XL Euro Swell: England's Epic Super Sunday and Mega Monday

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 21d ago

That's right. Not one, but two back-to-back crazy swells for England. A raw double pulse straight out of the Atlantic that sent waves all up the English Channel. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, remember that swells like this aren't uncommon for England. Numbers of this size will semi-regularly jack in during the swell season. But what made these past few days super special is that two of them rifled in one after the other. And that is something to shout about.

Two days of solid surf. Two days of paddle until your arms noodled out. On Sunday, things were kind of slow, washy. That long swell period meant lengthy waits between sets, particularly across the south coast of Cornwall. Oh but when they came? Double, triple overhead tactical nukes, detonating across rock, reef and beach – sending more than one board to the locker of Davey Jones, and more than a few people described the sets as the heaviest ever, between scooping jaws from floor.

But also marred by mizzle and fog. What's mizzle? Well, think of rain, but more like, a slow moving sheet of finely droplets. Soaks you rotten. Makes shooting super tricky. Luckily, this team of photographers are used to it.

Mizzle so fine, you can't even see it. But it's there, trust us. And this perspective sure gives some sense of scale to it all. It's Jayce Robinson, about to set the line for a colossal keg, from November 14.

Mizzle so fine, you can't even see it. But it's there, trust us. And this perspective sure gives some sense of scale to it all. It's Jayce Robinson, about to set the line for a colossal keg, from November 14.

© 2021 - Tom Vaughan.

The above pic? That's English champ Jayce Robinson on an absolute monster. "Got a couple of solid ones," he said, in the understatement of this swell. "It was inconsistent, but the odd bomb. A bit hard on a 5'4"."

And why a 5'4"?! "Just like a challenge," he told MSW. "Always liked riding smaller boards but it was way too warpy for it to be honest."

Warpy is a good way to describe it. Monday, beachies along the south coast of Cornwall capped out at 9ft@18 seconds, from the west south west. When it's that size and that big a period, it makes for a tense waiting game. Whereas further up, in the likes of South Devon, the swell filled in from the south west, capping out at 3@19 seconds. That angle was perfect to get into some of more open locales across that stretch. Waves 100 miles apart, but at some point, looked remarkably similar. Also, the ocean had some time to settle after a smaller but more typical swell filled in on Friday. It meant that second punch could glide into the UK (and the rest of Europe), uninterrupted.

Like here, young Lukas Skinner, scoops up pops' board. But then, pops is 11 x European longboard champion, Ben Skinner.

Like here, young Lukas Skinner, scoops up pops' board. But then, pops is 11 x European longboard champion, Ben Skinner.

© 2021 - Mike Newman.

Aftermath. Those who have tried a Skindog board (yeah, he shapes his own) knows these things are as tough as they get. Things they're not harder than; the ocean.

Aftermath. Those who have tried a Skindog board (yeah, he shapes his own) knows these things are as tough as they get. Things they're not harder than; the ocean.

© 2021 - Mike Newman.

This swell also wrapped into North Devon, North Cornwall, Wales and even as far up the Channel as Dorset, with the Jurassic Coast delivering a punch yesterday afternoon.

Shooting through classic Cornish mizzle, Woody New seeks to outrun the lip. Huck New, scoops in.

Shooting through classic Cornish mizzle, Woody New seeks to outrun the lip. Huck New, scoops in.

© 2021 - Mike Newman.

And this pic above? That's Huck New. "A group of us turned up to check it, looked big but nothing special, we decided to watch with a pasty, ended up in the pub," he told MSW. "After I sat down I could see the stillness on the water, new the swell was building into the eve, and that we had little light left. So, jumping up, I told Woods, my twin, I was getting in, he kinda looked at his pint, but still met me at the car for our gear.

"This wave, it was a wide one, I had to turn and take off late, the guy at the peak backed out. The drop felt pretty intense, especially as I hadn’t had a wave in a while and my arms hurt. I pulled up into it with a load of speed from the bottom turn, wasn’t particularly deep, but still felt wicked to hold on to it. A bogged grab rail cutty after, and I was in the white water. A nice refresher to winter."

Further up the Channel. Bombs. Bombs everywhere on Monday.

Further up the Channel. Bombs. Bombs everywhere on Monday.

© 2021 - Ollie Crawford.

Despite yesterday being fairly colossal, albeit shifty and gnarly, this swell actually peaked over night Sunday and into today [Monday November 15]. Tom Butler was looking out over Little Fistral and the Cribbar from 6am this morning. “Sometimes it happens like that,” he says. “But it's still fun out there, it must have been a solid six foot on the beach and the Cribbar much bigger. We had great fun out there on the ski. Bit of practice for when the bigger stuff comes through later in the season.”

The Cribbar and Tom Butler. Not so much awakened, but opened an eye, saw the mizzle, and went back to sleep. Fair enough.

The Cribbar and Tom Butler. Not so much awakened, but opened an eye, saw the mizzle, and went back to sleep. Fair enough.

© 2021 - Clare James.

The jewel of the session was probably the south coast from yesterday. A colossal 9.5ft@18 seconds felt its way into all the nooks and crannies across that stretch.

