by Joel Saltzman
Just when I thought I was going to upgrade my 4 year old Ripcurl GPS surf watch with their 2nd generation, a funny thing happened. Not only did Apple "meet" Ripcurl with the same GPS functionality, they one upped them with the help of Surfline's new Sessions feature. I gave up waiting for a decent day to evaluate this thing at my local beach. I always get my most amazing statistics while at Corky's paradise but next to there, San O usually delivers impressive numbers. Apparently, you can use the Apple Surfline Ap or the similar-to-Ripcurl Dawn Patrol Ap as that one also can be synced with Surfline. While it was easy to set up and launch, I found the accuracy was nowhere near as good as my old RipCurl search watch. Of course, I was wearing my new Apple 4 under my wetsuit as the factory sports band could easily pop open outside the suit. My Ripcurl had a traditional clasp allowing me to wear over the suit. That being said, the problem was not that it missed waves. I did two sessions and mentally counted about 8 waves each. When I synced my watch with my iPhone, it showed I caught 12 waves per session. If that wasn't weird enough, I was also clocked on one wave at 21mph and another at 25mph. Anyone who has ever surfed San O Old Man's knows they call it that for a reason. When jumbo, it has its moments but normally, it's a slow, baggy s-turny reform kind of long, long wave. So I have go call BS on the accuracy of this thing.
At the moment, this APP only works with iPhones and the 3rd party Dawn Patrol Application which more resembles the Ripcurl SEARCH statistics. The great news is it looks like RipCurl's watches will be compatible with Sessions soon. While the Ripcurl search is certainly more durable waterproof-wise and likely more accurate, it's not a sexy beast like the Apple Watch 4. In fact, the first version was enormous, ugly and uncomfortable to sleep with. So far, the only downside to the Apple watch is it needs to be charged every 1-2 days where I could go over a week with the Ripcurl, except in Mainland Mex where the waves are 500+ yards each. Had to charge every two days down there.
I did have a problem initially getting my sessions to load on my iPhone. It turned out I was a defective user though and it was not Apple or Surfline's fault. Apparently, my watch was accidentally put in Airplane mode and once I turned that off, the sessions came over. I had to figure out how to swipe up from the bottom to reveal the sessions. The great news is this s**t really works. The dude who invented this technology gets a set wave of his choice from me. Of course, there are bugs which I will go over below that need to be addressed. Here is a typical sessions clip..
As you can see, the biggest limitations are the image quality and range of the Surfline cameras. I found that the system did not miss any of my waves which was the great news. Surfline states that this feature will record you as long as the camera can see you. Well that may be true but it also continues to record your stats when you are out of frame. My 11th wave was 699 feet long. I'm the dude who starts off going right and turned it into a left. I go out of screen about 200' into the ride. The dude on the wave behind me ended up getting captured way better than me so it's all about staying in the camera frame. Aside from Malibu with multiple camera angles, I'm not sure it will be possible to capture a long wave in it's entirety. That being said, anyone who has wasted time fast forwarding camera rewinds while looking to find their waves will love this.
Once I set up my Apple watch complications properly, it is a way cooler surf watch than the Ripcurl. I can launch a session with one touch on the dial. I can launch my Pandora APP for my iPhone with one touch as well as make a phone call. The watch face also shows me wind speed, weather conditions, time, and date,
All it takes is the Surfline Application (about $70 per year), and an Apple 2 or later watch. As I mentioned, Ripcurl will have this soon so if you have one of their watches already, sit tight. I'm not yet convinced that the Apple watch is as accurate but I have only had two sessions on one day compared to hundreds on my Ripcurl. I will continue to play with this and report back. So far, the biggest disappointment was thinking I was really ripping and then seeing the videos that were not quite as fabulous as they were in my mind.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.