Winter Storm Riley Delivers EPIC SURF
Winter Storm Riley delivered a week’s worth of amazing surf to South Florida. We had 4 days of overhead waves, with the best of those days being double overhead. Even after that we still had 3-4 days of residual swell for those who weren’t noodle armed from the best surf sessions they’d had all year. I caught a couple of afternoons in the lineup after the best days with minimal crowd and rippable waves!
As the storm pushed off of the Northeast coast, it lit up spots all the way down the Eastern sea board. New York was a winter barrel wonderland, Namibia came to New Jersey, The outer banks was barreling below sea level, Fiji came to West Palm Beach, and nooks and crannies all the way down through South Beach were going off.
Preparing for Winter Storm Waves
March 6th is going to be a day that many South Florida surfers won’t soon forget. With the reports all finally lining up for a full day of 10 foot waves, I knew the spot that I was surfing was going to be a crowd favorite with swell already being in the water in the double overhead range for a whole day already.
I packed up my bags the night before and rustled through the quiver to find the right boards. I settled on a 5’4″ Hypto Krypto, 5″10″ Alternator (FireWire), and a 6’0″ in case I needed a little extra paddle power (I had already been surfing some marathons for 3 days). I also prepped a wetsuit, a couple of towels (in case of multiple sessions), a wetsuit top, a couple of boardshorts, spare leash, and a couple of bars of wax. I woke up early Wednesday morning around 5am, ate some breakfast, and headed to the beach. I didn’t even bother checking any spots prior to going to my spot, but that was OK.
Dawn Patrol & Double Overhead
Arriving in south palm beach, I rolled up over a sand dune to see massive sets rolling through with the most perfect barrels I’ve seen all year. They’d break from the outer reef all the way to the inside sandbar with not a drop of water out of place. Best part was it was so early that nobody was out! Not even the sun.
I paddled out into the lineup with my buddy who was catching a few before the 9-5 after suiting up (the air was brisk! I only used a top though), and we caught some great waves before the crowd got out there. We had solid 7-10ft surf all to ourselves for the better part of 45 minutes to an hour. After that the sun came up and everyone started calling their friends it seemed.
Within a couple of hours there were probably about 70-100 people in the water trying to catch a wave. The one thing about this swell though was that there was a lot of water moving around. I don’t think I stopped paddling the whole time, but that helped keep people out of the takeoff zone so there were plenty of waves to catch and only a few people to call off of the shoulder from inside the tube.
Surfers would catch an outside bomb from the point, follow it all the way through to the inside (and get stand up barrels on the way), and then be halfway down the beach and have to paddle back up to the takeoff zone. I don’t think I saw anyone in the lineup without a smile on their face. I caught some of my best barrels of the year that day for sure.
Local Photographers Get the Shots!
I think it’d be fair to say that every surfer in the water got their fair share of barrels for March madness. I’d even argue to say that this run of swell was one of the best the we’ve had down here in South Florida surfing for a couple of years. It wasn’t quite Hurricane Sandy status, but it was pretty darned good!Â Don’t take my word for it, check out the shots below from local Florida lenses.
The following South Florida photographers were awesome to let us showcase some of their photos so be sure to give them a follow.