The most influential people in wave sports in 2014

The most influential people in wave sports change lives and build dreams.

The dictionary tells us that influence is "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself." Sometimes it is a synonym of age and experience, and sometimes it isn't.

Wave sports, board sports, or water sports - whatever you want to call them - are constantly changing. The sports themselves, and the industry in which they conquer enthusiasts and loyal fans.

Influential people aren't necessarily champions and all-time winners. They simply have more power to shape, change and disrupt the establishment and the status quo. Ultimately, these men and women can make our life better.

It's never easy to pick 25 personalities, especially in such an inspiring environment. After carefully browsing through the last 12 months, SurferToday.com reaches its own verdict.

The list is sorted alphabetically. Discover the 25 most influential people in wave sports, in 2014:

Aaron Hadlow
The British kite magician returned to the professional circuit and ended a long-term sponsor relationship. No matter what happens in the sport of kiteboarding, his voice is always heard.

Al Merrick
The designer/shaper that everybody knows has developed and extensive range of surfboard models. Shortboards, specialty boards, longboards, and standup paddleboards ridden by champions.

Alex Caizergues
Meet the fastest sailor on Planet Earth. While windsurfers and kiteboarders fought for records in Luderitz, Namibia, the French rider accelerated to 56.62 knots in the waters of Salin-de-Giraud, France.

Alex Leon
After the shocking cancellation of the 2014 IBA World Tour, Leon helped saving the face of professional bodyboarding. He leads the newly-created Association of Professional Bodyboarding (APB).

Antoine Albeau
The veteran windsurfer collects titles like others collect bottle caps. What else is there to win? In the 2013/2014 winter season, Albeau took his windsurfer to the giant waves of Belharra. What next? Jaws?

Austin Keen
Skimboarding is emerging from the ashes, and the rider from Georgia is helping the sport grow in the gnarliest shore breaks. The world champion easily transforms skimboarding into a spectator-friendly water sport.

Bethany Hamilton
The most influential female surfer in the USA is still winning events, talking to the nation and publishing successful books. What she says and does has consequences in millions of American teenagers.

Carissa Moore
The Hawaiian surfer is a force of Nature. She has been taking female surfing to the highest level ever. These days, with Carissa in the barrel, you can't find qualitative differences between boys and girls.

Dane Reynolds
The most famous free surfer in the world keeps chasing the uncrowded spots of the planet with his loose shirts and blasé style. We try to guess where he went to plan our upcoming surf trip.

Fernando Aguerre
The president of the International Surfing Association (ISA) is a man on a double mission. He wants to get 100 nations into his organization, and he wants surfing in the Olympic Games. We guess he will complete both.

Gabriel Medina
The Brazilian wonder boy has improved his English language skill, and his surfing skills have been fine-tuned. The youth's idol is smelling the title. Meanwhile, let him fly.

Garrett McNamara
Mercedes-Benz designed a surfboard for him. He is the face of the Portuguese Tourism Authority, and he supports many other big wave surfers in their quests for records and international fame. He's the captain of the big wave surfing club.

Jeff Hubbard
Jeff is always smiling. Even if he loses after putting out an exceptional performance. That is why he is one of the most popular bodyboarders in the world. A consistent rider always wins.

John John Florence
Currently one of the busiest pro surfer in the circuit, John John Florence is constantly trying to get his surfboard higher and higher. Whether he is finding ramps for the videographers or trying to impress the judges, the Hawaiian is a must-see act.

Jon Rose
The founder and president of Waves for Water has been doing an incredible job bringing clean water solutions to communities in need around the world. Yes, you can surf and help at the same time

Josema Odriozola and Karin Frisch
The first-ever public Wavegarden will open in the UK, in 2015. Meanwhile, the founders of the best artificial wave pool in the world are preparing to step up the ride. There are overhead waves in the horizon.

Kelly Slater
He studies, he reads, he watches, and he uses his brain to think and take decisions. You only get smarter if you open your mind to learning and knowledge. After leaving Quiksilver, Kelly Slater is only warming up.

Matt Warshaw
The surf journalist has debuted the electronic version of "The Encyclopedia of Surfing". If we hadn't Warshaw, we wouldn't learn more about our past. Don't forget that surfing is one of the oldest sports in the history of civilization.

Maya Gabeira
She is the most determined big wave surfer in the world, right now. The Brazilian charger puts an entirely professional approach to what she does, despite all critics and sexist attacks.

Mike Stewart
The veteran bodyboarder is fit and healthy. Looks like he won't leave the line-up before 75. Moreover, Mike Stewart saw what happened to the IBA World Tour and found a way to keep professional bodyboarding alive.

Mirco Babini
The president of the International Kiteboarding Association is doing everything he can to get kites in the Olympic Games. The road is long and treacherous, but he who dares makes dreams come true.

Morgan Maasen
The talented photographer/filmmaker from Los Angeles always impressing us with his alternative way of capturing water sports. He seems to be everywhere, in the right place, at the right time.

Nick Woodman
The GoPro CEO is keeping the surfer's dream alive. The action sports executive keeps improving the surf camera experience, in and out of the water. Will the GoPro Hero get as small as an SD memory card?

Pete Robinson
The founder of the Museum of British Surfing is one of the hardest working man in the industry, today. Robinson started the museum from scratch, and he now manages one of the richest surf heritage collections in the world.

Shane Dorian
If you're a big wave surfer, follow Dorian. He's where the giants are firing. Unlike many other Hawaiians, the discrete daredevil from Kailua-Kona travels the world in search of new experiences and breathtaking rides.