Joe Surf: Before there was Surfline, there were landlines

April 20, 2011|By Joe Haakenson

Editor's note: Joe Haakenson is a veteran Orange County sports writer, editor and surfer. This is the debut of his new weekly column, Joe Surf.


Technology. Can't live without it.

Even surfers.

Back in the day, you would have to drive to the beach, park on PCH and check out the waves. With your eyes.


If you had a long drive to get there and it was flat, or it was blown out, then you just wasted your time, not to mention that gas money.

Maybe if you had a buddy who lived close by, you'd check on the conditions by calling him. On a landline.

True, maybe back then you had that one special spot where you could park and there was no meter demanding that you slide your debit card through it. You could stick your car key in the wheel well and have no worries your ride would get ripped off.

But that was then.

Now, though some things are not quite like the good ol' days, there are some things — you just have to admit — make things better.

Even if you're only a mile or two from the shore, is there any good reason not to go online and check the conditions?'s motto is "Know before you go." Makes total sense. gives you surf conditions all over the world, but they are based locally in Huntington Beach.

Need to check out 17th Street in Huntington? How about 36th Street in Newport? Or Rockpile in Laguna?

For you dreamers, you can also check out the swell in Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica, or Rocky Point in Hawaii. has live webcams placed at the shore all around the world that give you a real-time look at conditions, and the website has many other features that provide anything and everything surf-related.

Jeff Spicoli's famous line from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was: "All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz and I'm fine." Now that might be: "All I need are some tasty waves, wireless Internet and Surfline."

All together now: "Thank you, Sean Collins."

Collins admits he started Surfline for selfish reasons: "The whole thing started for myself, so I could get some good waves. I wasn't interested in sharing it with the whole world."

But the whole world gets it now. attracts 90,000 unique visitors per day and 1 million per month.

All because he wanted a good wave.

"Most young people today have grown up in the Internet age," said Collins, 58. "They don't realize what it was like in the '70s and '80s. Before we had Surfline, it was really like the Dark Ages.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles