The best surfer in the world has never been born. It would be extremely unfair to name the one and only, the surfer who won everything and challenged all waves. There are great surfers, and a small group can be considered in 'the best surfers of all time' list.
The history of surfing has shown us that riding waves is always a work in progress. There's one surfer starting a revolution and a younger one upgrading everything in the next years.
Duke Kahanamoku was the first star and is often seen as the father of modern surfing. He won five Olympic medals in swimming and spread the activity of riding waves. Eddie Aikau, the lifeguard and surfer of the 50's and 60's, braved 30-ft waves, saved lives and ended his short but intense life lost at sea.
The Californian Greg Noll, aka "Da Bull", is one of the big wave surfing pioneers. His name can't be missed, and sources confirm that he was the first surfer to ride a wave breaking on the outside reef, at Banzai Pipeline, in November 1964. Gerry Lopez, aka "Mr. Pipeline", is 11 years younger and rapidly showed why he is considered the best tube rider in the world.
Ken Bradshaw was not that young when, on January 28, 1998, he towed and surfed a more than 80-ft wave with a face estimated of over 80 feet, at Outside Log Cabins, North Shore, Hawaii. Mark Foo was one of his greatest surf opponents and ruled Waimea Bay until the accidental death at Maverick's.
Mark Richards is one of the most famous surfers in Australia. He took six world championships and strongly contributed to the evolution of surfboard shaping. Michael Peterson and his "enfant terrible" personality can't be out of this list. The Aussie surfer stays in history of the sport for the quality of his deep tube riding.
Tom Blake lived 92 years and left a precious legacy. The waterman invented the hollow surfboard, the water-proof camera housing and the surfboard fin. Shaun Tomson, from South Africa, taught us how we should ride a wave under the barrel with his pumping and weaving technique.
Grant Baker, Greg Long, Jeff Clark and Ross Clarke-Jones share the impulse, the pace, the experience and the courage to challenge the biggest waves ever surfed by a human being. Tom Carroll took professional surfing to a whole new dimension with his remarkable radical instinct, while Mark Occhilupo showed he could handle the strongest pressure in the most decisive moments of the surfer's career.
Laird Hamilton has completed the impossible missions in the surfing world. The man who challenges the most extreme waves has kicked off the millennium with a wave that left us breathless, in Teahupoo. The surfing visionaire takes the sport to the future, every single day.
Mickey Dora, aka "Da Cat", had a unique style of living and surfing. He will forever be remembered as the surf antihero. Andy Irons is also an eternal surfing icon. He was a winner and a one of the best surfers of the modern age. Tom Curren and Kelly Slater are frequently considered as the most influential surfers of the last decades. Curren is referred as the "king of style," while Slater is the only surfer in the history of sport winning 11 world titles.
Layne Beachley is the first woman ever to win seven world surfing championships, six of them consecutive. The Manly surfer girl became a professional rider when she was only 16 years old. Beachley has been inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame, in Huntington Beach, California.