An online marine forecasting service developed by South African surfers has
been launched for recreational and professional users of the beach and
The system, which forecasts swell, surf and wind conditions up to seven days
in advance, is the first of its kind in South Africa.
Wavescape Ocean Watch (WOW) publishes information on swell height and
interval, wind speed and direction, sun and moon phase, tides and water
temperatures for regional and specific locations around 3 600km of
The WOW pages on Wavescape.co.za have been a hit with surfers and other
ocean users around South Africa, receiving 100,000 page impressions in the
"The unique power of WOW "is that it refines raw open-ocean data – a generic
set of variables from ocean modelling systems – to deliver information
specific to South Africa," says Steve Pike, otherwise known as Spike, a surf
forecaster who works with surfing events such as Red Bull Big Wave Africa.
"We publish sea state information for 34 places on the coast, taking into
account the angle of the coast to the direction of the swell, and the energy
of the swell. We filter out obstacles such as headlands or points, and
calculate how far the swell must refract to reach a point, bay or beach
"This gives an accurate picture of the surf that will result, which is a
great tool for people seeking local conditions," says Pike.
Piet Streicher, a surfer and windsurfer with a PhD in engineering, heads up
BulkSMS.com who partnered with Wavescape on the project. Streicher was
instrumental in building the complex mathematical formulae that drive the
"This inshore forecasting is unique as other existing swell services only
report general open ocean swell conditions.
"Although the WOW model is automated, Spike used his many years of surf
forecasting experience to calibrate the system. The result is a very
accurate surf forecasting system," says Streicher.
Steven Weiss, a South African surfer and software developer, designed and
built the system to convert raw data and apply formulae into a XML files
used by clients to publish the information in the format of their choice
including SMS, charts, graphics and tables.
"We publish our own version of the data. Wavescape has animated graphics,
tables and bar graphs," says Spike.