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Top Surfers - 2019 Rankings

2019 World Champion - Italo Ferreira - Brazil
2019 Men's World Champion - Italo Ferreira - Brazil

The 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour (CT) is a professional, competitive surfing league run by the World Surf League (WSL), starting on 3 April 2019. Men and women compete in separate tours, with events taking place from early April to mid-December at various surfing locations around the world. Surfers receive points based on performance at each event. The surfer with the most points at the end of the tour (after discarding their two worst results) is declared the 2019 World Surf League Champion.

The 2019 tour will also contribute towards qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where surfing will make its debut as an Olympic sport. The top ten men and the top eight women in the 2019 World Surf League, subject to a maximum of two men and two women per NOC, will qualify for the Olympics.

The Top Ten Men's Surfers - Part 1

10. Jeremy Flores - France
10. Jeremy Flores - France
Jeremy Flores is the most successful European pro surfer of all time, and he has a chance to take his career even further after provisionally qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. His four Championship Tour victories include a win at home in the Quik Pro France (2019), a pair of Pipe Masters (2010, 2017) and the Billabong Pro Teahupo’o (2015), three of the world’s most iconic waves. He grew up on Reunion Island, but moved to France as a young teen to pursue his pro surfing dream. More recently he has relocated to Tahiti with his partner Hinarani de Longeaux, a model and Miss France runner-up. Flores joined the Tour in 2007 at the age of 18, and he turned in one of the most successful freshman seasons in Tour history, finishing No. 8 in the world and winning the Rookie of the Year award.

A polarizing figure by his own admission, his current public persona goes something like this: incredible tube rider, uncompromising competitor, never one to duck a question in a post-heat interview. But what's perhaps less appreciated, and certainly less likely to go wide, are some of his philanthropic deeds. He sponsored Johanne Defay to do the Tour, he's built a training center to help develop youth talent in Hossegor. He's been a quiet benefactor to other causes in the broader surfing family, and he's made a film about the shark situation in his native Reunion Island. With a fruitful career under his belt, Flores went on parental leave during the Uluwatu CT for his arrival of his daughter, Hinahei, and closed out 2018 at No. 16 on the Jeep Leaderboard. His 2019 was spectacular, claiming an epic victory in front of thousands of screaming fans in Hossegor, a result which helped him secure his selection for the 2020 Olympics. It seems Europe’s best ever surfer just keeps getting better.

9. Owen Wright - Australia
9. Owen Wright - Australia
Owen Wright grew up in the town of Culburra, New South Wales, Australia, as the second of five kids who all surf (His sister Tyler is a two-time World Champion, while his little brother Mikey is a free-surfing firebrand who has also made the CT.) This tiny town is a long way from Tokyo, Japan, where Owen will travel to represent Australia at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, after provisionally qualifying through the 2019 WSL Championship Tour.

After taking an Australian Title in 2007 he qualified for the CT in 2009 and finished his debut season of 2010 ranked No. 7, which earned him Rookie of the Year. Tall, lanky, and famously unflappable, Wright utilizes his large frame to full effect with a powerful brand of explosive surfing. His first CT win came in 2012 at the Quiksilver Pro New York, where he netted surfing’s largest-ever prize of $300,000. In 2015 Owen put himself in the hunt for a World Title after a huge win in Fiji, where he bagged two perfect 10-point rides to win the Final. But days before the final event at Pipeline, he suffered a traumatic brain injury during a warm-up session. The incident proved life-threatening, and for a time it looked like Wright’s career was over. He sat out the entire 2016 season, learning how to surf all over again late that year. This time also coincided with his marriage to singer and model Kita Alexander and the birth of their first child. His eventual return to competition in 2017 is now the stuff of legend, as Wright won the season opener at Snapper Rocks during one of the most emotionally charged comebacks in history. He finished both the 2017 and 2018 seasons at No. 6 on the Jeep Leaderboard, and cemented his legendary status when he won the Tahiti Teahupo’o Pro in 2019. Wright will travel to Tokyo hoping to complete one of sport’s greatest comeback stories with a Gold medal.

8. Kelly Slater - USA
5. Kelly Slater  creative matrix
Photo: Damea Dorsey
Kelly's another gent who, like Mick, suffers from having the true power of his surfing overlooked. But Kelly's career has been so long-standing that he's had time periods to dedicate entirely to different aspects of surfing. The noughties have been for airs. But the 90s were for power.

