Summer of Surf
GETTING SURF-STRUCK BY A LUCKY SUMMER.
Summer… a mixed bag. It could be 6 foot and pumping the one day and absolutely flat as a lake the next. Surfers hope for the former, divers and spearous (aka spearfishermen) hope for the latter, and the windsurfers have lost all hope and turn to alcohol and heavy metal – they can only imagine what it feels like to be pushed by the wind again (but at least they know the wind will come back mid September). I have friends who are seriously passionate about at least one of the above-mentioned activities, so I have felt and experienced their pain first hand when conditions just weren’t right, or their elation when conditions were glorious. Looking back (yes, we have officially passed the Moon Festival which signifies the start of Autumn), the summer of 2019 seemed to favor the surfers.
Coming back from a month in surf-rich South Africa, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of waves as I had been quite spoiled in the land of surf, braais and the great sardine run.
The July surf was so good and powerful on the dark continent that I would have been content to just come back to a flat Taiwanese Pacific and not complained. And with flashbacks of a mediocre 2018 still fresh in my memory, I wasn’t expecting much. So I was pleasantly surprised to return and have Windguru showing me waves on the horizon.
A week into August we got the first low pressure pulse which turned into Typhoon Lekima and one of the neighborhood points was doing its thing. Without the monsoon-season wind to help it, waves were a tad bumpy, but still fun. Everything was wonky, far from perfect, but when waves are running for a hundred yards or more a bit of imperfection can be overlooked. Surfers scrambled to get some as if it was to be their final surf for weeks. In mid-July came the rain, which washed out the river mouths and pushed our new banks, sometimes too shallow to surf at low tide and sketchy at mid-tide even. There were barrels to be had. One river-mouth in particular was so shallow that surfing it became dangerous, and when the tide dropped to a certain death-threshold, the risk of serious injury was just too great to take. Still, a few barrel-junkies stayed out and got shacked.
In the first week of September another a triple set of typhoons sent us swell. Three typhoons moving around simultaneously in the Western Pacific. One of the days was barely surfable. A couple of madmen made it out, but didn’t catch many waves. It mellowed out the following day and Elephant Point showed some rare love, albeit for a morning. Then it went onshore and messy again.
And then, on the 12th of September, came the first north east monsoon wind. Local windsurfers say the monsoon season traditionally starts on the weekend of the Moon Festival. It’s supposed to be the changing of the seasons, from sweltering hot to manageable and cool, fanned by the North Easterlies. It’s the beginning of Fall; summer starts to lose its battles and winter slowly creeps in. Still, it’s also the start of the more consistent wave season (end of typhoon, beginning of monsoon). And the windsurfers can stop drinking, ditch the heavy metal, and finally get some action. But those poor divers though..