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From North To South, The Black Nor’easter Swell BLASTS Australia’s East Coast

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An East Coast

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jul/AUG 2016


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Tracking the Black Nor’easter: It was a sneaky synoptic setup developing on the long-range charts. The sheer size of the fetch was impressive, bloody impressive, but being 10 days out, we had a long way to go before being excited. Although reliable, the synoptic models can change daily: from perfectly positioned lows in the optimum swell window, to absolutely nothing three days later. So we sat and watched, and kept our expectations low. But as the days passed, the charts starting aligning and the storm intensifying. It was becoming increasingly certain something amazing was about to unfold. 24 hours out and a monster northeast swell was bound to hit the east coast of Australia. It’d been 27 years since a similar low of this magnitude popped up on the charts. 27 years! There’s three generations of surfers, who’d never seen anything like it. The following days saw some of the biggest, cleanest and most consistent waves to hit the east coast in decades. Emails (mostly YELLING in caps!) started flying in from the Sunny Coast down to Tassie. So what to do? Get the shots bra. Tell the stories bra… of sly rivermouths which breathed life for the first time in years on the mid north coast of New South Wales. Of bombies which roared like never before. Of horrendous hold-downs and six hour surfs. Of beachies, which locals say, were the best they’ve ever been. And now? Now it’s time to celebrate as we track the swell from the Sunny Coast all the way down to Tassie. After all, it’s swell who’s the star of the show in this thing called surfing. Andy Morris.

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ABOVE: The Gold Coast wasn’t the standout in this swell (it’s brothers and sisters to the north and south were). Saturday 4 June saw a fast building swell in the 5-to-10foot range along with torrential rain and gale force onshore winds. Over 300mm of rain fell in a 24 hour period. As quickly as the wild weather moved in, it moved out to clear skies and offshore winds leaving with it an unruly and mega 10-to-15foot swell. Only selected outer banks were handling the size like the Tweed bar pictured above. Photos: Andy Morris. Synoptic: BOM

18seconds is self-published six times a year in Currumbin, Australia: PO Box 86, Tugun, QLD 4224. Views expressed by authors aren’t necessarily those of the publisher and editor. Copyright is reserved, so please don’t reproduce our pages for anything. Email addresses are published for professional communication and swell alerts only.

editor andy morris andy@18seconds.com.au designer alicia smith alicia@18seconds.com.au photo editor russell ord ordy@me.com

contributors ted grambeau chris burkard ed sloane billy morris lee pegus peter 'joli' wilson leroy bellet jesse little jack dekort asher king james driscoll – proof reading

COVER: Madman Danny Griffiths going for broke on a rarely surfed slab on Tasmania’s east coast. Reckon the Tassie boys had it sussed for the Black Nor’easter swell? “The vibe was so good,” recalls Danny. “We surfed this wave for two days straight, which is unheard of considering the last time we surfed it was seven years ago. Everyone stayed together at the same shack called the round house! It was beers and food, and hangs all night!” Photo: Andrew Chisholm


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Tainted the Gold Coast’s unreliable and inconsistent coastline further north, the Sunshine Coast was the standout for Queensland. Out of direct firing line from the ragged and mean swell, locals woke on Sunday morning (June 5) to blue skies and stacked fourto-six-foot perfection, lightly fanned by an all day westerly wind. In contrast, the Gold Coast was unruly and being bombarded by 1015-foot of raw power with the only rideable options deep offshore sandbanks handling the energy. At some stage on Saturday night, Tweed Heads Waverider Buoy recorded a 15-metre wave. This freak wave, make s it the largest wave ever recorded on the buoy, since it was installed way back in ‘95. Whoaa! Photography CREDI T ED

As the low tracked south, the skies cleared, the wind swung offshore and the Sunny Coast became the first place to start pumping along the east coast. On Sunday morning, 5 June, locals woke to a site for sore eyes. Photo: Damon Newing

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“It was the best I’ve seen it… I didn’t think it would be this big and normally with a stiff offshore on it all day, you’d think it would drop fast. But the afternoon was the biggest and still 20 knots offshore. It was nuts. So many people watching all day. It was the ocean at its finest.” Dean Brady Photo: Nathan Tyack

