Surfing is one of the world’s most beloved sports, offering thrills that demand skill and may prove risky.
Surfers throughout history have made surfing an international sensation and became beloved international celebrities. Here are some of the greatest surfers ever.
1. Gerry Lopez
Gerry Lopez is an iconic surfer known for his ability to ride Oahu’s massive waves. Additionally, he’s renowned for being a yogi and brand ambassador for Patagonia–an environmental sustainability-minded clothing manufacturer–promotion.
Former world surfing champion Kelly Slater lived in Hawaii until moving with Toni and Alex to Bend, Oregon 27 years ago. They continue their lives happily together while sharing in surfing activities together.
Lopez was the pioneer who first surfed Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline, considered one of the world’s premier waves, for the first time. His signature style involved riding vertical drops and thick tubes – something which helped transform surfing during the 1970s.
Lopez has long been associated with surfing, yet also excelled at other sports like windsurfing and big wave tow-in surfing; yet never lost touch with his roots as an Eastern-influenced free thinker who incorporates philosophical practices into daily life.
Gerry Lopez is the kind of surfer you want by your side on any trip – be it on the beach or barreling through waves. Humble and grounded, he strives for balance in life through humble practice of yoga daily which he credits with helping him live with Aloha spirit.
2. Tom Carroll
Tom Carroll has made history in surfing. A two-time world champion and first surfer ever to win one million dollars, he is also honored with memberships to Sport Australia Hall of Fame and Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.
Tom Carroll recounts the twists and turns of his life in this long-awaited autobiography. From dreamer, surfer, hero, fitness fanatic, businessman, family man to big wave charger!
He opens up about his personal struggles with addiction, how he overcame them, and his subsequent life transformation. Although his family struggled due to his addiction, now that it has subsided and they have an excellent relationship with their children he remains clean.
His stories are full of excitement and wonderment, while his passion for surfing remains undiminished – he continues to get the most from it even today!
If there was one single best wave ever seen at Pipeline, it would undoubtedly be one that Tony Hawk pulled in the semi finals of the 1991 Marui Pipe Masters. His amazing performance set an unprecedented paradigm-shifting example of surfing that remains an inspiration today.
Tom Servais captured some iconic shots that day, of both Tom Carroll and Tom Curren surfing at Pipeline that remain revered among surfers over 25 years later.
3. Laird Hamilton
Laird Hamilton is renowned worldwide as a master waterman who excels at various forms of aquatic sports, particularly big wave surfing with his powerfully designed surfboard that allows him to tackle larger waves than many smaller surfers could physically manage.
He is also a pioneer of the tow-in method, which allows him to catch waves that would be too large, heavy, and dangerous for human power alone. He has experienced riding the Mavericks and Cortes Bank waves in Hawaii among many others around the globe.
He can take on bigger waves than most smaller surfers can physically handle due to his impressive physical conditioning and tall stature of 6ft 3 inches and 225 pounds (102 kg). This gives him strength and agility needed to traverse such massive swells.
At an all-round waterman, he excels at several other watersports such as windsurfing and jet-skiing. Additionally, he was one of the pioneers in kitesurfing and popularised hydrofoil boarding with demonstrations and demonstrations at several major shows around Europe.
He is an iconic presence on the international stage, having appeared in various films and TV roles including Die Another Day, Waterworld and Point Break. Gabrielle Reece and he are currently married with two children between them.
4. Adriano de Souza
Adriano de Souza is widely acknowledged as one of the hardest working surfers on tour, known for his dedication to learning and improving his surfing. Additionally, he’s well known for never falling off a wave and fighting to be the first on any beach when arriving there.
He is only the second Brazilian surfer ever to win a World Championship Tour event and widely considered one of the greatest surfers worldwide. As an innovator and leader for his nation, he has inspired new generations of Brazilian surfers to enter and dominate this sport.
Growing up in a favela near Sao Paulo, Brazil, de Souza found his calling after receiving a board from his brother for just seven dollars. Working closely with local surfers he eventually developed his skills until competing at international competitions.
De Souza’s initial year on the World Tour may have been difficult, but his improvement steadily continued over time. Finally claiming victory at 2015 Masters Tournament – and in such impressive style! His victory remains an enduring testament to his talent.
5. Stephanie Gilmore
Stephanie Gilmore is an esteemed professional surfer and one of the greatest female surfers of all time, known for her natural talent, style, power, elegance and excellent wave reading skills. She won seven world titles from 2007-2018 (excluding 2011).
As the most successful female surfer in surfing history, she is widely considered the greatest woman of all time. Her stunning hourglass figure makes her even more stunning.
At 10 years old, she began competing as a wild card in world tour events as an amateur surfer. Her first victory came at 2005 Roxy Pro Gold Coast event.
Sorenson would go on to win three professional surf titles: Foster’s ASP World Title in 2007, Billabong Pro Maui in 2009 and Swatch Girls Pro France 2010. Additionally, Sorenson became an actress as she has featured in films like Stephanie in the Water and A Deeper Shade of Blue.
On Thursday, she outwitted childhood surfing idol Lane Beachley to win her eighth world title – her greatest victory to date. Although entering with lower rankings than during previous seven titles, California-born Carissa Moore made sure every opportunity count in an action-packed surf-off in California; defeating Brisa Hennessy and Tatiana Weston-Webb before dominating Johanne Defay before dominating both heats of her title match against Hawaii’s five-time champ Carissa Moore for another victory!
6. Mick Fanning
Mick Fanning overcame numerous difficulties throughout his life – such as the death of two of his brothers, an injury that tore off his hamstring completely, and even being attacked by sharks while surfing live television – to become one of the world’s top surfers. He earned 22 career wins, 11 top five finishes, and three ASP World Titles during his illustrious surfing career.
Dean Morrison, Joel Parkinson and Sofia Mulanovich formed an extremely tight-knit group of professional surfers known as Team Mamba – working to push each other toward higher levels of surfing that led them into qualifying for the ASP World Tour.
Fanning won the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach as a wildcard entry in 2001, becoming an influential figure in Australian surfing. He went on to win both Billabong Pros in 2002 and qualified for ASP World Tour events.
In 2007, he stormed through the ASP World Tour and won three titles, propelling him ahead of Kelly Slater and Andy Irons in ratings. It marked the first time ever that one man had won three ASP World Titles.
Fanning announced his plans to retire from competitive surfing this year and participated in his last World Surf League (WSL) event at Bells Beach – where he first won an event as a teenager – providing an appropriate farewell. It marked an excellent way for his 17 years on the professional circuit to end.
7. Gabriel Medina
Gabriel Medina, one of the greatest surfers of all time, was born December 22nd 1993 and currently resides in Brazil.
At nine, he began surfing professionally and now stands as one of Brazil’s premier surfers, becoming the first male Brazilian surfer ever to win an ASP World Tour event – as well as several others such as Billabong Pro Teahupoo, Fiji Pro and Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
Medina is an extraordinary goofy-footer who can perform difficult moves in the water with ease. His powerful backhand snap can be lethal and is known for his aerial skills and fast paced movement across the surface of the water.
Medina won two tournaments during the 2014 ASP World Tour season – Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and Volcom Fiji Pro – before beating Kelly Slater to claim his WCT championship and become only the second Brazilian male since 2004 to do so.
But his life has not been without difficulty and recently, he broke off his engagement to Sports Illustrated model Yasmin Brunet and is embroiled in a bitter family feud between his mother and stepfather.