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Giant swell bearing down on European hotspots

OMGiant: Current swell maps for the North Atlantic © Surfline/Billabong XXL



Big Wave Updates

Top big wave surfers from around the globe have flown to Europe

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 January, 2014 - An extraordinary winter of massive waves in the North Atlantic may get even more extreme as the huge storm that blasted the Midwest and Northeast heads toward Europe over the weekend.

Dubbed "Winter Storm Hercules" by the media, the intense low-pressure system that dumped up to two feet of snow across New England and caused thousands of flight cancellations nationwide is forecast to continue its fury as it moves out to sea, generating swells in excess of 50 feet as it lashes toward Ireland.
"Since Portugal was hit with giant waves from the 'St. Jude's Storm' in the last week of October, the Atlantic Ocean has experienced what I would consider the most consistent string of radical storms seen in the modern era of big wave surfing," said Bill Sharp, Event Director of the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards presented by Pacifico. "Especially in the last month, it's been one huge swell after another and the parade of big wave images we have seen coming in from Ireland, Portugal, Spain and France is just unprecedented. And now, what may be the biggest swell of all is brewing out there. It's an exciting time for anyone who follows big wave surfing."

Meanwhile, the North Pacific has been unusually docile. Hawaii has seen several moderate swells in recent weeks but little in the way of extreme surf levels. The US West Coast has been far behind the curve thanks to the persistent high pressure that has made for summer-like weather while the bulk of the swell-producing storm track has been shunted well to the north. 
But in the Atlantic, it's another story. The first big swell of 2014 is already hitting Europe today, but the main event is still on the way.
"A second, potentially larger, west swell for early next week will come from an exceptionally impressive storm in a month of impressive storms," explained Surfline forecaster Keven Wallis. "Our more trusted global wind models indicate this low will slide off the East Coast and rapidly strengthen in the next 24-48 hours. Central pressure is forecast to drop to 936mb, with an extra large fetch of 40-60 knot wind and widespread seas of 50 feet or greater. Look for this swell to slam Europe on Monday and Tuesday."

Several top big wave surfers from California and Hawaii have flown to Europe ahead of the storm hoping to score some of the swell's bounty, but exactly where on the Continent the best conditions will be found is yet to be determined. The most exposed coasts of Portugal and Ireland which have already produced XXL-contending rides at spots like Nazaré and Mullaghmore Head may be subject to vicious winds, but the swell will still reach more protected shorelines of the region with potentially record-breaking power.
Still photos and video clips of the biggest waves and the best rides from the incoming swell will be posted on the Billabong XXL Facebook page and event website as they come in next week. New entries will join a bumper crop of outstanding entries already received from around the world including Chile, Peru, Tahiti, Tasmania, Mexico, Hawaii, Ireland, Spain, France and Portugal.

The Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards acknowledge the top achievements in the sport in seven categories based on the photographic evidence from every big wave surf spot around the world, all year long. The annual event cycle runs through the end of winter, with nominees announced in late March. The winners of the 14th annual Billabong XXL Awards will be announced in May at a gala ceremony in Southern California where over $120,000 in prize money will be distributed to this year's top performers.
The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are presented by Pacifico Beer. Pelican Products is the official provider of waterproof cases. is the exclusive surf forecast of the XXL. The event is sponsored by Surfing Magazine and Air Tahiti Nui airlines.

Bill Sharp

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