10. Bob McTavish (1944- ) and Dick Brewer (1936- )
In surfing, it’s Australia vs. USA. The two countries battle to be the best in surfing, shaping and the rights to the “Shortboard Revolution”
The Aussie: McTavish shaped a 9’8”state-of-the-art board in 1966. By 1968 the board dramatically shrunk to 7’2”. Every time he’d shape a board it would be three or four inches shorter than the one before. In the ‘70s he revolutionized the standard shortboard that many recognize today.
The Yankee: Dick Brewer used his knowledge in engineering and applied the scientific factors such as low drag bottom, aerodynamics, symmetrical under cambered airfoils to create the “pocket rocket” board that allowed surfers to ride faster, more aggressive waves with more dexterity in the pocket.
9. Andy Irons (1978 – 2010)
The Kauai native dominated the competition and carved his place in history when he won his third World Professional Surfing Championship, where he joined the ranks with Mark Richards, Tom Curren, and Kelly Slater as one of the most influential surfers in modern history, and will always keep us guessing about his true potential..
8. Mark Richards (1957- )
Four-time ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) Champion, professional shaper and free ride generation icon, Mark Richards was another pioneer during the “Shortboard Revolution” in the early 70s. Riding double overhead waves with grace of a longboarder and fearlessness of a shortboarder, Richards’ becoming a pro surfer “just sort of happened”. The Aussie shaped the original ground-breaking free ride twin-fin during the winter of 1977 in Newcastle, Australia - lifting surfing performance to new heights.
7. Gerry Lopez (1948- )
Also known as “Mr. Pipeline”, Gerry Lopez is one of the godfathers when it comes to surfing the tube. In the 60s, riding in the barrel was surveyed but never conquered...until Lopez showed up. Lopez ripped glassy waves at the Banzai Pipeline, Hawaii’s reef break that births legends and claims them just as fast. It was at this break off of Oahu’s North Shore that Lopez deemed his reputation as the best tuberider in the world by winning the Pipeline Master two years in a row (1972 and 1973). Lopez was also influential in leading the surf culture to a more Zen-like state with yoga, meditation and psychedelics.
6. Rob Machado (1973- )
The competitor + the artist =“Mr. Smoothy”. Born in Australia, but raised in San Diego County where the locals are conditioned to be surfers, Machado won many large surfing contests including Hawaii’s Pipeline Masters, and the U.S. Open of Surfing – the biggest surf contest in the world. No other surfer has the style and grace of Rob Machado does on a wave. He contorts and moves with the wave. It seems he spiritually connects with it. Now that he has retired his competitive side of surfing, he is focusing on the art of it.
5. Layne Beachley (1972- )
Layne Beachley AKA “Queen of Self Promotion” is the Lisa Leslie of surfing. She developed into the fiercest power surfer and competitor of her generation as she racked up seven ASP world titles, six of them consecutively. At 16, Beachley skipped the amateur circuit and immediately went pro. The Aussie ranked sixth in the world at age 20. Beachley stepped into a man’s world where she was tormented, threatened and kicked out of the water. This taught her to fight and stand up for herself. She tackled big-wave surfing and conquered the largest wave ridden by a woman in Australia in 2009.
4. Laird Hamilton (1964- )
Go big or go home. There is no question that Laird Hamilton is one of, if not the greatest big wave surfer of all time. Imagine: rushing down a face exceeding 70 feet at 30+ mph, knowing the barrel could fit a two-story house inside, and that one slip can mean a watery grave on a razor sharp reef. The entire perception of what was possible in surfing changed forever when the co-inventor of “Tow-in surfing” conquered the freak hydrodynamics of Teahupo’o, Tahiti, home of the largest waves in the world on August 17th 2000.
3. Greg Noll (1937- )
“Da Bull” rides big waves. The Los Angeles County lifeguard found himself on the U.S. lifeguard team for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. His rough-and-tumble attitude with surfing made an impression on the Aussies - surfing should be fast, flashy, and fun. Noll scaled the walls of the large Hawaiian surf that made the locals think twice. He was instrumental in forming the most daring group of big wave surfers of the generation. He quit while he was ahead when he conquered the biggest wave a human can paddle into.
2. Duke Kahanamoku (1890 – 1968)
He is the father of modern day surfing. During the Vaudeville era, “The Big Kahuna” initiated the surfing culture. The three time Olympic gold medalist was one of the last Hawaiian surfers to continue the ancient experience when missionaries tried banning it after their arrival in the 1820s. Kahanamoku kept the glow of a dying ritual and sparked a cultural and global phenomenon.
1. Kelly Slater (1972- )
Every sport has its dominating player: Messi, Jordan, Federer, Tiger...Slater. What do these household names have in common? They all influenced culture. From gracing the People Magazine’s "50 Most Beautiful People" to starring in the hit show Baywatch, Slater became the poster child of surfing and molding it to what it is today – a multibillion dollar industry.
Kelly Slater made surfing a (paying) sport. From performance, consistency, records, design, money, and longevity…Slater is the total package. The fierce shortboarder was a catalyst in how the waves were ridden, and started a revolution in finding lines never before imagined.
Slater went pro at 18, first world tour at 19 and won the world title at 21.At the tender age of 40, Kelly Slater won his 11th ASP title, making him the youngest and oldest to win the title, and is currently competing for a 12th.
The waves are a connection for Slater that taught him all the lessons in life of balance, patience, tenacity, and fearlessness.
Kelly Slater 11x World Championship!