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New Zealand Surf Journal asks the New Zealand surfing industry to rank our 10 best surfers. The concept is simple: include not just the best competitors, but also our very best free surfers and underground chargers. This is who they came up with.

THE CRITERIA

Surfers are assessed based on their International, Oceanic, Australasian and New Zealand feats, in that order. Those competing in World Surf League (WSL) and International Surfing Association (ISA) events get priority with females and males assessed equally. The rankings are not just based on competitive performance, but also take into account significant free-surfing sessions from the past 12-months. Rising stars can have a place too, but the idea is that if we were sending a Kiwi team to the Olympics being held at pumping Pipeline, Hawaii, what order would you line up the best New Zealand surfers?

THE PANEL OF EXPERTS

The New Zealand surfing industry canvassed includes media, board shapers, officials and identities who have helped shaped the sport. They were asked to rank their top surfers and we poured that data into an algorithm that awarded 20 points for number 1, 17 for number 2, 15 for number 3, 13 for number 4, 11 for number 5 etc. The resulting points saw a superb battle between first and second with just 12 points separating the two, polarising our industry experts. To give you some idea of how close that is the step back to third is almost 80 points adrift.

We go into this knowing how flawed the concept is and our industry experts challenged the idea:

“Trying to find New Zealand’s best surfer is flawed from the outset,” concedes Hughes Surfboards shaper Luke Hughes. “The only measure we have are competition results, and as we know, some surfers have all the ability in the world, but can’t put it together in a heat, and vice versa.”

“Where is the credit for the manufacturers who create awesome boards – works of art and surf them as well as the high-profile sponsored surfers up in lights?” Luke continues. “They will never be recognized as they have a nine-to-five job and are not able to pursue the traveling pro surfing dream. Think the Ellis Ericsons and Thomas Bexons of the world, Jordan Griffin surfs as good as them!”

Jerry Aubertin, the director of Damaged Goods Zine, described the task as having moving goalposts.

“My top 10 would only include one, maybe two, active competitive surfers,” Jerry offers. “I believe the best surfers in New Zealand are still the best surfers from 10-15 years ago. My Pipe 5-10 would be a different set again … so would my Olympic selection.”
So how can you really rank a group of surfers with such a wide variety of skill sets and without full comprehension of their free-surfing feats? Seriously, that is almost impossible. We acknowledge that, but maybe this list isn’t too far off the mark? And the debate that rages around who got overlooked, skunked and should have been on here is what makes this concept intriguing.

THE TOP 10 SURFERS ARE …

DRUM ROLL …

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