In a one-day, winner-take-all first for the sport of surfing, the inaugural Rip Curl WSL Finals will decide the 2021 World Champions at Lower Trestles. With a nine-day waiting period between Sept. 9 - 17, the decision when to call the event on will weigh a multitude of factors.
For starters, for the first time in the history of the Championship Tour, a "yellow alert" system will be in place to give both World Title hopefuls and fans around the globe time to prepare.
"The yellow alert will be 24 hours in advance of when we think we will be running," explains Jessi Miley-Dyer, the WSL's Senior Vice President of Tours and Head of Competition. "So we're really going to be looking at all the details of the forecast with our partners at Surfline and trying to give everyone fair warning about what's coming up."
Once the event goes into yellow alert status, the final call of whether to run or not will be made at 7:30am the day of the proposed contest.
"Because it's the ocean and nothing is ever for sure, we'll be making the final call first thing in the morning when we can put some eyes on it and really understand what the conditions are doing," Miley-Dyer explains.
At this time it's not a matter of if the Rip Curl WSL Finals will get waves, but when the best waves will be. Thanks to a series of strong storms in the South Pacific, a number of swells have set up in the Lowers swell window.
"We're going to be looking at a lot of particulars, especially the swell period for Lowers as that's really an important indicator of size and consistency," continues Miley-Dyer. "We want the day to be as consistent and contestable as possible and we're hopeful that's what we'll see when the Finals are eventually called on."
Historically speaking, these early days of September are the most consistent time of year for waves at Lowers. Surfline has dug into their 40-year history of forecasting Southern California surf conditions and have found that "there's a strong chance of above-average surf at Lower Trestles during the September 9th-17th window."
"The 9th-11th are the strongest three consecutive days in our report archive and especially strong days in our analog years. This jives well with some of the very early guidance on the long-range climate models," explains Surfline Lead Forecaster and Pacific seasonal forecaster Schaler Perry.
"Two of the more reputable models suggest we may be in a pattern we've seen several times this summer late August into the first days of September -- high pressure in the western South Pacific with storm activity from the central to the eastern half of the basin, leading to enhanced SSW swell right around the start of the event window. Things may open back up below French Polynesia in early September -- interestingly, the 15th-16th also show promise in the analogs which would align with that timing for enhanced SW swell around mid-month."
After one of the wildest rides the Championship Tour has ever experienced, the inaugural Rip Curl WSL Finals are here and it's almost time to crown the World Champions. All we need now are some waves ... and they're on the way.
"We are on track for solid, long period SSW swell during the first part of next week -- building on Monday into a Tuesday peak with surf basically holding on Wednesday," confirms Surfline's Kevin Wallis.
"Look for surf running in the overhead to a few feet overhead range Monday through Wednesday, with big sets up to 10' faces or so. Consistency and the number of waves in the sets should be above average for a Southern Hemisphere swell as the storm took a favorable track with good high pressure support on its western flank, moving over an already excited sea state."
Rip Curl WSL Finals runs from September 9-17, 2021 in San Clemente, California. A historic, one-day, winner-take-all race for the 2021 World Title, don't miss a second of the action right here on WorldSurfLeague.com.