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Who is the Best Surfer in the World? A Comprehensive Analysis

The quest for the title of ‘Best Surfer in the World’ is as fluid and ever-changing as the ocean waves themselves. In the world of professional surfing, legends have been born, records shattered, and boundaries of what’s possible on a wave, continually pushed. From the record-breaking achievements of Kelly Slater to the awe-inspiring performances of Stephanie Gilmore and the prodigious talent of John John Florence, the battle for the top spot is an ongoing and captivating journey.

But how do you determine who the ‘best’ surfer is? Is it the number of World Surf League titles under their belt? Is it their influence on the sport and the surfing community? Or perhaps, it is their raw talent and ability to harness the power of the ocean in ways that leave spectators speechless?  From the pioneers to the current champions and rising stars, we’ll explore the dynamic world of surfing in a quest to answer the contentious question: Who is the best surfer in the world?

The Best Surfers In The World – Right Now

Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater, often hailed as the greatest surfer of all time, boasts an unparalleled competitive record. With a record 11 World Surf League (WSL) championships to his name, Slater has redefined what is possible in surfing. His innovative style and technical brilliance have allowed him to dominate the sport for over two decades. From being the youngest to the oldest world champion, Slater’s impact transcends generations, cementing his place as a surfing icon.

Kelly Slater - Best surfer in the world
Kelly Slater

John John Florence

John John Florence, born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, is an embodiment of Hawaii’s legendary surf culture. Known for his casual style and remarkable aerial maneuvers, Florence’s performances are a blend of artistry and athleticism. A two-time WSL champion by 2021, Florence’s talent in big wave surfing and his innate ability to read the ocean have solidified his status as one of the greatest surfers in the world.

John John Florence
John John Florence

Gabriel Medina

Gabriel Medina, one of Brazil’s most celebrated surfers, revolutionized the sport with his explosive style and athletic prowess. With his groundbreaking maneuvers and consistently high-scoring rides, Medina became the first Brazilian to win a WSL championship. Medina’s impact extends beyond his sporting achievement, helping to inspire a new generation of Brazilian surfers and putting Brazil firmly on the global surfing map.

Gabriel Medina
Gabriel Medina

Italo Ferreira

Another gem from Brazil, Italo Ferreira is renowned for his electrifying surfing style and relentless determination. Ferreira’s rise to the top has been meteoric, clinching his first WSL title within a few years of joining the tour. His exceptional strength and technique, coupled with an aggressive yet cheerful competitive spirit, make him a formidable contender for the title of the world’s best surfer.

Italo Ferreira

Griffin Colapinto

Emerging from the burgeoning surf scene of San Clemente, California, Griffin Colapinto is one of the most exciting talents in surfing. With his powerful turns, innovative aerials, and impeccable wave selection, Colapinto consistently delivers performances that captivate audiences. Though he hasn’t claimed a WSL title as of 2021, his consistent high-level performances and rapidly evolving skills suggest that he’s a surfer to watch.

Griffin Colapinto
Griffin Colapinto

Stephanie Gilmore

Stephanie Gilmore, a force to be reckoned with in women’s surfing, has carved her name into the annals of surf history with multiple WSL Women’s Championship titles. The Australian surfer’s graceful style, coupled with her competitive drive, has set the bar for female surfers worldwide. Gilmore’s influence extends beyond the ocean as she continually advocates for gender equality in the sport.

Stephanie Gilmore

Carissa Moore

Carissa Moore, hailing from the iconic shores of Hawaii, is one of the most decorated athletes in women’s surfing. With numerous WSL Women’s Championship titles to her name by 2021, Moore’s combination of power, agility, and grace in the water has seen her push the boundaries of women’s surfing. Moore’s legacy also includes her commitment to encouraging young girls to pursue their dreams in the world of surfing.

Carissa Moore
Carissa Moore

Tyler Wright

Tyler Wright, another superstar from Australia, is a testament to resilience and talent in professional surfing. Wright has overcome personal and health challenges to clinch multiple World Titles, demonstrating her sheer determination and passion for the sport. Her strength, versatility, and competitiveness have established her as one of the best female surfers in the world.

Tyler Wright



Best Longboarders In The World

Longboarding, with its elegant lines and graceful maneuvers, is as much a dance as it is a sport. This discipline of surfing emphasizes style, finesse, and a close connection with the wave. Let’s ride the nose and hang ten with some of the best longboarders the world has ever seen.

1. Joel Tudor: A name synonymous with longboarding, Joel Tudor from the United States is a master of the traditional single-fin longboard style. He has won multiple world championships and is widely considered one of the greatest longboarders in history. Tudor’s smooth and stylish approach celebrates the roots of surfing, and he’s played an instrumental role in the resurgence of traditional longboarding.

2. Phil Rajzman: A two-time World Longboard champion, Brazil’s Phil Rajzman brings an athletic and dynamic style to the longboard scene. His perfect combination of traditional nose riding and contemporary maneuvers makes him a formidable competitor and a joy to watch.

