Surfing On Track

Why it’s time for The Search GPS2 watch from Rip Curl.

“Hey mate, have you got the time?”


“Any idea what the tide’s doing?


“How long have we been out?”

A while.

I used to be that guy in the lineup – clueless, always asking other surfers for the time, trying to glean information about the swell, the tide, and weather forecast. Until my friends – tired of my ceaseless questions – intervened and told me it was time to invest in a tide watch. So I asked the good people at Rip Curl if I could test out their new Search GPS2 watch and they kindly obliged.

In this modern age, technology allows us to have a better understanding of just about everything we do – from advertising to parallel parking – and, in theory, do a better job of it. In major sports like the NBA and MLB, multi-million dollar player contracts are awarded based on the science of advanced analytics and player metrics (read the book or watch the movie Moneyball). Why should surfers lag behind? We already take advantage of some of the most advanced surf and weather forecasting tools available, tapping into live buoy and satellite data and computer modeling technology. As surfers, we have more new technological at our fingertips than the ancient innovations like the leash and the wetsuit, and I’m not talking about Technobutter. It’s time we start taking advantage of them.

The Search GPS2 uses satellite technology to track and log every detail of your surf session, from total waves caught, to top speed, to distance traveled, and everything in between. It’s like having your own personal surf coach, but without all the nervous pacing and screaming on the beach. My hope was that, in addition to giving me more knowledge about the surf conditions when I’m in the water, the Search GPS2 could help me boost my surf fitness and performance level as well.

My first session with my GPS2 was in head-high waves at a fun, wedging slab of reef on Bali’s east side. When I showed up to the beach, I used the GPS2’s one-touch auto tide set function and immediately dialed up the local tide down to the minute, as well as the local swell and wind data pulled from Surfline. This wave was better on a dropping tide, and according to my watch I had timed my arrival perfectly.

With the Search GPS2, you could drop me blindfolded onto any stretch of beach in the world and with one touch on my watch, I would be able to know exactly what the tide, wind and swell are all doing at that very second. And if the waves happened to be firing at this remote, undisclosed location, I would just turn off my location and surf data sharing function with those who follow me on the Search GPS2 app, so nobody would know about the secret spot.

According to the GPS2, I surfed for a total of 1:45 and caught 8 waves on my first test run in Bali. My longest ride was 92 meters and my top speed was 25.8 km/hr. I paddled a total of 4.7 km and surfed a total distance of 5.4 km. “Not bad!” I thought, until I compared how my numbers stacked up to Medina and the WSL guys when they were at Keramas for the WCT event. I realized I could be catching a lot more waves in that amount of time. But the important thing was I now had a starting point. I knew where I stood. And the only way to go was up.

The next afternoon, I paddled out at the same right wedge determined to catch 2 more waves than I had the day previous, and do it 20 minutes less water time. With the GPS2, I was able to track my progress during the session, with all my wave-riding data being logged on my wrist in real time. That’s why every Rip Curl team rider uses the Search GPS2 watch, from Mason Ho gauging his top speed being shot through a Pipe barrel, to Conner Coffin deconstructing his last heat at J-Bay. Low and behold, I did it! I improved my wave count, longest ride and top speed from the previous day. And that, my friends, is what we call progress.

Today I’m no longer that guy, ignorantly floating through life – and surfing. Now I’m the guy who knows exactly what’s happening – with the tide, the swell, and my own performance level in the water. Not to mention, I’m looking more mature and sophisticated in and out of the water. That elegant shine of an advanced timepiece around your wrist tells the world — subtly, yet unmistakably — that you’ve stepped into the ring with life and emerged a champion. And it’s not just in the water or around town. I can track my performance doing other sports, like snowboarding if I head to the mountains this winter.

The philosopher Socrates once proclaimed that, “the unexamined life isn’t worth living.” And while ol’ Socrates probably never surfed, and I would take surfing blindfolded over not surfing at all any day of the week, I get the point he was trying to make: Knowledge is power. And the more you know about your session, the more powerful your surfing will be.

So now when some clueless schmuck paddles up to me in the water and asks me for the time or when low tide is, I tell them it’s time to invest in a Search GPS2 watch. It’s time to mature your surfing. It’s time to set goals and measure your improvement. It’s time to open your eyes and study your craft, just like Socrates said. And with the Search GPS2, time and tide are all on your side.

– Jake Hoyt