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Ever wondered who dominates the waves in the world of surfing?

From gravity-defying aerials to masterful barrel rides, these 15 icons have sculpted the very essence of surfing prowess.

Grab your board as we ride the swell into the stories of the ultimate wave warriors, one legendary tale at a time.

Best Surfers:

  1. Kelly Slater
  2. Duke Kahanamoku
  3. Stephanie Gilmore
  4. Mark Richards
  5. Layne Beachley
  6. Mick Fanning
  7. John John Florence
  8. Gabriel Medina
  9. Carissa Moore
  10. Lisa Andersen
  11. Tom Curren
  12. Andy Irons
  13. Shaun Tomson
  14. Rob Machado
  15. Joel Parkinson

#1 Kelly Slater

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: February 11, 1972
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 11Γ— World Surf League Champion, Youngest (at age 20) and Oldest (at age 39) to win the title

Known as “The Michael Jordan of Surfing,” Kelly Slater has redefined the boundaries of the sport with his unparalleled competitive drive and innovative techniques. His mastery of wave riding and knack for deep barrel riding have captivated audiences worldwide.

Slater’s immeasurable impact extends beyond his trophies; he’s also a key environmental advocate and innovator in wave pool technology. Off the water, Slater’s interests include golf, music, and his sustainable clothing brand, Outerknown, which showcases his dedication to social responsibility and environmentalism.

#2 Duke Kahanamoku

  • 🌍 Nationality: American (Hawaiian)
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 24, 1890
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer/Swimmer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 5Γ— Olympic medalist in swimming, Father of Modern Surfing

Duke Kahanamoku, also known as “The Big Kahuna,” is a true legend who introduced surfing to the world while being an Olympic champion swimmer. His powerful swimming technique and natural surfing style set the stage for the future of the sport.

Duke’s influence is immeasurableβ€”he not only showcased Hawaiian culture globally but also saved lives as a waterman. As an ambassador of aloha, his legacy continues to inspire countless surfers and embodies the spirit of surfing and Hawaiian heritage.

#3 Stephanie Gilmore

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 29, 1988
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 7Γ— World Surf League Champion

Stephanie Gilmore, often referred to as “Happy” Gilmore for her infectious smile, has captured the hearts of the surfing community with her elegant style and fierce competitiveness. Her seamless transitions and powerful cutbacks are as graceful as they are formidable in the water.

Off the waves, Gilmore uses her platform to inspire and push for gender equality in surfing, showcasing the ethos of empowerment and advocacy. Her unique aura has also led to a successful modeling career, further diversifying her pursuits beyond the sea.

#4 Mark Richards

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 7, 1957
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— World Champion (1979-1982)

Mark Richards, acclaimed as “The Wounded Gull” due to his unique, wing-like arm movements while surfing, is revered for his innovative twin-fin designs and aggressive vertical maneuvers. His competitive spirit and ingenuity have left a lasting mark on the surfing world.

Richards’ role didn’t end at competitions; he’s respected as a master shaper, crafting boards that reflect his deep understanding of wave dynamics. Through both his competitive achievements and his surfboard shaping, he has greatly influenced modern surfing.

#5 Layne Beachley

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 24, 1972
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 7Γ— World Champion, Most Successful Female Surfer in History

Layne Beachley, esteemed for her fierce determination and athletic prowess, is a trailblazer in women’s competitive surfing. Her aggressive approach and big-wave bravery have garnered her countless victories over a formidable career.

Outside the barrel, Beachley is notable for her advocacy work in mental health and women’s empowerment through the Aim for the Stars Foundation. Her personal struggles, including physical and mental health challenges, have been turned into a catalyst for change, demonstrating her strength both in and out of the surf.

#6 Mick Fanning

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: June 13, 1981
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— World Champion (2007, 2009, 2013), known for surviving a shark encounter during a competition

Mick Fanning, known as “White Lightning” for his explosive speed and quick turns, has been a dominant figure in professional surfing. His ability to remain calm under pressure and adapt to varying conditions has led him to multiple world titles.

Fanning’s resilience was put to the ultimate test during an infamous shark encounter mid-competition, which he impressively survived without injury. His environmental conservation efforts and contributions to youth development programs signify his broader impact beyond the realm of surfing.

#7 John John Florence

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 18, 1992
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2Γ— World Surf League Champion (2016, 2017)

John John Florence, originating from the surfing mecca of Hawaii, has captured the essence of modern surfing with his impressive aerial maneuvers and deep barrel riding. Renowned for his intuitive connection with the sea, his performances are often a blend of artistry and athleticism.

Florence has battled through career-threatening injuries, showcasing his determination and passion for the sport with triumphant returns. His contributions off the waves include environment-focused initiatives, further highlighting his commitment to protecting the ocean that has given him so much.

#8 Gabriel Medina

  • 🌍 Nationality: Brazilian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 22, 1993
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional Surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2Γ— World Surf League Champion (2014, 2018)

Gabriel Medina is a virtuoso in competitive surfing, known for his progressive technical skills, including a repertoire of high-flying aerials. His aggressive and strategic approach in heats has consistently kept him atop the world rankings.

Off the competitive circuit, Medina is influential in bringing surfing to the forefront of Brazilian sports. His foundation supports social projects that help children and adolescents through sports and education, reinforcing his role as a positive role model and agent of change within his community.