Kelly’s another guy who maybe doesn’t get the credit for being a power surfer but he is a strong human. Stronger than people know. How many critical late drops at Teahupo’o have you seen him take? Then going into like a layback barrel and getting blown out. All that is strength and he has strength in the most critical parts of the wave. He can throw down man hacks at point breaks and we've seen it for 20 years at places like J-Bay, Bells and Snapper. The basis of his surfing growing up really looked to Tom Curren and Martin Potter. He is kind of a binge trainer and is really into his nutrition. There’s no denying that he's powerful, there's no way he could win that many world titles without having the full package of carves, laybacks and everything. In power surfing there’s something called commitment and he definitely has commitment.

7. John John Florence - Hawaii
John John Florence
John John Florence — who has provisionally qualified to represent the USA at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo — is one of only five surfers in men’s Championship Tour history to clinch his first two World Titles in back-to-back fashion. Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Tom Curren and the late Andy Irons are the only other members of that elite club. The mild-mannered prodigy from the North Shore of Oahu has been living in the public’s eye since the age of eight, when he first paddled out at Pipeline, his backyard break that just happens to be the most famous wave in the world. By 12 he’d mastered a wide variety of ocean conditions and his breadth of ocean knowledge was compounded by the nurturing of North Shore sages, giving Florence all the evolutionary tools needed to become the best surfer in the world. With their help, he navigated the pitfalls of early fame with humility, style and sweetness, and delivered under the heavy weight of high expectations.

He remains, at his core, a performer first and foremost, with an insatiable appetite for progression. The only weakness in his surfing is making the impossible look too easy. And while it took a few years for him to sync his style to the demands of the Championship Tour, today his love of the game is peaking. The process of pushing himself as a competitor, artist, and innovator is what drives him. His deep love of sailing is only enhancing his ocean knowledge, and his film projects are an ever-expanding creative side hustle. Yes, he’s hungry for more World Titles, but there’s also that other nagging hole in his record: The Billabong Pipe Masters crown. Twice before he’s had victory within his grasp with just seconds to go, and twice he’s lost it. In 2013 it was 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater who broke his heart. In 2017 Jeremy Flores did the trick. Fortunately, the second world title Florence earned earlier that day cushioned the blow. Since that back-to-back World Title though Florence’s vertical ascent to the top has been decelerated by a series of injuries. In mid-2019, having won two events and sitting top of the Jeep Leaderboard, Florence ruptured his cruciate ligament freesurfing in Bali. He didn’t surf until the final event at Pipe where despite still not being fully fit he did enough to make the Semifinals and secure his place for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

6. Kanoa Igarashi - Japan
Kanoa Igarashi
Kanoa Igarashi was born to be a pro surfer. His father Tsutomu “Tom” grew up surfing in Japan as a huge fan of the sport. When Tom and his wife Misa found out Kanoa was on the way, they up and moved to California with the singular goal of giving Kanoa a shot at his dad’s dream. And with Igarashi set to represent Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, it seems their gamble has well and truly paid off.

Speaking very little English, they settled in Huntington Beach, California, which is globally known as Surf City USA. While they struggled to make ends meet, they began pushing Kanoa into waves at age three. Their tireless sacrifice paid off. Kanoa became a top ranked amateur, and qualified for the Championship Tour in 2015. At the age of 18, he was the youngest rookie on Tour in 2016, but he raised eyebrows with the maturity of his approach. He collected more Round One wins than any surfer on Tour that year (he didn’t lose a single time before Round Three) and he shocked everyone with his remarkable runner-up finish at Pipeline. All the while, Igarashi hedged his bets on the Qualifying Series. He nabbed wins at the Hang Loose Pro and Pantin Classic in 2016, and in 2017 he took an emotional victory lap at the US Open of Surfing at his home break in Huntington Beach.

In 2019 the affable naturalfooter broke through his for his maiden CT victory at the Corona Bali Protected held in perfect waves at Keramas. Igarashi, who holds dual citizenship, is proudly representing Japan on the global stage, and will be the host nation’s biggest chance for Gold at the Olympic Games. That will make him an even more household name there, having starred in a reality TV show since the age of 11. Japanese TV have been following him while on the Championship Tour, and he’s gaining fame in China, Taiwan and Korea.

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