In 1987 Trev Lumley and his family opened a beachside hotel in Woolacombe and, although they didn’t know at the time, this also signalled the birth of Eyeball Surf Check.
The Sands Hotel was positioned in such a spot that the bar soon became the place to hang out for the local surf community. Local surfers also soon realised that when they weren’t checking the waves at the Sands in person, they could just give Trev a call to get a rundown of conditions live and direct – thus Eyeball was born.
This was fine at first but soon enough word got out… And the phone was ringing off the hook! By 1991 things had got out of control and Trev was spending more time talking surf than anything else, when one day Trev’s daughter had an idea. Why not record the surf report each morning so that people could ring a separate number for a pay per call surf check.
This was the start of Eyeball the business and also an unlikely reason for the introduction of the 3 day forecast. Trev had long since developed a keen eye for pressure charts and a keen ear for shipping forecasts, with an inane sense of when an extra foot was going to appear on the pushing tide. The reason for its introduction was for a more practical reason however – to keep callers on the line for more than the minute required for Trev to pick up his pay per call 20p! The forecast came first with the day’s surf report coming once the 20p threshold had been passed.
In mid nineties the time had come for a change and Trev put the Sands Hotel up for sale. When the sale went through this threw up another practical challenge – Trev moved into a different spot in Woolacombe, but faced a wait for a new phone line to be put in. What would happen to the recorder surf report?
This might have seemed like the perfect time for the introduction of the first Eyeball website, but North Devon always has been a little slow on the uptake! At this time Internet speeds in Woolacombe were such that it was still quicker to send a postcard than send an email. So, instead of website, Trev would wake at first light, check the surf and record his message in Woolacombe’s public phone box!
Eventually Internet speeds did catch up and in 1999 the Eyeball website was launched. Initially users would wait, as centimetre by centimetre, the daily pic of the surf would load – accompanied by Trev’s report. Impatiently waiting for the dial up connection to crawl to the finish line became part of everyday life for anyone surfing North Devon’s beaches.
As time went on the technology improved – first came one frame per second live images from the beaches; next were live streams; and then full HD streams from North Devon’s top beaches. This brings us to current day and Eyeball teaming up with Surfline to provide the UK’s most comprehensive surf reports and forecasts.