The World Surf League (WSL) is the governing body for professional surfers and is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best talent in a variety of progressive formats. The World Surf League was previously known as the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) from 1983 to 2014. The organization was founded in 1976 by Fred Hemmings and Randy Rarick.
In 2013, the ASP was acquired by ZoSea, backed by Paul Speaker, Terry Hardy, and Dirk Ziff. At the start of the 2015 season, the ASP changed its name to the World Surf League (WSL). Sophie Goldschmidt was appointed as WSL CEO on July 19, 2017. Paul Speaker had stepped down as CEO on January 11, 2017, 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.
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.
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).
Ian Cairns watched the demise of the IPS commence throughout 1982 and saw an opportunity. In January 1983, Cairns launched the ASP and lured the world circuit organizers to the new organization, which effectively pushed aside the IPS who were left to operate only the Hawaiian pro events. By December 1984, the ASP had sanctioned the IPS controlled Pipeline Masters as a specialty event available to ASP members to enter for the first time. At the start of the 2015 season, the ASP changed its name to the World Surf League (WSL). The WSL has remained the predominant surfing organization and sanctioning body for professional surfers since its formation. The WSL's first world champions were Tom Carroll (men's) and Kim Mearig (women's) in 1983.
WSL membership is only available to individuals and a few G.C's.
The WSL World Title Race is used to determine the WSL Men's World Title and the WSL Women’s World Title. The winner is referred to as the WSL Tour Champion.
The WSL Men's World Title is given to the surfer with the most accumulated points from their respective best 9 results from the 11 WSL World Tour events (WSL Qualifying Series (QS) events excluded).
The WSL Women’s World Title is given to the surfer with the most accumulated points from their respective best 8 results from the 10 WSL Women’s Championship Tour events (WSL Qualifying Series (QS) events excluded).
The WSL 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). The WSL Men's prize money for winning a CT event is $100,000 US.
The WSL Women's Championship Tour is the women's elite competition consisting of the best 17 professional surfers competing in 10 events (as of 2015). The WSL women prize money for winning a CT event is $60,000 US.
Event results are converted to points and count towards the WSL World Title Race and the ultimate prize of being called the WSL World Tour Champion.
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.
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. Accumulated points are valid for 12 months from the final date of the scheduled event in which they were earned.
WSL World Ranking determines the promotion or relegation of surfers.
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.
The qualifiers for the following year's WSL Championship Tour top 34 surfers will consist of:
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:
