World Surf League – Wikipedia

Governing body for professional surfers

The World Surf League (WSL)[1] is the governing body for professional surfers and is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best talent in a variety of progressive formats.[2] The World Surf League was originally known as the International Professional Surfing founded by Fred Hemmings and Randy Rarick in 1976. IPS created the first world circuit of pro surfing events. In 1983 the Association of Surfing Pros took over management of the world circuit. In 2013, the ASP was acquired by ZoSea, backed by Paul Speaker, Terry Hardy, and Dirk Ziff.[3] At the start of the 2015 season, the ASP changed its name to the World Surf League.[4]Sophie Goldschmidt was appointed as WSL CEO on 19 July 2017.[5] Paul Speaker had stepped down as CEO on 11 January 2017,[6] and Dirk Ziff acted as the interim WSL CEO until Goldschmidt’s appointment.

As of December 2017, the WSL had more than 6.5 million Facebook fans, surpassing more established sports such as the National Hockey League, the Association of Tennis Professionals and Major League Soccer. Sports Business Journal reported that 28 million hours of WSL digital video content were consumed during the 2017 season, making WSL the third most watched sport online in United States behind NFL and NBA.[7]

In January 2018, Forbes reported that the WSL had signed an exclusive deal for digital broadcast rights, with Facebook, worth $30 million over two years.[7]

Erik Logan, Former Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) President and Executive Vice President at Harpo Studios, was appointed as WSL CEO on 14 January 2020.[8]



  • 1964 to 1972, International Surfing Federation (ISF) held the World Surfing Championships as a single event every two years and was open to all comers.
  • 1973 to 1975, Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships, occasionally referred to as the de facto professional world championship. The International Surfing Federation had been unable to establish a format or sponsorship so no official amateur championships were held between 1973 and 1975.
  • 1976 to 1982, International Professional Surfers founded by Fred Hemmings and Randy Rarick (IPS) was the original world governing body of professional surfing.

The predecessors of the WSL relates to what organization predominantly represented individual professional surfers at that time. This is an important point because the International Surfing Federation (ISF) still functions to this day as the International Surfing Association (ISA) and also refers to competition winners as world champions (or variants thereof).[9][10]

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) took over administration of professional surfing in 1983 and crowned world champions until 2015 when the organisation was rebranded as World Surf League (WSL). The ASP/WSL has remained the predominant surfing organization and sanctioning body for professional surfers since its formation.[11] The ASP’s first world champions were Tom Carroll (men’s) and Kim Mearig (women’s) in 1983/84. Split seasons were held from 1983/84 until 1988 when competition reverted to calendar basis. This means that Damian Hardman and Wendy Botha were crowned ASP world Champions for 1987/88, while Barton Lynch and Freida Zamba were crowned ASP world champions for the (shortened) 1988 season. The first WSL world champions were Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Carissa Moore (HAW) in 2015.

In March 2015, WSL launched a free downloadable app, which garnered more than a million downloads in its first year. The app provides real-time updates on competitions and provides personalized alerts, letting fans know when their favorite athletes are about to enter the water.

In April 2016, the World Surf League introduced WSL PURE, its philanthropic initiative dedicated to supporting ocean health through research, education and advocacy. WSL PURE has contributed an initial $1.5 million in funding that will support scientists from the Columbia University Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, as they lead research into ocean health & ecosystems, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and the role the oceans play in climate change.

