Why Cyclone Betsy remains the best tropical cyclone to hit the east coast in 20 years. All photos: Peter Joli Wilson.
Well it's already here, really. But we are still waiting for that first real cyclone to hit the East Coast of Australia and light up the Far North Coast and SE QLD region. While we wait here's some drool from pixel king Peter "Joli" Wilson as we look back on Cyclone Betsy circa 92'.
What do you remember about that cyclone?
Joli: That cyclone for me is the definitive cyclone. It was one of those classic Queensland cyclone swells and I judge everything else by it for the quality of the surf. It was in the perfect position, perfect swell window, the weather didn’t come with it and it was the perfect swell. It was in the perfect spot and it spun enough to send five days of swell.
Did you think at the time it was that magic?
I think I was just too busy caught in the moment. We were here in Queensland, there’s a cyclone, it’s hot and steamy, the water’s blue and everybody is getting barrelled at Kirra.
How did Kelly wind up there that day?
Kelly had just won the pro junior at Narrabeen and we jumped in a car to chase cyclones in Queensland. He was 20 years old around that time. I think after that swell for a long time after that Kelly named Kirra one of his favourite breaks in the world.
Were my eyes playing tricks on me or was he riding a single fin at the time?
Akila Aipa had shaped him a board prior to coming out to Australia and he was riding that board at times during that swell. I can remember him riding it at D-Bah as well.
So it’s fair there’s a lot to start getting excited about this time of year?
(Laughs) Yes is the short answer. There’s a possibility of one up the coast now but haven’t been following today. Right now the sand is lined up and if a cyclone like Betsy did what it did and sat out to see 200 or 300 kilometres and tracked down the coral sea to the tip of New Zealand the points would just be smoking. (Laughs) It would just be nuts!
Until then we wait patiently for the cyclone season to really kick off.