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“I saw the swell from about a week out on the charts and I was glued to my phone checking the winds and swell every hour. The day before was a complete washing machine and cyclonic weather, but at around 4 p.m. the wind and the rain stopped. I went down and watched the beach till dark and it started blowing offshore. That's when the excitement kicked in.� Harry Bryant Photo: Nathan Tyack

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STANDOUT CLIPS

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AS GOOD AS IT GETS Video: Keahi de Aboitiz

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SUNRISE AT SUNSHINE Video: Greg Huglin

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“It was the best I’ve ever seen my home break. To be honest it was some of the best beach breaks I’ve ever seen. Surfers travel half way across the globe to get waves half as good as this. And there I was, surfing just down the road from where I live, with all my friends and family. And at the end of the day, I went back to the house, had a home-cooked meal and slept in my own bed.” Harry Bryant Photo: Nathan Tyack

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“When I rocked up to the carpark it was still dark and I could hear people getting into their wetsuits and waxing boards. I barely looked at it. I left the boot of my car open and my keys in the door that morning and surfed for about four hours. It was a special day.� Harry Bryant Photo: Nathan Tyack

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Jason Homan enjoying the RARE conditions at sunshine beach. Photo: NATHAN TYACK

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THE TWEED BAR DOING ITS BEST SUNSET BEACH IMPERSONATION. Photo: andy morris

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there's Nothing like the fading sun and a minor shift in wind direction, to catch the crowds off-guard‌ Burleigh point firing before dark. photo: Andy Morris

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At some stage on Saturday night 4 June, Tweed Heads Waverider Buoy recorded a 15-metre wave. This freak wave, makes it the largest wave ever recorded on the buoy, since it was installed way back in ‘95. this picture was taken the following morning. Photo: Andy Morris

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Burleigh was the only sand-bottomed point along the gold coast, to remain intact after the onslaught from the big ne swell. PHOTOS: ANDY MORRIS

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SEVERAL TOW-TEAMS had a go at tweed bar, but the ocean was too unruly. Photo: andy morris

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Definitely the pick of the states, from Ca barita in the north to Ulladulla in the south, strong lines of northeast swell lit up the New South Wales coastline. Fickle rivermouths broke for the first time in years. Dormant bombies turned into Hawaiian style reefs, throwing top-to-bottom tubes. The Black Nor’easter breathed life into waves that hadn’t seen swell in years. Even the most crusty old dogs were calling best and biggest in forevers. It was the swell which left surfers in awe of the east coast again. The swell which sparked everyone’s imagination. And the swell which will be celebrat ed for generations. Photography CREDI T ED

Amazing what a day makes: 24 hours prior, there was torrential rain and howling onshore winds. Next day. This. Bliss. Photo: Andy Morris

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Noa Deane had this wave to himself the day before this photo was taken. The water was brown and the swell slightly overloaded - another 24 hours and it started doing this. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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A whole stretch of beach turned into freight train lefts due to the angle of the swell hitting the coast. If it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t for one tow team out there, it would have been completely empty. Photo: Andy Morris

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STANDOUT CLIPS

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TOM CARROLL BIG AVALON Video: Steve Maxwell

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MAGNIFICENT MONDAY Video: John Cliff

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EAST COAST LOW 6.6.16 Video: Corey Waters (Glass Hut) Edit: Brad Wallace

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EAST COAST LOW Video: Tom Healy


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SWELL OF A LIFETIME Video: Steve Maxwell

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72 HOURS Video: Frost Films 43


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Josh Fuller using his local knowledge to dial in the perfect time to hit this reef break. And the perfect time to pull-in. Photo: Andy Morris

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Like a last hurrah, Mother Nature puts on a fine light show as Huey winds down on the back end of the swell. Photo: Andy Morris

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Byron Bay outside bank doing its best Mundaka impersonation. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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Mitch Parkinson ditched the neon lights and stormy Gold Coast for some rewarding sunshine in new south wales. Photo: Andy Morris

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Noa Deane, New South Wales grower. Photo: Andy Morris

