They win. They change. Their opinions matter. They introduce innovations in the water sports world. The 25 most influential people in surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, bodyboarding, skimboarding and wakeboarding are able to change the course of their sports, with a few phone calls and emails.
The ability to influence people can bring positive things to the lives of millions. Inspirational athletes change the way young generations train, surf and develop their life and careers. That’s what influence is all about.
Idols and icons set feasible goals. They push the limits of what is considered humanly possible to reach unexplored territories. Influential wave riders overcome loss, defeat and even pain, to show us we’re just like them.
SurferToday.com has defined its own criteria and carefully picked sportsmen and sportswoman who have been building solid layers of influence and power in boardsports. There are certainly many more, but these group of passionate wave riders could rule the kingdom of surfers.
The list is sorted alphabetically. Take a look at the 25 most influential people in wave sports, in 2013:
After winning five PKRA World Tour titles, he decided to take a break to change kiteboarding from the outside. Hadlow created his own brand, filmed post-modern conceptual movies and returned in great style to the competitive arena.
The man who shaped surfboards for the best surfers in the world is in constant learning. In fact, he learns with the unknown, always trying unusual designs and impossible outlines. When a shaper tests his innovative models with the best surfer in the world, it’s all said and done.
The French bullet has been winning windsurfing titles since 1994. The master of slalom and speed is always traveling and setting new goals for himself. In 2012, he became the fastest windsurfer in the world at 52.05 knots.
She is probably the most influential female surfer in the USA. Hamilton survived a shark attack, wrote inspirational books and movies, and returned to professional surfing with attitude and focus. An American idol.
Skimboarding is alive and growing. Domke is responsible for the rebirth of skimming with an outstanding ability to ride 8-foot waves, in finless mode.
He is probably the most popular free surfer in the world. With his own personal charisma, magnetism and charm, Reynolds holds the title of “the surfer we all wanted to be”. The surf industry loves him.
The president of the International Surfing Association (ISA) is doing a great work in the development of the governing body of surfing, with the eyes set on the Olympic Games.
The boy nicknamed “Funky Cold Medina” is the aerial inspiration of Generation Now/Z. Surfing has never been so atmospheric. Medina pulls the impossible tricks and makes them look easy.
The man who surfed the biggest wave in the history of surfing still rejects the importance of his achievement. Nevertheless, the Hawaiian with a Portuguese heart is only warming up.
Young at heart, a veteran in the water. Jeff is one of the best bodyboarders in the world and a complete sportsman. He has a bright future in and out of competition.
He leads the most important NGO in the world of surfing and waves. The Surfrider Foundation has the power to influence and to change. In the last years, Moriarty has celebrated many environmental victories for surfers.
John John Florence
The humble Hawaiian leads the troupe of aerialists that will assault the ASP World Tour title gallery, in the coming years. Florence is a complete surfer and he will be a world champion, sooner or later.
Johnny and Erika Heineken
The kite racing champions have created Team Heineken Racing. They’re currently winning everything, when it comes to Course Race kiteboarding. Is there anyone able to steal the Heineken domination?
Josema Odriozola and Karin Frisch
When the dream of surfing perfect artificial waves becomes a reality, that is Wavegarden. The creators of the first surf pool with man-made wave rides are preparing a revolution in the sport of surfing. Are you ready for it?
The youngest (at age 20) and the oldest (at age 39) to win world surfing titles. At 41, Robert Kelly Slater competes because he enjoys to break his own boundaries. Surfing is never over for this man. He has other surprises for us, too, in the artificial wave dossier.
The hard-working German kiteboarder has collected national and international titles, authored instructional books and DVDs, modeled for Vogue and has been getting women into kiteboarding. An important voice in ISAF, too.
He is probably the most complete waterman in the world. Hamilton enjoys his healthy life with wife Gabby and has developed an important water sports empire. When the advertising industry needs a surfer, Laird gets the call.
A former professional surfer and a keen journalist, Warshaw has become a living encyclopedia of surfing. Nobody knows more about the history of surfing than Matt Warshaw. The details, the dates and the athletes of the past will be available online, when his digital encyclopedia of surfing is finished.
The most successful bodyboarder of all time is up and riding. More than a champion, Stewart is a gentleman and the perfect coach for the youngest generations. Bodyboarding is not a sport without Mike Stewart.
Neil Pryde has built a windsurfing empire with over 3000 employees and operations in more than 40 countries. Thanks to Pryde, the sport of windsurfing is the only water sport in the Olympic Games.
By 18 months, Raph was already on water skis following in the footsteps of his dad. The Canadian is considered by many the best wakeboarder in the world, as the sports grows towards the Olympic Games. Derome is never tired of winning and sponsors like that.
The former pro surfer from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, has always done what he enjoys most. Tired of the Dream Tour arena, he focused on big wave surfing. Dorian is setting new standards in the world’s heaviest waves and only gets better with time.
The five-time female world surfing champion is a very active athlete. Born in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Gilmore soon stepped up into the front field of pro wave riding. An idol in Australia, she still has a lot to give to her favorite sport.
Her parents were both windsurfers and Susi has been developing a successful career in kiteboarding, as an athlete and as sports model. In the last years, she partnered with Bill Tai to bring the Mai Tai, a kite camp for famous entrepreneurs, innovators and business executives.
The man who has the best bodyboarding contacts in the world. McKenna has a solid career in pro bodyboarding, from athlete to manager. He introduced new formats and developed innovative competitions throughout the world. His latest chapter is the KSP World Tour. He’s always at the beach.
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 100 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).