Equal pay for athletes in 2019[edit]

On 5 September 2018, the World Surf League announced equal pay for every female and male WSL event. CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said, “This is a huge step forward in our long-planned strategy to elevate women’s surfing and we are thrilled to make this commitment as we reveal our new 2019 schedule…”.[12] The announcement prompted a conversation about equal pay for professional athletes and the world commended the WSL for leading the way. 7 x world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore said “I hope this serves as a model for other sports, global organizations and society as a whole. My fellow women athletes and I are honored by the confidence in us, and inspired to reward this decision with ever higher levels of surfing.”.[12]

COVID-19 impact[edit]

On 14 March 2020 the WSL cancelled all events “for the remainder of March”, including the opening event of the 2020 Championship Tour (CT) on the Gold Coast in Australia, and the Papara Pro Open.[13] On 16 March the cancellations were extended to the end of May.[14]

More events were cancelled in January 2021, Sunset, Big Wave Jaws Championship Pe’ahi and the Santa Cruz Pro.[15]

WSL sanctioned tours[edit]

  • WSL Men’s Championship Tour (CT)[16]
  • WSL Women’s Championship Tour (CT)[17]
  • WSL Men’s Challenger Series (CS)
  • WSL Women’s Challenger Series (CS)
  • WSL Men’s Qualifying Series (QS)[18]
  • WSL Women’s Qualifying Series (QS)[19]
  • WSL Men’s Longboard Championships[20]
  • WSL Women’s Longboard Championships[21]
  • WSL Junior Championships.[22][23]
  • WSL Big Wave Tour[24]

WSL Championship tour[edit]

Event winners win a total of $100.000. Total prize pool per event in men’s competition is $607.800 and for women’s $420.800, as there are fewer competition spots available to the women. Event results are converted to points and count towards the World Title Race, the surfers with the most points by the end of the season are considered as world surfing champions.

The Men’s Championship Tour (CT) is the men’s elite competition consisting of the best 34 professional surfers competing in 11 events (as of 2015).[25]

WSL Qualifying Series events[edit]

Surfers who are not currently eligible for the Championship Tour (CT) events are able to compete in a Qualifying Series (QS) of events, earning points towards qualifying for the following year’s CT. The top Qualifiers at the end of each season’s QS receive invitations, with the exact number on invitations having changed slightly from season to season. Furthermore, if a particular CT event, in the current season, is short of CT competitors, the judges may choose to select from the then-current top ranked QS surfers to fill in for that event – though this does not guarantee that the QS surfer will be invited to other events during the current season.[26]

A WSL QS 10,000 event is held at premium venues with a restricted field and offers WSL QS 10,000 World Rankings points.[18][19][27]

A WSL QS 1000, 1500, 3000 event is a lower level of competition, compared to an WSL QS 6000 and 10,000 event, with their importance indicated by how many points they are assigned: more points means generally better competition and prize money.[18][19][27]

WSL world ranking[edit]

WSL Men’s Championship Tour and WSL Women’s Championship Tour surfers accumulate points from each WSL Championship Tour and WSL Qualifying Series event they compete in which count towards their WSL World Ranking.[28][29] Accumulated points are valid for 12 months from the final date of the scheduled event in which they were earned.[26]

Promotion and relegation[edit]

WSL World Ranking determines the promotion or relegation of surfers.[26]

2012 tours[edit]

The qualifiers for the 2012 ASP World Tour top 34 surfers was determined using a Rotation Points system.

The qualifiers for the 2012 ASP Women’s World Tour was determined by a surfer’s rank at the conclusion of the 2011 Tour. The top 10 re-qualified for 2012 and the remaining 7 places were taken from the ASP Star Ranking.

2013-2018 tours[edit]

The qualifiers for the following year’s WSL Men’s Championship Tour top 34 surfers[28] will consist of:

  • Top 22 surfers from the previous season of the WSL World Title Rankings;
  • Top 10 surfers from the previous season of the WSL World Qualifying Series (QS) Rankings (those who haven’t already qualified in the above) and
  • 2 WSL wildcards.



