• A custom made Quiver surfboard
• A holiday for two in Morocco
• A Bonga Board
• A Carver skateboard
• A years supply of Oggy surf wax
To enter simply download the Johnny On The Spot App from:
Deadline for competition entries: 31st December 2016.
What is Johnny On The Spot
Johnny on the Spot – The Surfer’s Personal Diary, was created by Gower-based surfer Ben Martin. It all started when he attended an entrepreneurial competition ‘Startup Weekend’ organised in collaboration with Swansea’s Tech Hub back in 2013.
“After the Startup Weekend we launched a prototype but we always knew that we wanted to make improvements” Martin said. “It’s taken much longer than I thought, but after a lot of hard work and feedback from surfers we’ve finally put a version out that we’re happy with.”
That feedback included working with one of the world’s foremost surf forecasting experts, Tony Butt, who took the app on trips to find giant waves in South Africa and Spain.
Interest quickly reached well beyond Wales. Surfers as far as California and Australia have already picked up on the app’s unique approach to helping surfers find better waves. Martin explains:
“Most current surf apps give surfers a forecast, but Johnny on the Spot lets you keep a diary. Surfers can record all the relevant weather and wave conditions for future reference just by taking a photo of the waves. Everything’s totally private too, so there’s no danger of a surfer giving away their secret spots!”
Plans for the future include building new features into the app and new versions for anglers, snowboarders and other weather affected adventurers.
For now though, Ben and his team are focused on the new surfing version, and choosing lucky winners for the competition.
There is a small charge for the app, but 50p from every app sold will go to the Surfers Against Sewage.
Interview with Ben Martin• Who is JOTS for?
It’s for all surfers of all abilities, but probably more for the surfer who is curious to search a bit harder. For those who want to know more about how and when certain waves work. It can help experienced surfers suss out secret spots and beginner surfers learn more about how certain conditions affect the places they surf.
• How does JOTS work?
Surfers need to know a lot about swell, wind and tides to know where the best waves will be. Typically, you’d have to try to remember or write down all the details. Johnny on the Spot is an app which does it all for you at the click of a button.
When you’re at the beach, you just take a photo of the waves and all the relevant information is uploaded next to the image and saved as a diary entry. When you return to the entry later, you’ll see all the data and the picture you recorded next to all the current conditions. You can then make an instant comparison and have a good idea what the waves will be like.
• What happens if I get no mobile signal where I surf?
This was one of the biggest problems for us to overcome, and we were stoked when we did! If you have no signal at the spots you surf you can still use Johnny on the Spot to build your surf diary. Just take a picture as normal – you’ll get a message saying you are out of range right now but that your data and location are saved. When you get back into range just open the app again and refresh (pull down on the Home Screen). The photo(s) you took earlier will come up along with the surf data from the time and location you took the shot. From there you save, rate and make notes as normal. Just one thing though – you have to do this before midnight to make sure the reading is accurate!
• Don’t surfers want to keep their surf spots private?
Back in 2013, I wasn’t in tune with the whole social media thing and the obsession with sharing information. When I pitched the idea for JOTS, everyone got really excited about surfers being able to share all their images of the best waves, and I was horrified. That’s totally not what the app is about.
Surfers want to protect breaks from becoming overcrowded. If we know about a quiet wave or a secret spot, the last thing we want is for everyone to show up the next time it’s working because everyone has shared the conditions it needs to work.
That’s why the app is 100% personal. No waves or information recorded are shared, and this privacy element was crucial to me from the moment we started.
Secondly, I didn’t want to build something which detracts from the search – that experience of adventure and discovering waves. It’s one of the fundamental aspects of surfing enjoyment.
A great session may come off the back of years of research and waiting for right conditions to come together. Putting in time and effort makes the surfing a new or rare wave all the more special.
Ultimately, the app will help you remember the conditions that make a wave work, but you still have to find out those conditions for yourself. You have to add your own locations and you won’t get given any clues about the best waves.
We live in a culture of such instant gratification that I think we sometimes lose grasp on the value of putting time and effort into a pursuit. We want to preserve what’s great about the surfing experience, this has been a key driver of the app’s development.
• Why has it taken 3 years to get to official launch?
I would never have imagined it would take 3 years to build – especially after we built the prototype in a weekend! But there are two main reasons why it’s taken us so long. This first is that the whole thing has been done with no funding whatsoever – I think they call it ‘bootstrapping’. So that’s meant me and the development team putting in hours when we can – late nights and Sunday afternoons usually. The second reason is that we really wanted to make this a really indispensible addition to any surfer’s toolkit so we did a lot of testing and refining and took a lot of feedback from users. Although it was frustrating because I just wanted to get it out there, I actually think we have a better product now because of how long we’ve taken – the time allows you to reflect and think of ideas about how you can do it better.
That’s not to say we’re finished – we have a lot of features we want to build in, and any funds we make from sales will be put back into that.
• You’ve teased us with a story before, but why is it called Johnny on the spot?
Yes – Johnny on the Spot’s an unusual name I know and I’ve come close to changing it a few times! But actually it relates back to an experience I had surfing in New Zealand. Conditions there can be even more changeable than here – I remember turning up at one spot on the east coast and it was pumping. I ran back to the car, got changed and the wind had switched and totally ruined the surf. A local guy was just getting out of the water and seeing my disappointment he said ‘ Yep, you gotta be Johnny on the Spot around here!’. When I came up with the idea for the app that story came back to me, and the name has kind of stuck.
• In your experience, what surf spot is the most difficult to predict?
Well, I always say that here in Wales with our huge tides and fickle swells we have some of the trickiest conditions to predict in the world, which meant we had to make the best surf app in the world!
But aside from here, I remember it took me a long time to get used to how the waves worked when I lived in Japan. Swells are different there because they come from typhoons that come and go very fast. So they can build super quickly to about 20-feet and you’ve got to go driving around looking for a sheltered spot, then by the next day the waves have dropped right back to 2 or three feet with light offshores – and then it goes flat again! You really do have to be Johnny on the Spot there!
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