Summer on the east coast of North America is a fantastic season in many regards. Unfortunately for surfers, the warmest weather of the year coincides with the smallest and the most inconsistent waves.
Eventually fall rolls around and the Atlantic Ocean tropical season wakes up. East coast surfers live for the fall, when the water is still warm and the surf starts to pump.
This year there was another factor at play: Hurricane Leslie. And if there's one sport that welcomes tough conditions, it's kitesurfing.
On August 27, 2012, a tropical wave moved off the west coast of Africa and started its long journey westward toward North America.
Tropical Storm/ Hurricane Leslie was born. There are various factors that must line up in order for a tropical system to deliver quality surf to the east coast of North America.
Firstly, it must follow a proper track.
Ideally, the storm moves westward until it nears North America and then veers sharply northward and runs parallel to the coastline.
This gives the longest window of swell. If the tropical system makes landfall, the surf can be stormy and blown out. If the system stays offshore, the wave energy hits the beaches but the local weather is not adversely impacted.
A great swell producing hurricane also moves slowly, allowing for more days of good waves.
Leslie was a good girl and took a perfect path as described above. We're usually happy with a 3-4 day swell event from a good hurricane. Leslie provided arguably the longest swell event in recent memory.
We're talking 8 days of quality long-period waves smashing into Nova Scotia. September 4 until September 11, 2012. As both a surfer and a kitesurfer, I'm glad when a swell comes with either no wind, or with strong wind.
Either way, I'm on it and looking for the most ideal conditions. I ended up scoring 13 sessions from this swell - 8 kitesurfing and 5 surfing!
The highlight of the week came on September 10th when the swell was pulsing out sets in the 7-10 foot range, with an interval of 15 seconds.
At the time, the outer bands of the hurricane were giving strong northwest winds to my area. This wind direction is predominantly offshore, in relation to most of the surf breaks.
I had a hard time sleeping the night before and was up at 4AM waiting for the sun to rise. When the red ball jumped up over the horizon, the coast was blazing! My buddy and I traded off riding and taking pictures.
That was a classic day that I'll remember for years to come. Thanks, Leslie. Send your friends.