The Superbank is one part man-made miracle, another part natural wonder, and exists as one of the most compelling, yet mercurial surf spots on earth. Snapper Rocks, the outcrop at the tip of Point Danger, was created by an ancient volcano over a millennia ago, the lava spilling into the ocean and cooling to form a rocky spine.
This spine protrudes offshore past the famous jump off rocks allowing swells to follow the shallower water and refract along this underwater backbone. Next to the point, the sand gathers naturally along the length of Rainbow Bay. When a swell hits the shallows, the mix of refraction and shallow sand result in the waves wrapping down a classic point break set-up.
Over the last thousand years or so, the movement of sand and swells created a series of points inside Rainbow Bay. Snapper, Greenmount and Kirra each used to be separated by deep water sections. However, in 1995 sand started to be pumped from the mouth of the adjacent Tweed River to beaches just north to ensure the rivermouth was safe for shipping and to stabilize coastal erosion north of the river. The sand filled in gaps between the points, and by 2007 the Superbank was born. It was a 1.2 mile stretch of flat-packed sand that ran from Snapper Rocks to Kirra and provided some of the longest, fastest and hollowest point break waves on the planet.
Even more Modern History
Before last week's swell, the Gold Coast had endured one of its longest flat spells in living memory. For six months, no waves over head high had ruffled the Gold Coast, and small lapping northeast swells deposited more and more sand in the corner of its mitt. Last week that drought finally broke, bringing incredible waves to the Superbank. And, unfortunately, incredible crowds. Big surf is a double-edged sword, though, as the power of the swell also started to gouge a few holes in the once pristine bank. It is a little too early to tell what will remain for the Quik and Roxy Pro and the quality of the bank when the first horn blows for Round One. But, as ever with the Superbank, it's a whimsical beast -- ever moving, ever changing.
In an Ideal World
In an ideal world Snapper best fires on a mid-period, east-southeast swell that is brushed by light, southwest, offshore winds. If the swell is too south, the long lines tend to wrap too wide off the shallow sandbanks. Those swells also can lead to an insane sweep that runs down the bay at a high speed, making progress back to the money section behind the rocks almost impossible. And while competitors can use jet ski assistance to get back up the top of the point, staying there is beyond human endurance. On the flip-side, east or northeast swells compress into the points, creating impossible sections and working against the refraction that makes the Superbank so super.
The stretch of sand in front of Kirra is rock hard, however, and in the last run of solid swell offered the finest jewels along the entire Superbank. The loss of Kirra is well documented in the Australian surf media, yet with a solid swell and low tide, its' old glory really comes alight. If we do get those conditions, both events could easily run on that legendary surfing space in front of the Big Groyne.
It will be all right on the day
The beauty of Snapper and the Superbank is that it offers an incredible variety of conditions. The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro have hosted everything from 6-foot flawless perfection, to 2-foot high performance runners, to survival-at-sea with sand-exploding freight trains. Sure, everyone hopes for the dreamy cut glass tubes, but competitors and fans will have to be ready for whatever face the Superbank decides to reveal. No matter what mood she is in, Snapper brings guaranteed excitement and progression to the start of the 2017 CT Tour.