Judges will base the score on how successfully surfers display these following elements in each wave:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Year||WSL Men's Championship Tour||WSL Women's Championship Tour|
|2017||John John Florence  (HAW)||58,100||Tyler Wright  (AUS)||54,400|
|2016||John John Florence (HAW)||59,850||Tyler Wright (AUS)||72,500|
|2015||Adriano De Souza (BRA)||57,700||Carissa Moore  (HAW)||66,200|
|2014||Gabriel Medina (BRA)||62,800||Stephanie Gilmore  (AUS)||64,200|
|2013||Mick Fanning  (AUS)||54,400||Carissa Moore  (HAW)||59,500|
|2012||Joel Parkinson (AUS)||58,700||Stephanie Gilmore  (AUS)||48,400|
|2011||Kelly Slater  (USA)||68,100||Carissa Moore (HAW)||55,000|
|2010||Kelly Slater  (USA)||69,000||Stephanie Gilmore  (AUS)||7,284|
|2009||Mick Fanning  (AUS)||7,140||Stephanie Gilmore  (AUS)||6,169|
|2008||Kelly Slater  (USA)||8,042||Stephanie Gilmore  (AUS)||7,188|
|2007||Mick Fanning (AUS)||8,136||Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)||6,708|
|2006||Kelly Slater  (USA)||8,124||Layne Beachley  (AUS)||6,374|
|2005||Kelly Slater  (USA)||7,962||Chelsea Georgeson (AUS)||7,080|
|2004||Andy Irons  (HAW)||7,824||Sofia Mulanovich (PER)||5,484|
|2003||Andy Irons  (HAW)||8,964||Layne Beachley  (AUS)||3,696|
|2002||Andy Irons (HAW)||8,102||Layne Beachley  (AUS)||3,200|
|2001||C. J. Hobgood (USA)||3,094||Layne Beachley  (AUS)||1,760|
|2000||Sunny Garcia (HAW)||7,270||Layne Beachley  (AUS)||5,730|
|1999||Mark Occhilupo (AUS)||7,120||Layne Beachley  (AUS)||8,080|
|1998||Kelly Slater  (USA)||6,398||Layne Beachley (AUS)||7,920|
|1997||Kelly Slater  (USA)||8,260||Lisa Andersen  (USA)||8,520|
|1996||Kelly Slater  (USA)||9,540||Lisa Andersen  (USA)||12,750|
|1995||Kelly Slater  (USA)||6,040||Lisa Andersen  (USA)||12,920|
|1994||Kelly Slater  (USA)||6,660||Lisa Andersen (USA)||7,650|
|1993||Derek Ho (HAW)||5,510||Pauline Menczer (AUS)||7,080|
|1992||Kelly Slater (USA)||7,765||Wendy Botha  (AUS)||10,205|
|1991||Damien Hardman  (AUS)||12,854||Wendy Botha  (AUS)||7,424|
|1990||Tom Curren  (USA)||17,612||Pam Burridge (AUS)||14,440|
|1989||Martin Potter (UK)||20,665||Wendy Botha  (AUS)||14,380|
|1988||Barton Lynch (AUS)||17,475||Freida Zamba  (USA)||7,960|
|1987/88||Damien Hardman (AUS)||13,690||Wendy Botha (RSA)||8,220|
|1986/87||Tom Curren  (USA)||13,115||Freida Zamba  (USA)||9,230|
|1985/86||Tom Curren (USA)||11,490||Freida Zamba  (USA)||5,320|
|1984/85||Tom Carroll  (AUS)||9,460.38||Freida Zamba (USA)||3,400|
|1983/84||Tom Carroll (AUS)||6,830||Kim Mearig (USA)||3,125|
|IPS World Circuit|
|1982||Mark Richards  (AUS)||6,917||Debbie Beacham (USA)||3,059.14|
|1981||Mark Richards  (AUS)||6,211.52||Margo Oberg  (HAW)||3,850|
|1980||Mark Richards  (AUS)||6,890||Margo Oberg  (HAW)||2,000|
|1979||Mark Richards  (AUS)||6,781.14||Lynn Boyer  (HAW)||3,722.50|
|1978||Wayne Bartholomew (AUS)||5,749.25||Lynn Boyer (HAW)||3,986.14|
|1977||Shaun Tomson (RSA)||5,948.3||Margo Oberg (HAW)||4,850|
|1976||Peter Townend (AUS)||5,593||–||–|
|Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships|
|1977||Jericho Poppler  (USA) & Reno Abellira  (HAW)||–||–||–|
|1976||Jericho Poppler (USA) & Mark Warren (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1975||Mark Richards (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1974||Reno Abellira (HAW)||–||–||–|