3. Kelia Moniz: Hailing from Hawaii, a place with deep surfing roots, Kelia Moniz is a two-time World Longboard champion. Known for her graceful yet powerful style, Moniz excels in wave reading and nose riding. Her success in international competition and dedication to the sport have made her a role model in women’s longboarding.

4. Honolua Blomfield: Also from Hawaii, Honolua Blomfield is another impressive figure in women’s longboarding. Having won the World Longboard championship, Blomfield’s smooth style and poise on the nose have drawn the admiration of the surfing community worldwide.

5. Justin Quintal: An exceptional talent from the United States, Justin Quintal has dominated longboard competitions for years. Known for his smooth, stylish riding and versatility in all conditions, Quintal’s performances are testament to his deep understanding of the art of longboarding.

While shortboard surfing often garners most of the media attention, the athletes in the world of longboarding continue to showcase the timeless appeal and distinct elegance of this surfing discipline. From traditional single-fin surfing to progressive longboarding maneuvers, these surfers demonstrate the vast potential and enduring allure of longboard surfing.

The World Surf League and World Championship Tour

The World Surf League (WSL) is the governing body for professional surfing. Established in 1976, it organizes and sanctions the World Championship Tour (WCT), which is the highest level of professional surfing for both men and women.

The WCT is a series of events held in different locations around the world, where surfers compete for points to determine the world champion at the end of the season. The season runs from March to December and includes both men’s and women’s divisions.

To qualify for the WCT, surfers must first compete in the Qualifying Series (QS), which is a series of events held around the world. The top surfers from the QS earn a spot on the WCT for the following year.

The WCT is a grueling competition, with surfers facing some of the world’s most challenging waves. The competition is divided into two parts: the regular season and the world title race. The regular season consists of 10 events, while the world title race includes the top surfers who have accumulated the most points throughout the season.

The world title race is a four-event series that determines the world champion. The top surfers compete in these events, with the winner of each event earning 10,000 points. The surfer with the most points at the end of the series is crowned the world champion.

Over the years, the WCT has seen some of the greatest surfers in the world compete for the world title. Some of the most successful surfers in WCT history include Kelly Slater, who has won 11 world titles, and Stephanie Gilmore, who has won seven world titles.

In addition to the WCT, the WSL also organizes other competitions, including national titles and specialty events like the Big Wave Tour. The WSL is dedicated to promoting and growing the sport of professional surfing around the world.


Surfing made its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and it was a historic moment for the sport. The competition featured 20 male and 20 female surfers from 17 different countries, and they competed for the first-ever Olympic gold medals in surfing.

The competition was held at Tsurigasaki Beach, and the surfers faced challenging conditions with typhoon swell and strong winds. Despite the challenging conditions, Carissa Moore from Hawaii and Italo Ferreira from Brazil emerged as the first-ever Olympic surfing champions in the women’s and men’s events, respectively.

The competition was fierce, with some of the world’s best surfers competing for the gold medal. John John Florence, the two-time WCT winner, represented the United States, while Kanoa Igarashi represented Japan. Other big names included Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons, Brazil’s Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, and Tatiana Weston-Webb.

The Olympic surfing competition was a significant milestone for the sport, and it showcased the athleticism, skill, and artistry of the world’s best surfers. The Olympic gold medals added to the already impressive resumes of Carissa Moore and Italo Ferreira, who are considered among the best surfers in the world.

The success of the Olympic surfing competition has also raised hopes for the future of the sport in the Olympics. Surfing is expected to be included in the 2024 Paris Olympics, and there is already excitement building around the event. With more exposure and recognition, surfing is poised to become even more popular and competitive in the coming years.


In conclusion, determining who the best surfer in the world is can be a difficult task. The World Surf League (WSL) rankings provide a good indication of the current top surfers in the world. As of June 5, 2023, the men’s top five surfers are Joao Chianca, Jack Robinson, Filipe Toledo, Ethan Ewing, and Griffin Colapinto, while the women’s top three surfers are Molly Picklum, Tyler Wright, and Carissa Moore, according to the WSL website [1].

However, it is important to keep in mind that rankings can fluctuate over time and do not necessarily reflect a surfer’s overall skill or influence on the sport. There are many other factors to consider when determining the best surfer in the world, such as their accomplishments, impact on the industry, and personal style and flair.

When looking at the history of surfing, there are many legendary surfers who have made significant contributions to the sport and helped shape it into what it is today. Some of the greatest surfers of all time include Mark Richards, Kelly Slater, Tom Curren, Layne Beachley, and Laird Hamilton [2].

Ultimately, the best surfer in the world is subjective and can vary depending on who you ask. Each surfer brings their own unique style and approach to the sport, making it difficult to compare them directly. Whether you are a fan of competitive surfing or simply enjoy catching waves for fun, there is no denying the beauty and excitement of this exhilarating sport.


Hayley Gordon

Hayley Gordon has been surfing for over 20 years. Riding both shortboards and longboards, she's traveled the world to surf but mainly sticks to her two home locations of San Diego and Long Island.

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