Introduction to Women’s Professional Surfing: A Crash Course

“To say that you could find a lot more about men’s surfing than women’s would be exactly the truth.”


After I got back from vacation I knew exactly what I was going to write about. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how difficult it was going to be to write about it. Turns out, if you want to learn about women’s professional surfing then you better get ready to do some hardcore research. I figured that with surfing being added to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 that the sport would become much more prevalent. And yes, we are still a far way away from that time, but to say there was a great upturn in the number of avenues in which to research would be an overstatement. To say that you could find a lot more about men’s surfing than women’s would be exactly the truth. But if you want to know who the most attractive female surfers in the world are there are plenty of articles out there for you. Needless to say, this article is a week late and still about eighteen bucks short. But here is a small crash course in what I learned.


The Aussies are Killing the Competition

Currently, three of the top four female surfers, per the World Surf League, are Australian. They are Tyler Wright, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Stephanie Gilmore, who are in the first, second, and fourth spots respectively. And even though they each only have one competition win, they have done well enough in the other comps to remain on the top of the leader board. Courtney Conlogue, an American, on the other hand, has two competition wins, but hasn’t surfed as well in other competitions so she is currently in third.


The Athletes are Ranked on a Points Scale

It may seem weird that even though Conlogue has placed first in more competitions than anyone else in the series, that she is sitting in third place. But that is because the World Surf League is run off of a point system – similar to soccer, but on a way crazier scale. If you place first you receive 10,000 points. Second – 8,000. Third – 6,500. Etc. All of your points are added up, and then your total for the whole series, which is 10 separate competitions in total, gives you your ranking.


You Can Watch Online

If you want to learn more about professional surfing in order to get ready for the Tokyo Olympics, or if you just want to see some really awesome athletes ride waves that normal human beings would be terrified of, then I would suggest you check out World Surf League. They have past and present competition videos up and let me tell you, they do not disappoint. They are also probably one of the the only legitimate resource out there if you want to learn more about women’s surfing.


Hawaii is Different From the USA

So, another thing that I thought interesting is that, like tennis players, surfers have their country represented next to their name for all competitions. But, Hawaii is considered different than USA. Obviously, this will be different for the Olympics, but it is definitely something interesting to see when you aren’t familiar with surfing and surf culture. Hawaii breeds some of the best surfers in the world, and this looks to acknowledge that. It also maintains the mentality of ‘we grew here, you flew here,’ which, in this instance I really do understand. These women (and men) are proud to be from Hawaii, and surfing is a way of life there – these athletes represent that.


Yes, Bethany Hamilton is Still Out There Kicking Some Butt

Even if you have never watched surfing before or if you don’t know a thing about it, you still know Bethany Hamilton. She is the pro surfer who lost her left arm to a Tiger Shark when she was a teenager, and then proceeded to continue to surfer professionally. She also wrote a book and had a movie made about her. Yes, she is incredible. And yes, she is still inspiring. That’s probably why I have a poster of her surfing ‘Jaws’ (Pe’ahi) hanging in my office. She is also sitting at number 19 in the rankings.



So, like I said, this article should be better. And there should be more avenues for these athletes to really be recognized. But like anything else, we can’t always get what we want. Still, I do not fret. These ladies have a big stage to get ready for in 2020. So there is still time for the world to catch up with how amazing these surfers are. And there is still time for me to catch up too, and to learn more about the sport. Either way, these ladies will still shred a wave like it’s nothing, and we will just be the kooks that wish they could.