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FoundedSouthern California - 1985
FounderSean Collins
HeadquartersHuntington Beach, California
Area served
Key people
Jeff Berg (CEO)

Surfline is a company and website based in Huntington Beach, California that specializes in surf forecasting and surf reports, live webcasting, photography, videography, as well as editorial coverage of the sport of surfing. is now ranked 1,180 in the US and 5,784 in the world in terms of popularity compared to other websites[1] and is now the largest provider of streaming HD coastal cams. Since 2003 it has taken on[2] and[3] (2012), on average the family of websites receives 175,000 visitors per day. The site includes streaming video, surf reports and forecasts.[4] offers streaming cameras at 150 surf breaks,[5] and is one of the larger surf cam websites.[6] Surfline currently has approximately 50 employees.[7]


Surfline was founded in 1985 as a pay-per-call telephone surf report by Southern California surfer Jerry Arnold in partnership with David Wilk and Craig Masuoka, who had founded the Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. Over 50 surfers were employed to relay dawn surf conditions from their local surf breaks to a central office in Huntington Beach, California, where a special phone system made the reports available to callers for 50 cents each. The telephone number, 976-SURF, became well known in the surfing world. The company received 6,000 calls per day in its first month and grew from there. Surfline's offerings expanded throughout Southern California to Northern California and then into Florida and Texas.

A key feature of Surfline's offerings was a daily surf forecast prepared by Sean Collins, a young surfer and sailor who pioneered the art of surf forecasting.[citation needed] Collins' ability to correctly predict the arrival of new swells made a significant impact on surfing. In 1991 Collins bought out Wilk and Masuoka to become a full partner in Surfline and two years later he bought out Arnold to own it outright.

Collins interest in surf forecasting developed out of his own desire for more accurate long-range surf forecasts for Southern California and the Baja California peninsula.[8] The company started as a call-in service, which provided verbal condition reports for various surf breaks around Southern California.[9] In 1995 Surfline became an online service, offering live video streams of surf breaks in addition to written surf reports.[5] was bought up by Swell, Hardcloud and Bluetorch with the hopes of being a “category killer.” They went to Surfer and Surfing magazines to seek out editors, designers, photographers and management. More surfers were becoming more comfortable with going online and was taking advantage of their success by gaining large amounts of money from venture capitalist. The company used that money to improve their data gathering and processing along with surf cams.[10]

Impacts on Surf Culture[edit]

The introduction of and the increase in reliance on the real time footage has changed surfers' lifestyles.[citation needed] With the advances in the technologies and ability to predict the surfing conditions at various spots it has given surfers the ability to make future plans and make decisions about where to surf or if its worth it to go anywhere. It used to be that surfers relied on word of mouth, seasonal tendencies or tides to know what the surf was going to be like. Some would take days off from work based on this unreliable information and then be disappointed when there were no waves that day or there would be days where the surf was ideal and surfers would miss it altogether. Surfer magazine’s editor Brendon Thomas has said in response to this shift, “I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing, but it’s true.” [11] Another aspect of Surf Culture that is seeing some controversy is dealing with new crowds. There is a strong “Locals Only” mentality in different surf spots around the world. Surfers have blamed and live surf reporting as a contributor to the increase of crowds at surf breaks. The locals were so upset that there was suspicion that some of the surfers in New Jersey even planned to get back by hiding and/or breaking the camera.[12]


  1. ^ "Competitive Intelligence". Alexa. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  2. ^ "Buoyweather - Accurate Marine Weather Forecasts".
  3. ^ "Deep Sea Fishing Features and Charts - FISHTRACK.COM".
  4. ^ "About Surfline". Surfline. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  5. ^ a b Joe Haakenson, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, 04/20/2011, "Before There was Surfline, There were Landlines", Retrieved 05/04/2011
  6. ^ Corey Kilgannon, New York Times, 01/27/2008, "Cameras Show if Surf Is Good, but Surfers Are Getting in Way ", Retrieved 05/04/2011
  7. ^ Apple Business Profiles, 2010, "Surfline: Catching waves in the palm of the hand.", Retrieved 05/04/2011
  8. ^ Damien Hobgood, ESPN, 08/13/2009, "The Man Behind The Weather Map", Retrieved 05/04/2011
  9. ^ Marc Lacey, Los Angeles Times, 12/26/1991, "Riding a Wave of Success", Retrieved 05/04/2011
  10. ^ Warshaw, Matt (April 29, 2011). The History of Surfing. San Francisco, Ca: Chronicle Books. p. 448. ISBN 9780811856003. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  11. ^ Thornton, Stuart. "Science of Surfline". National Geographic. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  12. ^ Kilgannon, Corey. "Cameras Show if Surf Is Good, but Surfers Are Getting in Way". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-05-28.

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