In contests surfers will be scored on a scale of 0.1 to 10.0, these scores will be broken up into increments of one-tenth.
The following scale can be used to relate descriptions with the score:

  • 0–1.9 = Poor
  • 2.0–3.9 = Fair
  • 4.0–5.9 = Average
  • 6.0–7.9 = Good
  • 8.0–10.0 = Excellent

Judging criteria[26][edit]

Judges will base the score on how successfully surfers display these following elements in each wave:

  • Commitment and degree of difficulty
  • Innovative and progressive maneuvers
  • Combination of major maneuvers
  • Variety of maneuvers
  • Speed, power and flow

These elements may be weighted differently from day to day and event to event, depending upon on the surfing conditions and the type of breaking wave at each event location. This criterion is different from in longboarding competitions. All of this is focused on creating some type consistency that can be seen throughout the many different events.[26]

The events themselves are previously declared QS 1,000 – QS 10,000 events; among other things this ranking shows what numbers of judges which are required at the event. QS 1,000 – QS 3,000 Qualifying Series events are required to have a six judge panel with four judges on each heat. A QS 4,000 – QS 6,000 Qualifying Series event requires seven judges with five of those judges on each heat. At QS 5,000 – QS 10,000 Qualifying Series events there are only allowed to be 3 judges from any one region. This is then limited to two at any world championship events. All events also require an WSL approved head judge who has the ability to make corrections to errors or any other events that may have affected the results.[26]


There are many rules out in the water that all revolve around the idea of right of way. A surfer has the right of way if he or she is closer to the area where the wave is breaking, this is more commonly referred to as having the inside position. If another surfer takes off in front of the surfer that has the inside position, then interference will be called, and penalties will be enacted. In most circumstances it does not matter who stood up first but who has the inside position.[26]

A surfer can also be found guilty of interference if they catch more than their maximum number of waves in a heat and that this takes away from the other competitors ability to catch waves. A competitor is also not allowed to interfere with another competitor’s paddling and maneuvering for a wave.[26]

The rules of right of way vary slightly with the type of break. Point Breaks will always have a consistent direct of what is inside, that is, the person further up the line will have right of way. In a single peak situation where there is both a left and a right two people are able to be on the wave at the same time, provided that one goes left and one goes right and that neither crosses the path of the other to go one direction. If this does happen then, the surfer who stood up first will get the right of way. On a multi-peaked wave where the wave eventually comes together, both peaks can be surfed until the surfers come together. When they do the surfer who stood up first has right of way, and the other must maneuver to get off the wave without interrupting the other surfer.[26]

In a one-on-one competition, priority can be declared by the Head Judge. Once the person with priority has paddled for a wave priority is then turned over to the next person until that person does the same. The person with second priority can paddle for waves as long as it does not interfere with the other person who will lose their priority only if they catch a wave.[26]

A surfer who has already taken off or obtained possession of a wave maintains this position until the end of their ride. If another surfer takes off on the inside of this surfer, then this person does not obtain priority and is considered to be snaking. If this surfer does not hurt the other surfers ride, then both people can be scored based. If the judges determine that the snaking did interfere then the person will be penalized.
Interference penalties are called by the judges and must have a majority to be declared an actual penalty. Interference are shown as triangles on the score cards in various different ways depending on when or where in the heat they were made. If three or more waves are being scored than one wave will be dropped off the score card. If only the top two waves are being scored, then 50% of the second best-scored wave will be taken off. If a surfer has more than one then 50% of the best waves score will be taken off also. The surfer who has been interfered with will be allowed an additional wave to their maximum as long as it is within the time limit. If a surfer interferes more than twice in a heat then they must leave the competition area.[26]

WSL Championship Tour champions[edit]

Annual Championship Tour champions, since 1964, as recorded by World Surf League and correct as of 1 August 2020.[30]

