The Great Traverse: Fiji to Mexico

Ben Freeston

by on

Updated 2716d ago

This Indian ocean storm we spotted a couple of weeks ago still has legs. Already hitting Western Australia and with forerunners in Indonesian waters, the storm lost none of its energy in passing beneath Australia and looks set to deliver overlapping pulses of long period swell to Fiji and Teahupoo next week. These same swell trains traverse the Pacific to smash into Mexico in almost a fortnights time. A surfer with the desire and budget could potentially hit Indo, Cloudbreak, Chopes and still have time to get to Puerto Escondido, riding waves from the same storm in every location.

Two oceans straddling the Tasman Sea and three standout warm water locations all set to fall victim to this storm.

Two oceans straddling the Tasman Sea and three standout warm water locations all set to fall victim to this storm.

© 2022 - MSW

The forerunners of the Indian Ocean swell are already hitting Indo. A surfer with the desire and budget could potentially hit Indo, Cloudbreak, Chopes and still have time to get to Puerto Escondido, riding waves from the same storm in every location.The swell, topping out at almost 60ft is in the upper range of observed conditions and it doesn't stop there. The same storm has maintained momentum with peak heights barely dropping below 40ft as it moves East. We'd talked during the Fiji Pro about Cloudbreaks exceptional exposure. While our standard Mercator swell charts suggest a fetch terminating South of Australia, this is an artefact of their attempts to represent the globe on a flat surface. In reality the image below shows that Fiji will get hit by swell originating in the same window as Indonesia – we can draw a direct line from the Kerguelen Islands that typically sit in the middle of the deepest Indo lows all the way to Fiji.

Swell can travel a straight path from the middle of the Indian Ocean to the reef at Cloudbreak.

Swell can travel a straight path from the middle of the Indian Ocean to the reef at Cloudbreak.

© 2022 - MSW / Google Earth

Because the fetch is so long and because the storm is moving along that fetch it's had time to build considerable peak periods in some cases travelling faster than the storm itself. Because of this, and coupled with a second pulse whipped up in the tail of the original low, the swell will arrive in a series of long period pulses with two standouts, one from the original swell and one, potentially a couple of days later, from this tail wind.

Cloudbreak forecast for multiple overlapping long period pulses with the main swells hitting on the 1st and 3rd of July

Cloudbreak forecast for multiple overlapping long period pulses with the main swells hitting on the 1st and 3rd of July

© 2022 - MSW

Stu Johnson of Fiji Surf reckons there's a lot of buzz on the ground, albeit with the uncertainty you'd expect from a swell still several days away.

"I've had a handful of emails from freesurf pros lining up boats and skis," he says with nervousness that the wind will play ball. The positives though, are that with such long period, the reef will refract enough even at high tide to create thumping tubes and a broader window to hit the right winds. "The tides won't change it too much," Stu continues. "There'll still be massive pits at high tide."

Even crazier, we can draw a straight line from the Indian Ocean all the way to Puerto Escondido.

Beyond, this the swell swings past New Zealand and into the Tahiti / Teahupoo window. At this stage the numbers here have been moving around a bit over the last couple of model updates, but a similar story of multiple overlapping pulses of long period in the upper end of the size range at times.

Multiple pulses of swell, some all the way from the Indian Ocean, hit the Americas around the 9th July.

Multiple pulses of swell, some all the way from the Indian Ocean, hit the Americas around the 9th July.

© 2022 - MSW

Even crazier, we can draw a straight line from the Indian Ocean all the way to Puerto Escondido in Mexico. This same storm and every one of these same pulses will hit there in about a fortnight. The long periods that have become the hallmark of this swell will work with the natural refraction of the standout spots on this coast at numbers that, right now at least, will be of interest to the big wave paddle contingent.