GALLERY: The Day of Danielle

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 76d ago

After that flat, sticky European summer, September has come out swinging. First, that cut-off low last week made for a season opener to remember. And now, over the weekend, western Europe got another licking of swell from Hurricane Danielle, setting off spots from Ireland right down in to Portugal.

In fact, on Saturday, the bulk of Danielle had actually turned away from Europe. Instead, the first hurricane of the season meandered around the mid-Atlantic. But on Friday evening, Dani had already flicked its tail towards the UK, Ireland and Bay of Biscay, generating a range of conditions from at least one XL wave up in Ireland to slow conditions in the morning for south west of the UK that cleaned up in the evening (after that north wind had blown through).

Fistral has had a cracking start to September. Here it is again looking all groomed on Saturday.

Fistral has had a cracking start to September. Here it is again looking all groomed on Saturday.

© 2022 - Bella Bunce

“Yeah, the sandbank's really heavy at North and Little Fistral at the moment,” said Tom Butler. “I had a few that pinned me to the sand. In a weird way, that felt nice and is always a good tester pre season for more colder hold downs that will follow...

“I had a few turns here and there, pulled into one closeout on a right. Felt like quite a few of the waves were bending out to sea. I didn’t really find one all session with any more than room for one or two turns. It felt like it was getting better as I was getting out around 11:30am. But had to go help out my wife who went out for a friend's hen do and take over with the little man Ziggy. Life’s all about balance, as we know."

Tom Butler choosing his weapon, waxing it all up and letting loose.

Tom Butler choosing his weapon, waxing it all up and letting loose.

© 2022 - Jonathan Snook

Portugal was generally wild. Not enough to wake the main peak at the largest wave in the world at Nazare but enough to set off the shore break at Praia do Norte (the beach where Nazare breaks). Even at this size, it is heavy and unforgiving. “It looked accessible,” said photographer Helio Antonio. “But it's just not. Heavy along the coast, it can catch a lot of people out, so much power.”

Antonio Cardoso arrived in Portugal from Indo and straight into heavy Nazare. Even at ‘normal’ size, it’s still an incredibly heavy wave. We’ve got more coming from this session, soon. Stay tuned!

Antonio Cardoso arrived in Portugal from Indo and straight into heavy Nazare. Even at ‘normal’ size, it’s still an incredibly heavy wave. We’ve got more coming from this session, soon. Stay tuned!

© 2022 - Helio Antonio

At roughly the same time, under the cliffs of Moher (and a bit further up) Ireland was copping the brunt of this swell, nothing harrowing, but a little taste of what's to come for the season. For those out there, it was a warm up, to feel things out before the Emerald Isle gets those week of waves.

"There were perfect ones coming in for stand ups," said Ryan O'Leary here. "The lineup is always competitive but everyone was pushing each other to go for it. Paddling back out watching mates in the pit was just as good as getting one. Four hours of pure joy. Can’t wait for the next one."

© 2022 - Megan Gayda.

Ireland, home to stunning scenery and so much more. Top right, Cillian Ryan ready to tip-toe around the true locals.

Ireland, home to stunning scenery and so much more. Top right, Cillian Ryan ready to tip-toe around the true locals.

© 2022 - Megan Gayda.

“It was one of the smallest possible days to surf the cliffs,” said Matt Smith, pictured up top as the cover shot here. “It was gentle and easy and also inconsistent, so there was just a couple of close friends out there. It was a very easy start to the season. Tom Gillespe got a cracker and other than that it was just a couple of nice drops.”

Josh Karbus, Darragh Gilmartin, Odin Villarreal, Cillian Ryan, Ollie O'Flaherty, and Callum Curtin scope out one of Ireland's fave slabs.

Josh Karbus, Darragh Gilmartin, Odin Villarreal, Cillian Ryan, Ollie O'Flaherty, and Callum Curtin scope out one of Ireland's fave slabs.

© 2022 - Megan Gayda.

Ollie O'Flaherty.

Ollie O'Flaherty.

© 2022 - Megan Gayda.

"The morning was really weird at first light," said Ollie O'Flaherty. "So much fog we couldn't see the ocean. Then we drove 10 mins up the coast and it cleared. Waves were 6ft but it was five minutes of total flatness then 15-to-20 waves sets. First session, four boards were destroyed in one set. The power was mind-blowing. Felt like it was double the size of what it was."

