PNG Surf Guide and Photographer Chris Peel February mid wurf weason update Q & A with Ben Horvath. All photos Chris Peel, care of PNG Explorer.
Chris Peel is the surf photographer on board the PNG Explorer – Papua New Guinea surf charter. Chris caught up with Ben Horvath this week to fill us in on what the waves have been like for the last 5 or 6 weeks since they last caught up. For the Nov/Dec PNG surf report, view Chris’s last interview and photo package here.
Ben Horvath. (BH.) – Last time we caught up pre-Christmas, you were pretty stoked on how the season was panning out wave-wise. What has it been like so far in 2016?
Chris Peel. (CP.) – We’re stoked to say the least. 2016 has been a pretty good season so far – we have not had huge swells but have continued to receive constant moderate-sized swells with favourable winds. Like most places, the wind direction is the crucial factor, not so much the swell, as there is always something – so we have been pretty happy.
Do you believe the El Nino has been a factor in the consistency of swell?
For sure! This year swells have been running east a lot more than what we are used to. In the past years, we have received bigger and more consistent swells but usually with the presence of wind. This season we have been receiving more of the average size swells but the winds have been great! So really, the main effect of the El Nino has been the wind directions and strengths, not so much the consistency, but there has been no shortage of waves – that’s for sure.
How have the numbers in the water been?
Only the guys on the boat: 8 max for sole bookings and 10 for mixed bookings; though I did see a couple kids belly boarding the other day if that counts 😉 The whole region is run under the PNG Surf Association (SAPNG) management plan, so the experience is how it should be and the resource is loaded at the correct levels.
How long are you staying?
I’ll be onboard for the entire season and be taking a quick break through the off-season before I return for the next season. PNG Surfaris is a 100% PNG company and I am an employee of that company so they have set me up with all the relevant work permits and stuff. Lots of people don’t realise that everything in PNG has to be legit right from the survey level (survey is all the safety systems and standards) on a boat that takes passengers to the people who manage the guests activities. So I’m here for the next three surf seasons at least.
Do you expect the season to keep delivering right through beyond Easter into April?
Hopefully. Andrew (the Captain) has over a decade of experience up here and has seen some of the largest swells at the end of April. It will be interesting to see as the El Nino in the past have all been a little different. From the weather point of view, we have been looking at the El Nino event has peaked already, but there is a kind of lag on the Kelvin wave/upwelling that could see the El-Nino-related weather events stretch right through to June, so our fingers are crossed.
Best session of the season so far?
Geez, that’s a tough one as at least once a charter I find myself saying that was the best session ever (haha!). One that stands out would have to be the last day of trip 5. Everyone was surfed out to the point where your arms hurt just by looking at the waves, and just like clockwork, a left hander we have in close range just started to pump. Nothing too crazy, just super fun playful overhead with the odd double-overhead sets. Everyone hit the reserve tanks, or what was left of them, and just went for it till the tanks were dry. It’s always great to end a trip with quality waves and cold beers. I think I overheard ‘’the best session of my life’’ lots that night, steaming home.
All photos Chris Peel, care of PNG Explorer.