The best surfers in the world

Some surfers have devoted their entire lives to this sport and have barely managed to reach a considerable position in terms of competition, whereas a few of them manage to be among the best surfers in the world.

In each generation, there is a professional surfer whose name you may recognize, though if you are just starting out in the world of surfing, you may still be unaware of some aspects of the surfers’ classification system. For example, there are two widely differentiated types: professional surfers and soul surfers.

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Professional surfers are fully identified through the World Surf League scoreboards, while soul surfers were professionals in their past or are so good that they stand out when compared to the participants of the different surfing competitions, however, soul surfers are simply in search of the “perfect wave” without participating in the competitions in an official way.

Do you want to know more about the best surfers in the world? Here are a few lists and the most outstanding ones who are in the top positions.

List of the Best Surfers in the World

The professional surfers can recognize them because they are constantly participating in different tests and they obtain an important position in the World Surf League, that is to say, in the world-wide league of the Surf standing out with the highest scores.

The ones who will have a place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be the following ones:

Men’s category:

1. Gabriel Medina (Brazil)

2. Julian Wilson (Australia)

3. Filipe Toledo (Brazil)

4. Italo Ferreira (Brazil)

5. Jordy Smith (South Africa)

6. Owen Wright (Australia)

7. Conner Coffin (United States)

8. Michel Bourez (French Polynesia)

9. Wade Carmichael (Australia)

10. Kanoa Igarashi (Japan)

11. Kolohe Andino (United States)

12. Mikey Wright (Australia)

13. Willian Cardoso (Brazil)

14. Sebastian Zietz (Hawaii)

15. Michael Rodrigues (Brazil)

16. Jeremy Flores (France)

17. Adrian Buchan (Australia)

18. Griffin Colapinto (United States)

19. Adriano de Souza (Brazil)

20. Ezekiel Lau (Hawaii)

21. Yago Dora (Brazil)

22. Joan Duru (France)

23. Seth Moniz (Hawaii)

24. Ryan Callinan (Australia)

25. Peterson Crisanto (Brazil)

26. Jesse Mendes (Brazil)

27. Deivid Silva (Brazil)

28. Ricardo Christie (New Zealand)

29. Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy)

30. Jadson Andre (Brazil)

31. Soli Bailey (Australia)

32. Jack Freestone (Australia)

33 Kelly Slater (United States)

34. John John Florence (Hawaii)

Female category:

1. Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)

2. Lakey Peterson (United States)

3. Carissa Moore (Hawaii)

4. Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil)

5. Johanne Defay (France)

6. Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia)

7. Caroline Marks (United States)

8. Courtney Conlogue (United States)

9. Malia Manuel (Hawaii)

10. Nikki Van Dijk (Australia)

11. Coco Ho (Hawaii)

12. Paige Hareb (New Zealand)

13. Bronte Macaulay (Australia)

14. Macy Callaghan (Australia)

15. Brisa Hennessy (Costa Rica)

16. Silvana Lima (Brazil)

17. Tyler Wright (Australia)

Biography of the Most Famous Surfers

We reviewed several sports publications as well as official surf league sites and also found surfers with excellent scores worldwide…some of their stories will surprise you…

Robert Kelly Slater

Robert Kelly Slater
Robert Kelly Slater

Let’s start with one of the “surfing idols”: Robert Kelly Slater. Perhaps you recognize him simply by his last name (Slater) or by the nickname “Slats”, he is the surfer who has won more world championships.

He was born in the United States and is one of the most emblematic legends of surfing.  Slater has won the world championship more than 11 times, taking the place of ASP Champion consecutively up to 5 times in the 90’s. In addition, he won 6 Eastern Surfing Association titles and 4 national titles in the United States before qualifying as a professional surfer.

Among the world records of this extraordinary surfer stands out for being considered the youngest and oldest world champion with a total of 51 victories in different professional circuits since his appearance, while in Spain he won the world title in 2008 in the Billabong Pro Mundaka, thus becoming the best surfer in history.

His great career took him to television in the famous series Baywatch where he acted for eight episodes and also appears in an episode of the reality show The Girls Next Door, while his image can be found in many surfing related films.

