West vs east coast waves: Which are steeper?

Discussion in 'Northwest' started by mattybrews, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. mattybrews

    mattybrews Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2013
    So I'm moving to Oregon next month and am pretty stoked about surfing the west coast for the first time in my life. It seems to me that, generally, the waves on the east coast have much steeper faces. I would imagine this is a product of the west coast having much longer wave periods. Am I correct in this assumption?
  2. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    There's no such thing as "east coast" vs. "west coast" when it comes to a basic wave quality like steepness.

    There are mushy/hollow/steep/flat waves on the east coast
    There are mushy/hollow/steep/flat waves on the west coast

    Location location location. There are west coast spots than can take 15 second swell and turn it into hollow kegs, there are other spots where it's soft and slow. Sometiimes right next nearby! Have fun in Oregon. Remember to sit off to the side a while before you go for a set wave at Seaside :)
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013

  3. mattybrews

    mattybrews Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2013
    Gotcha. Thanks for the info. I've been warned about Seaside and don't plan on hitting it for a while. Met some surfers where I'll be working and they said after living nearby for four years they still don't feel welcome there! Plenty of other decent spots around with a mellower vibe from what I've been told though.
  4. 252surfer

    252surfer Well-Known Member

    Dec 1, 2010
    watch for sharks. men in the gray suit love that colder water.
  5. jizwhale

    jizwhale Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2011
    Sharks are imaginary.
  6. waterbaby

    waterbaby Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    you've never surfed on the west coast, yet you guess the west coast isn't as steep...boy are you in for a annihilation (start holding your breath now)

    pretty sure longer periods just means longer lines/walls and longer time between sets. nothing to do with steepness, which has more to do with bathymetry
  7. stinkbug

    stinkbug Well-Known Member

    Dec 21, 2010
    isn't this like the 3rd east coast vs. west coast thread you have started?
    Move along already
  8. mattybrews

    mattybrews Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2013
    Admittedly a foolish assumption on my part. This is why I ask, and I appreciate everyone's input. I've only seen a handful of west coast beaches, and I think every time it was in August or July. Part of me is a bit nervous I might be in over my head out there, so just wondering what to expect. I'm in no rush to jump into double-overhead conditions, trust me. I've got a long ways to go with my surfing still. Seems like I just need to find the right beach for my ability.

    Nope. This is the first one.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  9. yankee

    yankee Well-Known Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Another negative yap from the keyboard buoy.
  10. wavehog1

    wavehog1 Well-Known Member

    Sep 20, 2013
    Its all going to depend on what break you are at and what the current conditions are like. I can tell you that the water temp will definitely be different than where you are at now! I've been to Oregon, Washington, Cali etc... and even in the summer its friggin cold! Course I'm from Florida but man it was cold. Even the sand.... cold!!!

    I know Delaware is cold but I would imagine Oregon is a little cooler.
  11. NWSquid

    NWSquid Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2013
    You're right about Seaside, except that it depends on if you're talking about the Cove or the Point. The Point? Forget it. If you're not pedigreed 3 generations back in Seaside, expect dog poop under your door handles and wax on your window if you park and paddle out there. All hyperbole aside, the locals in Seaside are total Richards. The Cove isn't as bad but don't expect to get a warm fuzzy from anyone (you know, because the water is cold and all.)

    Most anywhere else on the N. OR coast though the vibe is mellow. It's a different breed of surfer out here.
  12. Paddington Jetty Bear

    Paddington Jetty Bear Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Nahhh G, Delaware gets colder in the winter than coastal Oregon. The Northeast is one of the coldest surfing locales in the world.

    But it's going to be like Florida this weekend.....Well, Florida with 41 F water temperatures. Shoot, 41 F and it ain't even winter yet. Could be one of them 34 F years.......Ahh it wakes you up, that's for sure.

