Are you someone who has always been fascinated by the exhilarating sport of surfing? Well, you’re in luck because in this article, we’ll be exploring the wide array of surfing competitions and leagues that exist around the world. From the thrilling action of big wave competitions to the technical skills on display in longboard events, there’s something for every type of surfer. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to learn more about the sport, this article will give you a comprehensive overview of the different types of surfing competitions and leagues that will surely leave you excited to catch that next wave.
Professional Surfing Leagues
Professional surfing leagues serve as the pinnacle of competitive surfing, showcasing the world’s best surfers and their talent on the global stage. These leagues draw in massive audiences and offer substantial prize money and prestige to the winners. Among the most prominent professional surfing leagues are the World Surf League (WSL), the International Surfing Association (ISA), the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), and the European Surfing Federation (ESF).
The World Surf League (WSL) is undoubtedly the most renowned professional surfing league in the world. It hosts the prestigious Championship Tour (CT), where the world’s top-ranked surfers battle it out throughout the season at various world-class surf breaks. The WSL also holds the Qualifying Series (QS), a series of events that offer surfers a chance to qualify for the CT. With events like the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii and the Teahupo’o Tahiti Pro, the WSL showcases the most challenging and exciting waves in the sport.
The International Surfing Association (ISA) is the international governing body for surfing, recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The ISA organizes the ISA World Surfing Games, where surfers from different nations compete for national pride. This event, featuring surfers of all ages and skill levels, promotes unity and camaraderie among countries. The ISA also focuses on promoting surfing as an inclusive and accessible sport, fostering growth and global participation.
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) was rebranded as the World Surf League (WSL) in 2015. While the ASP no longer operates as a separate entity, its legacy lives on through its contributions to the development of professional surfing. The ASP played a pivotal role in establishing and nurturing professional surfing as a legitimate sport, paving the way for the success and growth of the WSL.
The European Surfing Federation (ESF) oversees the professional surfing scene in Europe, providing surfers with opportunities to showcase their skills at home and abroad. The ESF organizes events like the European Pro Surfing Championship, where European surfers compete for regional prestige and rankings. With its focus on European talent, the ESF contributes to the overall diversity and competitiveness of professional surfing.
Amateur Surfing Competitions
Amateur surfing competitions provide a platform for aspiring surfers to gain experience, hone their skills, and showcase their abilities. These competitions are typically organized at regional and national levels, and serve as stepping stones for surfers aiming to transition to professional competitions. Popular amateur surfing competitions include the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA), the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA), the Western Surfing Association (WSA), and the United States Surfing Federation (USSF).
The National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) focuses on promoting competitive surfing among students in the United States. This organization provides a platform for young surfers to compete against their peers, fostering talent development and camaraderie within the scholastic surfing community. NSSA events are held across the country, giving young surfers the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a competitive setting.
The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) is one of the largest amateur surfing associations in the United States. Founded in 1967, the ESA aims to promote the sport of surfing on the East Coast and develop young talent. The ESA hosts regional competitions that lead to the prestigious ESA Regional Championships. Through these events, the ESA fosters a sense of community and healthy competition among surfers of all ages and skill levels.
The Western Surfing Association (WSA) is the largest amateur surfing association on the West Coast of the United States. With a rich history dating back to the 1960s, the WSA has provided countless surfers with opportunities to compete and progress in their surfing careers. The WSA hosts events from Santa Barbara to San Diego and offers divisions for all ages and skill levels, ensuring inclusivity and fair competition.
The United States Surfing Federation (USSF) is the national governing body for surfing in the United States. As an amateur organization, the USSF focuses on supporting and representing American surfers in national and international competitions. The USSF establishes and enforces the rules and regulations for amateur surfing in the United States, ensuring fair play and the growth of the sport at all levels.
Big Wave Surfing Competitions
Big wave surfing competitions push the boundaries of what is possible in the sport, as surfers brave enormous waves that can reach heights of up to 60 feet or more. These events attract the most fearless and skilled big wave riders, as they showcase their abilities on some of the most treacherous surf breaks around the world. Prominent big wave surfing competitions include the Big Wave Tour, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, the Mavericks Invitational, and the Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge.
