Surf Gear

Rip Curl Search GPS Watch

The meeting place of stoke and technology, or €300 gimmick?

The Rip Curl Search GPS Watch represents another first for the brand that have brought us a few significant firsts down the years.

Whereas previous surf timepieces boasted merely tide data, this thing tracks your surf sessions live by satellite, telling you how many waves you’ve caught, how fast you’ve gone and how far you’ve paddled. Then, when you get back in front of your phone or computer and sync it, you even get a map displaying each and ride, as well as more data like longest wave and total distance surfed.

Thereupon, whether or not this data set (and cute map) needs to be inflicted upon your friends’ Facebook news feed is entirely up to you.

Now, personally, I’ve tended to shy away from surf timepieces.

Perhaps because I’m essentially a middle aged (39 years old) man. Perhaps it seems unbecoming of a gentleman to have a plastic watch bearing a surf logo, as opposed to a more classic analog time piece in metal.

So, is it worth forgoing gentleman style credentials for stoke-info?

Is going plastic/digi worth it for its ego feeding kick-back?

Let’s find out!

'Hmmm, think I prefer the white one' said no one, ever.

Does it work?

A counter intuitive arrow meant I coudn’t get it going until my third surf. It says “Start Surfing >>>” with a big arrow pointing right. Only thing is you need to press the button on the left… That did me for a while.

Past that, it works great. You’ll need to set it and give it a chance to find the sat about a minute before paddling out. You can do it in the lineup, but it doesn’t work as well.

You might get a dummy reading on top speed from just paddling out, like a 15km/h from a lazy stroke into the lineup. But that’s soon gone, as soon as you take off on a wave. Otherwise the distance seems pretty suspect to me. Yesterday it reckoned I went 6.5km… For reals? Not sure about that one. Otherwise, it’s a pretty solid.

Data-wise, my only other gripe it that it libelled me. Yep, my watch mugged me off.

I surfed solid-ish la Nord, (characteristically shoulder-hopping inbetweeners, sure) but it labelled my session as la Sud. La Sud! How fucken dare you!

It’s perhaps not quite like saying you surfed Chuns when you surfed Waimea, but you get the idea.

The day I surf la Sud is the day I give up on life.

As if I surfed La Sud!

It’s Big.. and Kinda Thirsty

You’ll need to take it off, put your wetsuit arm on then put it back on again. That’s because it sits kinda proud on your wrist, and because the rubber is kinda hard to slide your suit over. It’s a minor inconvenience really. I even have some minor troubles getting my slim fit leather jacket sleeve over it, but again, this might be more of a middle aged man type affliction..

Also, it needs a wee bit of charge, it won’t record a sesh if it’s low on charge. That means every so often you’ll need to plug it in to charge up… sound familiar? It’s the scourge of 21st century living!

Is it Worth The Spend?

In short… yes. Whereas your other sporty look-how-far-I-ran/biked/etc apps are likely to merely require the phone, and are usually free downloads once you’ve forked out for that, this requires a bit of capital outlay on the hardware. Roughly half a new surfboard’s worth, in fact. But if you consider the broader view of how relatively inexpensive surfing is in terms of kit, how little you really need to cough up compared with say, snowboarding or, particularly, sports like cycling, why not?

So long as you’ve got a serviceable quiver, wetsuits for summer and winter and enough for an occasional surf trip first, why not?

Convinced? Buy one here.


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