Learn To Read Surf Reports For the Ultimate Ride
Ever been disappointed by the waves when you get to the beach? Learn how to read surf reports so you'll always know what to expect every time you head out.
The good news is, learning how to read the reports isn't difficult and all reporting or forecasting sites provide the same information. That means, if you can interpret the data on one site, you can interpret it on any site.
Data Provided In A Surf Report
As mentioned above, all reports contain the same data. This is:
Wind speed and direction
Swell period, train or interval
Of these, swell period/train/interval tends to be the most confusing for people. No matter what term is used, this is essentially the frequency of the waves. It is measured in seconds. For example, a period of 8 ft. at 12 seconds means that there are, on average, 12 seconds between waves.
In general, the longer the period of time between waves, the faster and more powerful they are and the larger they will become as they reach shore.
Using Report Data
Armed with this data you can now identify which locations will be best for your style and experience level and avoid areas that aren't having good surf that day. Beginners will want to stick to swells in the 3-4 foot range with little to no wind. If you're more experienced, you probably know what you can handle.
Swell direction is another thing that can affect your ability to catch a good wave. Depending on where they are located, beaches will be affected by swell directions differently. Open beaches, for example, will be able to pick up on swells in any direction. Beaches that are protected by outcroppings of rock or reef may block swells from certain directions. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. If the open swells are too strong for you, you may still be able to surf in one of the areas that is protected from the swells because they'll be smaller and less powerful.
The local tides are another factor to consider. Some spots will be better at low tide while others give better waves at high tide. This doesn't mean the spot is unsurfable at its less than ideal tide, it just means you need to be aware of the affect the tides will have on the spot and adjust your plan accordingly.
Much of the fun of surfing is due to the challenge of reading the waves and never knowing what the oceans will throw at you. No two days deliver the same waves, which is one reason why it's important to be able to read and interpret forecasts. Equally as important is knowing the local surf spots and how they perform in specific conditions. Between data on ocean conditions and local knowledge of surfing locations, you'll know what to expect every time you head to the beach.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Visser is an internationally-recognised surfer and adventure athlete. He spends his time tracking down some of the biggest waves on the planet and pioneering unique ways to surf them. Mark's feats are about adventure, exploration and staying alive in near impossible situations. Learn more about Mark and shop for Mark Visser products at markvisershop.com.