The Big Wave Tour, organized by the World Surf League (WSL), is the premier professional big wave surfing circuit. This tour showcases the world’s best big wave surfers competing at various iconic big wave spots, such as Jaws in Hawaii and Nazaré in Portugal. The Big Wave Tour is renowned for its breathtaking action and the incredible displays of skill and courage by its participants.
The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is an invitation-only big wave surfing event held at Waimea Bay, Hawaii. Named after the legendary Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aikau, this event pays homage to his legacy and celebrates his fearless approach to riding massive waves. Held only when the wave conditions meet the minimum height requirement, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is a prestigious and highly anticipated event in the big wave surfing community.
The Mavericks Invitational takes place at Mavericks, a surf break located off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California. This event gathers the world’s top big wave surfers, who are invited to compete in large, powerful waves that can exceed 50 feet in height. The Mavericks Invitational showcases the sheer intensity and skill required to ride these colossal waves, attracting a global audience of surfing enthusiasts.
The Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge takes place in Nazaré, Portugal, which is known for its massive waves that can reach heights of over 100 feet. This event focuses on tow-in surfing, where surfers are towed into the wave by a personal watercraft to gain the necessary speed. The Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge provides a platform for surfers to tackle some of the biggest waves ever ridden, pushing the limits of their abilities and showcasing the sheer power of the ocean.
Longboard Surfing Competitions
Longboard surfing competitions celebrate the grace, style, and finesse of riding longboards, a wider and more buoyant type of surfboard. These competitions often emphasize traditional surfing maneuvers such as cross-stepping, nose-riding, and hanging five or ten toes over the nose of the board. Notable longboard surfing competitions include the World Longboard Championship, the Makaha International Surfing Championships, the Noosa Festival of Surfing, and the Taiwan Open of Surfing.
The World Longboard Championship, organized by the World Surf League (WSL), is the most prestigious longboard surfing competition globally. This event brings together the world’s best longboard surfers, each showcasing their unique style and skill on traditional longboards. With locations like Hawaii, China, and Taiwan, the World Longboard Championship exposes surfers to diverse surf breaks and conditions, demanding versatility and adaptability.
The Makaha International Surfing Championships, held annually in Makaha, Hawaii, is one of the oldest continuously running surfing competitions in the world. This event has a rich history dating back to the 1950s and has attracted legendary surfers throughout the decades. The Makaha International Surfing Championships continues to celebrate the traditional art of longboarding, providing a platform for surfers to showcase their classic maneuvers and pay homage to the sport’s roots.
The Noosa Festival of Surfing takes place in Noosa, Australia, and is the largest longboard surfing festival in the world. This event attracts surfers from around the globe to compete in various divisions, including men’s and women’s longboarding, tandem surfing, and even canine surfing. With its vibrant atmosphere and diverse range of contests, the Noosa Festival of Surfing embodies the joy and community spirit of longboarding.
The Taiwan Open of Surfing is an annual event that showcases both longboard and shortboard surfing in Taiwan. This competition draws talented surfers from across Asia and beyond, as they compete in challenging waves and strive to claim victory in one of the most prominent surfing events in the region. The Taiwan Open of Surfing contributes to the growth of the sport in Taiwan and serves as a platform for local surfers to shine on an international stage.
Tow-in Surfing Competitions
Tow-in surfing competitions feature surfers being towed into large, powerful waves by personal watercraft, such as jet skis. These events allow surfers to access massive surf breaks that would be nearly impossible to paddle into due to their size and intensity. Exciting tow-in surfing competitions include Red Bull Cape Fear, the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, the Jaws Big Wave Championships, and the Teahupo’o Tow Challenge.
Red Bull Cape Fear is an annual tow-in surfing competition held at the infamous break known as “Ours” in Sydney, Australia. This event pits some of the world’s bravest and most skilled surfers against the menacing and unpredictable waves of “Ours.” With its unique format and challenging conditions, Red Bull Cape Fear showcases the raw power of big wave surfing and the unwavering determination of its participants.
The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, presented by Billabong, recognizes and honors the most exceptional rides on big waves around the world. This prestigious awards ceremony showcases videos and images of surfers conquering massive waves, capturing the attention of the surfing community and the general public. From tube rides to monumental wipeouts, the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards celebrate the achievements and displays of courage from the world’s best big wave surfers.
