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I Predict Waves in Your Future

Sean Collins, around 1980
Sean Collins, Baja, 1980s
Sean Collins, early 2000s

Tri-fins, car phones, bandeau bikini tops, and high-top sneakers all made Surfing magazine’s “What’s Hot” list for 1986. On the “What’s Not” side: Drugs, localism, and “surfing like Mark Richards.”

Hottest of all was a new phone service called Surfline, located in Huntington Beach. For 55¢ a pop, Southern California could dial up a 90-second recorded message on local wave conditions. The voice was surfy and relaxed, but there was plenty of hard data included as well, including swell size, per...

Nobody had any real idea how waves were created, much less when they were going to arrive. A Gidget character named Lord Gallo, introduced as Malibu’s “most educated” surfer, thought big surf was happening more often thanks to “all those H-bomb blasts” in the Pacific.