Now though, western Europe is bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Earl. What makes this so special? The swell produced is from when Earl was still a hurricane not after the fact like Danielle here. This means, a long period swell, and you'll need to find some shelter from that north wind. Basically, if you know where there's a good sand bank, or point, that will help chop the swell up and stop it closing-out. Head there.

Top, Cian Cagney, Cillian Ryan and Ryan O'Leary, van-lifing by night. And bottom, Cian Cagney and Ryan O'Leary taking it all in.

Top, Cian Cagney, Cillian Ryan and Ryan O'Leary, van-lifing by night. And bottom, Cian Cagney and Ryan O'Leary taking it all in.

© 2022 - Megan Gayda

Josh Karbus, wonder grom, in Ireland.

Josh Karbus, wonder grom, in Ireland.

© 2022 - Megan Gayda.


MSW Swell Breakdown

What was Hurricane Danielle in the middle of the Atlantic on Saturday morning and then towards the south west, Hurricane Earl.

What was Hurricane Danielle in the middle of the Atlantic on Saturday morning and then towards the south west, Hurricane Earl.

MSW forecaster Tony Butt runs through what happened with Hurricane Danielle: The swell originated from Danielle as it crossed north of the Azores around the middle of last week, and then arced around to the north while transitioning to an extra-tropical storm. The strong westerly winds on its southern flank, combined with the movement towards the ENE generated a pulse of west swell that arrived at west and southwest exposures late Friday, September 9.

Miky Picon looks on in Hossegor.

Miky Picon looks on in Hossegor.

© 2022 - Seb Picaud

Note that these types of systems are often smaller in area than typical winter storms in the North Atlantic, so any movement of the (relatively short) windfield in the same direction as the swell it is producing, makes a big difference to the wave heights generated.

The main bulk of the swell reached Galicia, Portugal and southwest Ireland, and peaked early Saturday. But it struggled to filter into northwest-facing spots along the north coast of Spain and in northwest Ireland, for example. The long period and WSW direction meant that local effects increased wave heights at swell-magnets, particularly in southwest Ireland. Weak pressure gradients over most of Europe also meant that local wind conditions were good.

And Wales got some too! Ed Bresnan (left):

And Wales got some too! Ed Bresnan (left): "Epic to have nice ground swell back after a long flat summer. Conditions were a bit challenging as was it was chunky and a slight northerly breeze. Riding my 6’10 long fish shaped by Jacob Arnold." And Adam Shelton (mid and right) enjoying sunset.

Brothers Dan and Ed Bresnan obviously grew up used to sharing.

Brothers Dan and Ed Bresnan obviously grew up used to sharing. "It was a pumping morning," said Dan. "Long may this swell continue." Wales!

© 2022 - Daniel Thompson

Back in the UK, Sam Sunshine, bottom right, fuels up on strawberry laces before cruising through. And Allannah Brown with trusty shark pal, Simon.

Back in the UK, Sam Sunshine, bottom right, fuels up on strawberry laces before cruising through. And Allannah Brown with trusty shark pal, Simon.

© 2022 - Bella Bunce

Sam and Allannah, out west on Sunday, squeezing everything out of hurricane Danielle.

Sam and Allannah, out west on Sunday, squeezing everything out of hurricane Danielle.

© 2022 - Bella Bunce

Allannah.

Allannah.

© 2022 - Bella Bunce.

Alex Ashen flying high in Newquay.

Alex Ashen flying high in Newquay.

© 2022 - Jonathan Snook

James Bunney wasn't the best at playing hide and seek with photographer Alan Danby.

James Bunney wasn't the best at playing hide and seek with photographer Alan Danby.

© 2022 - Alan Danby

Meet Harry, who is an instructor for UK-based BF Adventure, an outdoor activity centre and charity to help disadvantaged young people get active. And this is his warm up routine.

Meet Harry, who is an instructor for UK-based BF Adventure, an outdoor activity centre and charity to help disadvantaged young people get active. And this is his warm up routine.

© 2022 - Mike Newman

Surfing in boardshorts... in the UK. Madness.

Surfing in boardshorts... in the UK. Madness.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.

Tom Gillespe rounds this one out at the Cliffs in Ireland.

Tom Gillespe rounds this one out at the Cliffs in Ireland.

© 2022 - Megan Gayda.