Stephanie Gilmore

One of the most prominent legends of women’s surfing is Stephanie Gilmore. This Australian will surprise you with her long history of success and her position in the current ranking: “She is the number 1 in professional surfing” and in 2010 she is included in the Surfing Hall of Fame at the age of 22.

Here is a summary of his achievements: At the age of 10 he won the Junior title of New South Wales (2003), in 2009 he won three major events that led to his third consecutive world title and he was a seven-time winner on the ASP World Tour (2007-2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018). She also stands out as the best athlete for ESPN ESPY in 2011 and 2013.

A feature that we find interesting to highlight this great competitor is her ability to recover and continue fighting for her dreams, because on December 27, 2010 after signing a millionaire contract with Quiksilver Pro is attacked with an iron bar suffering a serious injury to his wrist, but that did not stop it and in 2012 again wins the world title, while in 2013 again suffered serious injuries leaving it in fifth place but in 2014 is exceeded achieving a single 10 in the final of the Swatch Women’s Pro achieving another world title. In 2015, she injured her leg and in 2017 she won the Roxy Pro Gold Coast (world event).

Gabriel Medina

A surprise for the new generation of surfing professionals. Like many of the most outstanding surfers, he began his practice at the age of 9 and at 11 he won his first Brazilian national championship title. He is now the champion of the Volom U-14, Quiksilver King of Groms, Rip Curl Grom Search and the three-time Paulista champion.

This professional surfer was world champion in 2014 quickly eliminating his competitors and in 2018 repeating that feat with the rarest and most difficult surfing maneuvers such as the back flip.

Among the great surfers of Brazilian origin you will find Gabriel Medina with unbeatable scores. For instance, he was the first from his country to win a stage in the Gold Coast Australia and also the one who has been leading the world ranking for the longest time in the history of surfing. In addition, he entered what they call the elite of world surfing (ASP World Tour) in 2011 at just 17 years of age and is consecrated as world champion in the Pipeline Masters in 2014.

Lakey Peterson

Lakey Peterson
Lakey Peterson

Her name is Laura Louise Lakey Peterson, but you may identify her as Lakey Peterson. This professional surfer from the United States has been ranked Number 1 in the World Surf League and Number 6 in the ASP Women’s World Ranking.

The story of her surfing beginnings is very particular. At only 5 years old she accompanied her parents on an adventure trip around the world and during that trip she learned to surf. At the age of 15 she won the NSSA women’s competition, then moved to Australia where she earned the nickname “Lakey Legend” because she effortlessly captured the waves. At 16 you could see her surfing in the ASP World Series Qualifier, then she qualified for the 2012 ASP Women’s season at just 17.

On a commercial level you can see Lakey Peterson in a series of sponsors for Blenders Eyewer, Channel Islands, Homegrown Surf Shop, plus she appeared in a commercial for Toyota Tacoma.

Filipe Toledo

An excellent competitor, constant and methodical, this is how we can describe the professional surfer Filipe Toledo. His homeland is Brazil but since very young he has traveled all over the world competing and getting very high scores, that is why he is in the first places of the list of athletes that will compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Since 2013 he has been competing in the World Surf League Men’s World Tour. In 2014 he becomes the WQS champion and in 2015 he obtains one of the best professional titles achieving 3 victories in WCT events with a score of 10 in each final event in which he participated.

Carissa Moore

Carissa Moore
Carissa Moore

You may recognize her face from the issue of Glamour Magazine where she was named “Woman of the Year” and also because she entered the Surfing Hall of Fame.

This outstanding professional surfer was born in Hawaii and started surfing at the age of 5. Now as a representative of the United States she has an extraordinary career. She has won 11 national titles on the amateur circuit, then started competing on the ASP World Tour, winning four times (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019).

With only 18 years old she won the first world title, standing out for being the youngest to achieve it and then repeating this achievement in 2013. She has remained among the top places so far, standing out in 2016 for finishing in third place in the world ranking.

Julian Wilson

Surfing is an essential part of Julian Wilson’s family who live on the Sunshine Coast (Australia). When you ask Julian Wilson how long he has practiced this sport he will answer that in all his memories he appears surfing and with a surfboard attached to his feet.