    Plus, constant dunkings, on the head, in sub-40 degree water puts your mind in the perfect place to post on surf predictin' website forums..... It kind of dulls you for a few months......huh?.......what?
  13. mattybrews

    mattybrews Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2013
    Well, I got my first taste at Seaside Cove this past weekend. Went with some dudes from work who convinced me to paddle out in 9' surf. And yeah, the waves at this spot were a little less steep than an east coast beach break, but wow are they way more powerful. I've never been ragdolled and held down like that on the east coast, even in hurricane swells. Easily to the point where it was uncomfortable to hold my breath...and then I'd surface only to see another big guy about to reign icy, briny terror on my head. And duckdiving successfully under a wave like that is no easy task! Can't remember the last time I was genuinely afraid for my life in the water before that. I didn't even care how cold it was. Certainly a thrilling, but humbling experience. I've got a long way to go I guess...luckily I have an in with some Oregon veterans and there are some sheltered spots that get good, smaller swell during conditions like that.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
  14. Yewnorksurfsux

    Yewnorksurfsux Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2009
    West coast has infamous wipe out sets as well.
  15. zach619

    zach619 Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    This conversation always comes up. There are many factors that are at play.... Yes, there are heavy days on both coasts, but I think just due to the fact that the entire west coast gets swell in every nook and cranny leaves it to be more consistent, and thus more "steep" more often. Yes, Blacks is mushy some days. OB is mushy somedays, but when the long period swells are firing, they get hollow even at high tide.

    And the fact that the west coast, for the most part, can handle swell and produce quality waves throughout all tide shifts makes it once again, much steeper, more often. Meaning, in the SE, at dead low tide, the waves just close out quickly and dont have much to them, along with the fact that they break much closer to shore. That is just a fact. So, again, even at low tide, with a solid swell, Tormo in PB gets hollow.

    Its just a numbers game. However, when the east coast is firing, it seems to me, growing up in OC MD and surfing the Jerz area, it is very common place to have steep and hollow waves....

    But again, when its firing out west, any beach break hollows out and gets steep....

    The one thing that I will give "most" of the east coast, is that they have favorable seasons for offshore winds that help groom the barrels and make them sometimes easier to get out of....

    Surfing the west coast for 10 years, yes there are a few weeks out of the year that have offshore wind to groom the barrels, but most of the barrels out there on a good day feel preeeeeetty heavy because it is happening at a dead wind, with a long as$ period behind it, so all that power and force is just slamming down on the shore. It makes for some pretty tricky drops.

    I mean, on a 4-7 foot day in OB (SD), when the tide starts dropping out, the waves sizes stay pretty consistenet but you look at heavy as$ freight train sections that will plant your as$ in the sand all day long.... You mix that in with the rouge sets that break 50 yards past the lineup all day... You will be dealing with some heavy sh**....

    Never surfed Oregon before, but that are WIDE open to all those winter swells. So in the winter, I would be prepared for some very steep sh** if you are looking at beach breaks.... My advice to you, or anyone is when a large swell is showing up, find yourself a reef break or a reef point.... Waaaaaaay more manageable. You will still find barrel sections, but its much easier to setup and take a shot at one. Way less risk....

    Unless you are dealing with a pretty epic Beach break that has a consistent deep water channel or sandbar (I.E. Blacks Beach) you will be dealing with some steep, hollow, death defying sh**.
  16. zach619

    zach619 Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Yeah, no doubt. The coldest ocean temps along the Oregon coast bottom out at 50 degrees in the dead of winter. Thats a 4 mil and boots on a nice day.... Everything north of VB is about as cold as salt water can get most years.... add all that rubber to the situation and it is pretty "hard core" situation for sure.
  17. DosXX

    DosXX Well-Known Member

    Mar 2, 2013
  18. EmassSpicoli

    EmassSpicoli Well-Known Member

    Apr 16, 2013
    Great thread. zach619 that's a good post brah. Lots of intriguing thoughts. mattyb, I know all of what you're saying. Big or small waves are big or small anywhere but going over the falls at 17s is a hell of a lot different than 7s. And true dat on the duck dives. Long live gnarl wherever it may be.

    zach619, please talk more about when to hit reefs/points rather than BB's.
  19. ocsurf32

    ocsurf32 Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2012
    Oregon is big, sharks, heavy, and the waves are really not as good as you would think. Sometimes in Winter its will be 10-15 feet for weeks straight and rainy and choppy. . .
  20. rodndtube

    rodndtube Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2006
    Steep? Maybe not steep as in East Coast close-outs?

    A fun day with rolling rocks and boulders :)