Maui Surf

Finally, Waves – Northeast Swell Gives Preview of Winter

September 6, 2012, 5:21 PM HST
* Updated September 6, 5:28 PM
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By Carlos Rock

Ho’okipa is slowly getting back to work after taking its own summer vacation as surfers welcomed the new energy from the swell with open arms.

Not really the big south swells that late summer in Hawaii has been known to produce, but instead a solid 3-7-foot northeast swell has come in and is giving surfers a little preview of the winter months ahead.

A preview of winter? North Shore energy at Ho’okipa. Molokai in the background. Photo: Carlos Rock

Coupled with strong winds, 15 to 25 mph on-shores kept the waves coming in set after set without showing signs of slowing down. When the wind is that strong, it blows more and more waves in, making the ocean very unpredictable. Sets come in one after the other and at a certain spot, produce a treadmill-like current that rips through the line-up, showing no mercy to the weaker paddlers.

At some select spots that are exposed to this type of swell direction and the right tide, proper 4-foot backs (8-foot faces) start rolling in way out the back. The kind that have you either scratching to get into the right spot or making a B line for the shoulder.

This east swell is undoubtedly the biggest swell on this side of the island the entire summer, and what is so special about this swell is that no one expected it to be this big.

If the wind were not as strong, it probably would’ve been smaller – in theory. The wind and current kept the crowd numbers down as well.

Ho’okipa Beach Park lookout. Photo: Carlos Rock

Thankfully, there are decent-sized waves this summer at last, but it is far from over. Hawaii is known for the late summer swells for a reason. September has the potential to generate a good south swell before the summer is over. Before you have to swap surfing in the warm waters of the south side for the big blue bombers on the north shore.

We are still in for more swells, as the first northwest swell of the season is expected Friday, as well as another small south swell.

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