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The Greats: A Look at the Top Ten Surfers of All Time

From the pioneers of surfing to those who put the sport on the map, there are quite a few surfing heroes out there. Can you remember the first time you were inspired to take to the waves? Of course, you can. Who was your inspiration or is still today?

In this post we take a look at some of surf’s biggest names, their accomplishments and what makes us look up to them.

1. Duke Kahanamoku

Commonly referred to as the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku was a professional swimmer and surfer in the 20th century. Duke took to water like a fish, and broke a couple of world records along the way.

  • In 1914, Duke introduced surfing in New Zealand and Australia.
  • He won an Olympic gold medal for the 100-meter freestyle at the very young age of 20 and remained the United States’ representative for 20 years.
  • Duke raised funds for war efforts in 1918 by swimming at exhibitions in more than 20 cities.

2. Miki Dora

One of the very first ‘wild ones’ in the world of surf, Miki Dora is known for his nonconformist beliefs and passion for surfing. He had a troubled childhood and found his passion for the ocean from his stepfather, Gard Chaplin who was also a pro surfer.

  • Miki’s nickname ‘Da Cat’ was derived from his nimble footwork on the longboard. Coincidentally, he was also responsible for popularising longboarding.
  • Miki is considered to be the very first superstar of surfing.
  • A bit of an outcast and rebel, he was arrested in 1973 for grand robbery and fraud.

3. Bruce Brown

Known for his marvellous skills in capturing breathtaking footage of surfers and waves, Bruce Brown is the mastermind behind the iconic movie, The Endless Summer. Even though Brown had made other surf films before this cult classic, it was The Endless Summer that put surfing on the map.

  • Brown made his very first surf film in 1955 in Hawaii while he was in the navy. He was a mere 18 years old at that time.
  • The Endless Summer outsold My Fair Lady at its first screening in Kansas in 1965. The movie was dubbed one of the ten best films of 1966 after re-edits.
  • The Endless Summer changed the way people saw surfers and surf culture. Instead of being portrayed as beach bums, the movie brings to light the perfectionist and passion inside each surfer.

Thanks to these big names, surfing has become one of the most popular water sports today. We have listed our favourite influencers; do you have any to add to this list?

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