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Byron Bay. Tallows Beach to be exactâ&#x20AC;¦ you might see it like this a handful of times in your surfing life. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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“Once the rain and wind had cleared it was a great couple of days… there’s nothing better than surfing you favourite little piece of beach at home. It might not be one of the world’s best waves, but it sure feels special when it's on. It was smiles for days after this swell.” Josh Fuller Photo: Andy Morris

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Robbie Johnson driving down the face of one of the biggest waves to be surfed at Hasting Beach in a long (long) time. Photo: Jackson Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien

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Mitchell James, the sparkle after the debacle (storm). Photo: Andy Morris

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Tallows surf check, Byron Bay. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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Noa Deane, eyes locked on the exit. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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the byron locals checking a newly formed outer sandbank. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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Mitch Parkinson. Make the drop out here and the rest is history (until you hit a step along the way). Photo: Phil Gallagher

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Mitchell James doesn't miss a beat out here. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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Humans and dog in foreground are for wave size reference only. You do the math. Photo: Andy Morris

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Cheyne Ballie. WOTD. Aka, wave of the day. Photo: Phil Gallagher

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Hawk eye of the swell as it felt the ocean floor near Sydney. Photo: Franck Gazzola

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The northern beaches of Sydney going all Puerto Escondidoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ish. A swell of this size and period can lights up spots that lay dormant for years. Photo: Andrew Christie

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Three unknown surfers looking for a mellow roll-in during the height of the Black Nor’easter. Don’t think they’re in luck. Photo: Franck Gazzola

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The biggest and cleanest, and most perfect swell angle for this beach in years and one or two tow teams? What we're saying is, paddling out was not an option. Photo: Andrew Christie

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Cronulla a-frames. Photo: Jeremy Farrington

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Shark Island. Photo: Jeremy Farrington

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A two-story house in Cronulla dwarfed by the sheer volume of this swell. Photo: Jeremy Farrington

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was an amazing three days. It seemed to never end: maxing on Monday [6 June] in the 10-15 foot range and hovering at six-to-eight for Tuesday and Wednesday, and offshore all day. It was definitely the best swell seen for a while. I got to ride a big board and paddle on the Monday, then get barrelled all day through the week.â&#x20AC;? Brett Burcher Photo: Asgar Ovantory

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The stretch of coast between Thirroul and Kiama proved rich in surfable reefs holding the swell. Photo: Jack Davis

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was anticipating it to be this big, as Sunday was bigger, but a total washout. I was waiting and watching the winds to swing offshore on the charts at 7 p.m. on the Sunday night. This happened on que. i kept asking myself, was the offshore going to be strong enough to cleanup such a wild swell? As per usual, I was the first person at my local. Then the normal crew turned up with the sun: all the people I have grown-up with, who all live within walking distance. everyone's faces told the story... A story Of disbelief. Half of the beach had also been eaten away.â&#x20AC;? Steen Barnes Photo: Steen Barnes

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“In the early morning light I couldn’t contain my excitement as the ocean was slowly becoming visible. I was running around the sand dunes screaming and hooting at the top of my lungs snapping like crazy on a high ISO and slow shutter. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was fuckin’ huge in the morning. In my 49 years at the beach it was easily the biggest, cleanest swell I have ever seen hit the Gong. The tide was rising through the morning, so I would not be scared to say I was watching 30 foot waves [faces] break at my local. The peanut gallery and the tow crew did not arrive until around 10.30 a.m. it was still huge, but I’m positive the peak of the swell had just passed. The biggest waves happened before they arrived. Not that it was much smaller.” Steen Barnes Photo: Steen Barnes. Surfer: Hayden Blair

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“The night before I was talking it up so much to my wife, that she came down to have a look. She couldn't find me until she heard screams and hoots coming from the dunes. I've taken 3000 photos of this swell... and I’m still pumped!” Steen Barnes Photo: Steen Barnes