Year Men’s Championship Tour Women’s Championship Tour
Name Points Name Points
ISF World Surfing Championships
1964 – Manly, AUS  Midget Farrelly (AUS)  Phyllis O’Donnell (AUS)
1965 – Punta Rocas, Peru  Felipe Pomar (PER)  Joyce Hoffman (USA)
1966 – San Diego, USA  Nat Young (AUS)  Joyce Hoffman (USA)
1968 – Rincon, Puerto Rico, PR  Fred Hemmings (USA)  Margo Godfrey (USA)
1970 – Torquay / Lorne / Johanna, AUS  Rolf Aurness (USA)  Sharon Webber (USA)
1972 – San Diego, USA  James Blears (USA)  Sharon Webber[2] (USA)
Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships
1973  Ian Cairns (AUS)
1974  Reno Abellira (USA)
1975  Mark Richards (AUS)
IPS World Circuit
1976  Peter Townend (AUS) 5,593
1977  Shaun Tomson (RSA) 5,948.3  Margo Oberg (USA) 4,850
1978  Wayne Bartholomew (AUS) 5,749.25  Lynn Boyer (USA) 3,986.14
1979  Mark Richards [2] (AUS) 6,781.14  Lynn Boyer [2] (USA) 3,722.50
1980  Mark Richards [3] (AUS) 6,890  Margo Oberg [2] (USA) 2,000
1981  Mark Richards [4] (AUS) 6,211.52  Margo Oberg [3] (USA) 3,850
1982  Mark Richards [5] (AUS) 6,917  Debbie Beacham (USA) 3,059.14
ASP World Tour
1983/84  Tom Carroll (AUS) 6,830  Kim Mearig (USA) 3,125
1984/85  Tom Carroll [2] (AUS) 9,460.38  Freida Zamba (USA) 3,400
1985/86  Tom Curren (USA) 11,490  Freida Zamba [2] (USA) 5,320
1986/87  Tom Curren [2] (USA) 13,115  Freida Zamba [3] (USA) 9,230
1987/88  Damien Hardman (AUS) 13,690  Wendy Botha (RSA) 8,220
1988  Barton Lynch (AUS) 17,475  Freida Zamba [4] (USA) 7,960
1989  Martin Potter (UK) 20,665  Wendy Botha [2] (AUS) 14,380
1990  Tom Curren [3] (USA) 17,612  Pam Burridge (AUS) 14,440
1991  Damien Hardman [2] (AUS) 12,854  Wendy Botha [3] (AUS) 7,424
1992  Kelly Slater (USA) 7,765  Wendy Botha [4] (AUS) 10,205
1993  Derek Ho (USA) 5,510  Pauline Menczer (AUS) 7,080
1994  Kelly Slater [2] (USA) 6,660  Lisa Andersen (USA) 7,650
1995  Kelly Slater [3] (USA) 6,040  Lisa Andersen [2] (USA) 12,920
1996  Kelly Slater [4] (USA) 9,540  Lisa Andersen [3] (USA) 12,750
1997  Kelly Slater [5] (USA) 8,260  Lisa Andersen [4] (USA) 8,520
1998  Kelly Slater [6] (USA) 6,398  Layne Beachley (AUS) 7,920
1999  Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 7,120  Layne Beachley [2] (AUS) 8,080
2000  Sunny Garcia (USA) 7,270  Layne Beachley [3] (AUS) 5,730
2001  C. J. Hobgood (USA) 3,094  Layne Beachley [4] (AUS) 1,760
2002  Andy Irons (USA) 8,102  Layne Beachley [5] (AUS) 3,200
2003  Andy Irons [2] (USA) 8,964  Layne Beachley [6] (AUS) 3,696
2004  Andy Irons [3] (USA) 7,824  Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 5,484
2005  Kelly Slater [7] (USA) 7,962  Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 7,080
2006  Kelly Slater [8] (USA) 8,124  Layne Beachley [7] (AUS) 6,374
2007  Mick Fanning (AUS) 8,136  Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 6,708
2008  Kelly Slater [9] (USA) 8,042  Stephanie Gilmore [2] (AUS) 7,188
2009  Mick Fanning [2] (AUS) 7,140  Stephanie Gilmore [3] (AUS) 6,169
2010  Kelly Slater [10] (USA) 69,000  Stephanie Gilmore [4] (AUS) 7,284
2011  Kelly Slater [11] (USA) 68,100  Carissa Moore (HAW) 55,000
2012  Joel Parkinson (AUS) 58,700  Stephanie Gilmore [5] (AUS) 48,400
2013  Mick Fanning [3] (AUS) 54,400  Carissa Moore [2] (HAW) 59,500
2014  Gabriel Medina (BRA) 62,800  Stephanie Gilmore [6] (AUS) 64,200
2015  Adriano De Souza (BRA) 57,700  Carissa Moore [3] (HAW) 66,200
2016  John John Florence (HAW) 59,850  Tyler Wright (AUS) 72,500
2017  John John Florence [2] (HAW) 58,100  Tyler Wright [2] (AUS) 54,400
2018  Gabriel Medina [2] (BRA) 62,490  Stephanie Gilmore [7] (AUS) 61,175
2019  Italo Ferreira (BRA) 59,740  Carissa Moore [4] (HAW) 59,940
2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic[31]
2021  Gabriel Medina [3] (BRA) 43,400  Carissa Moore [4] (HAW) 37,700

