Sean Collins, a Legend Who Changed an Industry with His Uncanny Abilities to Predict Waves


Pictured is Sean Collins, immortalized on the Surfers Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif. in 2008. Collins died unexpectedly of a heart attack while playing tennis the day after Christmas, December 26, 2011, in Newport Beach. He is survived by Darren, his wife, and two sons, Tyler and AJ, of Seal Beach, Calif. He also leaves behind a successful and unique Huntington Beach-based business in Pierside Pavilion overlooking the Huntington Beach Pier.

Surfers and sailors know the name, “Sean Collins”. Whenever the waves mean something to you, be it an important boating race, trip, or surfing event, Collins could predict the waves with incredible accuracy that turned his name and business, Surfline, into world-famous commodities. Over the past 30 years, a proprietary system of wave forecasting created by Collins has been used by countless agencies and over 1.5 million surfers, sailors, travelers and scientists worldwide each month.

Sean Collins was born in Southern California on April 8, 1952, and died at the age of 59, shocking his family and friends who knew him as an active sportman with a youthful attitude. He surfed in Seal Beach as a kid and competed in surfing championships throughout his school years.

The Wilson High (Long Beach) grad also loved to sail, thanks to a passion he developed aboard the 50-foot sailboat owned by his father, Whitney, a general contractor and navy lieutenant during World War II. Venturing around Long Beach as well as entering races to Mexico and Hawaii, Collins first became interested in meteorology as it related to sailing and surfing.

Sean Collins adventures:

  • Long Beach Community College for two year
  • Professional photographer in the ’70s and ’80s
  • Worked for Yary Sports Photography & Berzon Talent Agency
  • Contributing photographer to Surfing Magazine
  • Waiter and bartender
  • Founded and developed a proprietary surf reporting and forecasting service called Surfline.
  • Launched a rival company called Wavetrak.
  • Returned to Surfline in 1990, purchasing the company. Collins soon expanded his products and services to other mediums and offered a subscription-based WaveFax, and in 1995 he launched, a website featuring free surf reports from around the country.
  • was acquired by but eventually separated from Swell to become an independent company focusing on the core business of surf reporting, forecasting, and surfing editorial. has since grown to become one of the largest sports sites in the world, with nearly 1.5 million unique people visiting the site each month.
  • Collins served as President, Chief Surf Forecaster, and Founder for Surfline. Over the past 30 years, he helped develop a sophisticated, proprietary system of wave forecasting — much of which is currently used in LOLA, Surfline’s Global Swell Model. Now, Surfline provides weather and forecasting services to every lifeguard agency in California, the Coast Guard, US Navy Seals, National Weather Service, numerous television and movie production companies, multiple domestic and international governmental agencies and nearly every surf company in the world.
  • Collins was named one of the 25 Most Influential Surfers of the Century, the 8th Most Powerful Surfer in the Surf Industry.




Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info