as early as noon.
This is a good example on how to use that table I made recently in a post labeled NW buoy to Maui travel time. Labels make post retrieving easier. Together with the archive, one of my favorite features of blogs.
Today it's not particularly critical to identify the swell arrival time, because the wind is going to be sideon and the conditions poor, but other days it can be a crucial information for scoring.

Below is the classic GFS based windguru table that everybody checks. It's a brilliant, condensed, very easy to read way of presenting a hell lot of information.
As long as you know that it only shows one swell, the biggest in size. So if there is a 5f 5s windswell from the east and at the same time there's also a 4f 20s swell from the NW, the one that makes the table is the windswell even though when they hit the shore the first one will be barely waist high, the second one more like double over head.
That is why windguru should NOT be checked for wave forecasts. Unless you move down to the second table that tries to separate the first two swells plus the windswell, but it's really hard to read.
The surfline one is by far my favorite graphical way of presenting a forecast of overlapping swells.

Wind map shows:
- a big strong NW fetch. That's the one that is generating the weekend's swell. Remember that yesterday it was more west than today and not doing much for Maui. Today it looks like it passed the 300 degrees line, so those waves won't get blocked much and Hookipa will be pretty big.
Big enough also to sooner or later get to Honolua, no doubt, also considering that it will keep moving east
- a narrow but still decent N fetch (remaining of what generated the swell that will arrive today)
- a high pressure cell between the two
- the local sideon wind direction
The whole picture is moving east and one storm after the other will come into play from mainland Russia like a convey belt for the next couple of weeks.
That means plenty waves.
The latitude at which they will travel will be north enough for the trade winds to keep blowing, so fun times for wind propelled wave riders, choppy times for the surfers.

As I said many times, the local wind it's even more important than the actual swell size in terms of the effect on the local conditions.

Couple of more words about the Honolua contest. Today the wind will create too much chop and the waves will be too small. I don't think they'll run it, also seen the promising forecast.
Tomorrow (or Friday... better direction) could be the day for round 1, but I really hope it's still gonna be too small and they'll wait for the much bigger swell in the weekend.

There's also the second contest of the Triple Crown at Sunset Beach in Oahu. Not sure how bad the wind will be there, so I'm not gonna call that one, even though it seems that the waves might be too small for it. Way more heats to run in that one though, so different situation for the head judge.
If I remember right, they don't have the permit to run it on Thanksgiving and that seems confirmed by the fact that they already put "next call Friday" on the contest banner on the WSL home page.

And let's not forget the annual Paia Bay Invitational contest on Thanksgiving that is run by some friends of mine with peculiar judging criteria. It looks good for Thursday you guys!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

11 24 15 morning call

Another epic day of surfing on Maui's north shore thanks to another full day of light kona.

The light kona in Maui does what the trades do to Oahu's north shore... sideoff, just from the other side.
I remember a winter a few years ago (maybe 3?) that saw an incredible number of light kona days and that was sure a rarity. The kona wind, in fact, is usually associated with a passing front and as such tends to intensify when the front gets closer. While it is for windsurfing, strong kona is not good for surfing (any strong wind isn't), so that year we were blessed. Let's hope for more of these days this winter. Possibly after I heal, thanks.

In the meantime, the photographers at Hookipa are enjoying the presence of the pro ladies. Here's the stunning Tatiana Weston-Webb in a photo by Jimmie Hepp. Here's his album from yesterday.

What looks like a sea monster in the wave is clearly a water photog instead and, as a friend of mine commented, I wouldn't mind checking out that shot!

Buoys 5am
5.7ft @ 11s from 356° (N)
3.9ft @ 10s from 8° (N)
2.8ft @ 6s from 336° (NNW)

2.7ft @ 13s from 328° (NW)
2.6ft @ 10s from 338° (NNW)

3.7ft @ 12s from 328° (NW)
3.2ft @ 9s from 60° (ENE)
1.7ft @ 10s from 341° (NNW)

Still a bit shocked at the buoy numbers for this swell. Definitely more action today, despite the period going slightly down. At least before the wind turns onshore, as predicted by both models at the bottom of the windguru page. MC2km page not uploaded yet, check it later if you want to know exactly when that is going to happen.

Both the switch of direction of the wind and the abundant rain in those forecasts are due to the arrival of the front that caused those two magic days of kona. Here's the satellite pic at 5am. It's a weak front, that's why the kona was light.

Wind map shows three fetches:
1) one just off Japan. Too west for Maui at the moment, but it will move east and get into a much better position. This is the fetch that will generate the weekend big swell. Yesterday's NW fetch instead moved north of the Kurils and weakened.
2) a weak but close one NNW of us to keep things rolling
3) a strong NNE one from which we might get some angular spreading, since it's shooting well to the east of us.

Surf early until it's clean, also because tomorrow is going to be stronger onshore and crappy all day.

Monday, November 23, 2015

11 23 15 morning call

A mystery (partially solved in this post) swell and light kona winds made for epic surfing conditions all day at Hookipa.
I took a bunch of shots, let's start from those.
Shot of the day goes to Micah Stevens. He didn't land that, but the shot looks cool.
Chronological order from now on. This guy must have seen the Tom Curren sticker on my car's door before paddling out.

I hope nobody gets annoyed if I point out again the beauty of Carissa's boobs. In this couple of photos her surfing doesn't shine, her boobs do.

