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Ex-cyclone Uesi forecast to bring Gold Coast surfers their best waves in almost a year

By Gemma Sapwell and staff, Thursday February 13, 2020 - 14:36 EDT
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A surfer takes on the chunky swell at Snapper Rocks. - ABC

Surfers on Queensland's Gold Coast say they are "frothing" in anticipation as ex-Tropical Cyclone Uesi brings forecast swells of up to 3.5 metres on Thursday afternoon and into Friday.

Former world champion Mark Occhilupo lost a board to the big waves at Snapper Rocks on the southern Gold Coast this morning.

"I was in a nice long big tube and I kinda fell through my board," Occhilupo said.

He had some elite company.

"Parko's [Joel Parkinson, who won 11 ASP titles] out there and all the boys," Occhilupo said.

"We had a really slow start to the year so this is unbelievable."

Isabella Nichols was also among the professional surfers at Snapper Rocks this morning.

"It's a lot of fun … when you get the right [wave] it is really dreamy," she said.

"I got run over a couple of times, smashed up my board – but it's all worth it."

Nichols said the waves were crowded.

"It's crazy — everyone hasn't had waves for so long and now, it's the first swell we have had in five months," she said.

"Everyone is just frantic but if you can pick off one [wave] it is worth it."

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Uesi will increase swell from Fraser Island south this afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a hazardous surf warning for large and powerful conditions.

Pro surfer Alyssa Lock, whose local break is Snapper Rocks on the southern Gold Coast, said she was desperate to paddle out as it had been months since there had been good surf in the region.

"We haven't had a really big swell in a long time, since winter, and I know every surfer is really keen to get out there," she said.

"I'm going to head out early and the only time I'm going to come in is for food and water.

"We're definitely frothing."

Surfer Terry Teece said while he was excited about the forecast conditions, predicting wave size was not an exact science.

"You never really know what you're going to get until it gets here," he said.

"Everyone has a froth on because it's going to be the first real swell in almost 12 months.

"But everyone is going 'is it going to happen, or is it going to be a hoax?' because sometimes swells can be predicted and then they don't show."

Gold Coast chief lifeguard Warren Young says as ex-cyclone Uesi moves through the Tasman Sea towards Lord Howe Island on Thursday, it is expected a number of beaches in southern Queensland will be closed.

"We had five beaches closed yesterday and more will be closed today if that swell hits as predicted," he said.

"It looks like it's a hit-and-run swell, in other words, it will come in pretty heavy and then settle down quickly into Saturday."

Mr Young also warned only experienced surfers should contemplate heading out.

"It will be good waves for experienced surfers, but experienced surfers should never overestimate their abilities in rising swell conditions," he said.

Gold Coast Surf Lifesaving coordinator Nathan Fife expected spectators to turn out to watch the pros take on the large swell.

"Definitely on the point breaks, sit and watch the pros do it, if the surf does get up and the beaches are closed, we'll see surfers being towed on jet skis," he said.

He also warned that recent heavy rain in northern New South Wales and Queensland has led to a large amount of debris flowing out of the region's rivers and creeks.

"Everyone please be mindful and alert, listen to the lifesavers, if beaches are closed, please stay well away as there will be big surges, even walking on the beach can be quite dangerous if one of these surges come up," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Gold Coast City Council said officers would monitor beach erosion during the current swell conditions.

"The beaches are expected to generally respond well throughout this swell event, however, some erosion scarps are expected, especially along the northern beaches," she said.

"The city will undertake scarp reduction works and manage wind-blown sand as required."


© ABC 2020

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