Towards the tail end of last week, Puerto Escondido reached its crescendo of this colossal run of swell that had been rifling into Mexico for four days straight. The biggest south swell of the season so far meant for days of guts and glory amidst some frustrating close outs – but hey, that's what we expect when the world's heaviest beachie refuses to pull its punches.
The largest day of this swell run filled in early on Friday and continued to decimate the sand bars at Zicatela. Once that swell had swept through though, it opened up yesterday to a much more manageable session, for those able to still wrangle it after almost a week of non-stop surfing.
Live cam: Puerto Escondido
“To be honest it was quite a weird one,” said photographer Edwin Morales about Friday's session. “Wind was off completely and it was swirling around the whole morning until it got south and strong.
“There was bombs but conditions were not clean so really hard to find. On top of that, wild fires made the venue event harder to shoot due to all the smoke in the air.
“Definitely something I have never experienced before.” Though we can predict the swell, the direction, the time of arrival, mother nature will always win out in the end.
Anyway, over the weekend, the likes of Greg Long, Tom Lowe, Othmane Choufani, Tyler Larronde, Marcial Monreal, Jafet Ramos, Jose Ramirez, Kurt Rist, Bianca Valenti and many more were all over it.
“The non-stop surf this week originated from a series of several low pressure systems that deepened in the southeast Pacific more than a week ago, generating pulses of overlapping swell off the coasts of Mexico and Central America,” explains MSW forecaster Tony Butt about this swell run.
One particular low intensified and grew into a massive system off the coast of Chile around Thursday April 15, and persisted until around Sunday 18. A broad area of storm-force winds on its western flank dispatched a solid pulse of long-period swell northwards, which produced some large surf at south-facing spots on Friday.
“Wave heights at swell-magnets such as Puerto Escondido ramped up on Friday before winding down across the weekend.”
Tony also explained the nuance of forecasting for somewhere like Mexico, as it differs wildly than say, the North Atlantic. “Predicting swells that originate in the South Pacific and arrive several thousand miles away at places like Mexico (in the opposite hemisphere), is a different game,” he said.
“The swells take much longer to arrive from their generating area – sometimes up to six or seven days. This means they can be seen coming much earlier.
“Once the low has done its job and generated the swell – fired the bullet, as it were – it steps aside and lets the swell propagate unheeded. When the swells arrive they are highly dispersed, circumferentially and radially.
“On the one hand, wave heights are much smaller than they were in the storm; on the other hand you get to see the really long-period components of the swell sticking around for a long time. The smaller wave heights sounds like a bummer, but at places like Puerto Escondido, with local bathymetric effects that thrive on long periods, the focusing compensates for the circumferential spreading, and wave heights can be almost as big as they were much nearer the storm centre. But much cleaner, of course.”