Hugh Stolarz plans to surf the swell of hurricane Bill this weekend.
He and a small group of friends will drive north to a “secret spot” where waves meet a rocky shore.
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“Normally you get waves up to your knee and they’re not that fun to ride,” he said Thursday.
“But when you’re in a hurricane or a big storm, you get bigger waves that are a lot more fun to ride. It’s like you’ve been snowboarding on the bunny hill forever and all of a sudden you get a nice big mountain.”
But the 21-year-old, who has surfed the hurricane swells dozens of times, said the majority of surfers only ride the waves before and after the hurricane hits shore. He also said the best way to stay safe is to surf with a group.
“You have to know what you’re doing and stay with friends who know what they’re doing,” he said.
Juel Maerz, co-owner of One Life Surf School near Lawrencetown Beach, warned surfers to know their ability level before surfing hurricane Bill’s “expert” level waves.
“Hurricane swells can be fun and exciting, but they’re also unpredictable and dangerous.”
She agreed with Stolarz that surfers should never surf alone, adding they should find sheltered areas and communicate with lifeguards.
Maerz said the “incredibly powerful and large” swells from Bill are forecast to reach as high as 30 feet.
“You can have rogue waves within them that can be massive," she said.
For that reason, Maerz warned that amateurs shouldn’t overstep their limits.
“This one just happens to be one of the biggest swells to ever be predicted to hit the shores here. Surfers will be frothing at the mouth. But they might not have the water time or the experience,” she said.
“It’s not cool to be unsafe, it’s cool to be smart.”