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Any surfer dudes here? Check out this surf-reports app I developed (swellphone.com)
33 points by shaharsol on Oct 23, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments

There's definately a market for recieving timely surf reports. But don't expect surfers to post the reports.

As a surfer already at the beach, it's not in your best interest to tell everyone its pumping. You might call your best mate to tell him to get his arse out of bed. But everyone else you'll be gladly informing some time in the future, about the epic uncrowded session you had.

Instead, think of who benefits telling people when there is surf happening right now. The nearest food shop/cafe would do more trade when the surf is on. Local surf shops too. They might post reports.

They're are also likely to splice the report with their own advertising...

I surf plenty. While this idea seems nice in theory, community surf reporting is very tricky. The entire culture of surfing is an exclusionary one. People do not want other surfers on their break taking their waves. There is no incentive to tell everybody that your particular spot has excellent conditions because you want the least amount of other people around.

The only site that I have seen that is able to somewhat get people to provide reports is www.stokereport.com, a bay area surf/social networking site. They had to institute a word filter that masks the specific names of breaks, and they will ban you if you repeatedly violate calling out spots [1].

[1] http://stokereport.com/content/what-are-community-standards-...

That's not the first time I get feedback in this spirit. And I can somehow understand the motive. However, it is very narrow-minded, don't you think? You can look at it the other way around -- let's say I check the site for conditions in a certain spot and see it's packed. Surf is awesome but it's already packed. So I go elsewhere... if I hadn't seen this report I would have come and add myself to the already packed lineup.

App looks nicely done, but I would never use it. I live close to several surf spots and I surf every day that it's good. Like others have said here it's not in my interest to tell others when it's good. My ideal surf session is when the surf is good and there's nobody else out but me. In fact I go out of my way to surf when it's not crowded e.g. early morning on weekends, mid-morning on weekdays etc.

This isn't me being narrow-minded, it's simply a matter of waves being a limited resource. Sharing waves is fine for beginners surfing inside and heading directly towards shore. But when you're out back surfing green waves there's not that many waves to go around. It doesn't take many people to paddle out before your wave-count drops and you have to start competing for waves. It's just a lot less fun.

As regards knowing when the surf is good, I know by looking at weather forecast. When I first moved here I put in the time checking the forecast and checking what the actual waves are like for that swell, wind, period etc. I know what any of my regular spots will be like just by looking at the weather charts for the day. I don't need an app to tell me. Anyone who surfs a spot regularly will similarly be able to tell what it's like from checking the charts.

I think the market for this kind of app is really just beginning and occasional surfers. They will certainly be consumers for the app but they will probably not be much use in providing data for the app.

Just naming surf-spots on the internet is a sensitive subject so putting almost-live photo updates of spots will be even more so. Don't expect regular surfers to provide this information.

Surfer/Hacker here. I'm not sure why it's narrow-minded. You're going to go where it's packed anyways. Popular spots are packed, and there are already cams on them... and there's no motivation for me to post a report showing that the surf is great at an uncrowded break.

The only benefit I'd have for this is when the big report sites over-hype a bit of weekend swell and get it wrong... Hopefully reporting that it's worse than expected would keep folks from driving out from inland.

Other reactions to an awesome but crowded surf report:

"This report is from 2 hrs ago, hopefully they've all gone in by now"

"I'm an agressive surfer, I'll get waves regardless of how many people are out there"

"I'll hit this at sunrise tomorrow"

Looks very similar to www.surfsgood.com which I think also suffers from the problem that Surfers don't really want to share this information.

It takes a lot of time for a surfer to build up knowledge of a surf spot and what conditions make it work. There are more than enough spots that are common knowledge, but there are a few that are best ignored. We've received quite a lot of criticism for publishing spot locations on Surftourist. Shortly we'll be launching a feature for marking spots as secret spots. I expect something like that would be useful for shaharsol's app too.

Cool. I'm building http://SurfsGood.com which is basically the same thing. I've been meaning to put more time into it, and one thing, as dlokshin and others point out, the public vs private pics is definitely a very real concern with surfers.

I'm a reformed surfer (not many good waves in Washington D.C. unfortunately), but I like the idea.

I can understand the sentiment from folks who don't want to broadcast good spots, but I suspect there's a good amount of people who aren't so territorial.

When I did last surf (Steamer Lane mostly), I occasionally checked the surfline cams, but more often than not would just head down regardless.

If you ever make an iPhone version, I'll happily buy it (even if it's nowadays mostly for nostalgic reasons).

Nice one. Maybe a photo or video of a spot isn't enough. You could allow users to contribute optional info on the conditions, like how often sets are coming through, wind etc and maybe a rating.

No rating system yet... However you can add some textual commentary while reporting. Thanks for the ideas!

I surf, and also build websites. What does this actually do? Store a photo/video of a surf spot by location. Is that all? What incentive is there for people to do this?

If many surfers start doing this, you would soon be able to check [close to] real-time surf conditions from anywhere in the world by simply going to the website.

It's kinda crowd-sourcing of surfcams (coz those don't really deliver)

Ok, I just really don't see the incentive for most (i.e. 95%+) surfers to do this, for various reasons including: crowds at their favourite waves and no mobile signal at remote spots.

In general, surfers don't want to help other surfers find the best spot of the day. Once you're there it's different, and many surfers are really helpful/friendly. But hardly any will say "this spot X that you've never heard of is going to fire today", especially when they know you'll head to the big town beach break away from them ;)

I know surfers that'd give me a lot of shit if I posted video of a spot firing. I know I might do the same if I found out ;)

My suggestion would be to make this a private group thing. Create a, ahem, "circle" of surfers and share reports with them.

Nice. What backend are you using?


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