We called this one a few days out. The whole of the North Atlantic was alive with swell over the past few days, setting off Portugal, France, UK, Ireland and of course down into the land of the never ending rights, Morocco.
We'll bring you coverage from everywhere over the next few days – because honestly, wrapping it all under a headline of 'Europe goes off' feels a bit off. Every country, obviously, has their own distinct local flavour, and we want to celebrate that.
Spot guide: Morocco
First up, from this North Atlantic Super Session, we're on a mission in Morocco with Natxo Gonazalez, Noa Mizuno and Ramzi Boukhiam. There's more to Morocco than just Anchor Point and Taghazout, you know. Skirt the coast north, or south, and you'll luck into some hidden gems.
We knew the swell was going to hit there pretty full on, and potentially be one of the best sessions we've seen out of north west Africa in quite some time. Likely within the past five or so years, with February 2016 being comparable in size, power and swell.
But that's just talking about the points of Morocco – local hellman Othmane Choufani was off sampling a notorious slab in his home turf. But we'll bring you an update around that very soon. [hint: it's been firing this winter...]
For Natxo and Ramzi, this may have been the greatest swell they've seen for this part of Morocco, check our embed of Ramzi's keg above, sand ripping across the face of the wave as it dredges towards the channel.
“I'm destroyed after three days of draining barrels,” Natxo tells MSW.. “It was the best Morocco I've ever had. Surfed for six hours a day and it was like I was dreaming, I've never seen it like this. Even Ramzi [Boukhiam], he's always here, and he said he's never seen it like that. There's some crazy stuff going on.”
Lensman Jon Aspuru was on hand for this occasion, and the gents are busy putting together an edit, which we will be dropping on MSW over the next few days. Stay tuned for that.
About this swell, MSW forecaster Tony Butt said: "The swell can be traced back to a low that emerged off Cape Hatteras on Sunday February 7. It moved northeast and deepened, hugging the east coast of North America before turning into the open Atlantic off Newfoundland on Monday 8th. A massive area of strong westerly winds developed on its southern flank northwest of the Azores. A second low developed just south of Nova Scotia on Wednesday 10th, and quickly became entrained into the main system, eventually displacing it by Friday 12th, and maintaining that westerly fetch. As a result, a largish, long-period hit westerly exposures late Thursday and continued to pump all day Friday and over the weekend.
"A finger of high pressure pushed up from the southwest and positioned itself over the Iberian Peninsula by the weekend, keeping local winds light in southwest France and Portugal. In Morocco, the swell hit full blast, with wave heights increasing to ten feet or so by Friday afternoon, dipping almost imperceptibly on Saturday and then filling in again on Sunday. Conditions were good throughout, with moderate to fresh trade winds from the northeast. "