Beware strong under currents

ABOVE: Not exactly the cyclone swell folks have been raving about, but fun none the less.
ABOVE: Not exactly the cyclone swell folks have been raving about, but fun none the less. Inbyronbaytodaycom

LET me introduce you to ex Tropical Cyclone Freda.

Freda was an unpredictable beastie that kept changing its track and losing its intensity. Only to then catch the forecasters by surprise, and re-intensify at times without warning.

For the residents of New Caledonia, it's been a nerve-racking few days as Freda hugged their west coast. For us however Freda meant swell or at least the promise of it. The storm was active in the Coral Sea for several days and ranged from tropical low, to category-four cyclone and back again.

There are signs it could intensify again without warning, though I doubt it. Freda was a highly unpredictable storm, and therefore by definition a possibly dangerous one. Although weakening, it continues to be a possible threat in the Pacific.

ABOVE: There has been enough power to lay some decent moves down.
ABOVE: There has been enough power to lay some decent moves down.


It has been generating activity in our swell window. To be more precise, it generated two separate swell events that were forecast to meet on our coastline this weekend.

But just as everyone got excited, TC Freda began to die. The cyclone may be gone but the surface low remains.

For days this system has been exerting its influence on a high in the Tasman that has in turn been interacting with a surface low in the southern Tasman.

This has resulted in a long and potent south- easterly fetch running up the east coast of our continent. These tradewinds are producing a south-east swell that began to make its presence felt around the 1.5-2m mark yesterday.

Bank on the winds being onshore, mainly east to south-east.

We can also assume this weekend will not be very safe for the inexperienced or the little ones, even if it's not that big.

Systems like this produce heavy currents, plus crossed-up or merging swells can be very unpredictable and do often throw up rogue waves of double the forecast size without warning.

So really folks, exercise some caution down the beach these next few days. Especially watch the kids with waves surging further up the beach than you may expect.

For those who know what they are doing, there will be some swell, anywhere from 1-3m from the east to south-east. Remember to have fun, wait your turn, and surf today like you want to surf again tomorrow.

Ben "Bear'' Bennink is a former professional longboarder and retired NSSIA master coach. He writes for Pacific Longboarder Magazine and is semi-retired in Byron Bay and is editor of


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