WSL Longboard Championship Tour champions[edit]

Annual Longboard champions, since Men’s event started in 1986/87 and Women’s in 1999, as recorded by World Surf League and correct as of 1 August 2020.[30]

Year WSL Men’s World Longboard Tour WSL Women’s World Longboard Tour
Name Points Name Points
1986/87  Nat Young (AUS)
1987/88  Stuart Entwistle (AUS)
1988  Nat Young [2] (AUS)
1989  Nat Young [3] (AUS)
1990  Nat Young [4] (AUS)
1991  Martin McMillan (AUS)
1992  Joey Hawkins (USA)
1993  Rusty Keaulana (HAW)
1994  Rusty Keaulana [2] (HAW)
1995  Rusty Keaulana [3] (HAW)
1996  Bonga Perkins (HAW)
1997  Dino Miranda (HAW)
1998  Joel Tudor (USA)
1999  Colin McPhillips (USA)  Daize Shayne (USA)
2000  Beau Young (AUS)  Cori Schumacher (USA)
2001  Colin McPhillips [2] (USA)  Cori Schumacher [2] (USA)
2002  Colin McPhillips [3] (USA)  Kim Hamrock (USA)
2003  Beau Young [2] (AUS)  Daize Shayne[2] (USA)
2004  Joel Tudor [2] (USA)  Summer Romero (USA)
2005 Cancelled  Kristy Murphy (USA)
2006  Josh Constable (AUS)  Schuyler McFerran (USA)
2007  Phil Rajzman (BRA)  Jennifer Smith (USA)
2008  Bonga Perkins (HAW)  Joy Magelssen Monahan (HAW)
2009  Harley Ingleby (AUS)  Jennifer Smith[2] (USA)
2010  Duane DeSoto (HAW)  Cori Schumacher[3] (USA)
2011  Taylor Jensen (USA) 16,000  Lindsay Steinriede (USA) 15,200
2012  Taylor Jensen[2] (USA)  Kelia Moniz (HAW)
2013  Piccolo Clemente (PER)  Kelia Moniz[2] (HAW)
2014  Harley Ingleby[2] (AUS) 10,000  Chelsea Williams (AUS) 10,000
2015  Piccolo Clemente[2] (PER) 10,000  Rachael Tilly (USA) 10,000
2016  Phil Rajzman[2] (BRA) 10,000  Tory Gilkerson (USA) 10,000
2017  Taylor Jensen[3] (USA) 15,200  Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 16,500
2018  Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 10,000  Soleil Errico (USA) 10,000
2019  Justin Quintal (USA) 18,500  Honolua Blomfield[2] (HAW) 20,500
2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic[31]
2021  Joel Tudor[3] (USA) 20,000  Honolua Blomfield[3] (HAW) 20,500

WSL World Junior champions[edit]

