Popular surf forecasting app Magic Seaweed tend cop a bit of flak, for one reason or another.
Harsh, if you ask me. Super harsh.
Take just yesterday, for example. The very last day of the greatest ‘run’ of swell in the world, ever. A perfect, perfect day. Skies blue; sea, shimmering. Exotic sting of pavement heat up the septum, heralding the upper 20’s isotherm. I bike to the glorious strand.
Turquoise lineups. Peeling, piping, spinning, spitting. Factor 50 on beak. Factor fuck me this is fun, every wave. I finish with a triumphant, authoritative flick.
“Fucken Magic Seaweed got it right, for once!” someone bellowed by way of a greeting.
A weird way of saluting my skill and wave selection I thought, a strange new ‘Yeeeew!’
But I played it cool. He’s a Central European who works in the surf biz, a really nice guy.
“Fucken…. for once!” I enthused in full character.
I didn’t hint at my true feelings: that personally, I find their forecast service very useful and above all excellent value, considering it’s free. Updates every three hours; tide curves showing dawn and dusk (particularly useful given the non-linear nature of tidal harmonics and distortion to tide curves). Fab.
They do seem to get a bit of static though. Maybe just by being a relatively big institution with a TLA, like the WSL, and surfers being anti-establishment. But perceived (and unfair IMO) misgivings about forecast accuracy aside, they have come up with one of the few genuinely new things in surfing recently; the Mid-Atlantic accent.
Last seen on Radio 1 DJ’s in late 70’s / early 80’s, the Mid Atlantic was essential for anyone who wanted to be on the airwaves.
Water with a ‘d’, address a mixed group of men and women as ‘guys’.
Maybe it was Dr Fox, maybe Pat Sharp. Maybe they said things like, “All the kids would go crazy because you just couldn’t get that kinda stuff over here, so when we were Stateside, we’d hit the stores and just grab a whole bunch.”
Fair play to MSW for ploughing their own furrow, and bringing it back. In a special relationship affirming, westward ho reach out not see since Theresa May’s DC scramble to kiss Trump’s ring, their liberal use of ‘hands down’ ‘you betcha’ ‘attaboy’ ‘kudos’ etc etc in captions about stuff like surfing in the Isle of Wight has been timely and effective minding of the pond gap.
Closest cousins, after all.
I’m sure a saw a recent photo from Fistral that read something like, “Sure aint no cake walk, huh?” On brand, niche, most of, all historical. Pretty sure nobody has said ‘cake walk’ since the early days of the Nixon administration.
But the leveraging in of the ‘run of swell’ to British surf English will surely be the legacy of the Mid Atlantic project. Swells are no longer called swells, but rather a ‘run of swell’. Or runs of swells. Or runs of runs. A collective noun, like a parliament of owls, or a posse of policemen.
Parts of the UK pumped with beefy Biscay borne waves back in January over a Friday to Sunday period invariably referred to as a run, formerly known as a swell. You know, picking up the first day, peaking the next, dropping the third; a swell.
But that was really just part of a much bigger, global wave of runs.
Planet Earth has just witnessed the greatest run – and I do mean run – of swells in the world, ever. From Australia’s Deadman’s madness last July, to yesterday in Hossegor, what a run it’s been.
From The Wavelength Shop:
July seems like a strange time to start winter, but it’s smack bang in the middle of the Austral winter, when a series of epic swells lit up almost the entirety of the east coast of Australia. The session at Sydney slab called Deadman’s stood head and shoulders, mainly due to the underground core lords that ruled it, each (presumably) unclipping leather tool belts from over 2012 boardies and Blunstones with ankle socks to slip into their wetties and surf into the history. The best wave went to Chris Lougher, who didn’t really want to be interviewed about it, surely making him the sickest sick cunt of all time.
From the best ever wave in Sydney, let’s consider the best ever Indo dry season. Wasn’t 2020 just that? Surely, with travel out, and folk stranded at empty Ments, it has to have been? Rogue, free of charge sessions at Occy’s Left, all alone? Bali, sure, with a few crew on it, but nothing compared to a regular season, and a pumping run of booming swells.
