The Search app has a minimalistic social experience -- there's no way to comment on your buddies' rides or chat with followers -- but the sheer simplicity is kind of refreshing. Basically, it's a river of streamlined stats. With one touch of the glass, you can envy Tyler Wright's 32-wave run in the waters of Latigo Point, California or Mick Fanning's top speed of 19.6 mph off the coast of South Africa. And if you're really serious, you can start a club and compete against your friends or even set up a trip or event.
How does the SearchGPS fare in the wild? In short, it's accurate, precise and telling of the wearer's skills. The swell in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina isn't exactly known for its killer waves, especially right after a storm. But, thanks to a buddy of mine (who's admittedly a much better surfer than me), we managed to catch six decent beach breaks in about 26 minutes -- all of which updated the wave count instantly. I did try to fool the watch by bodysurfing several times, but thanks to its well-calculated wave-counting algorithm, I failed to dupe it. And I'm a very decent body surfer, honest.
After reviewing the stats on my iPhone, I found both the GPS information and surf time right on track and quite interesting to investigate. But what about top speed? At an earlier date, I wore the SearchGPS while shredding water on a Yamaha WaveRunner VX Sport... and I went very fast. The watch recorded my top speed as 49.2 mph, which was impressively just three miles per hour lower than listed on the jet ski's speedometer.
So, let's say you're an adequate surfer with some cash to spare. Should you buy Rip Curl's watch this October? Maybe. If you plan to take your game to the next level, it might be a worthy investment. In the right hands, the SearchGPS can be a powerful learning tool (and convenient way to track your undisclosed surfing sweet spots, right down to their GPS coordinates). Otherwise, as in my case, it's a $400 gadget that quantifies exactly how mediocre your wave-ripping skills are.