SURFING WEBSITE LIKELY TO GIVE A BOOST TO TOURISM…
THE GRAND re-launch of a North Devon surfing website could bring a boost to the area’s out-of-season tourism. The Eyeball SurfCheck has been developing an improved website over the last few months, which will go live on April 1. Since being founded in 1989 by Woolacombe surfer Trev “Toes” Lumley, the surfers’ information portal has grown from a recorded answer phone message into an international website that has had six million page views across 160 countries. The website currently includes webcams for North Devon beaches including Westward Ho! Putsborough, Croyde and Woolacombe, as well as forecasts. The improved site will include a new webcam at Combesgate and an improved webcam at Woolacombe, that will be live-streamed for a greater picture quality, as well as blogs, area information and offers.
The team of nine directors met in October to start planning the website’s future as a means of promoting the area. Mr Lumley, the group’s chairman, realised the potential of providing information about the state of the surf 20 years ago. He turned his pub’s land-line into a free phone number as a means of both getting information to the locals and also encouraging people living further away to take advantage of knowing if the surf was up. Mr Lumley said: “It rapidly increased until the point where the website kept shutting down because it could not cope with the number of hits. “Part of the re-vamp has made the whole thing bigger, as well as looking different, so it will never be affected by the number of users.”
The website’s directors are also aware of the environmental impact of people making a wasted trip hoping to surf, but only finding a flat sea. Tom Rossiter, one of the directors, said: “We already know that we have saved people plenty of petrol by giving them an eye-witness update and therefore helping to reduce the carbon footprint. “Another key aspect is the local focus – there is nothing but local restaurants, shops, pubs and hotels featured, which of course all helps business in and out of the season.”
The directors also explained how they have improved information for days when there is no surf and also for the evenings. Another director, Mark Buck, of surf shop Hunters, said: “It has been surprising how high the percentage of the users are from London or Birmingham and we want to encourage that. “The Eyeball community is rapidly growing and that is so exciting for North Devon because we are the only website actually based at the beach. We are reliable.”
As part of the Eyeball’s re-brand there will be an addition of two vans used to keep tabs on the surf in each area. The new-look Eyeball SurfCheck will be accessible from the same address: www.eyeball-surfcheck.co.uk
North Devon Journal article By philippa jenkins