We live in the digital age when it’s hard not to succumb to the general obsession with data and statistics.

The surfing industry is no stranger to this trend, and today many companies produce specialized surf watches, among them such famous brands as Cassio, Nixon, Rip Curl, and, of course, the Apple Watch with an app.

The last two – Rip Curl and Apple Watch – are the market leaders with the most extensive functionality, so let’s talk about the rationality of buying and using surf watches by their example.

Rip Curl Surf Watch

Over the past few years, Rip Curl has released several generations of surf watches, adding more and more data to the surf watch. By connecting to GPS, this watch records data about the surf session.

Rip Curl

Basic available data:

  • Time in the water
  • Number of waves caught
  • Distance traveled on top of your board
  • Maximum speed
Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2

This watch synchronizes with your phone through a specialized app that allows you to view (and share with your friends) a map of rides. In addition, the watch displays tide data and current spot conditions from the SURFLINE forecast.

The Search GPS 2 is smaller, lighter and more durable than its predecessor, and comes with new features like real-time conditions, and GPS tracking for new sports like snowboarding and skiing, running and swimming. Watch this video about Search GPS2.

Apple Watch and the Down Patrol Surfer App

The Apple smartwatch lets you install a mobile app with more functionality than Rip Curl. Here’s what the most popular Down Patrol app can count:

  • Time in the water
  • Number of waves caught
  • Distance traveled on top of your board
  • Maximal speed
  • Heart rate and calories burned
Apple Watch

After syncing with the iPhone, the user can view the track of his rides on a satellite image and, if desired, share his ride on Instagram.

The app’s interface allows you to customize the Apple Watch screen to display tidal data and the current surf forecast.

Smart Watch and the Waves Tracker Surfer App

Owners of Android smartwatches, if the model has a built-in GPS sensor, have the opportunity to download the Waves Tracker application. The functionality is similar and even more detailed:

  • Time in the water
  • Number of waves caught
  • Distance traveled on top of your board and total distance
  • Average speed on a wave
  • Maximal speed
  • Calories burned
Android Watch

After synchronization with the phone, the application shows the map of rides on the satellite image and allows sharing the data on social networks or sending them to the fitness tracker Garmin, TomTom, Fitbit, Suunto, etc.

In addition, the app automatically collects statistics by month and year, is sorted by spots and displays personal records.

How to Use a Surfwatch

And here we come to the most interesting question – does a surfer need a specialized watch?

The fact is that all the companies selling this accessory emphasize data analysis, so buy a watch, and you can analyze your riding and improve your results.

But no one writes about how exactly to do this. In order not to be unsubstantiated, we surveyed surfers who use this watch.

As expected, it turned out that the vast majority do not use their statistics in any way – they ride, look and forget. If the ride was good, with lots of waves or very long rides, the surfers share their results, but this is purely bragging and narcissism, which has nothing to do with actual progress.

However, we don’t think that surf watches are useless toys, and we just need to understand how to use them. And here we have some ideas for you.

Determine the best tide level

If you often ride the same spot, pay attention to the average distance of travels on different rides and see if you can find a correlation with tide level. The wave may look the same on high tide and low tide, but the GPS data will impartially tell you if this is really the case and which tide has a better chance of longer travels.

The image of travels is not detailed, and it is impossible to determine the maneuvers.

Don’t overdo it

Apple Watch users can monitor their heart rate in real-time. For example, after a puddle and a long paddling back to the lineup, your heart rate can be very high, in which case it makes sense to rest in the channel instead of paddling straight to the next wave.

A calm body makes your mind relaxed, and as a result, you will have more fun paddling and catch more waves, if you rest periodically instead of paddling around the lineup like a rabid squirrel.

Summing up the year

Statistics are interesting when there is a lot of data. So the number of waves caught on the daily scale is just a number, but on the annual scale, it’s interesting data that will tell you a lot about you.

How many riding days have you had in a year, how many dozens or even hundreds of waves have you caught, has this figure improved compared to last year?


The result is quite skeptical, and there is no clear benefit of the watch, except that the surf forecast and the tide chart are always not just at hand but right on your arm.

The rest of the data is mostly useless, but there is nothing wrong with narcissism, especially if you can praise yourself for something!