Croyde, November 14.

Croyde, November 14.

© 2021 - Alan Danby.

Some size to the North Devon juggernaut.

Some size to the North Devon juggernaut.

© 2021 - Alan Danby.

Photographer Mike Newman (AKA manonaplanet) has been shooting across the likes of Cornwall for years."I buzzed from beach to beach, capturing frothing rippers and seasoned champions as they took apart the thick lipped wave," he said.

"A fruitful photo fest of pristine Atlantic barrel perfection at one spot, then mega crammed shorebreak carnage at the next spot. A-frames all the way down the beach and a weird swell angle creating waves in parts of the beach that you don't normally have to keep an eye on. Much head swivelling and a rapid trigger finger were needed to capture all the action.

Stunning evening after a day of it. South Devon again.

Stunning evening after a day of it. South Devon again.

© 2021 - Luke Prokopiou

South Devon, Ben Howey, slalom.

South Devon, Ben Howey, slalom.

© 2021 - Luke Prokopiou

"Next morning for the dawn patrol was a totally different story, with hanging fog swirling around a headland in the half light. Massive chunks of water moved shoreward in slow motion. The grey and grainy photos of peeling A frames looked like 3ft, but were actually closer to 23 feet, if the wave buoy is anything to go by. And unsurprisingly, there were no takers for scale.

Kernow's south coast - photographer Clare James knows how to shoot through mizzle, fog, anything else.

Kernow's south coast - photographer Clare James knows how to shoot through mizzle, fog, anything else.

© 2021 - Clare James.

"I got great shots at other spots, but it was a day-long technical battle against the driving Cornish mizzle laced with salt spray. Trying to stop it getting inside the delicate (and expensive) equipment. I spoke to a lot of cursing photographers hiding their long lenses under their coats, some had decided to simply not shoot (and went for a wave instead)."

Jayce Robinson, English surfing champion, getting drained on Sunday.

Jayce Robinson, English surfing champion, getting drained on Sunday.

© 2021 - Mike Newman.

Crowd control.

Crowd control.

© 2021 - RT Shots.

Our North Atlantic swell chart from Monday morning. All that juice had to get in somewhere. Check the charts, HERE.

Our North Atlantic swell chart from Monday morning. All that juice had to get in somewhere. Check the charts, HERE.

And as for when it gets that heavy, there's always a few casualties. "I saw at least three boards broken at one spot," Mike said. "And a surfer hobbling away after a crunching reef wipeout at another. Even the smallest beachie was heavy enough to rip the leash out of a boogie board. After hitting seven or eight spots over the weekend I ran out of time to go in myself, but I had managed to catch up with lots of different surf faces from all over Cornwall, so for me, it was a really epic social swell!"

A unique take on a split peak from Sunday.

A unique take on a split peak from Sunday.

© 2021 - RT Shots.

More from the south coast of Cornwall.

More from the south coast of Cornwall.

© 2021 - Tom Vaughan.

And yeah, we know our brothers and sisters in Ireland were scoring too, but more on that soon.

MSW forecaster Tony Butt said: "The swells originated from two low pressure systems that developed in the far northwest of the Atlantic towards the end of last week. The first deepened north of the Azores and tracked northeast, passing over Scotland on Friday before quickly dissipating in the North Sea.

© 2021 - Tom Vaughan.

Meanwhile, in west Cornwall from Monday.

Meanwhile, in west Cornwall from Monday.

© 2021 - Tom Vaughan.

"An area of storm-force winds on its southern flank generated a large swell and some windy conditions for northern areas on Friday and some cleaner swell in the south on Friday and early Saturday.

And futher into the land of second home owners, Monday.

And futher into the land of second home owners, Monday.

© 2021 - Mike Newman.

Before the second swell hit, a smaller albeit playful pulse slammed into England's south west coast on Saturday.

Before the second swell hit, a smaller albeit playful pulse slammed into England's south west coast on Saturday.

© 2021 - Mike Newman.

"The second system was hard on its heels, deepening northwest of the Azores on Saturday, before arcing north towards Iceland and hardly encroaching on local areas in western Europe. It generated a pulse of high-quality long-period swell that reached most areas on Sunday and is currently decreasing through Monday.

Young Lukas Skinner, to the air with you on Saturday.

Young Lukas Skinner, to the air with you on Saturday.

© 2021 - Mike Newman.

“In the southwest UK, the first pulse of swell coincided with some very lumpy conditions, with wave heights hitting 15 feet or more at the most exposed spots, in strong westerly winds.

Monday, November 15, the crowd thinned and Croyde had space to take a breath.

Monday, November 15, the crowd thinned and Croyde had space to take a breath.

© 2021 - Alan Danby.

"The second swell was much better, particularly in northwest Ireland and in Cornwall, with wave heights around six feet or more, periods of around 17 secs and light southerly winds.”

BONUS! Wales got it good too. Here's Josh Cleaver finding shade in a fickle spot.

BONUS! Wales got it good too. Here's Josh Cleaver finding shade in a fickle spot.

© 2021 - Seaside Hues.