Anticipation of the Big Swell

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Big Swell

In the age of the Internet, coupled with modern buoy and weather tracking systems, NOAA satellites and the like, it would seem the days are gone when people used to show up with only good luck to catch perfect surf. The days when it was all about timing; you just had to be there to catch those perfect days. The charts now are predicting a big swell for this week and they've been predicting this for about 6 days. A group of surfers who are well acquainted with Justin's surf column were sent an email sometime late last week asking to cover his El Sayulero surf column for the week while he is away. As Justin and I co-write alternating columns on a pro-Mexico Tourism blog located at, I owe him, and offered to cover the story. I've always enjoyed reading Justin's articles, especially before I had even met him and was not yet living in Sayulita. His writing is fun and easy to follow and I felt that I could live vicariously through those lucky people who were living and surfing in the warm Pacific waters of Sayulita. At the time, I was living on an island with lots of storms, but the surf never really shaped up. In those days, I used to drive down to the beach almost every day to see if there was something, anything I could even stand up on. Usually there was not and I was left driving away frustrated.
Big Swell

Since I've moved to Sayulita, I need now only look out the window or stop by the beach on the way to drop off the children at school to see if there are waves. This week was different however, because the word was out. There's a swell on the way, and it looks BIG. There is something about a surfing town, like Sayulita, when there's a swell on the way; the anticipation and excitement fills the air. Most all of my surfer friends who I see on the street always mention, "Hey, did you see there's a big swell on the way." The excitement for me is that it may live up to the expectations of catching perfect surfing conditions.

Over the weekend, there was nothing forecasted on the Internet charts about a significant swell. In fact, if you were an ardent chart-checker, you may not have even bothered to go to look for waves, it was THAT type of day. However, on Sunday my family and I happened to have car problems, so we decided to stay on the beach here in Sayulita. Luck had it that we were treated to some of the best waves I've surfed in months on the Left break. Nothing huge, just fun and well-shaped waves for the whole family. There were even spaces during the day when there were only 3 or 4 people out on the water. For me, it was a great day of surf in Sayulita. Justin was there as well, with a big grin on his face and we were both talking about the "big swell" on its way.

Swell forecast

Well, the word is out! As I sit here and look at the water, I can see over 15 surfers on the Left and perhaps 20 on the Right..... one of the by products of all too efficient weather charting software on popular surf forecasting sites. Yes, the swell may come, but it was supposed to be here by now, and when the charts said nothing about Sunday, it was great. The part that I like about that thought is that perhaps we are not so far removed from the days when people just happened upon the perfect day. The Internet may get it right some of the time, or even a lot of the time, but I still think my best days have been when the charts were wrong and called for nothing, and I just happened to be there at the right break, the right time, no wind, my wife with me smiling, and good friends laughing at our good fortune to have made the effort to check the beach and not listen to what the charts were saying.

But, let's still hope the big swell makes it here.

By Geordie Wardman