[UPDATED with Paddle Out Details:] Sean Collins, Surfline Founder, Dies

UPDATE, DEC. 28, 5:38 P.M.: A paddle out in memory of Surfline founder, president and chief forecaster Sean Collins is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Jan. 7 on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier.

If Collins were still here to give a prediction, he'd tell surfers to brace for the possibility of a big swell that morning. Nothing would be more fitting.


ORIGINAL POST, DEC. 27, 9:22 A.M.: Sean Collins, who founded the Surfline website that points watermen to the best waves and alerts them to the sport/lifestyle's latest news, died of a heart attack Monday. He was 59.

Hailed by Surfline today as “one of the most influential surfers of our time,” the site's founder/president/chief forecaster was not on the water but a Newport Beach tennis court when he suffered a heart attack and later died at a local hospital.

“Surfline's entire staff–as well as countless surfers worldwide–are in a state of shock at the news,” reads the site.

The obituary goes on to note Collins was born in Southern California on April 8, 1952, and that he developed a love of the ocean aboard a 50-foot yacht piloted by his father, Whitney Collins, a general contractor who'd served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. They would sail out of Long Beach and enter races to Mexico and Hawaii.

The younger Collins, who began surfing in Seal Beach at age 8 and and later graduate from Long Beach's Wilson High School, took some meteorology classes at Long Beach Community College. He did not go on to university but instead became a surf photographer.

However, Collins would eventually apply what he learned in those old courses to surfing and sailing, becoming one of the planet's preeminent surf forecasters. He developed Surfline first as a phone service, then left to begin rival Wavetrak and finally used the success from that to re-acquire Surfline in 1990. His company changed with technology, moving from phone to fax alerts and, in 1995, to the World Wide Web.

I was thinking while posting this that Surfline was the first site I could recall providing live shots from OC surf breaks. The obituary reveals Collins' site was indeed the first to do that, in 1996. around the world. Surfer magazine in 1999 named Collins one of the 25 most influential surfers of the century and, in 2002, the eighth most powerful surfer in the industry.

Collins is survived by his wife, Daren, and two sons, Tyler and AJ. Services are pending.

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