His creativity is the source of his success, so much so that in 2007 he invented a maneuver called Sushi Roll (a mix of Backside Rodeo and Superman), but the fame has not changed his human sensibility because in 2015 he received international recognition after rowing to one of his rivals (Mick Fanning), while the latter was attacked by a 12-foot white shark in South Africa

From a very young age he got used to winning national and international championships, winning the 2006 ISA Junior World Championship, the Rip Curl Pro, Mr. Price Pro and the Hawaiian Triple Crown. This surfer is an idol because he appears on the covers of magazines from a very young age and you will find him in the most outstanding editions. He has also participated in films such as Scratching the Surface

Johanne Defay

One of the best surfing professionals you can find on the beaches is Johanne Defay. Her history in the world of surfing with only 26 years is a reflection of constancy and especially noted for the great support she received from her family.

This surfer of French origin started at the age of 8 on the beaches of Reunion Island where she now has her home. Champion of the 2015 US Open Of Surfing Vans and the 2016 Fiji Women’s Pro.

At the age of ten she qualified for the WSL World Qualifying Series, but her struggle to find sponsorship was futile and with the support of her parents she qualified for the WCT in just two years, then began to climb the rankings and found the financial backing she needed.

Malia Manuel

Always with a smile on her face, that way you will see her in the pictures when you find her on the beaches.

This extraordinary girl has surfing in her blood and when she was only two years old she was on her father’s shoulders when he was paddling to catch waves.

Her success begins at a very young age because at 14 she stands out as the youngest woman to win the US Open Surginf, while now in her 21st year she has positioned herself as one of the top 10 surfers on the world professional surfing circuit.

Malia Manuel has also stood out for her participation in the film Aloha Naul by French director Steven Briand, which captured a one-day surfing session on the beaches of Western Australia.

Wade Carmichael

Wade Carmichael
Wade Carmichael

On the central coast of New South Wales, specifically in the town of Avoca Beach, you’ll find Wade Carmichael. You may be surprised to see him sitting in a café or even at night with a beer and his eyes on the sea.

The journey to reach his current position in the world’s surfing league can’t be considered easy, because he had to sustain himself by working in other areas, but you can consider it a great job since his dream became a reality and he now surfs among the best.

The best surfers in Spain

Spain is also characterized by professional surfers who have gradually managed to position themselves in the World Surf League. Some are young and others have a long career but always trying to show the great surfing talent of our country.

The Basque Country is one of the most privileged countries due to the excellent positions its representatives have obtained in surfing, while in the Canary Islands and Galicia some names have also emerged and achieved extraordinary recognition.

We have compiled a list of the 40 most outstanding male and 10 most outstanding female surfers, which also includes professionals from Andalusia, Asturias, Cantabria and Catalonia:

Categoría Masculino
GaliciaPaís VazcoCanarias
  • Gonzalo Zurribarreta
  • Diego Lourido Alvarez
  • Martín Cortijo Gonález
  • Pablo Montero
  • Nacho Guisasola González
  • Dani Aznar
  • José María de Paz
  • Aritz Aranburu
  • Andy Criere
  • Hodei Collazo
  • Ethan Egiguren
  • Imanol Yeregi Jatyr Berasaluce
  • Julen Egiguren
  • Natxo González
  • Adrian Zorriketa
  • Lander Dávila
  • Iker Amatriain
  • Eneko Acero
  • Asier Iriondo
  • Norman Landa
  • Mikel Elizalde
  • Rubén Vitoria
  • Roberto Letemendia
  • Indar Unanue
  • David Mugica
  • Karlos Gómez
  • Jonathan González
  • Luis Díaz
  • Alex Bauduín
  • Kalani da Silva
  • Julian Cuello
  • Franito Toledo
  • Antonio Marqués
  • Diego Suarez Díaz
  • Yael Peña
  • Gonzálo Gutiérrez
  • Juanjo Fernández
  • Vicente Romero
  • Juan Fernández
Categoría Femenina
Paíz VascoAsturiasGaliciaCádiz
  • Garazi Sánchez
  • Ariane Ochoa
  • Leticia Canales Bilbao
  • Maddi Aizpurua Garbayo
  • Ainara Aymat
  • Nadia Erostarbe
  • Lucía Martino
  • Isabel Gundi
  • Yolanda Aneiros
  • Noive Ceballos