|1973||Ian Cairns (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1972||Paul Neilsen (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1971||Gavin Rudolph (RSA)||–||–||–|
|1970||Nat Young  (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1969||Corky Carroll & Margo Godfrey (USA)||–||–||–|
|ISF World Surfing Championships|
|1972 - San Diego, USA||Jimmy Blears (HAW)||–||Sharon Webber (USA)||–|
|1970 - Torquay / Lorne / Johanna, AUS||Rolf Aurness (USA)||–||Sharon Webber (USA)||–|
|1968 - Rincon, Puerto Rico, PR||Fred Hemmings (HAW)||–||Margo Godfrey (USA)||–|
|1966 - San Diego, USA||Nat Young (AUS)||–||Joyce Hoffman (USA)||–|
|1965 - Punta Rocas, Peru||Felipe Pomar (PER)||–||Joyce Hoffman (USA)||–|
|1964 - Manly, AUS||Midget Farrelly (AUS)||–||Phyllis O'Donnell (AUS)||–|
|Year||WSL World Longboard Tour||WSL Women’s World Longboard Tour|
|2017||Taylor Jensen (USA)||15,200||Honolua Blomfield (HAW)||16,500|
|2016||Phil Rajzman (BRA)||10,000||Tory Gilkerson (USA)||10,000|
|2015||Piccolo Clemente (PER)||10,000||Rachael Tilly (USA)||10,000|
|2014||Harley Ingleby (AUS)||10,000||Chelsea Williams (AUS)||10,000|
|2013||Piccolo Clemente (PER)||-||Kelia Moniz (HAW)||-|
|2012||Taylor Jensen (USA)||-||Kelia Moniz (HAW)||-|
|2011||Taylor Jensen (USA)||16,000||Lindsay Steinriede (USA)||15,200|
|2010||Duane DeSoto (HAW)||–||Cori Schumacher (USA)||–|
|2009||Harley Ingleby (AUS)||–||Jennifer Smith (USA)||–|
|2008||Bonga Perkins (HAW)||–||Joy Magelssen Monahan (HAW)||–|
|2007||Phil Rajzman (BRA)||–||Jennifer Smith (USA)||–|
|2006||Josh Constable (AUS)||–||Schuyler McFerran (USA)||–|
|2005||Cancelled||–||Kristy Murphy (USA)||–|
|2004||Joel Tudor  (USA)||–||Summer Romero (USA)||–|
|2003||Beau Young  (AUS)||–||Daize Shayne (USA)||–|
|2002||Colin McPhillips  (USA)||–||Kim Hamrock (USA)||–|
|2001||Colin McPhillips  (USA)||–||Cori Schumacher  (USA)||–|
|2000||Beau Young (AUS)||–||Cori Schumacher (USA)||–|
|1999||Colin McPhillips (USA)||–||Daize Shayne (USA)||–|
|1998||Joel Tudor (USA)||–||–||–|
|1997||Dino Miranda (HAW)||–||–||–|
|1996||Bonga Perkins (HAW)||–||–||–|
|1995||Rusty Keaulana  (HAW)||–||–||–|
|1994||Rusty Keaulana  (HAW)||–||–||–|
|1993||Rusty Keaulana (HAW)||–||–||–|
|1992||Joey Hawkins (USA)||–||–||–|
|1991||Martin McMillan (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1990||Nat Young  (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1989||Nat Young  (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1988||Nat Young  (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1987/88||Stuart Entwistle (AUS)||–||–||–|
|1986/87||Nat Young (AUS)||–||–||–|
|Year||WSL Men's World Junior||WSL Women’s World Junior|
|2017||Finn McGill (HAW)||-||Vahine Fierro (PYF)||-|
|2016||Ethan Ewing (AUS)||-||Macy Callaghan (AUS)||-|
|2015||Lucas Silveira (BRA)||-||Isabella Nichols (AUS)||-|
|2014||Vasco Ribeiro (POR)||-||Mahina Maeda (HAW)||-|
|2013||Gabriel Medina (BRA)||-||Ella Williams (NZL)||-|
|2012||Jack Freestone (AUS)||-||Nikki van Dijk (AUS)||-|
|2011||Caio Ibelli (BRA)||-||Leila Hurst (HAW)||-|
|2010||Jack Freestone (AUS)||-||Alizee Arnaud (FRA)||-|
|2009||Maxime Huscenot (FRA)||-||Laura Enever (AUS)||-|
