With the 2012 Rip Curl Pro waiting period is near.... the Southern Ocean appears to be stirring from its summer slumber just in time. An impressive southwest swell – the first big swell of the year for Victoria – is forecast to send solid lines to the Surf Coast this Friday, setting the stage for a serious Bells dress rehearsal just prior to the 51st running of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford.
While the waves at Bells were small on Wednesday, the surf is scheduled to pick up steadily from here on out and spike in size by late Friday afternoon. According to Coastalwatch head forecaster Ben Macartney, the swell is looking ideal for Bells.
“It's absolutely the biggest swell we've seen so far this season,” Macartney said, “The swell angle is about 220 degrees and the bulk of the swell arrives at 16 to 17 second intervals on Friday night and early Saturday morning. This is an excellent direction and period for Bells and Winki. The swell should build throughout Friday from 5 to 6 feet towards 6 to 8 feet during the afternoon with a late push towards 8 to 10 feet possible late in the day. The peak of the swell should hold at 8 to 10 feet early on Saturday before easing back to 6 to 8 feet during the day. These estimates may be revised as the storm develops, but this is definitely a significant swell.”
Winds are looking pretty good for the Surf Coast beaches as well, especially in the early morning, Macartney said.
“Winds are looking good early on Friday, with potential for WNW winds early from 15 to 20 knots, tending WSW during the morning to stronger SW during the afternoon,” he said. “As the front passes through, the gradient shifts southwest. It may not be perfect with more of the southwest in the wind direction – which creates more of a side chop at Bells – but it should be really good both Friday and Saturday morning early.”
While there are no World Tour surfers in Torquay at the moment, don't be surprised if several of them fly in ahead of schedule to catch what is shaping up to be a classic Bells swell.
The 51st Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford will take place at Bells' world-class point break from April 3 – 14. Stay tuned to www.live.ripcurl.com for full highlights from the upcoming swell at Bells and for all the latest news leading up to the event.
Spot Check: Bells Beach
Breaking down surfing's greatest natural amphitheater
Facing southeast, Bells is exposed to powerful, long-period Southern Ocean swell, yet is offshore in the northwest winds often associated with these weather systems. Combined with a defined reef and deepwater bay, Bells has gained a reputation as one of the country’s big-wave spots. And while there have been plenty of big years in the history of the event, Victoria’s varied coastline offers plenty of backup venues for quality surf if the wind or waves aren’t cooperating.
In this video, longtime Rip Curl Pro commentator Sean Doherty takes a look at the possibilities…