Annual Junior champions, since Men’s event started in 1998 and Women’s in 2005, as recorded by the Association of Surfing Pros through to 2012.[32]

Data since 2013 provided by…[citation needed]

WSL Big Wave Tour champions[edit]

Annual Big Wave champions, since Men’s event started in 2009 and Women’s in 2016, as recorded by … and correct as of …[citation needed]

Year WSL World Big Wave Tour WSL Women’s World Big Wave Tour
Name Points Name Points
2009  Carlos Burle (BRA) 2,443
2010  Jamie Sterling (HAW) 2,509
2011  Peter Mel (USA) 1,472
2012  Greg Long (USA) 2,155
2013  Grant Baker (RSA) 2,459
2014  Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 20,833
2015  Greg Long (USA) 21,266
2016  Grant Baker (RSA) 25,018  Paige Alms (HAW) 12,500
2017  Billy Kemper (HAW) 27,140  Paige Alms (HAW) 10,000
2018  Grant Baker (RSA) 16,305  Keala Kennelly (HAW) 12,100
2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic[31]

Men’s Triple Crown Champions[edit]

NOTE: Only one event of the 2020 Triple Crown was held because of the pandemic.

Top Nations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “World Surf League”. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  2. ^ “World Surf League, Frequently Asked Questions, What is the WSL?”. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  3. ^ “ASP World Surfing Tour taken over by US media company Zo-Sea for 2014 season”. ABC News. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  4. ^ ASP Announces World Surf League: Letter from CEO, 12 September 2014 (accessed 28 November 2014)
  5. ^ “Sophie Goldschmidt Appointed CEO of World Surf League”. WSL. 19 July 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  6. ^ “Surfing Articles: Latest Surf News, Videos, & Photos at Surfline”.
  7. ^ a b Badenhausen, Kurt. “Facebook And World Surf League Announce Exclusive Partnership”. Forbes. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  8. ^ “Erik Logan Named WSL CEO”.
  9. ^ ISA President’s Message.. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  10. ^ Surfing And The Olympics . Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  11. ^ “ASP History”. ASP World Tour. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  12. ^ a b “The World Surf League (WSL) Announces Prize Money Equality”. World Surf League. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  13. ^ “WSL Cancels All Events in March”. World Surf League. 14 March 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  14. ^ “WSL Cancels or Postpones All Events Through May”. World Surf League. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  15. ^ Rielly, Derek (5 January 2021). “World Surf League cancels events two and three on 2021 tour, Sunset Beach, Steamer Lane; Rip Curl Pro at Bells possible year opener!”. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  16. ^ “2015 Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  17. ^ “2015 Women’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  18. ^ a b c “2015 Men’s Qualifying Series”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  19. ^ a b c “2015 Women’s Qualifying Series”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  20. ^ “2015 Men’s Longboard Tour”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  21. ^ “2015 Women’s Longboard Tour”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  22. ^ “2015 Men’s Junior Tour”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  23. ^ “2015 Women’s Junior Tour”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  24. ^ “2015 Big Wave Tour”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  25. ^ WSL Commissioner’s Address: “Performance Rules Everything”
    . Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m “WSL RULE BOOK 2019” (PDF). World Surf League. 6 December 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  27. ^ a b “ASP Announces Changes to Qualifying Series”. World Surf League. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  28. ^ a b “2015 Men’s Championship Tour Jeep Leaderboard”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  29. ^ “2015 Women’s Championship Tour Jeep® Leaderboard”. World Surf League. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  30. ^ a b “History – Historic Results”. 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  31. ^ a b c d Minsberg, Talya (17 July 2020). “World Surf League Cancels 2020 Season and Revamps Future Tours”. The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  32. ^ “ASP World Tour Champions 1976–2012”. ASP World Tour. 2013. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  33. ^ “ISA Member Directory”. International Surfing Association. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  34. ^ “Olympics: IOC adds five new sports to Games for Tokyo 2020”. CNN Sports. 4 August 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2022.

External links[edit]