Top 7 Best Surf Competitions That You Don’t Wanna Miss
Surf Competitions are the ultimate battlegrounds where top surfers go head-to-head against one another to win that epic title. It’s the stoke and the thrill of being in action, doing what they live for.
If you’re a surfer or a surf lover and you don’t know about these awesome surfing competitions, chances are you’re living under a rock. Surfers seeking a chance to establish a professional career and win the grand prize compete in different competitions held worldwide.
Looking at these top-notch surfers tackling Earth's gnarliest waves is an adventure in itself. There's a bunch of pro surfers out there, but it's in those major surfing showdowns where the real champs shine and stand out.
Winning these competitions also helps surfers attract sponsors looking to promote their brands. Whether it's 11-time champion Kelly Slater ripping those waves in Waimea or Griffin Colapinto performing aerial to score a perfect 10.0, surf competitions can truly define their surfing journey.
The Biggest Surfing Competitions
WSL (World Surf League) is the biggest surfing event of the year, featuring both male and female surfers from around the globe. It was established in 1976 and went through rebranding in 2014.
You can find the world’s best surfers battling against each other for the World Championship Title. Qualifying series take these amazing surfers to the elite Championship Tour, giving them the opportunity to travel to the most challenging surfing spots like Pipeline or Teahupoo and get a chance to show the whole world what it means to be a surfer.
Points are awarded on the quality of waves, their amazing maneuvers, and their speed. Cash prizes vary, but even the last-place surfer can snag around $10,000, while the top champ takes home a cool $100,000.
The WSL is all about top-notch surfing action. They throw more than 180 contests globally each year, crowning the champs in different categories. Check out some of the most awesome competitions hosted by WSL, where you can experience the heat.
1. Vans Triple Crown of Surfing
The North Shore of Oahu becomes sizzling hot in winter when surfers compete against one another in the coolest competition of the year. Vans Triple Crown surfing is a surfing series composed of 3 events: Hawaiian Pro held at Haleiwa, Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, and the finale Billabong Pipe Master, which takes place at Banzai Pipeline.
With waves reaching 25 feet in winter, this place is no amateur zone. Surfers from around the world compete in these events and showcase their talent against these notorious waves.
They aren't just competing for single event wins but rather the top title, the Vans Triple Crown, given to the surfer who nails it across all three events. The WSL final event was also held at Pipeline along with the Triple Crown.
2. Tudor Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge
Nazare in Portugal is famous for its giant waves breaking all world records. With waves reaching up to 86 ft, this is an ideal place for big-wave surfers. When the waves rise, you can see the surfer riding on a tall tower of water…Looks pretty scary!
Tudor Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge is a big deal in the world of massive waves. The competition showcases tow-in surfing, as paddling against these powerful waves is near to impossible. The jet skies are always there for the rescue due to brutal wipeouts.
It’s hard to predict when these waves will come into action, but when they do, top surfers are assembled on an urgent basis to compete and ride the biggest wave of their lives.
3. Quiksilver Jaws Big Wave Challenge
Jaws in Peahi, Maui, is another popular surfing spot known for its dangerous big waves and wipeouts that have left many surfers injured. It can get extremely challenging to tame this Muai monster. Jaws is an awesome spot because the ocean floor suddenly changes from really deep to relatively shallow.
Shane Dorian is the guy who redefined surfing at Jaws and made everyone believe that you can actually paddle in those big waves rather than use a tow-in approach.
Surfers ride these epic waves, try out different maneuvers, and get barreled to score good points. However, in case of strong winds, surfers don’t have a choice but to resort to tow-in sessions.
Mavericks in Half Moon Bay is a notorious big-wave surfing spot that doesn't work all year. But when it does, the waves can go up to 50 ft. Due to the unpredictable conditions of this place, events usually take place after careful consideration.
For surfers, it’s one of the deadliest and most challenging spots that can easily break their bones and boards. Pro surfers are invited to compete in this prestigious event to showcase their bravery and skills against the epic waves and freezing waters.
5. Billabong Tahiti Pro Teahupoo
Starting in 1999, Billabong Tahiti Pro is a pro surfing competition held annually. Competing at these challenging reef breaks feels like competing in the Olympics. The huge, powerful waves attract surfers from all around the world. At Teahupoo, waves break below sea level.
The waves usually break to the left, but sometimes competitors can see some dangerous rights as well. It is famous for giving surfers tons of barrels that help them score good points. The champ is crowned after competing in all four rounds: heats, quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals.
6. Rip Curl WSL Finals
Talk about the ultimate showdown. This is where the WSL tour ends, and the champions make history. The top 5 men and women compete in one day to win that grand title. It is held at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California.
The waves here are not massive, but the perfect A-frames with easy rights and fast lefts allow surfers to try out their best maneuvers.
7. The O'Neill Coldwater Classic
It feels like the Colosseum, with steep cliffs giving you a front-row seat to the epic right-point break. The O’Neill Coldwater Classic is a classic surfing competition that was first hosted in the year 1987 in Santa Cruz, California. After a couple of years in shadows, the spot is back in the game with local and top surfers ripping those good-quality waves. The series winner is awarded a prize of $50,000.
Surf competitions encourage surfers to fulfill their passion and do what they most love to do. From taking on the jaw-dropping challenges at Jaws and Mavericks, each event is a mix of skills, guts, and pure stoke.
These competitions aren't just about trophies or cash prizes; they are all about embracing the surf culture, pushing boundaries, and the thrill of catching that perfect wave. Check out live streams and find out which one could be your next favorite series!
Written by James Davis
I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.
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