Who are the Best Surfers in the World?

Surfing has evolved from a small island pastime into a global sport dominated by elite athletes. Here are some of the surfers who have risen to the top of their game.

Kelly Slater

Widely considered the greatest of all time, Slater has 11 World Surf League titles to his name at age 50. An adventurer who constantly pushes surfing’s limits.

Most Decorated Champion

Remains competitive into his 5th decade through dedication to training and technical mastery.

Gabriel Medina

The Brazilian dynamo took the 2018 and 2021 WSL titles with his progressive style. A powerhouse in bigger surf and relentless attacking ability.

Current Momentum-Driven Frontrunner

In his prime at 28 with many more years to add to his trophy haul.

Carissa Moore

Long ruled women’s surfing as 5x world champion. Her style blends technique, rail work and aerial maneuvers that push women’s progression.

Most Decorated Woman Surfer

At 30 remains dominant force driving women’s pro surfing to new heights.

Italo Ferreira

World champion in 2019 with his dynamic competitive style. Innovator pushing limits of airs and radical maneuvering.

Pushing Surfing’s Athletisic Boundaries

Only 27, more pioneering accomplishments to come.

John John Florence

When healthy, the Hawaiian flair master levels up competitive surfing. Double world champion at just 27.

Most Exciting Performer to Watch

Graced many waves but widespread knee injuries limit availability.

Mason Ho

Blurs line between showman and waterman. Big wave pioneer underlines importance of wave knowledge plus courage.

Ambassador for Big Wave Surfing

At 30 pushes limits on the edge of catastrophe every swell.

Surfing’s “Big Wave Riders”

Garrett McNamaraMavericks, CAWave height records
Maya GabeiraNazare, PortugalLargest wave ever surfed by a woman (73ft)

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to be a pro to surf big waves?

While experience/skills help, many dedicated amateurs also surf giants. It’s about assessing limits wisely.

Can women surf as big as men?

Absolutely. As equipment evolves more women are surfing in the biggest conditions.

How do surfers predict swells so far out?

By studying models of weather patterns and ocean buoys sometimes weeks in advance.


While competitive surfing highlights individual talents through tours and rankings, true greatness lies in innovating the sport’s possibilities and sharing stoke for waves. The dedication of elite performers profiled here inspires surfers of all levels by continually raising performance ceilings.

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