Coastal rowers love the swell. The crew can prove how experienced they are but it’s also one of the things that makes coastal rowing so special. But what exactly is the swell?
Swell describes the waves that are not caused by the wind but by the movement of the sea. Caused somewhere on the high seas, probably by a storm, a swell can often come from far away regions. It then meets the shallower water along the coast, which creates waves that are even surfable. These waves are just wonderful for rowers and one of the reasons why coastal rowing is so much fun!
Like a drop of water:
Imagine a drop of water drops into your filled sink. What is happening? The drop of water sinks in, lifts the water around it and produces a small wave. This wave now continues over the entire sink. More?
Swell is not caused by wind
So: caused by a storm far out in the ocean like the Atlantic, the waves run for kilometers towards the coast until they hit flatter regions.
The height of the dunes give a good indication of the wave height. However, the swell period and the swell direction also have an influence on the conditions.
The swell period is specified in seconds and indicates the time it takes for successive waves to pass the same point. The longer the period, the more orderly the waves run and the larger they become.
As a guideline: For orderly waves, the period should be at least 5-9 seconds. If the period doubles with the same swell height, the surfable waves are about 50% higher. Then things get exciting in the boat and that’s exactly the reason why coastal rowers love the swell. With regard to the swell direction, it is best if the swell approaches the spot head-on.