THE BIG EAST

posted by / Magazine / January 14, 2003

When someone says “East Coast,” thoughts of sunny Florida beachbreak or Outer Banks A-frames might spring to mind. Truth is, despite our provincial thinking, there’s an entire world of right-brained surf centers lining the globe. From Kirra to Cave Rock to Kaikoura, east coasts host a half-planet full of barrels, bomboras and good ol’ beachbreak. They also speak a similar language regardless of nationality: they thrive off windswell, have bred their country’s best competitors and are home to the majority of their nation’s surfers. But words and numbers don’t give you the whole picture. To really get a feel for what some would call our better half, simply turn to your right.

AUSTRALIA
Length: Approximately 1,{{{600}}} miles of surfable coast (coastline is a lot longer, but the Great Barrier Reef blocks a huge portion).
Total Number of Surfers: 1.2 million.
Percentage Who Live on East Coast: 75.
Spot Breakdown (in percent): 50 beachbreak, 30 reefbreak, 20 pointbreak.
Best Season: March to June — Southern Hemisphere’s fall.
Standout Breaks: Noosa Heads, Burleigh, Kirra, Lennox Head, Angourie, Crescent Head, Seal Rocks, Shark Island, Narrabeen, Sandon Point, numerous (literally thousands of) others.
Current Top Competitive Surfers: Throw a dart at the WCT list and you’ll likely hit one — Occy, Taj Burrow, LukeEgan, Mick Fanning, Dean Morrison, Joel Parkinson and Mick Lowe to name a few.
How East Stacks Up to West: Consistent windswell and less frequent, but powerful groundswell allow east Oz’s beachbreaks, points and reefs their fair share. In contrast, the west coast reefbreaks prosper from infrequent, but quality long-interval groundswell.
Local Knowledge: Nathan Hedge, Narrabeen: “Most importantly, the water’s clean. And it’s so clear you can see the contour of the sand on the bottom. Normally, there’s good nor’east swell running, and there are a few reefs and that, but it’s mainly beaches around Sydney. Narrabeen’s got long, running lefts and sorta punchy rights. It’s a really good place to live, that’s for sure.” – Scooter Leonard

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