Rest in Peace, Sean Collins

My sincerest condolences go out to the family of Sean Collins, trailblazer of surf forecasting.

What Kelly Slater is to pro surfing, Collins was, is, and will always be to swell prediction science.

Many old-timer salty dogs resent what the ritual of surfing has become: wake up, turn on computer, smart phone or tablet and log on to Surfline or Wetsand or any of the dozens of other surf forecasting websites and see through the surf cam and wave models exactly how the surf is doing without getting out of bed.

Without inlanders having to get in their car, the surf has gotten way more crowded. ‘Know before you go’ is Surfline’s motto. The creators of some surf forecast websites want you to log online and know before you go, not necessarily because of their benevolent nature, but because of the profit motive.

The more inlanders that sign up for memberships and click on banner ads, the more money for the powers that be at Surfline and the other sites.

If you’re way high up the chain at Surfline it doesn’t matter that the crowds in the lineup have gotten out of hand; not when you’re wealthy enough to rent the private surf island of Tavarua for weeks on end.

Are bitter salty dog surfers correct in blaming Collins, in part for his exploiting the Internet, monetizing surf predictions and driving hundreds of thousands into the surf?

I would hope that the surf cynics could see how Collins deserved credit for pushing the envelope. Without his surf model prescience, big wave surfers and pros wouldn’t know which giant swell to track next. Then we wouldn’t be enriched with so many YouTube videos and DVDs of pushing the envelope, Mt. Everest/K2 surfing exploits. What else would us regular Joe surfers watch while whiling away a long dark winter night: Jersey Shore?

Yes, it’s unfortunate that many breaks have become unbearably crowded. But in the long run, the more people who get turned on to surfing, the more people will be happy and follow their bliss and feed their souls. And isn’t that what life should be about? We’re realing that the American Dream has become more like the American Scream, a horrific shallow, spiritually-bankrupt pursuit of financial excess.

Sean Collins, perhaps more than any figure in surfing has been instrumental in helping landlocked transplants from the Midwest and beyond transform their mundane lives. Because of Sean, many thousands of people look forward to getting up in the morning.

Sure, there’ll always be some agro crazies in the lineup to try and spoil a session for everyone, but even if surf forecasting never existed, there’d always be a Surf Nazi or two in the water.

Collins, if he wanted to, could have become the surfing equivalent of Mark Zukerberg of Facebook, but he chose to keep his true love, surf forecasting and meterology close to his heart.

As someone who lives right by the beach and always surfs the same break, I don’t need to check the reports online. Sometimes I wish the Internet never existed, at least not surf cams and social media, but I certainly don’t blame Sean Collins for making the lineups more crowded; I credit him for introducing the bliss of catching a wave to the masses.

Rest in peace, Sean.

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