Sean Collins was a hot little gremmie surfer from Surfside when he first got on my surf team in the seventies. Through the eighties he remained an active team member.
Sean’s dad had a sailboat and he and Sean would sail together, many times along the Baja coast. Sean would talk him into investigating possible surf spots that looked good on charts. Sean ended up surfing spots that were basically inaccessible by car and obviously, all to himself. But looking at charts was not the only thing he did. He figured that the best swells in the summer came from the southern hemisphere and he spent endless hours on the short wave radio trying to get information. He finally figured it all out and was able to predict when a south swell would arrive.
He also mastered when the swell would arrive whose origins were in the ocean off of Alaska. I’ll never forget when one winter day early in the week, Sean came by the shop. He said that a huge swell was on its way and would hit Seal Beach around noon on Friday. So typically, we surf hungry surfers got up at dawn Friday morning to be the first ones out. But it was flat as a lake – not a wave in sight. Everybody split grumbling things like, “Sean doesn’t know crap about wave forecasts.” So I was going home for lunch, and this Friday I just happened to take the long way home and check out the surf anyway. And what I saw was HUGE. Sean predicted it to the hour of arrival. I was so impressed and stoked. I got my board and got some big South Side waves in Seal Beach almost to myself.
Sean turned this talent of forecasting into a very successful business. Some people credit today’s crowds in the water that no one likes to Sean – too bad. Forecasting was inevitable, and I feel it’s stupid to blame him. He was just the Maverick that blazed the first trail and I admire him for this more than words can say. There were no books or knowledge about wave forecasting. He figured it out all by himself.
His passing on Monday, the day after Christmas was a great shock to the entire world of surfing. He was too young and athletic to succumb to such a sudden end to his life. I will miss him greatly.