World Surf League: the organization crowning world champions since 2015 | Photo: WSL

The best surfers on the planet compete in the World Surf League (WSL). No doubt about that. But exactly is the WSL? Who runs it? What's behind the conglomerate?

According to Forbes, the surf industry generates around $13 billion, so you could hardly run a professional surfing world tour without a business-oriented mindset.

WSL is basically a sports event managing company with a deep focus on communications and social media. They choose the venues, set up the show, and distribute the content.

From a spectator's perspective, it's fair to acknowledge that the World Surf League delivers the finest surfing package ever produced by a similar organization.

Despite the sometimes repetitive clichés heard during the live coverage and the tendency to send world title decisions to the last event of the season via incomprehensible judging decisions, the WSL continues on its way from good to great.

Surfing: the world's only pro tour is run by WSL | Photo: WSL

Professional competitive surfing will always be a business, like any other sport with a global audience. Fans need to make sure their voice is heard so that they get what they seek.

Here are some interesting facts about the World Surf League:

1. The predecessors of the World Surf League (WSL) are the International Surfing Federation (ISF), the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships, the International Professional Surfers (IPS) World Circuit, and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour;

2. In 2013, ZoSea bought the (ASP);

3. The WSL replaced the ASP brand in 2014;

4. WSL is owned by Floridian billionaire Dirk Edward Ziff;

Dirk Ziff: the Floridian billionaire who owns World Surf League | Photo: WSL

5. Paul Speaker was WSL's first CEO;

6. The first-ever World Tour ran under the WSL management got underway in 2015. Adriano de Souza and Carissa Moore won the world titles;

7. The WSL bought Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in 2017;

8. WSL's first commercial wave pool was supposed to open in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2019, but the project was suspended;

Surf Ranch: owned by WSL since 2017 | Photo: WSL

9. The World Surf League has its headquarters in Santa Monica, California, and offices in Hawaii, South Africa, France, Australia, Brazil, and Japan;

10. World Surf League employs around 140 people full-time;

11. On June 30, 2023, Erik Logan, who grew up in Oklahoma and served as president of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and executive vice president at Harpo Studios, left his position as CEO of the WSL;

12. In April 2024, Ryan Crosby was appointed CEO of the WSL;

Ryan Crosby: the CEO of WSL | Photo: WSL

13. WSL runs the only professional world surfing circuit on the planet. The company manages five types of events: the Championship Tour (CT), the Challenger Series (CS), the Qualifying Series (QS), the Longboard Tour (LT), and the Junior Tour (JT) in both male and female divisions;

14. Joe Turpel, Rosy Hodge, Strider Wasilewski, Kaipo Guerrero, Peter Mel, Laura Enever, and Ronnie Blakey are some of the English-speaking commentators for the live events;

15. WSL's Head Judge is Pritamo Ahrendt, an Australian with 20 years of experience;

16. The World Surf League has over 7.3 million followers on Facebook, 3.9 million followers on Instagram, and 1.9 million followers on Twitter;

17. In 2018, the World Surf League announced a $30 million deal with Facebook. WSL licensed the exclusive broadcast rights to the social network led by Mark Zuckerberg but, following strong criticism from fans, dropped the deal;

18. Tickets for the inaugural Founders' Cup, a region-versus-region teams event held at the Surf Ranch wave pool, cost between $86.20 and $9,788.80;

19. The WSL has an online store at where fans can buy season jerseys, hats, posters, and hardware;

WSL Store: the place where you can buy season jerseys, hats, posters, and hardware

20. The WSL runs its own Men's and Women's Championship Tour Fantasy Surfing League;

21. WSL manages its own nonprofit ocean health program called PURE (Protecting, Understanding, and Respecting the Environment);

22. The World Surf League has an anti-doping policy that is updated every year;

23. In 2018, following the #metoo campaign, the World Surf League instructed its cameramen to use discretion and not zoom in on women's butts, especially during duck dives and bottom turns;

24. WSL adopted equal prize money for male and female athletes in all surfing events in 2020;

25. The WSL and the International Surfing Association (ISA) determined the 40 qualification spots for the sport's debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games;

26. "True Surf" is WSL's official mobile game;

Words by Luís MP | Founder of

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