‘Worst summer ever,’ a common phrase doing the rounds this year, as Jersey has for long periods seen barely a ripple this summer despite some 2000 miles of open ocean between the west coast of the island and the Canadian Province of Newfoundland on the opposite side of the North Atlantic. Even the often saviour of a bad summer for surf, small summer longboard waves, seem to have been few and far between. But has it really been that worst summer ever?
One of the most popular surf forecasting websites, Magicseaweed, seems to think so. In an article of 08 September 2021, https://magicseaweed.com/news/flattest-spell-forever/12528/, they claim the flat spell to be one of the the flattest spells in ‘recent memory.’ Digging into their archives, focussing on one specific spot in the UK they deduced that it had been the flattest it had been for 13 years.
The Magicseaweed article though focussed on a three week period from mid August to early September, so this article doesn’t really tell the true story. In reality since being blessed with a fantastic late winter early spring, a handful of days aside, the surf been pretty much none existent. As a diary keeper myself, I’ve looked to my own ‘loose’ records for 2021.
On 21 May, I had my 4th surfers ear operation, which put me out of the water for some 6 weeks. Fortunately, I was able to surf in the days leading up to the operation, having my final surf shortly before sunset the day before surgery. I anticipated that during my forced spell out of the water, I would take to surf photography and try and get some shots of the boys. In reality, barring the odd day of surf here and there, the only real good day worth taking some shots was a fun clean day at the end of May, see https://jerseybodyboarding.com/index.php/2021/05/30/session-la-saline/, and even this day was marred by a huge spring tide, meaning the tide got too high and too quick for the best banks.
On 22 June, I got the all clear to start surfing in two weeks, subject to wearing a hat. The surf was flat as a pancake in the period leading up to the permitted day, however, the charts conveniently showed a nice pulse for the first day I was allowed back in. On 05 July, I finally hit the surf, surfing 3-4ft waves on my own on the reef at Petit Port, wearing Vaseline covered cotton wool, whilst sweating buckets in a swimming hat, held in place by a winter surfing cap. The surf was good, and I even avoided going underwater. The next day at the same spot was lumpy and quite a bit bigger, and after a duck-dive free paddle-out, I preceded to be cleaned up by a pretty sizey wave, which tested the ears protection out.
The surf then went flat again until the 23 July when a thundery day with a strong north-easterly wind brought in some surprise 1 footers on the east coast to break the flat spell, that were just big enough to head out on a belly board. The west coast remained flat though and continued to do so until the first week of August when the flat spell was broken with a large swell that frustratingly blew out the west coast sending surfers scurrying for shelter on the north and west coasts. When the swell passed we were left with a few fun onshore days out west, until high pressure moved back in and the flat spell firmly took hold again, continuing right through to the 10 September, the date of this article.
With flat spell madness taking over, I managed to escape the flat Atlantic myself for a couple of days surfing up in the North Sea, on the east coast of England, one area that has benefited from the recent weather patterns. Other friends have been getting their own flat spell relief with brief hops over to surf The Wave wave-pool in Bristol, the most consistent surf spot in the UK.
So was it the worst summer in memory? Well for me I can not remember a summer anywhere near as bad as this one, and with only 9 surfs since my ear operation in May, it is certainly my leanest summer ever for waves. Maybe over the whole course of summer, statistically 2021 may not have been the worst, but then again perhaps statistically it was, either way though the most important thing is that, at the time of writing, surf is literally just over the horizon, and some forecast charts are even showing the potential for a long awaited period of sustained North Atlantic activity. Pray to the surf God Huey!