Sports
32 voters

The Most Influential Surfers of All Time

Updated July 25, 2018 288 votes 32 voters22 items

List RulesVote up the surfers who made major contributions to the sport and changed it forever.

Ready to rank the most influential surfers of all time? In a sport in which its culture is just as important as skill level, it's not just the world's best surfers that go down as the most influential. Sure, many of these notable surfers are some of the best to ever do it, yet some simply took surfing to the forefront and helped it become what it is today. For instance, Bruce Brown may have been a surfer, but he's recognized for his impact on surfing through his many surf films and documentaries—which contributed greatly to how we see surfing today. 

Of course, most of these important surfers are indeed the best of all time. While there's been plenty of famous surfers to grace the beaches around the world, those to follow brought more than just skill to surfing—these are surfers who changed the sport forever. From the Duke and Miki Dora to leading surf ladies like Stephanie Gilmore and Layne Beachley, these surfers have had a huge impact on surfing as we know it. 

Who do you think should top the list of the most influential surfers? Take a look below and vote up your picks. 

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  • Duke Kahanamoku1
    22
    4

    Duke Kahanamoku

    Dec. at 78 (1890-1968)

    BirthplaceWaikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

    Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku (August 24, 1890 – January 22, 1968) was a Native... more on Wikipedia

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    #48 of 59 Famous People with Long Names#129 of 204 The Best Olympic Athletes from United States Of America

  • Andy Irons2
    13
    7

    Andy Irons

    Dec. at 32 (1978-2010)

    BirthplaceOahu, USA, Hawaii

    Philip Andrew Irons (July 24, 1978 – November 2, 2010) was an American professional surfer. ... more on Wikipedia
  • Bruce Brown3
    12
    6

    BirthplaceCalifornia, United States of America

    Bruce Alan Brown (December 1, 1937 – December 10, 2017) was an American documentary film... more on Wikipedia
  • Miki Dora4
    14
    10

    Miki Dora

    Dec. at 68 (1934-2002)

    BirthplaceBudapest, Hungary

    Miklos Sandor Dora III (August 11, 1934 – January 3, 2002), known professionally as Miki Dora... more on Wikipedia
  • Greg Noll5
    10
    5

    Greg Noll

    Age: 83

    BirthplaceSan Diego, California, United States of America

    Greg Noll (born February 11, 1937), nicknamed "Da Bull" by Phil Edwards in reference to his... more on Wikipedia
  • Laird Hamilton6
    10
    4

    BirthplaceCalifornia, United States of America

    Laird John Hamilton (born March 2, 1964) is an American big-wave surfer, co-inventor of tow-in... more on Wikipedia

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    #6 of 38 The Best Surfers of All Time#38 of 38 Famous People Who Were Raised By Single Mothers

  • Tom Curren7
    7
    2

    Tom Curren

    Age: 56

    BirthplaceSanta Barbara, California, United States of America

    Tom Curren is an American surfer.
  • Sean Collins8
    14
    12

    Sean Collins

    Dec. at 59 (1952-2011)

    BirthplacePasadena, California

    Sean Robb Collins was the founder of Surfline and a noted figure in the areas of surfing and... more on Wikipedia
  • Simon Anderson9
    7
    4

    Simon Anderson

    Age: 66

    BirthplaceSydney, Australia

    Simon Anderson (born 7 July 1954) is an Australian competitive surfer, surfboard shaper, and... more on Wikipedia
  • Kelly Slater10
    11
    10

    BirthplaceCocoa Beach, Florida, United States of America

    Robert Kelly Slater (born February 11, 1972) is an American professional surfer, author,... more on Wikipedia

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    #40 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#58 of 133 The Best Joe Rogan Podcast Guests

  • Mark Occhilupo11

    BirthplaceKurnell, Australia

    Marco Jay Luciano "Mark" Occhilupo (born 12 February 1966) is an Australian surfer and winner... more on Wikipedia
  • Nick Gabaldon12
    9
    9

    Nick Gabaldon

    Dec. at 24 (1927-1951)
    Nicolás Rolando Gabaldón (February 23, 1927 – June 6, 1951) was an early surfer who is... more on Wikipedia
  • Stephanie Gilmore13

    BirthplaceMurwillumbah, Australia

    Stephanie Louise Gilmore is an Australian professional surfer and seven-time world champion on... more on Wikipedia
  • Doc Paskowitz14
    9
    10

    BirthplaceGalveston, Texas, United States of America

    Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz (March 3, 1921 – November 10, 2014) was an American surfer and... more on Wikipedia
  • Martin Potter15
    7
    2

    Martin Potter

    Age: 54

    BirthplaceUnited Kingdom

    Martin "Pottz" Potter (born October 28, 1965 in Blyth, Northumberland, England), is a former... more on Wikipedia
  • John John Florence16

    BirthplaceHonolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

    John "John" Alexander Florence (born October 18, 1992) is an American professional surfer. He... more on Wikipedia
  • Michael Peterson17
    4
    2

    Michael Peterson

    Dec. at 60 (1952-2012)

    BirthplaceQueensland, Australia

    Michael "MP" Peterson (24 September 1952 – 29 March 2012) was a professional Australian... more on Wikipedia
  • Mark Richards18
    2
    0

    Mark Richards

    Age: 63

    BirthplaceNewcastle, Australia

    Mark Richards (born 7 March 1957), known as MR, is an Australian surfer, four time world... more on Wikipedia
  • Layne Beachley19

    BirthplaceSydney, Australia

    Layne Collette Beachley (born 24 May 1972) is a former professional surfer from Manly, New... more on Wikipedia
  • Taj Burrow20
    0
    0

    Taj Burrow

    Age: 42

    BirthplaceBusselton, Australia

    Taj Burrow (born 2 June 1978) is an Australian retired professional surfer. Taj retired from... more on Wikipedia
  • Shane Dorian21
    3
    4

    Shane Dorian

    Age: 48

    BirthplaceKailua, Hawaii, United States of America

    Patrick Shane Dorian (born July 19, 1972), or "Shane", is an American surfer from Kailua-Kona,... more on Wikipedia
  • Dane Reynolds22
    2
    7

    BirthplaceLong Beach, California, United States of America

    Dane Reynolds (born September 7, 1985 in Long Beach, California) is an American professional... more on Wikipedia