She actually landed pretty hard with her butt on her board. Ouch.

 I hope John Gangini is a Jimmy Lewis team rider, because he makes that 7.0 Destroyer look pretty good.

68 years old. Good job.

Much younger, still good job.

Courtney Conlogue was ripping.

Small inside section, but very dynamic action for the title contender Conlogue. Honolua was probably tiny and ruined by the kona wind and most of the WCT girls were at Hookipa.

 Perfect leash position.

Fooling around with the digital zoom, I got this guy's super closeup. Some ladies will appreciate.

This guy got so many barrels.

Courtney tried a few different boards.

This was a very sketchy situation in which she took off not in control and with too many people in front of her. Fortunately she managed to regain control just before running over that guy, but for me that was bad behavior. Doesn't matter who you are, safety always comes first.

 There he goes again.

Another no landing but cool aerial shot.

Here's the guy that is my biggest inspiration in the whole world of surfing: I believe Ilima Kalama is 73-74 and he's always out there. I plan on doing the same. If I ever heal from this very tricky rib injury, that is.

He tried to go back to that lip, but you can tell how late he is. He got annihilated.

Courtney. I like her.

Afternoon session. Conditions were very similar. No sun when I got there, but...


...the sun eventually came out for half an hour or so.

And it was perfect light again.

At least for shooting.
Low sun on the horizon is tricky on the wave, if you're looking into it you're pretty much blind. I broke my foot windsurfing around this time of the day 5 years ago because of that.

Pavils looked good too.

There we go, now we can talk about Carissa's surfing, which is phenomenal.
I love power surfing with tons of spray in the turns and Carissa is the most powerful girl out there, IMO. She surfs like Jordy Smith. And that is a pretty big compliment in my world.
Another favorite female surfers of mine is Leah Dawson (here's a nice video of her if you have a facebook account) who instead says: “My biggest compliment is not that I surf like a man, but that I surf like a woman.”.
All good, the girls on the WCT are judged with the same criteria as the guys, that's why Carissa is the champion, Leah is not and everybody is happy with their own styles and life styles.

After this shot the sun went behind the clouds and that was it for the shoot. Not for the surfing.

"Tiny bit of energy from the north, but in Maui most of the energy still comes from the windswell."
That's what I wrote in my call yesterday and that's why I called it extremely wrong.
It wasn't easy to predict it though seen the 6am buoy readings that were a mere 2.9ft @ 14s at the NW buoy and 1.3ft @ 18s from 331 at the Pauwela (with Waimea similar to it) plus 5.8ft @ 9s from 75 of windswell.

I saw it, but I didn't think the NW swell was gonna get that big. And I still don't quite understand why it got as big as it got, even if I look at the buoy readings from the three main buoys from yesterday!
Check the graphs below.
To the left is the NW one and I had to put red lines to identify the NW swell since its line it's all broken up. Middle is Waimea, right is Pauwela: 2f 16s, that's what those waves were!

Factors that contributed to the incredible amplification on the reef of Hookipa:
1) those 5-6f 9s of windswell were mixing up with the long period NW walls and making their peaks bigger than they would have been been without them. Nonetheless, I saw some sets that had walls that were head and a half + tending to DOH, even without windswell induced extra feet on the peaks.
2) the light offshore wind held the faces up and by the time the wave broke for sure the face was a little bigger than it would have been had it had no wind (or even worse had it been onshore).

Despite all that, that was the biggest 2f 16s I've seen in my life.

But at least I now know where they came from!
Below are the weather maps of Nov 18 and 19. The low right north of us is the one that made the swell for the Haleiwa contest. The one I circled way up in the NW corner instead is the one the made yesterday's (and today's!) swell.
It went under my radar because most of its winds seemed to be behind the Kurils, which in my experience block the energy almost completely. I guess I need to re-evaluate that. Or maybe not, since in the end it was still only 2f 16s at the buoy!
Anyway, at least we found the culprit fetch.

And today we have pretty much the same situation! Here's the wind map in the windity version.
A close much smaller fetch NNW of us and a much stronger one in the NW corner. I use this global world view to point out eventual fetches in the south Pacific like the one the the Tasman Sea (what a week for Fiji... and it's still gonna go on!).


But here's a much better detail of our main storm region in this other version.
The closer fetch is really tiny at the moment. The remote one is way bigger, but only the section with the saw teeth has strong enough winds to generate significant waves for us.
I outlined this fetch first thing in the morning pretty much, before I got into the analysis I just wrote above. As you can see, I followed the contour of the Kurils, because I thought that pretty much no energy generated north of them would pass on the other side.
North of the Kurils energy included or not, this one is going to be much bigger than 2f 16s at the buoy, that's for sure.
Surfline calling for 4f 15s from 325 on Thursday and that could be round 1 for the Honolua contest.
Keep in mind this fetch is NOT the one that will generate the much bigger swell (10f 15s) on Sunday and a similar one on Wednesday next week. Plenty waves.

Today's conditions? The answer is in the buoys and the wind.
Pauwela is 4.5ft @ 9s from 68° (ENE) plus 2.7ft @ 14s from 339° (NNW) at 7am and below is the MC2km map at noon. So, shorter period, but overall kinda similar conditions to yesterday. Go surfing if you can.