#9 Carissa Moore

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 27, 1992
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 5Γ— WSL World Champion (2011, 2013, 2015, 2019, 2021), Olympic Gold Medalist (2020)

Carissa Moore has become a dominant force in women’s surfing since her pro debut, known for robust competitive strategies and progressive maneuvers. Her powerful turns and innovative aerials have pushed the boundaries of the sport. Moore faced the complexities of equal recognition and pay in professional surfing, a challenge she rose above as a role model for gender equality in the sport.

She’s an inspiration for aspiring surfers, using her platform to empower women and girls to pursue their dreams in and out of the water. Aside from her surfing achievements, Moore is recognized for her philanthropic activities, particularly in environmental conservation and youth engagement through her Moore Aloha Charitable Foundation.

#10 Lisa Andersen

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 8, 1969
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— ASP World Champion (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)

Nicknamed the “Queen of Surf,” Lisa Andersen redefined women’s surfing with her graceful yet aggressive style, merging power with femininity. Andersen’s notable for her cutbacks and tube riding. She courageously overcame societal barriers and personal challenges, including leaving home at a young age to pursue her surfing dreams.

Her influence extended beyond the waves, as her presence helped popularize Roxy, Quiksilver’s women’s brand, fostering the growth of female surf fashion. Andersen’s trailblazing role in the sport empowered future generations of female surfers. She’s also involved in mentoring young surfers and advocating for equality in surfing.

#11 Tom Curren

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: July 3, 1964
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— ASP World Champion (1985, 1986, 1990)

Tom Curren, a figure synonymous with style and sophistication in surfing, is known for his rhythmic and flowing approach to wave riding. Curren’s signature carve and barrel riding skills were pivotal in his competitive success. Despite facing intense rivalries and the pressures of fame, Curren maintained a reputation for humility and mystique, contributing to his iconic status.

His impact is profound, influencing surf culture and music, as Curren is also an accomplished musician. His approach to surfing, characterized by innovation and intuition, inspired generations of surfers. Beyond his athletic prowess, Curren’s contributions to the surfing community and passion for music have solidified his legacy.

#12 Andy Irons

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: July 24, 1978
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— ASP World Champion (2002, 2003, 2004), 4Γ— Triple Crown of Surfing winner

Andy Irons, popularly known as “A.I.,” was renowned for his fierce competitiveness and raw talent. He had an explosive surfing style, marked by aggressive tube riding and powerful maneuvers. Irons battled personal demons and mental health issues throughout his career, providing a poignant reminder of the human aspects behind elite athletic performance.

Tragically passing away at a young age, Andy’s legacy is one of incredible talent and the complexities of his personal struggle. His death sparked a greater awareness and conversation about addiction and mental health challenges among professional athletes. Irons remains a beloved and missed figure in the sport, with an impact that transcended competitive achievements.

#13 Shaun Tomson

  • 🌍 Nationality: South African
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 21, 1955
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 1977 IPS World Champion, 6Γ— winner of the Gunston 500

Shaun Tomson, a pioneering surfer of the dynamic tube riding era, brought a professional approach to the sport. Known for his deep barreling technique and competitive mindset, Tomson inspired a generation of surfers with his prowess and sportsmanship. He faced the pain and hardship of losing his young son and turned that suffering into a motivational message of hope, resilience, and positivity.

As an influential figure in surfing’s evolution, Tomson has authored books, produced films, and engaged in motivational speaking, sharing lessons from surfing that apply to all walks of life. His dedication to surfing and its culture, along with his humanitarian efforts, have made him a respected ambassador of the sport.

#14 Rob Machado

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 16, 1973
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— U.S. Open of Surfing winner, 12 WCT victories

Rob Machado is best known for his iconic flowing mane and smooth, graceful surfing style. His innovative finesse and effortless-looking maneuvers made him one of the most recognizable and adored figures in surfing. Although Machado never won a world title, his influence transcends competitive accolades, focusing on artistry and expression in the water.

Outside the competitive realm, Machado has become an advocate for environmental causes and sustainability. Through the Rob Machado Foundation, he supports initiatives for clean water and healthy oceans, as well as providing environmental education to youth. His contributions to the sport and the environment, coupled with his laid-back persona, have made Machado an enduring and beloved figure in surf culture.

#15 Joel Parkinson

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 10, 1981
  • πŸ„β€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Professional surfer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2012 ASP World Champion, 4Γ— Triple Crown of Surfing winner

Joel Parkinson, affectionately known as “Parko,” is admired for his polished and powerful surfing style. His signature smooth carves and barrel riding have captivated audiences for years. Despite a career filled with near misses, Parkinson’s perseverance paid off when he clinched the world title in 2012, solidifying his place among surfing’s elite.

Parkinson’s talent extends to mentoring younger surfers and contributing to community projects through his work with various surfing-related charities. His calm composure and competitive success have made him a respected figure in the sport, while his contributions off the waves demonstrate a commitment to nurturing the next wave of surfing talent and supporting the broader surfing community.


Who is the best Surfing player of all time?

Kelly Slater is the best Surfing player of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Kelly Slater is the best Surfing player of all time. His unparalleled 11 world titles and influence on modern surfing are unmatched.

Who are the top 10 greatest Surfing players of all time?

Kelly Slater, Duke Kahanamoku, Stephanie Gilmore, Mark Richards, Layne Beachley, Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, and Lisa Andersen are the top 10 greatest Surfing players of all time. Each has significantly impacted the sport through championship titles and revolutionary surfing techniques.

Who is the most famous female Surfing player?

Layne Beachley is the most famous female Surfing player. Her seven world championships and pioneering role in women’s surfing have made her an iconic figure and a source of inspiration for surfers worldwide.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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