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“We have a bombora off the beach here called Crown Street Bombie. I have seen it break about eight times in my life. It only breaks in a unique swell angle when it’s huge. I live across the road and I’ve had an ocean fetish since I was born, so not much slips past me around here. On the Sunday it was breaking nearly every wave and rolling all the way through to the beach… that’s unheard of… and just unimaginable to me. On the Monday morning it was still rolling through to the beach on the occasional one. Then as the day progressed it was only capping, then it stopped about lunch time.” Steen Barnes Photo: Steen Barnes

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“I knew this swell was going to be big, but you’re never quite sure when storm events like this occur. To get strong offshores all day was unbelievable and really made this a special swell.” Dylan Longbottom Photo: Steen Barnes

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think everyone was tripping when they woke up and saw what was happening along the coast. I flew in from Bali overnight and landed at Sydney airport at 6 a.m. I flew over the Red Bull Cape Fear site, which was lit up in the early hours of the morning. It was still a little dark, but I could see heaps of energy in the ocean. When I got down south, I was blown away.â&#x20AC;? Dylan Longbottom Photo: Steen Barnes

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A thumping beachie fires off on the south coast of new south wales. only a handful of sandy stretches were tackled, leaving k's of mind-blowing lefts going unridden for the duration of the swell. Photo: Josh tabone

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we asked and asked if anyone knew who the mystery man (with incredible style) is coming off-the-bottom. to this day, he remains a mystery... do tell if you know. Photo: Josh tabone

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Collectively, monday 6 june is responsible for more sickies, people lining cliffs, photos and social media posts than any other day in Australia's surfing history. Photo: Josh tabone

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If history's to go by, it could be 27 years till Paul Bleazby gets to ride this wave again under the same unique conditions. Photo: Harry Young

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When you think of 20-foot slabs in Tassie you think of Shippies right? Yeah you do! But, when the maps throw a curve ball in the form of a big northeast swell full of steam, all eyes turn to the east coast. And talk amongst the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s big wave fraternity about where will be firing, always comes back to the same spot: a semisecret slab at the opening o f a boat harbour (first surfed in 2007 by James Hollmer-Cross and co). Photog Andy Chiz and friends, knew something big was on their doorstep having watched th e swell hammer New South Wales. When the boys realised the forecasted onshore wind had swung offshore, jaws dropped, cars where packed and a strike mission to surf one of Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most dangerous and fickle waves had begun. Ph otography A n dre w C h i s h o lm


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The protected boat harbour where generations of fisherman have motored straight past the wave, wondering when the Tassie chargers were going to, er, charge it! 115


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“It’s a heavy slab breaking right beside dry rocks. There’s backwash coming up the wave when you go down the face, which makes it throw extra wide. It’s heavy and dangerous. 80 percent of the waves aren’t makeable… the thing drops out so fast and goes below sea level… it’s crazy to watch! Being on my backhand makes it challenging. Sometimes I think it helps in ways, but I get flogged harder than the other boys! It's not going to stop me. I love that shit! The last time we surfed it would have been five years ago and not as big… so it's rare!! I’m very stoked to get it big in my lifetime and hope it happens again before I’m too old.” Danny Griffiths

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;We all knew the swell would be this big. The first day was torrential rain and victory at sea. It was completely rank. The next day the forecast was for onshore winds, so we were wigging out a bit. I woke early and checked the wind observations and almost lost my shit when they reported light offshore.â&#x20AC;? Andrew Chisholm Surfer: Rudi Schwartz

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“At the height of the storm, when it was onshore and raining, I’ve never seen a swell so big along the east coast of Tassie. Never ever. When it cleared and the wind swung offshore, we knew it would be rideable, but potentially deadly out there.” Andrew Chisholm Surfer: James Hollmer-Cross

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“It’s a risky wave. There’s dry rock just out of this shot, but it’s a slab and these guys love chasing it. Other than here, there weren’t many spots holding the swell. Just a couple of illusive sandy points hidden deep inside channels and bays. A couple of guys flipped their dinghy trying to get to them and had to be rescued.” Andrew Chisholm Surfer: Rudi Schwartz

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18SECONDS MAG | ISSUE NO. 35  

From the Sunny Coast to Tassie, we track June’s Black Nor’easter swell | It’s an east coast special. Come hop in.

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