Snapper Rocks, Stop 1 on the Mens ASP World Tour.
By Adam Waldie | 28 February 2010
1770 – Captain Cook names the area Point Danger after he almost comes to grief on the sand banks.
1880 – First dredging of the Tweed River commences
1962 - Breakwalls erected north and south of the Tweed River to improve navigation
1985 – Sandbars again block Tweed River, severe erosion along southern Gold Coast Beaches
1995 – 3 million cubic metres of sand are pumped from the south of the Tweed River through outlets at Snapper Rocks and Kirra
1998 – A continuous sand bank joins snapper Rocks and Kirra. Kirra is effectively ‘extinct’ as a wave though the outer banks continue to break in very large swells.
2002 – Sand pumping reaches it’s peak. Local surfer Damon Harvey rides a 5 foot wave the entire distance from Snapper Rocks to Kirra which at the time is the record for the longest ocean wave ever ridden at 1.5km over 4 minutes
2006 – An offshore cyclone sends 6 metre waves into Rainbow Bay which washes a vast tract of the bank north to Surfers Paradise. The bank never recovers the quality of 2002 but ongoing sand pumping ensures the wave maintains world class consistency
The Pro event is held at the point at Snapper Rocks itself. It’s rare to see the wave link up any further than Greenmount these days but that’s still enough to showcase what is one of the classic right hand point breaks of the world. It’s all about the sand and bank quality here and harsh storm systems can put the break into limited capacity for months at a time. At the time of writing though it’s all systems go. The bank is primed, insert S-SE swell above 3 feet, any wind with a south-westerly vector to it and stand back.
As a sand bottom point, Snapper is probably one of the more forgiving waves on the tour and offers itself up to genuine high performance riding. The event window is a good bet to ensure some consistency but rarely does the bank break over 6 foot this time of year. Duranbah (D-Bah) just to the south and over the border has been a Mister Reliable back up venue for the comp over the years. D-Bah is a quality wave unto itself and another break that has benefited from the Tweed River pumping scheme. Not everyone has come out smiling though. The laws of thermodynamics teach us that if you take something from one place that another place misses out – Kirra is that place. The queen of the coast just to the north is sadly silent these days, stirring only in the largest of winter groundswells.
Its an easy feat to follow your heroes and surf this break. Be warned though, the Snapper to Greenmount stretch is second only to Bondi as the most crowded beach in Australia – at least this beach has waves though. Nearby Coolangatta Airport ensures a near constant flow of tourists, families and Brazillians to this region. This is one surf trip you can bring the family along for, something for everyone with the nearby shopping and child friendly surfclub scene a popular drawcard. Bring a high performance shorty and a longer board if that’s your thing. It can get a little frustrating sitting out with 50 guys including the pros waiting on the bounce at Snapper Rocks for a wave, you’ll spend most of your time watching them go surfing. Paddle down to Rainbow or Greenmount to increase your wave count.
By Adam Waldie