Surfline Founder Struck Down During Tennis Tourney
Sean Collins, the founder of Surfline.com, suffered a heart attack while playing doubles in a round-robin tennis tournament on Monday at Newport Beach’s Palisades Tennis Club.
Despite frantic efforts by club officials using a defibrillator and by club guests with medical training, he died a short time later at nearby Hoag Hospital. Collins was 59.
Collins, of Seal Beach, grew up surfing and sailing the waters off Southern California with his father on a 50-foot sailboat his dad owned.
He also became an avid tennis player and was a longtime and well-known member of the Palisades club, according to club owner Ken Stuart.
“He had no enemies” and was the kind of guy “everybody loved,” said Stuart this week. “There are a lot of sad people around here.”
Stuart said that when Collins collapsed on the court Monday, the club’s head court director, Les Archer, was alerted to the emergency and rushed to assist Collins with a defibrillator.
The device is designed to restore a natural heartbeat to someone suffering from a heart attack or other dangerous heart problems. The use of machines has become more and more prevalent in recent years.
Another club employee, Marie Strom, also assisted Archer, Stuart said, and two club members – Ed Pederson, a former EMS-trained worker and Walter Berich, a doctor – also rushed to the court to help.
According to Stuart, Newport Beach Fire Department paramedics arrived at the club in less than 10 minutes and took over the care of Collins. They transported him to Hoag with a faint pulse and heartbeat, but Collins was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
In an interview with the Independent on Wednesday, Archer said this wasn’t his first experience using the life-saving defibrillator device trying to help someone experiencing a heart attack at the club.
“This wasn’t my first time doing this,” Archer said.
In a previous incident at the club, Archer said, he had stepped in to help when a man experienced heart trouble in the locker room. The man is still alive today, he said.
Stuart told the Independent on Wednesday that this was the third heart attack incident at the club since mid-2007, when heart defibrillators were first put in place and his staff trained how to use them.
Collins was a top-notch club player, achieving a 5.5 ranking (out of 6.0) over the years, and had won the locally well-known Pacific-Southwest Tournament held at the Club a few years back. Tennis related friends posted condolences and memories throughout the week on the Palisades Tennis Club’s Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/#!/PalisadesTennisClub)
Collins was inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame in 2008 and Surfer magazine named him one of the 25 most influential surfers of the 20th century as well as one of the Top 10 “most powerful” surfers in the industry in 2002.
Collins began predicting surf conditions back in the 1980s, with a telephone service. That service, which later evolved with the development of the Internet into what is now Surfline.com made Collin’s and his company a force in helping surfers know when and where waves would be hitting the beach. Collins sold the company in 2000, but continued on as president and chief wave forecaster.
Stuart said Collins’ wife, Daren, on Wednesday sent a message thanking the people at the club who had tried to assist Collins when he collapsed on Monday. Daren Collins and the couple’s two sons, A.J. and Tyler, also attend and are well-known at the club, Stuart said.
In lieu of flowers the Collins family has set up a charitable fund with the Orange County Community Foundation: For more Information on the fund and how to contribute, visit http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/announcement/sean-collins-charitable-fund-established_64437/
On Jan. 8 at 11a.m., a “paddle out,” a traditional memorial service in the world of surfing, will be held at the Huntington Beach Pier to honor. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/269802173072881/
For Surfline.com’s retrospective on Collins’ life and work, visit http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/sean-collins-1952-2011_64380/
The Palisades Tennis Club is planning a special day to remember Collins, on Jan. 21, but details are still being worked out.