Presented By Wave Riding Vehicles https://www.waveridingvehicles.com
Photos, Words, Video & Captions By Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_
Where: Venice Beach North Jetty, central Gulf Coast Of Florida
When: Sunday, June 7, 2020
Why: Tropical Storm Cristobal Swell
Air/Water Temp: The water temp was 83F and the air temp was 90F.
Swell Direction/Size: The swell direction was SSW and the evening before, the East Gulf Buoy (The buoy isn’t anywhere near Venice) was at 5.7ft @ 10 seconds. Wave heights were roughly 2-3ft overhead on the largest sets.
Wind Direction: Winds were south all day until they switched SSE and went side offshore.
Photographers Rating: I would give it a solid 7
The Story: Tropical Storm Cristobal’s development was fueled by what’s called a Central American Gyre, or CAG. This “gyre” is a large, broad area of low pressure that often forms in late spring and early fall over Central America and the western Caribbean Sea. It also helped spawn a separate Eastern Pacific Tropical Storm Amanda.
I was planning on going to the Panhandle of Florida to go shoot because that is where the winds would be offshore and the swell would be largest. Those plans were kind of ruined so I took a crew that contained Cole Smyth, Curren Burkley, Logan and Gavin Coluccio, Blane Willard, and myself.
We left at 4:30am and drove nearly four hours across the state. When we neared the west coast, Evan Gesielman texted me and said that Venice Beach North Jetty was the move since he had received reports that Anna Maria and areas near Clear Water weren’t good. So, we headed to North Jetty.
We arrived at around 8:30 and it was just ok, way better than nothing and certainly better than what was on offer back home in Saint Augustine. Chasing Gulf Coast hurricane waves are based partly on numbers, science, reading the forecast tea leaves and keeping your fingers crossed. The fickle factor is high, very high, but if you go you just might be rewarded so we hung tight and wisely so as patience paid off.
Arriving at the iconic Venice Jetties at the mouth of Casey’s Pass, the winds were strong side shore and the swell was missing the jetty because of how southerly the swell direction as Cristobal churned out to our west headed for landfall at the barrier islands of Grande Isle, LA. It was only waist high in the morning so we kept the fingers crossed and, as the day went on, the swell grew and winds slowly clocked to side offshore.
Video clip above of Evan Geiselman and Gavin Coluccio by Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_
At around 4pm, the swell was the largest we had seen and winds changed side offshore, bringing super fun overhead surf. The sets broke on the outside and rolled into the inside where they walled up super nicely. After shooting for around six hours, we left and started our four hour journey home thankful we took the chance and the long, day trip drive over from North Florida. – Peyton Willard –