To get the most out of your surf follow this check list to take you to the best surf spot on the day:
In Victoria we can receive a large variety of swell size. Seasons play a large role in what is happening at any given time. Predominantly autumn and winter delivers the most consistent groundswells and offshore winds. In the summer the swell is generally smaller and more inconsistent, favouring the open beaches. Summer can also see seabreeze patterns that are great for kiting and windsurfing but not great for surfing.
Swell forecasting and reports:
The wind is what makes or breaks perfect surf, offshore winds are almost always the most desirable direction and once winds start to exceed 10 knots the waves can begin to become affected.
To find the wind/weather: http://www.bom.gov.au/vic/forecasts/melbourne.shtml
To find Current Observations: http://www.seabreeze.com.au/graphs/vic.asp
You can maximise your surfing experience by understanding how each break works on different tides. Certain breaks will work better on high or low tides so pay attention to this.
To find the tides: http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/tides/MAPS/vic.shtml
The weather in Victoria changes all the time so it is important to be comfortable with your equipment – the right wetsuit and board will allow you to make the most of the conditions.
Most people in Melbourne have at least two wetsuits, a summer suit and winter suit. In winter a 4/3 (mm thickness) is required and even on colder days in summer they can be ideal. On the warmer summer days a 3/2 is good – though some will opt for 2mm spring suit (short sleeves) or similar. It is not often that the water and weather is warm enough to be comfortable in board shorts in Victoria.
May-November: 4/3 wetsuit is a must!
Often you can score uncrowded days with great surf during winter - having a warm wetsuit is really important to make the most of these chances!
Having the right board for your ability and the conditions is crucial. Understanding board design and the impact it has on how your board performs is quite complex but basically a longer board should paddle easier and a thicker board (has more volume) will also paddle well. Width provides stability and will make it easier to stand up.
Rocker is also critical - a board with a flatter rocker will glide across the water rather than push water inefficiently. So basically for the beginner to intermediate surfer you want something with decent length, width, volume and a flattish rocker.
For more detail on board design see http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfboard-design/
Some great beginner to intermediate boards that SHQ recommends are the NSP Funboard & Surf Betty, NSP Fish and the Modern Blackbird. From there the next step is something a bit smaller, like the 7S Superfish which is probably the most popular intermediate to advanced surfboard in Victoria. Keep in mind though that you can get boards like the Superfish in larger sizes which can possibly be ideal for learning, provided you have some of the basics already.
There are a lot of factors in choosing the right board – different locations, wave size, ability, height, weight and fitness are all very important. To get the best advice pop down into the shop and chat to our staff about what will work for you.
Victoria’s coastline is full of great surf breaks for all levels – within a 1.5 hour drive East or West there are heaps of options to choose from.
East of Melbourne:
Swell: 4-6ft on open Beaches will be 2-3ft at Pt Leo
Tide: Mid to High – swell is more consistent on incoming.
Wind: Ideal W-NW
On larger swell days when the back beach beaches are 4-6ft+, there are great options for beginner to intermediate surfers inside Westernport Bay between Pt Leo and Flinders. Crunchy point at Point Leo is the best option.
The Breaks here can have exposed reef on low tides, so caution is required. On the higher tides this is generally not a problem. Booties are recommended.
Mornington Peninsula - Gunnamatta to Portsea
Swell: Up to 4ft
Tide: Mid to High above 3ft, Low tide can be okay if swell is under 3ft.
Wind: Ideal is N-NE
The Mornington Peninsula generally is more suited towards experienced surfers, the back beaches which stretch from Cape Schanck to Portsea is one of the most exposed coast lines in Victoria, holding large waves with dangerous rips. Unless the swell is below 3ft it is not recommended for beginner surfers. On a small summer’s day though it can be perfect.
Philip Island - Cat Bay - Shelly’s
Swell: 5ft+ on the open beaches will be 2ft at Shelly’s
Tide: Swell is more consistent on an incoming tide
Wind: SW-SE ideal because most other spots are onshore at this time
Shelly’s is great place to get some waves in when everywhere else is wild and out of control. It is protected inside Western Port and receives much smaller swells. It is also protected from Southerly winds that are onshore nearly everywhere else in Victoria. This spot is perfect for beginners.
West of Melbourne:
Location: Jan Juc
Tide: All tides
Jan Juc can offer fun waves for beginner riders and also more experienced surfers. It has a series of sand banks along the beach with plenty of options. Be warned it can get busy in the summer months.
Location: Ocean Grove
Tide: Mid – High
Ocean Grove is a fun beach break on the west coast, sandy bottom with no rocks. It’s near Barwon Heads, and a good place for catching your first few waves. Just around the corner is 13th Beach which picks up a bit more swell for advanced surfers or can be a good option when Ocean Grove is tiny.
Location: Point Impossible
Point Impossible or ‘Possos’ is a reef and point break just outside of Torquay. The wave is generally soft and crumbly so suitable for intermediates. When it is good it can be a little crowded with guys on longboards so is probably not 100% suitable for beginners. It will be a little smaller than 13th Beach here. High tide pushes the waves up over the rocks and can make things a bit tricky. Low tide is definitely better