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We often hear this phenomenon called a sneaker wave. in my humble opinion there is no such thing as a sneaker wave.
In the surfers language, which I am Also an expert at ,this is called the ninth -ninth wave, or the 81st wave.
If you do get caught outside and the bar is rough it is very simple to sit outside the breakers and count the swells, you will find they come in series of 9;
Starting at no.1 the swells will start building up until they reach the breaking point which usually starts at No. 7 swell and continues through No. 8 and 9, No. 9 will always be the biggest one that is the one you want to follow in if you have to.
When coming in, during rough bar conditions I usually sit outside and count the swells, these are called sets.
Once you get the pattern of the swells established, try to come in between numbers 2 and 3. the secret. here is don’t panic and climb over the No. 9 swell and get ahead of the breaker,
As the swells come in, they get slower and slower until they reached their breaking point [which may be as slow as five miles in hour] and you may have the urge to power forward this could be disastrous if you climb over the face of a breaker.
The Dorey a fisherman at Pacific City have been doing this for years, succesfully.
 

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How's it going HJ? I think sneaker wave maybe a misnomer. Your talking about the predictable succession of waves in a pattern. Not the Nov. 8:00pm minus clam tide, one second your after mister razor the next your a body surfer. And what was that I just bumped into? Oh it's a parked car 300 yards from where I was digging. I think they call that one a rogue wave. And I see people bring thire small kids down to the ocean in the winter to dig at night, what are they thinking? The ocean is not always predictable, just my .02
 

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I can hardly believe you are an "expert" in surfing when you are stating an absolute myth about sets of waves. There is no such thing as the ninth ninth wave and sets do NOT come in multiples of nine. I have been involved in surfing the west coast for 30 years and I've experienced everything from one wave sets to 64 wave sets.
A "sneaker" wave or set AKA rogue wave is simply a manifestation of the variablity in the winds (storms) that created the waves. The wind doesn't blow at a consistent and constant rate of speed and gusts may vary the speed of the wind considerably, creating even bigger swells. As these travel across the ocean they smooth out and distance themselves from each other. That's why they arrive in sets and the strength of the storm (wind) is the main factor in how large the surf will be and how consistent the sets will be. There can be many minutes between sets or they can be very consistent, but there is absolutely no such thing as the ninth ninth wave. Simply isn't true.
Surfers wait for sets to ride and boaters should sit and watch and then proceed between the sets.
Nothing very tricky about it at all if you are aware of what is happening. The problems come from people who don't know anything about waves/surf etc and think they are invincible or something. The ocean gives nobody a break and doesn't even know you are there. Should you put yourself in a bad position don't expect any mercy from the ocean. It's not alive...it's a natural power that ignores human activities.
Learn about it and you'll be much better prepared to deal with surf on sandbars and the like.

Take care.
 

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"...And then the two
Dropt into the cove, and watch'd the great sea fall,
Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was a flame;
And down the wave and in the flame was bourne
A naked babe, and rode to Merlin's feet,
Who stoopt and caught the babe, and cried,
'The King!'..."


-Tennyson "The Coming of Arthur"
 

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Every winter I watch the Coast Guard and charters work together in calling "flat spots" in there attempt to get the charters accross the bar safely in adverse conditions.

They (the charters and Coaties alike) refer to those "sets" as series. Never seen or heard of any magic formula in numbers for predicting the "flat spots" (which seldom times aren't flat) for the charters to come in on.

Dan
 

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I only surfed for 3 years when I was in the Navy, but there is no rhyme or reason to sets.

In Australia one time I was caught inside when a freak set rolled in down. A set of 3 waves rolled in and were 2-3' larger than the dominant wave height for the day. When they were gone, it was just like they hadn't come through except for the foam in the impact zone. I was bounced off of the reef like a rag doll. It will definately give you respect for the ocean.

Jim, where have you done your surfing at? Or are you just making reference to the Dory fleet?
 

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Yeah Sunset, I couldn't of said it better myself. Figuring out the sets and wave patterns is like trying to fortell the weather.

I've been in many circomstances where a single wave set has come through and cleaned up the line up. The call it a sneaker wave because it's come unexpected. You can't predict it. You can only make it more true by turning your back to it.

So good luck with your myth, but be careful, cuz I'd hate for you to be waiting for the ninth wave, then get pummeled cuz they changed to 3 waves sets.. LOL.
 
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