The Jaws Big Wave Championships takes place at Peahi, commonly known as Jaws, on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii. This tow-in surfing competition attracts elite big wave surfers who challenge themselves against some of the largest waves on the planet. With its powerful swells and breathtaking drops, Jaws provides the perfect canvas for surfers to push the boundaries of what is possible in the sport of big wave riding.
The Teahupo’o Tow Challenge occurs at Teahupo’o, a world-renowned break in Tahiti, French Polynesia. Surfers in this competition are towed into the monstrous waves that Teahupo’o is famous for, reaching heights of up to 30 feet or more. The Teahupo’o Tow Challenge showcases the technical precision and bravery required to navigate the treacherous barrels at this legendary surf spot.
Indoor Surfing Competitions
Indoor surfing competitions provide a unique and controlled environment for surfers to showcase their skills. These competitions are held in specialized wave pools or artificial surfing venues that simulate ocean-like conditions. This allows for consistency in wave quality and offers spectators a chance to witness surfing competitions in a more controlled setting. Notable indoor surfing competitions include Red Bull Surfing Indoor, the World Surf League’s Founders’ Cup, the Surf Snowdonia Pro Surf Challenge, and the Surf Ranch Pro.
Red Bull Surfing Indoor is an annual indoor surfing competition that takes place in a specialized wave pool, constructed specifically for the event. This unique concept allows surfers to perform tricks and maneuvers in a controlled environment, showcasing their creativity and technical proficiency. Red Bull Surfing Indoor attracts top professional surfers who aim to push the boundaries of what is achievable in the realm of indoor surfing.
The World Surf League’s Founders’ Cup is a groundbreaking team event held at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California. This artificial wave pool, developed by the creator of the Surf Ranch and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater, offers identical waves for all competitors, ensuring a level playing field. The Founders’ Cup showcases the capabilities of the Surf Ranch and introduces a new format to professional surfing, where surfers compete as part of a team instead of individually.
The Surf Snowdonia Pro Surf Challenge is held at Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first publicly accessible surf lagoon located in Wales, United Kingdom. This wave pool creates consistent and perfect waves, allowing surfers to showcase their skills without the unpredictability of ocean conditions. The Surf Snowdonia Pro Surf Challenge attracts participants from around the world and offers a unique surfing experience in a picturesque location.
The Surf Ranch Pro is a stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour, held at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California. This event showcases the incredible technology and precision of the wave-generating technology developed by Kelly Slater. With its man-made waves, the Surf Ranch Pro provides a consistent and controlled environment, enabling surfers to exhibit their best maneuvers and performances. The Surf Ranch Pro has revolutionized competitive surfing, introducing a new frontier in wave consistency and accessibility.
Team Surfing Competitions
Team surfing competitions focus on the collective efforts of surfers representing their respective regions, countries, or surf clubs. These events promote camaraderie, unity, and sportsmanship within the surfing community, as teams battle it out for supremacy. Noteworthy team surfing competitions include the ISA World Surfing Games, Surf Club Championships, National Team Championships, and Team Relay Events.
The ISA World Surfing Games is the pinnacle team event organized by the International Surfing Association (ISA). National teams from around the world gather to compete for national pride and the opportunity to claim the prestigious ISA World Surfing Games title. By fostering friendly competition and international camaraderie, this event enhances the global unity and development of surfing as a whole.
Surf Club Championships bring together surfers from various local clubs within a region or country to compete against one another. These events showcase the talent and teamwork within individual surf clubs, with points awarded to each surfer based on their performance. Surf Club Championships not only celebrate individual achievements, but also reinforce the importance of community building and a shared passion for surfing.
National Team Championships offer surfers the chance to represent their country on a national stage. These competitions bring together the best surfers from different regions within a country, creating a sense of national unity and celebration. National Team Championships highlight the talent and depth of a country’s surfers and foster a strong sense of patriotism and national pride.
Team Relay Events introduce a unique and exciting format to surfing competitions. In these events, teams of surfers take turns riding waves in a relay-style format, with each surfer contributing to the overall team score. Team Relay Events encourage teamwork, strategy, and an element of surprise, as surfers must adapt to different wave conditions and perform under pressure. These engaging contests showcase the cooperative nature of surfing and allow for exciting displays of skill and creativity.