Sure, there could’ve been as good a swell season in the early/mid 70’s, but folk were doomed by history to relative dogs of surfboards. Modern equipment, with golden age non-crowds – smells a bit like the best season ever in the world’s finest surfing destination to me.
By the time the autumnal equinox was upon us, the Atlantic fired suitably up. “Nazaré is the best big wave in the world” NVR told me last year. I wasn’t going to argue. So when the world’s best big wave kicks off swell season (or if you prefer, ‘opening day’) under Hurricane Epsilon, superlatives were bound to abound. G Mac called it, “the best Nazaré day I’ve ever seen.”
What’s more, a big wave surfer allegedly biffed another in the face, someone told us on WhatsApp. A big wave dude ran his jetski over another, on purpose for fading him, said another. Best conditions, best entertainment. Best ever.
Ireland fired up on the very same swell. Not sure if it was opening day at Mully or not; it was a mad, mad ride by Connor Maguire, a 60ft Mullaghmore tube. Shaping up to be a pretty good run, so far.
November saw France fire up with, you guessed it, the best autumn (fall) ever. Ever. The global epicentre of the step off scene, local tube hounds were getting ridiculous screamers, day after day after day. 8-10ft and offshore got monotonous after a while, so it was lucky there were the 12ft offshore and even the freak 6ft offshore days to mix things up, you know, keep it fresh.
“We had some of the best waves at Pipe I’ve ever seen” said a CT coach with some 30 North Shore seasons under his belt during the days that Covid put the Pipemasters on hold in December. “Just perfection.” The event got finished as the beyond epic run concluded, then a series of XXL North Pacific La Niña progeny lit up everywhere from Mav’s to Himalayas to Todos and back again.
Jaws had historic sessions in January. Stupid, cartoon-like tubes. Women charging the spot like no woman or man has ever charged before. Justine Dupont’s giant tube, for one. Young, teen female chargers hot on her heels. The greatest big wave performances of all time, all clipped and uploaded onto YouTube before California woke up for breakfast.
Sorry, California? Peter Mel reckoned it was the best Mav’s run he could ever recall. He said ‘run’ on the phone, and it’s never ever sounded better. He’s the Condor. The Mav’s GOAT. Countless giant tow waves, that backdooring of the bowl.
Keep on running.
Even the Mentawais fired up on New Year’s, usually very much the off season down there. When the greatest run of swell in the world ever is going down, let’s not get bogged down in wrong hemisphere gatekeeping.
February in France was a mirror of November. Endless offshores, ruler edged. The banks, even after endless hivernal rogerings, lined up as sweeping triangles. As if the meaty pits and violent tube voguing were a touch elitist, a series of 6ft and under swells funnelled into all time sandbars along the Seignosse stretch. Even non-jetski owning surfers were invited.
Meanwhile, down in Portugal – well the world over – Von Frothers thirsted to know just what NVR had been up to. Guess what? He’s been tubing left, he’s been tunnelling right.
As Portugal emerged from a heavy second lockdown, the coastline pumped relentlessly. Before an epic day at Nazaré early this last week, some of Portugal’s infamous slabs fired up to keep that country’s hat in the ring for the title of surfiest coastline, anywhere.
See, it’s not just us. Official biographers of Gouf de Capbreton swell events Ripitup.fr even called their season wrap edit The Greatest Winter Ever in France.
There’s a lot to process in there, but Joan Duru’s pig dog at the end feels like a 20/21 season defining rail grab.
Things have all gone a bit quiet as of today. MSW predicted the wind would come up to ruffle the last remnants of swell by midday. I paddled out at 10am, based on this information. It came up at precisely high noon.
The first swallows of spring appeared low in the sky this week, flying from left to right looking knackered, chirping meekly. Tree pollen erupted a coating of yellow green arboreal jizz over every surface, the official angiosperm marker of the end of winter.
It’s been a hell of a run.