Pro surfers will soon start using an Apple Watch during competitions. The World Surf League (WSL) has designated the wearable as official wearable equipment. The organization says it's the first time that Apple Watch is being "used as official competitor equipment in a professional sports environment."
Before each heat, every surfer on the Championship Tour will receive an Apple Watch that's preloaded with the new WSL Surfer app. They can use it to keep track of scores, wave priority and times. The app, which works on Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, syncs with the WSL's scoring system in real time. The WSL says Apple Watch fits the bill thanks to its durability, cellular data connectivity and large, bright screen.
"The noise of the wind and the waves can sometimes make it impossible to hear the announcers while competing, and that means you miss crucial information," Ítalo Ferreira, the 2019 WSL champion and an Olympic gold medalist, said in a statement. "Challenging conditions can make it hard to see the beach and a priority penalty could cost you the heat, so not needing to rely on seeing the beach or hearing the announcers makes a huge difference and prevents guesswork."
The WSL didn't say which Apple Watch model competitors will use, but the Ultra makes the most sense. It has the largest screen of any Apple Watch to date and it's the most rugged version the company has built. Apple says the Ultra has more accurate GPS and water resistance than its other models.
The 2023 WSL Championship Tour starts this weekend in Oahu, Hawaii. If you're interested to see how the Apple Watch is used in pro sports, you can watch the event on YouTube, the WSL's app or the organization's website. Meanwhile, the second season of docuseries Make or Break, which follows competitors on the Championship Tour, will hit Apple TV+ in February.