September is the month we spend waiting for October. Despite the cooler September mornings kicking Northern Hemisphere surfers into a sense of frenzied excitement, autumn proper gets going in October. Bang on cue and almost exactly as we, unofficially, forecast last week for the Quik Pro we're looking at the first solid North Atlantic swell of the season.
The September myth: October marks return of autumn swells
After a long, hot and often flat summer, shortening evenings and cool mornings trigger some almost primal sense in Northern European surfers. Our preparations for winter begin and then we wait. September is, statistically, a month of unfulfilled promise. Sure the warm water and modest increase in Atlantic activity can combine to create enduring memories. It's a great time to visit the long sand beaches of Landes, which kick into life with even the most modest of Autumn activity. But the real money swells, the ones that light up dormant summer spots or provide the challenge we've been missing on open beaches during the summer, really get a head of steam in October.
With that in mind the timing of this pulse, delivered from a low pressure starting life over Newfoundland and Labrador isn't a surprise. Where our forecast had spotted the system almost two weeks in advance (see our unofficial Quik Pro Forecast) the detail has changed slightly. Alternative forecast models have generally moved into agreement with the GFS (which powers our reports) and whilst there are still subtle differences it's not enough to greatly affect the outcome at this stage. The GFS has a deepening low pressure centred over Iceland drawing a band of strong fetch from the Labrador Sea with help of the consistent swell enhancing geography of the Greenland Tip Jet. We're putting our faith in our numbers at this stage with interesting longer period swell likely from the 2nd/3rd October and the continuing for the foreseeable.
Real challenge for Quik Pro competitors during swell peak
With the Quik Pro on hold at Estagnots, France with an eye on this system you should have the chance to watch it unfold live with the best surfers in the world all over it. Thursday, October 2nd, looks promising with the swell building steadily throughout the day. On Friday, October 3rd, at a current forecast peak of 7ft@15 seconds we suspect that it'll be a real challenge for competition. For historical perspective we're reminded of the opening blast of the 2010 event. For some time prior our model had been calling for Hurricane Igor to swing east and send a pulse towards France. The timing was bang on for the opening day of the contest. At dawn on the 25th September we gathered on the beach to pounding surf and the decision that the swell was too much for competition, with those who'd already attempted to surf humbled by the conditions and the safety team confident that running Jetskis into the lineup was a bad plan. Round one was contested on the following day in almost equally hectic conditions with some heats being won on a combined 9 points and not a single heat total combining two scores in the excellent range. That swell was in the same range as the one we're expecting this week (albeit the power at peak of the ex-Hurricane system may have been a little greater than forecast). This surplus of energy combined with reports of tricky sand conditions might mean competition struggles to find a home at the peak of the swell.
Western Europe to see moderate to large Atlantic swell
Beyond competition this swell should light up most of Western Europe. Further North in the thick of the swell we could see Mullaghmore, Ireland wake up with numbers in the 13ft@16 seconds range and a chance of a contestable southerly wind. Nazare, Portugal offers up numbers in the 10ft@15 seconds range on the latest forecast. It's not all time but it's a solid warm up swell for the crew looking to make their mark here again this winter. Other spots will see a swell in the range to coax winter spots to life.
The Winter Session is returning
After last year's fun we will be bringing The Winter Session back with more prizes and categories. Any 90 second edit shot after October 1st is eligible so get thinking about your submission.