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Seasons Change as First Proper South Swell of the Summer Lines Up for Town

Oahu suffered from a pretty disappointing, lackluster winter this year—one that was plagued with terrible wind from the west, raging trades from the northeast, a distinct lack of XL swells, and one of the slowest late seasons we have ever seen. The general consensus on the North Shore is that this was one of the worst seasons in decades, and spring has been downright depressing, as April saw more flat/foil days than it did surfable conditions.

First Real Summer Swell Arriving Next Week

Fortunately, May typically brings a change in scenery and heralds the start of summer, at least as far as south swells go—and less than a week into the month, we are already starting to see whispers of that seasonal change on the horizon. Town has already enjoyed a run of small, long-board friendly days over the past few weeks, as well as an almost-proper swell in mid-April. But the first real swell of the summer is finally lining up for late next week, when a pulse of 18- to 20-second period swell should impact the Hawaiian Islands and mark the true start of summer surfing. 

Swell Details and Forecast

Created by a broad, low-pressure storm system forming up to the east of New Zealand, this swell is already in the water, being generated by strong winds that are currently blowing south of Tahiti. That’s good news for surfers here on Oahu, as it means that the swell is pretty much guaranteed to arrive—the question now is how big it will actually get. One good metric that can help us anticipate how big the South Shore is going to get is Teahupoo, which typically receives swell two to four days before we do. While the swell has yet to impact Tahiti, it is forecasted to be around 6 feet at 17 seconds, which is solid (if not massive). Based on those numbers—if they do indeed hold true—Teahupoo should be large but not quite tow level, which typically means Town will see swell in the well overhead range.

3 day Surf Forecast from Surfline

This forecast is borne out by the numbers currently predicted by Surfline, which is calling for around 2.5 feet of swell at 17 seconds at the peak of the run. Those numbers typically equate to around 4-5 foot on the biggest sets of the swell, so we anticipate a solid run of head-high to well overhead swell, with the odd plus set sneaking through at swell magnets like Ala Moana Bowls. That being said, this will be a relatively long-period swell, the numbers as high as 20 seconds on May 8th and around 16 to 18 seconds on May 9th and 10th, as the swell peaks—so expect long waits between sets and a relatively lully swell.

The wind forecast currently looks decent for the swell—a good direction at ENE/NE, albeit pretty strong—but getting on it early is always the best bet (both for wind and crowds). The best news is that after this first swell starts to fade on the 10th, there’s actually a pretty long, extended run of backup swells that will fill in and overlap through the middle of the month, all around the 2-foot at 15-second range (or slightly bigger), which should keep the waves in Town in the fun range (chest- to head-high+) for over a week.

Late-Season North Shore Swell

The long and short of it is that summer is finally on its way, and will be arriving a bit early this year—at least in terms of swell! (Of course, the official first day of summer isn’t until the solstice, which falls on June 20 this year).

In the meantime, for those who aren’t quite ready for winter to be done yet, the North Shore enjoyed a late-season swell over the weekend. Early, long-period forerunners in the 18-second range started tickling the reefs midday Friday, and Saturday was solid three to five feet at the most exposed spots. Unfortunately, the northeast trade winds were pretty strong during the swell, but spots that faced west had a bit more protection were definitely worth the paddle out. This swell held through Sunday (albeit a bit smaller), and there’s a second pulse filling in on Monday to keep the north swell season alive for another couple of days.

Gear Up for Summer Surfing

Whether you are surfing Country or Town this week, make sure you have all of your gear dialed and quiver updated. Hawaiian South Shore has everything you need to keep you in the water, from accessories like leashes, deck pads, and fins to soft goods like wetsuit tops, wax, and sunscreen. We also have a number of new models from Firewire, JS, …Lost, and Chris Christenson, so stop by on your way to the beach, load up on gear, and talk story about the coming swell. We’ll see you here or in the water!



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