What is Swell Period? Swell Period is the measurement, expressed in seconds, between waves in a ‘set’, or a series of waves grouped together at a regular interval.
For example, a swell forecast may predict that a swell of a certain size will arrive at Pipeline in Hawaii at a ’15 second period’. This means that, as sets of waves arrive, each wave will break at the peak (or any other stationary object) every 15 seconds for the duration of a set. Note, the higher the swell period, generally, the longer the break in time between sets of waves.
In the surfing world, swell period equates to power. The higher the swell period, the more power that is packed into each wave. You may have heard surfers talking about the power in the waves in Indonesia or Hawaii, where 15, 18, even 20+ second period swells roll through frequently. Inversely, the East Coast of Australia or the US are lucky to see swells with periods of 12 seconds and 7-9 second period swells are common.
To bring the concept of swell period back to the realm of surfboards, because a higher period swell has more power, a swell of a given size will have more ‘push’ vs. a lower period swell. This means a surfer will need less volume and paddle power in a surfboard they may take to surf a head high wave in Indonesia (with a higher swell period) versus a head high wave in Sydney, Australia (with a lower swell period).
Does this help you?
I hope so.