Introducing yours truly, the SurfTurkey
Before I get into this coming week’s impending XL winter swell, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself. Some of you around South and Central Florida may know me from the lineup, but for those of you who don’t my name is Ryan Heigel, aka the SurfTurkey. I’ve been surfing at Deerfield for the better part of the past 15 years, and I’ve been involved in the surf industry for the last 7. Now with that out of the way, let’s get to surfing!
As many of you have heard, the whole West Atlantic and Caribbean has solid surf on the way. Let’s face it, if you’ve been anywhere near social media in the past week you know what’s coming!
Winter isn’t over yet folks
Just when it felt like an endless summer pattern was beginning to bear down on the sunshine state early this year, winter has seemed to creep back in. We have been watching what could be building up to be the best swell event of this season, AND the past few years.
Prior to this week there was a major Low system (a nor’ easter) moving across the US. At the same time, the jet stream has been pushing further south, and an area of High pressure over Greenland that has been blocking storms out is finally lifting. These weather variables have created an environment where the storm has been able to generate hurricane force winds while moving at a very slow pace to the east.
Slower movement = better surf generation potential.
So when should we start seeing waves?
Well the good news is that by the time you are reading this, we should already have swell filtering in through north and central Florida. We should start seeing swell down in our neck of the woods starting late Thursday, and then rapidly increasing over the weekend and through next week (March 4-7) .
At a glance it looks like we will be seeing double-overhead (12ft) waves starting to build in on Sunday, and this should persist all the way through Wednesday of next week, and it looks like our best chances of clean swell will be Tuesday onwards. Once again none of this is set in stone, so keep an eye on your local report!
What other factors go into the making of this swell?
The one thing that is going to be a major factor during this event is going to be the winds. Yes, while it is true that we are going to start seeing larger surf starting this weekend, the problem is going to be that we are also going to feel heavy winds from the Northeast as well. This means big, blown out , choppy conditions.
If we are lucky, and we are still a ways out, we may see a second low push through in the beginning to mid next week to bless us with offshore winds to start the swell of the year that everyone who is on the hype train is already talking about.
I myself don’t really start trusting the swell size and wind conditions until a couple of days out because these types of systems can vary from day to day. All it takes is for one variable to fall out of place for conditions to go from epic to terrible in the blink of an eye.
Expect to see larger than normal surf
If all goes well, we should see a couple of favorable days come into play early next week. Weather models are pointing at winds going offshore for certain areas on Tuesday and Wednesday in conjunction with the largest days.
With the high interval periods of this swell we could easily see waves coming through in the double overhead range at certain locations. If you happen to end up on a beach that can’t hold this long interval swell, prepare to see some monstrous close-out bombs.
What we could expect to see at certain locations if it gets REALLY good.
The difference between short and long period swell
The main difference between short and long period swell is to think about the amount of time a wave takes to get from where it began(deep ocean), to where it is going (Deerfield Beach!). With short period swell, water has generally traveled a shorter distance from it’s origin point, so by the time we experience it the waves will be closer together, have less power, and generally be smaller.
Long period swells however, come from further away. When waves move from deep water to shallow sandbars, the waves will stand up higher, be thicker or “heavier,” and have way more power behind them.
Think “short period wave” as average Deerfield surf, and “long interval swell” as the best day in the world at Pipeline in Hawaii. One wave will be soft and slopey, while the other will be large powerful barrels.
Where is the best surf spot to surf these waves?
Here are my SurfTurkey tips:
- Find a place that can hold a large period swell.
- Look for places that could have an outer reef.
- Hound your buddies who have surfed this type of swell before (they will know the spots!)
- Check your favorite local instagrams the day of
- Hunt down spots on the Surfline cams live
The key for this swell is going to be finding your local surf spot that can handle surf in the double-overhead range. Places with outer reefs are going to be the main standouts for this event.
The best thing to do is to do your research, or find a friend that already has! I’d rather not blow up everyone’s favorite big wave spots for all to see, so I’ll leave it to each of you to find your own personal wave.
How to prepare for larger surf
Well hopefully at this point you have already put in all of your time training at the gym building strength, and in a pool working on your lung capacity. If you’ve put in the proper amount of time you’ll have the paddle power of an olympic swimmer, and the lung strength of a champion free-diver!!!
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure you take care of your body the night before and the day of surfing. Get ample rest, fuel your body with nutrient-rich food, and drink plenty of water.
It is also a good idea to get your surf gear ready ahead of time. I usually start checking my equipment a couple of days out from a big swell just to make sure everything is in good working order, and then lay everything out the night before so I’m ready to go.
Here’s my personal item checklist for the night before XL surf:
- 2 pairs of Boardshorts
- Spare Surf Leash
- Extra set of Surfboard Fins
- Surf Wax
- Spare Surfboard and/or Step-Up Shape
- Surf Buddy Confirmation
If you’re missing any of these be sure to hop into Island Water Sports. Their employees will get you dialed in with the extra surf gear you need!
All aboard the HYPE TRAIN
So with all that being said, should you be on the hype train? Well chances are like most of Florida, you’re already on and full steam ahead. When something pops up on the radar in the 10-12ft range it tends to get South Floridians talking.
I however, will take the forecast with a grain of salt for the time being. There are still many factors swirling about out in the mid-atlantic, and it is better to be under-hyped than over-hyped to avoid major disappointment. I’m sure as the XL day comes closer and all of the elements line up I will be on that train as well, but riding up to the beach without any expectation makes a day of great waves even more rewarding.
Most of all, Please be SAFE!!!
As with any swell of this magnitude, know your limits. If you are not a strong swimmer please do not paddle out in double-overhead waves, and make sure if you do get out there that you have trained enough to be confident in high intensity situations.
Also make sure you surf with a friend, or at least on a beach with active lifeguards on duty if you can’t find a buddy. This can make a major difference if you get injured or go down on a wave (I split my forehead after Irma)!
I’ll be back towards the end of the swell to share my session experiences and any photos I obtain from friends, and if all does come together I hope to see you out in the water scoring some barrels right along side me!!!
See you in the lineup,
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If you’d like to learn more about me and what I do, visit https://higher-tides.com
Are you planning on surfing this swell? Drop a comment below to let me know how you think this swell will play out.