Stab Magazine | How A Snowboard Trip Resulted In GPS Surf Technology
773 Views

How A Snowboard Trip Resulted In GPS Surf Technology

The birth of tracking. 

style // Jul 1, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

This is the final installment of the Stab Scorecard presented by Rip Curl. Where we’ve noted the ladies and gentlemen who strive towards spending the utmost time in the ocean. We’ve seen a grom that surfed 460 times in 440 days, a man who had 432 sessions in 2015, taught a clinic on how to catch a wave every three minutes (you gotta be hungry), and watched a gent fall just short of a one kilometer wave in Peru (949 meters!). The stats are all factual – we wouldn’t dare make this up – and recorded by the Rip Curl GPS watch then submitted into the app. It’s no secret that this series has an advertorial slant, however the stories and people are what keep our attention of recorded sessions piqued. And if we’re going to support a product, you better damn-well believe that it stirs our interest. 

IMG 0325

If you’re thinking Shane’s a desk jockey, tech nerd, you’re way off. The cat proper shreds.

Shane Helm is the mind behind the watch. He’s the creator and a firm believer in the product. “I’ve had 118 surfs so far this year,” he tells Stab. “We are 180 days in, so I use the watch almost every day.” The concept for the GPS watch came about in the mountains of Hokkaido, Japan, a rather unusual place to plant the seed of a surf watch.  “A few key members of the Rip Curl watch team absconded from our usual Hong Kong supplier meeting drudgery to catch a few days of powder in Japan,” says Mr Helm. “We couldn’t believe how much fun we were having with our Smartphones and a couple of GPS tracking apps that we downloaded.” And as is human nature, the competitive spirit took over the crew posthaste. “Coffee breaks were forsaken, lunch turned into a quick, half hour re-fuel and squeezing two runs during the “last lifts” became the norm. The funny thing is, it was all for bragging rights over a few key metrics at the end of the day: fastest speed, most vertical meters, total ski distance and maximum daily runs. It didn’t take long for our minds to turn to discussing how we might bring this same fun into our surfing lives.” 

IMG 0300

Pour on the mustard, bury the rail and let it scream.

In the early stages of development, Rip Curl’s team — particularly Owen Wright — played an integral role refining the tech into the wrist recorder it is today. “I owe a special thanks to Owen,” says Shane. “The first time he used the watch was a classic five foot day at Winkipop. After surfing for about an hour, he asked me how fast he’d gone for the third time. He was pissed that every time he went a bit faster, I got another good wave and was ahead of him in the speed category. He paddled straight out to sea, waited fifteen minutes for a bomb set and got the wave he needed. He paddled back up the line with a huge grin and screamed, “I went 39 Kmh!” At this time the product was still secret. There were more than a few people in the lineup wondering what he was yelling about. We spent the next few days surfing and discussing what features to build into the app.” 

IMG 0093

Inciting certain envy… from where we’d all rather be.

“My best recorded session was at Cloudbreak,” quips Mr Helm. “That’s my favourite wave, no question. I had a day there earlier this year where I spent nine hours surfing and caught 65 waves in the eight-ten foot range. It was all day perfection. But my favourite waves to use the watch are down-the-line point breaks. On a really special swell I got a 495 m (540 yard) wave a Winkipop. I’m still chasing that last five meters. A few of my mates cracked 500 meters that swell. Going back and reviewing those five star sessions is a good memory trigger. It brings you back to those sessions you would have forgotten otherwise.”

DRL 0230

Nine hours at Thundercloud Reef. Cue the free back adjustment.

It’s refreshing when the man behind the tech is one of its biggest supporters. “It’s a great motivator. I’m trying to beat last year’s wave count. I’m currently tracking about 100 waves ahead of where I was last year.” 

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

An Unorthodox Marriage Of Science And Surf

Cliff Kapono and The Mega Lab are changing stereotypes on all fronts.

Nov 28, 2022

5:07

Harry Bryant Dumps Crutches, Visualizes Pipeline Pits After Snapping Leg

“For once in my life, I’m taking something a bit more serious."

Nov 27, 2022

What If You Bought This Sumatran Surf Camp For $690k?

Making a blue print out of surfing's most recurring day dream.

Nov 27, 2022

Sierra Kerr On Greasing Full Rotes, Making Dad Cry & Her Concussion @ VSHPBME 

'I haven’t got my license yet, but I'm thinking of buying a little truck.'

Nov 27, 2022

4:25

“There Definitely Needs To Be More Girls That Try Airs”

Caity Simmers' thoughts on her Vans Pipe Masters debut.

Nov 26, 2022

Preview: Who’s John John Florence Flushing Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl?

The final event of the CS schedule is almost upon us. Let's dissect.

Nov 25, 2022

25:17

Dane Reynolds Said These Clips Weren’t Good Enough

Could'a fooled us.

Nov 25, 2022

Watch Now: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Nov 24, 2022

27:45

How A Magic Island Birthed One Of The Most Radical Surf And Skate Scenes In The World

Mateus Herdy, Pedro Barros and friends in Red Bull x Stab's No Contest, Brazil.

Nov 23, 2022

The Uber Driver Turned Crypto Millionaire Who Denounced His US Citizenship And Whips Into XXL Nazare

"I do what I want, I don't have a boss." -Toby Trouble

Nov 23, 2022

3:36

‘I Thought He Was Gonna Grab A Machete… Then He Picked Up A Rock’

2x SSOTY Jai Glindeman’s drama (& left-tube) filled Sumbawa trip.

Nov 23, 2022

3:34

“The Inside Of Pipeline Sounds Like The Center Of The Universe”

Tosh Tudor seeks solitude at the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 22, 2022

Is Rasta Rob Really Going To Ride His Beloved Stock Dims Rad Ripper At The Vans Pipe Masters?

An interview with the most rapidly ascended surfer in recent memory.

Nov 22, 2022

Sierra Kerr And Robbie McCormick Win Vans Stab High Indonesia Presented By Monster Energy

And we had a live premiere in Oceanside to celebrate.

Nov 22, 2022

The Stab Guide To The World Cup

Including which team bears most similarities to former CT surfer Ricky "Ricky Badness" Basnett.

Nov 21, 2022

Unlocked: Albee Layer Speaks His Mind In His SEOTY Entry, ‘Delirium’

Come for the double rotations, stay for Albee's existential thoughts on surfing and life.

Nov 20, 2022

Buy Now: John John Florence’s ‘Gravity’

Get Gravity and support Junior Lifeguards.

Nov 20, 2022

5:02

Craig Anderson Could Find A Spitting Tube In A Tranquil Koi Pond

“How the fuck did I get an invite?”

Nov 19, 2022
Advertisement