|2008||Kai Barger (HAW)||–||Pauline Ado (FRA)||-|
|2007||Pablo Paulino (BRA)||-||Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)||-|
|2006||Jordy Smith (ZAF)||-||Nicola Atherton (AUS)||-|
|2005||Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)||-||Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)||-|
|2004||Pablo Paulino (BRA)||-||-||-|
|2003||Adriano de Souza (BRA)||-||-||-|
|2002||Cancelled (no dates available)||-||-||-|
|2001||Joel Parkinson (AUS)||-||-||-|
|2000||Pedro Henrique (BRA)||-||-||-|
|1999||Joel Parkinson (AUS)||-||-||-|
|1998||Andy Irons (HAW)||-||-||-|
|Surfer||Gender||Championship Tour (CT)
(Men & Women)
|Junior Championships (JC)
(Boys & Girls)
|Longboard Championships (LC)
(Men & Women)
|Kelly Slater (USA)||Male||11||-||-||-||-||11|
|Layne Beachley (AUS)||Female||7||-||-||-||-||7|
|Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)||Female||6||-||-||-||-||6|
|Mark Richards (AUS)||Male||4||-||-||-||1||5|
|Nat Young (AUS)||Male||1||-||4||-||-||5|
|Lisa Andersen (USA)||Female||4||-||-||-||-||4|
|Wendy Botha (RSA) (AUS)||Female||4||-||-||-||-||4|
|Freida Zamba (USA)||Female||4||-||-||-||-||4|
|Andy Irons (HAW)||Male||3||1||-||-||-||4|
|Margo Oberg (HAW)||Female||3||-||-||-||-||3|
|Tom Curren (USA)||Male||3||-||-||-||-||3|
|Mick Fanning (AUS)||Male||3||-||-||-||-||3|
|Carissa Moore (HAW)||Female||3||-||-||-||-||3|
|Wayne Bartholomew (AUS)||Male||1||-||-||-||2||3|
|Joel Parkinson (AUS)||Male||1||2||-||-||-||3|
|Colin McPhillips (USA)||Male||-||-||3||-||-||3|
|Rusty Keaulana (HAW)||Male||-||-||3||-||-||3|
|Gary Elkerton (AUS)||Male||-||-||-||3||-||3|
|Lynne Boyer (HAW)||Female||2||-||-||-||-||2|
|Damien Hardman (AUS)||Male||2||-||-||-||-||2|
|Tom Carroll (AUS)||Male||2||-||-||-||-||2|
|John John Florence (HAW)||Male||2||-||-||-||-||2|
|Tyler Wright (AUS)||Female||2||-||-||-||-||2|
|Adriano de Souza (BRA)||Male||1||1||-||-||-||2|
|Gabriel Medina (BRA)||Male||1||1||-||-||-||2|
|Pablo Paulino (BRA)||Male||-||2||-||-||-||2|
|Jack Freestone (AUS)||Male||-||2||-||-||-||2|
|Joel Tudor (USA)||Male||-||-||2||-||-||2|
|Beau Young (AUS)||Male||-||-||2||-||-||2|
|Jennifer Smith (USA)||Female||-||-||2||-||-||2|
|Bonga Perkins (HAW)||Male||-||-||2||-||-||2|
Qualifier for list is to hold a minimum of two world championship titles across the categories.
Calculations include world championship titles outside of the WSL as discussed in Predecessors to the WSL section.
|Country||Championship Tour (CT)
(Men & Women)
|Junior Championships (JC)
(Boys & Girls)
|Longboard Championships (LC)
(Men & Women)
WSL Big Wave Championship Tour champions
|Year||WSL World Longboard Tour||WSL Women’s World Longboard Tour|
|2017||Billy Kemper (HAW)||27,140||Paige Alms (HAW)||10,000|
|2016||Grant Baker (ZAF)||25,018||Paige Alms (HAW)||12,500|
|2015||Greg Long (USA)||21,266|
|2014||Makuakai Rothman (HAW)||20,833|
|2013||Grant Baker (ZAF)||2,459|
|2012||Greg Long (USA)||2,155|
|2011||Peter Mel (USA)||1,472|
|2010||Jamie Sterling (HAW)||2,509|
|2009||Carlos Burle (BRA)||2,443|
In 2016, WSL created an official merchandise line that consists of athlete jerseys, T-shirts, coats and hats. These items are available for men, women and kids with only slight variations in the clothing.