In most sports, numbers are used to determine excellence. However, surfing is about far more than who wins the most events. Surfing has a long, proud history of soulful legends and brave daredevils negotiating the world's most difficult waves. Here are some of the champions, visionaries, and legends who have helped to shape and elevate the sport into the global phenomenon that it is today. They are without a doubt the best surfers of all time.
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The Best Surfers of All Time are:
1) Stephanie Gilmore
Stephanie Gilmore has carved up prestige for herself over the years. She is the first-ever surfer to win a World Title in their debut season, and she has a total of seven. She has a very forceful demeanour and is highly technical. She has also served as an inspiration to younger generations, being one of the best surfers of all time. Stephanie grew up surfing at Coolangatta, a well-known surf destination. She, tied with Layne Beachley, holds the record for the most World Titles won by a woman in history.
2) Clarrisa Moore
Carissa Moore has become a name to be reckoned with in surfing with her eleven national titles and four World Championships. She is extremely generous with her victories, donating a large portion of her prize money to local organisations. She also promotes women's wellbeing, particularly in regards to body image and societal expectations, as well as environmental health and conservation. She is highly upbeat and well-liked in the surf industry as one of the best surfers of all time.
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3) Robert Kelly Slater
Slater was born in the United States and is regarded as one of the sport's most iconic figures. He has won the world championship more than 11 times, and in the 1990s, he held the title of ASP Champion for up to 5 years in a row. Before qualifying as a professional surfer, he had won six Eastern Surfing Association titles and four national titles in the United States. With a total of 51 victories in various professional circuits since his debut, this exceptional surfer holds the global record for being the youngest world champion. His illustrious career brought him to television, where he appeared in the popular series Baywatch as well as the reality show The Girls Next Door.
4) Andy Irons
Irons was one of the best surfers of all time, a multiple world champion who put his heart on his sleeve and never backed down in the face of a challenge. A native of Hawaii, he was the type of guy who prioritised family and friends above everything else and was passionately protective of everyone he cared about. He was a fierce competitor who dominated when the waves were huge and hazardous but also understood his way around lesser waves. In November 2010, he passed away in Dallas.
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5) Gabriel Medina
Gabriel Medina is the most well-known surfer today and is widely regarded as one of the best surfers of all time. In 2018, he claimed his second World Title and first Pipe Masters in one of surfing's most exhilarating days. The gorgeous dark-haired surfer is regarded as a national hero in Brazil, owing to the World Titles he brought the great surfing nation in 2014 and 2018. His raucous return to São Paulo made national headlines leading to Medina’s immense fame.
This list is in no way exhaustive as talent emerges every day in the sport of surfing. But the kind of game these surfers brought to the waves has remained unparalleled, so they have rightly earned their names as some of the best surfers of all time.