To be a surfer is to always be seeking the next big wave. So it wasn't a difficult decision for Steve Hawk, who had spent eight years as editor of Surfer magazine, and his managing editor, Evan Slater, to leave the sport's most popular publication and launch a site on which surfers might surf. "With a surf magazine, there's a one-to two-month delay between events and issue date," says Slater, 29 and no relation to six-time world champion Kelly Slater. "With a website, we are able to post news and features daily."
The result is swell.com, which was launched on Oct. 18 and is already as popular with the beach set as Mr. Zog's Sex Wax. Raiding the mastheads of Surfer and Surfing mags, Hawk and Slater assembled a veritable duuuude ranch of editorial talent, including Surfing photo editor Larry (Flame) Moore. More shrewdly, last March, swell.com purchased surfline.com, which, aided by more than 40 cameras, shows surf conditions at beaches worldwide and was heretofore the most popular surfing spot on the Web, attracting half a million unique users per month. Surfline is now a link on swell.com, which claims to have 600,000 unique users monthly.
The big kahuna of surf sites brims with content. The link labeled "The Magazine" is the most inspired. Its "Surfing A to Z" provides oceans of fact-laden content, with pieces like "Pipeline: Surfing's Glass Axe" and " Bob Simmons: King of Balsa." The site could pay more homage to surfing's carefree culture. We'd love, for instance, a glossary of terms as well as a discography of surf bands.
It's not the perfect wave yet, but as Internet surfin' safaris go, swell is, well, swell.