Defining greatness in most sports is a pretty hard task. But surfing is a different matter ad it is a sport known as much for its cultural, daredevil, or iconic elements as who racks up the most victories in competitive circuits. Here we’ve tried to enlist five of the most influential surfers of all time.
1. The Duke
Duke Kahanamoku is considered the undisputed father of modern surfing. Kahanamoku himself exposed the sport to the rest of the world, despite the fact that Hawaiians had started riding waves before the arrival of Captain Cook. After attending the Stockholm Olympics and winning a gold and silver medal in swimming, he traveled around the world, demonstrated his talent and subsequently introduced surfing to Australia, New Zealand, and the East Coast, spreading Aloha to scores of enthralled spectators.
Kahanamoku continued to win another Olympic gold and silver medal. After rescuing 8 fishermen at Newport Harbor, riding one of the longest waves in history in Waikiki, he solidified his waterman status and was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame and Swimming Hall of Fame.
Kahanamoku fraternized with royalty, dignitaries, movie stars, and certainly, some of the greatest athletes in early surfing. Surfer magazine called him Surfer of the Century.
2. Kelly Slater
It’s amazing how an athlete can redefine the boundaries of a sport. Jordan, Tiger, and Tony Hawk have set standards that others can only dream of reaching. And Kelly Slater is a typical example, closing the book on the old school and writing a new chapter only he could conceive. Before annihilating the status quo, he snaked and won at Trestles with such speed and precision that the world was aghast. Then on the professional tour, he rose through the ranks and easily disposed of the veterans. Some realized the inevitable was upon them while others responded with anger and fear.
Building on Curren and Potter, Slater combined supernatural talent, contest strategy, and fitness to inspire 3 successive generations and garner 11 world titles.
Slater has redefined the limits of career, performance, and age, and has influenced style, maneuvers, and design.