So if you’re fed up with driving to the beach on a five star forecast only to find unrideable slop or just want to be better informed, try these alternatives to Magic Seaweed (MSW):
Late Drop is a new surf forecast, delivered daily to your inbox. Currently in the beta testing stage, it’s free to signup but limited to the Newquay area. Plans are in progress to roll out across the South West, Wales and beyond.
Why would you use Late Drop and not MSW? I asked the founder Adam Brooks just that and here’s his answer:
I think Late Drop has a few things that give it an edge:
1) The spots/beaches are configured/calibrated/curated individually, by a person. As I roll out to a wider area, I expect this to continue (I already have a “rep in waiting” for South Wales, and one for Bali!). What this means is that each spot is manually set up and maintained to have an extremely accurate picture of what happens there under different conditions (including the tide).
2) If you’re anything like me and you know what you like (in my case: waves up to head high) then, depending on the conditions, you may have to go through quite a few locations looking for where it might be breaking at that size. Late Drop just tells you where to go to get what you want (and if what you want is not available then it will tell you the closest you’ll get to it). It does this in an email that comfortably fits in the screen of a mobile – no scrolling required. Less time reading forecasts, more time surfing.
3) MSW sizing seems to be a bit “off” on a fairly regular basis. On several occasions I’ve made the decision to make a reasonably long journey to surf (both in the UK and continental Europe) where MSW has had it in the 3-5ft range – and in this range I’ve found everything from waist high to double overhead! A couple of people have mentioned this to me as an experience they’ve also had. Again, with Late Drop being configured and “curated” spot-by-spot, I hope to not suffer from this anywhere near as often. If I had to summarise this answer in 3 words: Quality over quantity!
4) MSW has their star system for “swell rating” – but of course, we’re not all the same. What’s GREAT SURF to me, may not be the same as what’s GREAT SURF to you. I hope that when Late Drop gives you a score of 90%+ (or 5 stars, or 9-10/10, or “green” or whatever it ends up doing…) then that means GREAT SURF FOR YOU.
Epic is the most beautiful phone app I use. It’s a surf forecast app with all the features of MSW, but it’s quicker and more enjoyable to use. Thanks to the very clever and stunningly restrained design you don’t need to scroll and you won’t get distracted by adverts, promotions, gallerys, webcams or other nonsense.
I asked creator Nuno Grilo what sets Epic apart from MSW, here’s what he said:
UI & Simplicity: surfers are bored with opening surf report/forecasting apps and finding either lots of info they don’t understand, or info splitting into multiple views. Although the Epic spot view (the initial view) is minimalist, it contains all the info a surfer needs to know for the day. Besides the Spot view, there is only one more view the user cares about: the Forecast view. Most feedback I have says they like the UI design, the simplicity and the ease-of-use.
Forecast Readability: most forecasts are hard to read. There’s a lot of information to show, and the way most apps present this is disastrous. The good thing on Epic forecasts is that is shows right away (on a graph) how the swell will evolve. It also presents the information on a very graphical view instead of hard-to-read tables. That’s something that makes Epic easy to use for beginners.
For me, the reason I parted with hard cash for this app are the surf alerts. Epic lets you choose the swell, wind and tide conditions that make your favourite surf spot ‘go off’. When your chosen conditions are met, ‘ping’ you get a surf alert notification on your phone to say your favourite surf spot is EPIC! You even get to set how much notice you need.
If you want the full featured, no advert version, you’ll have to pay $19.99 a year but you can test drive it for just $2.99 a month. Or there’s a free version but you will get adverts and you won’t get alerts.
Find out more and download the Epic app here.
Kat’s surf forecast
This week I was introduced to Kat’s Surf Forecast, a YouTube Channel dedicated to Surf Reports for the South West of England. Every Thursday, Kat posts a short video with her weekend surf forecast, plus a few little extras for fun. Kat also shares a daily surf update on Instagram.
Here’s why Kat thinks her blog is a great alternative to MSW:
Sometimes a bit of human interaction over reading data gives you a better picture of what’s going on – especially if there are uncertainties in the models. Think a television weather forecast but for surfing!
Although MSW gives you probability percentages, it doesn’t explain why there’s low confidence and what to be aware of. I try and use my knowledge (which is continuously growing) to highlight uncertainties or to simply show why we’re having good surf for example. I hope it’s useful for beginners out there too, bringing some fun chit chat prior to a potential weekend surf; and especially knowing that my followers can give me a quick message on social media makes it a little more personal.
Kat’s serious about waves and forecasting. She surfs (obviously) has a degree in Environmental Sciences and wants to be a Broadcast Meteorologist (Weather Presenter). Tune in now, before Kat disappears to present the weather on Sky News.
If you prefer YouTube to emails and apps, subscribe to Kat’s Surf Forecast.
DIY surf forecast
You don’t need MSW or anyone else to tell you what the waves are going to be like, you can Do It Yourself from wind and wave data.
Here’s a few data sources to get you started:
• Windfinder – a worldwide and mesmeric method to see which way the wind is blowing. Zoom in on your part of the world to find a local weather station, where you can get useful data including wave direction, height and period.
• Channel Coastal Observatory – get live and historical buoy data along the south coast of England. The basic graph data includes wave height, period, direction and sea temperature. You won’t get more accurate data than this. Here’s a link to the buoy off Perranporth.
• Met Office – if you want surface pressure charts for Europe and the North East Atlantic look no further. With a five day forecast set to play, be ready to get hypnotised. I still get excited when those warped concentric circles creep up from the Atlantic to devour our little island.
Quit the habit
Ready to quit your Magic Seaweed habit? Hopefully these surf forecast fixes will help.
Sorry, half of these surf forecast alternatives are focused on SW England. But if you’ve got an alternative to MSW that you use, please share it in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I have not received any freebies or cash for reviewing the surf forecasts above. I wrote this post because Adam, Nuno, Kat and others are working hard to help you find great surf. So I thought they deserved a mention. And I’m fed up of hearing people whinge about The Weed whilst out surfing. Now you have a choice, so please stop complaining.