Custom Forecasts

It’s the holy grail of surf forecasting: a detailed long range forecast for the breaking wave height at your favourite local spot that learns and improves each and every time you go to the beach… If you follow our facebook feed you might have noticed us talking about a new project called ‘MSW Social‘ – it’s your one stop spot list, session diary and photo manager all for surf. It doesn’t just work for the beaches we currently forecast for, you can add any beach, anywhere and you can get yourself a long range forecast tailored to your break. What’s more we’ve been working on a new breaking wave forecast that plugs directly into your ‘MSW Social’ dashboard:

The problem with these explicit wave forecasts are twofold:

  1. Every surfer has their own judgement of the height of a wave, while here at MSW we do our very best to stick to peak to trough face height we know that many surfers don’t.
  2. We don’t have enough information about the local bathymetry and other factors at every single break to make those final adjustments that’ll dial the forecast in.

However with MSW Social we start to build up a picture of these local factors, if you’re keen on improving your personal forecast all you need to do is add a session every time you check the beach or go for a surf, over a very short period of time you can start to tune in your forecast. Check out the graph below, available by clicking ‘edit’ on the spot screen in MSW Social. It shows the unadjusted MSW breaking wave forecast as the range between the two blue lines, and my session reports as the red line:

You can see that the forecast is consistently over calling the surf (or equally possibly I’m consistently measuring it short of the actual face height). This is an easy adjustment, simply moving the slider I can scale things so there’s a much tighter fit:

You’ve got a much better fit now – in fact over these sessions the breaking wave forecast is within half a foot of the session reports. Bear in mind this is your personal forecast – you can share it with your friends but the work you put into recording your sessions and improving the algorithm is yours and yours alone to control and benefit from.

Tip and Tricks

You need to be as consistent as possible with your reports. If your beach has a sheltered end and an exposed end add them as two¬†separate¬†spots. If on large swells you’re surfing an inside reform you need to be recording the size of the waves outside. Judging wave height is a difficult business but try to set yourself some easy standards – we really suggest body height / wave face measurements. So if the lips head high when you’re in trim on the face the wave is in the 5-6ft range etc.

The more sessions you record the better you’ll be able to tune the forecast, but as you can see from the example above you can start to make strong improvements to the forecast with just a few sessions. Even if you’re not getting in the water regularly you can quickly build your own personal forecast.

Bear in mind the tide can have a big effect that we don’t account for at present. Make sure you’re recording accurate session times so we can calculate the exact state of the tide for future improvements.

Right now you can sign up for MSW Social for free here and start adding your local spots, recording your sessions and creating custom forecasts…