Junior Surfing Competitions
Junior surfing competitions provide young surfers with the opportunity to showcase their skills and compete against their peers. These events focus on fostering talent development, building confidence, and nurturing the next generation of surfers. Prominent junior surfing competitions include the Rip Curl GromSearch, the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, the Vans US Open of Surfing Junior Pro, and the Australian Junior Surfing Titles.
The Rip Curl GromSearch is an international series of surfing competitions for young surfers aged 16 and under. This event aims to identify and nurture young talent, providing a platform for aspiring surfers to gain exposure and experience at a global level. The Rip Curl GromSearch contributes to the growth of junior surfing and enables surfers to progress in their competitive journey.
The ISA World Junior Surfing Championship is the pinnacle junior team event organized by the International Surfing Association (ISA). This competition invites national surf teams from around the globe to compete for the prestigious world junior titles. The ISA World Junior Surfing Championship celebrates the talent and potential of young surfers, while promoting friendship and camaraderie among nations.
The Vans US Open of Surfing Junior Pro is an event held in Huntington Beach, California, as part of the annual Vans US Open of Surfing. This competition showcases the best junior surfers from around the world, offering them an opportunity to compete in a high-profile event and gain valuable experience in a competitive setting. The Vans US Open of Surfing Junior Pro provides a stepping stone for young surfers looking to progress to the professional ranks.
The Australian Junior Surfing Titles are the premier junior surfing competition in Australia. This event brings together the country’s top junior surfers, who compete for national titles and the opportunity to represent Australia at international events. The Australian Junior Surfing Titles highlight the depth of talent within the Australian surfing community and contribute to the development of future world-class surfers.
Adaptive Surfing Competitions
Adaptive surfing competitions showcase the incredible resilience, spirit, and athleticism of surfers with physical disabilities. These events provide a platform for adaptive surfers to overcome challenges and excel in the sport they love. Notable adaptive surfing competitions include the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship, the United States Adaptive Championships, and the International Surfing Association Certification Programs.
The ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship is the pinnacle event for adaptive surfers organized by the International Surfing Association (ISA). This competition welcomes competitors of all abilities, emphasizing their accomplishments and celebrating inclusivity within the surfing community. The ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship not only showcases incredible surfing performances, but also inspires and empowers athletes to defy limitations.
The United States Adaptive Championships highlight the achievements of adaptive surfers in the United States. This event provides a platform for surfers with physical disabilities to demonstrate their skills and compete against their peers. The United States Adaptive Championships promote awareness and understanding of adaptive surfing, while fostering a sense of community and support among participants.
The International Surfing Association Certification Programs ensure that individuals with physical disabilities receive proper training and support to engage in adaptive surfing. These certification programs aim to educate instructors and facilitators, enabling them to provide inclusive and safe surfing experiences for individuals with disabilities. By establishing recognized guidelines and standards, the International Surfing Association Certification Programs promote accessible surfing opportunities worldwide.
Specialty Surfing Competitions
Specialty surfing competitions cater to unique aspects of the sport, showcasing surfers’ skills in specific conditions or at iconic breaks. These events capture the imagination of surfing enthusiasts and push the boundaries of what is traditionally seen in conventional competitions. Prominent specialty surfing competitions include the Volcom Pipe Pro, Trestles Pro, Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, and Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
The Volcom Pipe Pro is an annual professional surfing event held at the world-famous Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii. Known for its perfect and powerful waves, the Pipeline offers incredible opportunities for surfers to display their tube-riding skills. The Volcom Pipe Pro attracts some of the world’s best surfers to compete in massive barrels, captivating audiences with spectacular rides and fearless performances.
Trestles Pro showcases the elite level of surfing at Lower Trestles, a renowned surf spot located in Southern California. This event attracts the world’s top-ranked surfers, who display their technical prowess and progressive maneuvers on the fast and rippable waves of Trestles. Trestles Pro offers a platform for surfers to showcase their innovative style, aerial maneuvers, and stylish carves.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is the opening event of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour, held at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast of Australia. This competition launches the elite professional surfing season, as the world’s best surfers compete in world-class waves. The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast sets the stage for an entire year of thrilling battles and high-performance surfing, captivating fans around the globe.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach takes place at the iconic Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia. Known for its powerful waves and rugged beauty, Bells Beach has become synonymous with the history and tradition of professional surfing. The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach offers surfers the opportunity to etch their names alongside legendary champions who have conquered these illustrious waves throughout the event’s storied past.