Trio of storms promise huge waves at Margaret River pro surfing comp
Three consecutive storm systems over the Southern Ocean are set to produce a powerful and large swell along WA’s coast this weekend, in time for the start of the World Surf League’s Margaret River Pro.
Surf forecasters are expecting four-metre waves in Margaret River, which is the third leg of the Australian Championship Tour.
Swellnet surf forecaster Craig Brokensha said the combination of “fresh and strong” offshore winds on Sunday and Monday made for prime conditions only experienced a few times a year.
“It should be really big contestable waves for the Pro,” he said.
“The ocean open swell will likely be four metres of swell, at a period of 18 seconds, which means it will have lots of energy, lots of power and lots of push.
“It’s very dangerous so for anyone but the very experienced and the pros, you wouldn’t be paddling out.”
The conditions in WA are in contrast to those experienced on the east coast legs of the Championship Tour, in Narrabeen and Newcastle.
‘Back-to-back’ low pressure systems
Mr Brokensha said a flurry of significant swells would remain all week, fired up by back-to-back low pressure systems over the Southern Ocean.
“There’s a strong progression of low pressure systems in the Southern Ocean,” he said.
“There will be about three of them, with the first swell arriving Sunday afternoon, then it looks like we’ll have another one late Wednesday [or] Thursday and yet another one Saturday.”
But he said the winds were likely to start making conditions messy beyond Wednesday.
Competitors arrive with ‘healthy amount of fear’
Event organisers will asses conditions on Sunday before calling the event on, but if it does get the green light, opening rounds of the women’s event could be held first.
Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons won the event at Margaret River in 2017 and said competitors typically arrived in WA in any given year with a “healthy amount of fear”.
“It’s going to cause a few nerves for sure because here in Margaret River, even the small waves are big, so this is really going to test us,” she said.
‘This is going to be testing’
US surfer Caroline Marks said she had already felt the power of the ocean, having had a board snap into four pieces while surfing at the competition venue of Surfers Point earlier in the week.
Like Fitzgibbons, Marks is eyeing the forecast swell with a combination of fear and excitement.
“I felt genuine fear, but like Sally said, even the small waves here are big, so yeah, this is going to be testing but a great opportunity for us as well,” she said.
Tour surfer and Margaret River local Bronte Macaulay excelled performance levels of women’s big wave surfing during landmark sessions on oversized waves in the WA’s north west late last year.
Her younger sister Laura also created a splash after becoming the first female surfer to ride The Right — a particularly large and powerful wave in WA’s south.
The 27-year-old said conditions in the lead up to the arrival of Sunday’s swell had already given competitors a taste of what was to come.
Surf spots set to ‘absolutely fire’
Other popular surfing locations like Denmark and Albany, on the south coast of WA, are also set to get the four-metre open ocean swell, while further north Gnaraloo and Exmouth could get a decent three-metre waves.
Perth will be smaller with waves of about two metres expected.
Mr Brokensha said there would be a great conditions for recreational surfers in some of the more protected areas, with smaller but clear waves.
“They’ll be frothing,” he said.
“There will be a few spots that will absolutely fire Sunday afternoon and Monday morning as it eases.”
If the conditions are right, the Margaret River Pro will kick off on Sunday and run through to May 12.