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Surfers in heaven as weather gods deliver big waves to Mahia

HUGE waves at Mahia were ripped apart by some of the district’s gun surfers yesterday.

A small group revelled in the biggest conditions, using two jet skis to tow them into five-metre waves.

An estimated 40 surfers took advantage of the large north-easterly swells that pumped at different breaks at Mahia.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand, however, put out a warning about swells on the east coast featuring waves in excess of three metres and in some places close to four.

MetService is forecasting the swells will ease by Thursday. Today it showed swell sizes of 2 to 2.5m inshore on beaches along the East Coast.

Gisborne city beaches will have about 1.3m of surf running, according to forecasters.

An Eastland Port official said the large swell ran past Gisborne yesterday and not much of it came into the bay.

“We only had 1.2 metres in the bay yesterday. The forecast is for the swell size to moderate in the next day or two.”

Surf Life Saving New Zealand urged people to be careful on beaches along the eastern coast of New Zealand this week.

“It’s due to a large swell caused by a tropical cyclone out in the north eastern Pacific,” SLSNZ national lifesaving manger, Allan Mundy said. “The deep lows near the Pacific islands are causing large swells of up to three to four metres.”

People should be careful when selecting a beach to swim at, he said.

The biggest danger was from large “sweeper waves” that hit a beach and travel powerfully up to the sand dunes.

“A sweeper wave occurs when two swells operating from different weather systems, like the two in the Pacific right now, combine into a larger wave often twice the size of most other waves.

“Not only will they sweep all the way up the beach to the sand dunes beyond other waves, they are at least twice as powerful when they return to the sea.

“They will easily knock over an unsuspecting walker or sweep a swimmer out of their depth very quickly when the wave returns to the ocean.”

Sweeper waves also cause rips to become extremely strong.

New Zealand Surfing Magazine editor Cory Scott has experienced his fair share of superb waves in 26 years as a surfing photographer. Yesterday, at a break in Mahia called Big Brother, he witnessed what he described as the best ridden wave he has seen in his professional career. In what became a bittersweet day for Sam Willis, the Gisborne surfer was part of a group who turned on what Scott said was “one of the greatest surf sessions in NZ surf history”. Willis, Blair Stewart, Damon Gunness and Tommy Dalton, alternating on two jetskis, tore apart a break Scott himself named when he and former professional Maz Quinn “first laid eyes on it” in 2003. The opportunity to surf it has been rare due to the current and weather conditions, but yesterday the gods conspired to turn what Scott said was looking like a “complete fizzer” into the perfect surfing storm for the small group who had not beaten a track home. This picture, taken by Scott, is of Damon Gunness in the heart of a beast of a wave. Unfortunately, Willis had a bad accident on a small wave later in the day and broke his leg.