Nobody expected this. After three days of wonky onshores and a half-formed east swell, perfect Kirra just didn’t seem like it was on the radar.
When photographer Andrew Shield drove by just before sunrise, he says, “Kirra wasn’t even breaking. It was high tide and super fat.”
Shieldsy kept driving, up to Snapper, and found it around three to four feet and also fat with that early high tide. “I thought, oh well, I’ll be shooting guys doing turns at Snapper.”
Then he started getting calls and texts. Something extraordinary was about to happen. The sluggish low-trough combo that’d been dumping rain and bad winds on the Goldie all week was on the move. It turned the winds perfectly south at about the same time as a super short range burst of swell hit directly from the east.
By 8am Shieldsy was swimming down toward Kirra with his camera. “It caught a lot of people by surprise,” he says. “I was talking to people while I was swimming down, saying, hey, why don’t you come down the line, I think Kirra’s coming on, and they were like, huh?”
Region guide: The Gold Coast
He got down there, past big groyne, and realised he was witnessing a crazy moment given Kirra’s recent history: the finest sand point in the world, a dropping tide and increasing swell, and maybe 20 people out. “Liam O’Brien was one of the first good surfers to come out….he got a lot of good waves quickly. Most of the others were waiting for dead low (around 10:30am), but some never showed up. Mick (Fanning), I think he went to Snapper instead.”
The Superbank surf zone is a bit uncertain at present. It’s fractured most of the way through, with holes and overlapping sand slugs breaking up its familiar flawless line. But Kirra’s sand just seems getting better with each swell. Says Shieldsy: “It’s hard to tell when the wind’s bad and it’s messy, but when it cleaned up, there it was.”
He shot and watched from water and land until around 2pm, when the tide began to rise and the swell went slowly backwards. “I was up on the headland when Mitch Parkinson got his good one. Nick Vasicek got some, Brenno (Dorrington) had a couple of really good ones.
“It was good to have one good day out of all that mess.”
"The swell originated from a small coastal low that developed on the northern periphery of a large anticyclone stationed in the Tasman Sea," said MSW forecaster Tony Butt about this swell. "The low, which developed just off the Queensland coast late on Monday 5, pushed up against the easterly flow on the northern flank of that high, increasing windspeeds and generating a pulse of short-period swell.
"Wave heights at easterly exposures hit eight feet or so by Tuesday, but with very ragged conditions in fresh southeast winds. The swell filtered into wrap-around spots such as Snapper and Kirra, with smaller wave heights but much cleaner local conditions, especially during the afternoon as winds veered around to the south.
"Yesterday, the swell continued, peaking in the morning and gradually tapering off during the day, with good local conditions all day in moderate southerlies off the western flank of that low."
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“The surf in the SW has just been joyous since the start of Autumn,: says lensman Tom Pearsall. “Archetypal Autumn days, shoulder to head high, all day offshores, glassy arvos. The smell of barbecues wafting out to the salt-hazed lineup, and in recent weeks, the smell of home fires warming the houses as the evening’s temperature quickly drops.
“This latest swell wasn’t massive, but you could feel the energy in the water was getting into the season. Sets were stacked. Summer surfers and Easter visitors getting caught out and washed in. It’s hard to predict, but the lack of an XL swell so far has us pondering a powerful end to Autumn.
“However the water is still warm. The next huge front will likely bring the colder waters shoreward and make you pay for every extra snagga and frothy enjoyed over these balmy afternoons, but for now, it’s a scene out of “Endless Summer’”
Article originally published via Surfline