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The world’s top five best tuberiders

Now, ain’t this a contentious topic: Who, on this earth, rides the barrel better than any other? Comfort, style and braves rolled into one to form a near-infallible skill set. Undoubtedly, this’ll pique the ire of those who think such things can’t be measured. Big barrels and small barrels and thick barrels are all different! How can you compare? To minimise the subjectivity of just one man’s choice, we asked 18 of our favourite pros.

John, Chopes, by Dom Mosqueira.

There were clear favourites, some darkhorses and the occasional wildcard. But, for the most part, number one spot came down to two men. And boy, was it a close divide. “I can’t go past John John because he finds exits to closeouts,” said Joel Parkinson. “The rest of us have to find doggy doors and exits out the front. He just has this strong stance that bulldogs the chandeliers and whatever’s thrown at him.” Joel’s good pal, Mick Fanning, summed-up the other school of thought: “Number one, Kelly. He has such good contact with his board and the waves, and he makes the subtle adjustments at the perfect time.” But, if it’s any indicator, Mick’s number two was John (“He’s so relaxed in the heavy situations and lets the wave dictate his speed – very talented.”) Kala Alexander’s justification of this choice was noteworthy: “I see John at every wave in the world that Kelly surfs. And he’s just as good as Kelly. Because Kelly didn’t paddle out at 20 foot Cloudbreak and surf, I never got to see how Kelly was out there. That’s why I say John John is better. John surfed for six hours that day.”

Jamie burns Kelly at Pipe, by Ryan Miller.

Jamie O’Brien was always gonna be a favourite and he scooped third, quite convincingly. “I still think Jamie’s the best out Pipe,” said Mick. “The way he gets so stuck to the face on the massive ones is uncanny. His selection out there is amazing, too.” Interestingly, on his own list, Jamie injected the biggest wildcard by including Tahitian Heiarii Williams.

Andy Irons was a big hitter, of course, and deservedly so. Our aim was to make a current list, compiling the best in the barrel right now, so AI gets the most honourable of mentions. Brother Bruce, however, was there to fly the flag, and scooped number four. “Bruce’s tube style is my favourite of em all,” said Conner Coffin. Joel shared a similar sentiment: “Bruce at Teahupoo in 2011 was phenomenal. Not just in the huge stuff. When it was four feet and smaller, he was just ridiculous.”

Biggest darkhorse? Josh Kerr, at number five. Again, Mick explains why: “He always backs himself in every situation and has great skill when riding the foam balls and taking off under the lips.” Chippa Wilson dug Josh, too: “After his performances in Hawaii this season, I’d say Kerrzy in third.” Makes sense! And, true! But, enough of that, don’tchya wanna see the surfer picks?

The Top Five Best Tuberiders In The World Right Now (As chosen by their peers)

1. John John Florence
2. Kelly Slater
3. Jamie O’Brien
4. Bruce Irons
5. Josh Kerr

  • jb

    wow, mick fanning got pretty underdone, as well as the hobgoods.

    • anom

      2nd top comment figured out how to get it everytime

    • chade

      what about dane? or rosza?

      or the 30 zillion other little hipster cunts? i heard beau foster chargers……….. cooper chapmans backdoor!

    • 2xJ

      Jack Robinson? WTF?

  • Blizz

    That guy who won chopes a few years back….. Bruno Santos

  • brucejenner

    Kim Kardashian rides tube the best

  • Wilbur K

    Distinct lack of Australians in those lists, just saying…

  • Gaper

    Luke Stedman is a gaping hole in there

    • Malia

      Luke Stedman is a gaping hole where ever he goes.

    • bob log

      steadman no chance as good as he may be

  • merc

    not to be nostalgic, but didn’t gerry lopez basically make this an art.
    before him, you had guys going in/out.
    gerry sort of added poise and unpredictability. even his whole outlook on life is flow.
    jjf, ks, and the rest rip .. .but this guy developed a style and set a standard.

    • Josh Jacinto

      dude your a dumbass all the pros on those list would smoke gerry lopez they didnt ask who did it first they asked who the best was. god damn there are sooo many kooks on this thing!

  • Ventura Glass Master


    So you’re saying Coffin is a PEER to Slater, Double John, and Bruce Irons ?
    Seriously ? Whaaat’s wrong with this picture ?
    You’re just fucking with us right ?

    Last time I checked … the definition of a peer
    is a person who is an equal in standing or rank.

    Coffin honestly isn’t fit to carry any of the listed surfer’s dirty Tweed undies.
    Let alone judge who the best fuckin five Tube stylists are.

    But money does all the talking in this case right ?
    Fuck what a joke.


    • Sonalito

      Damn. . .If you’ve got so much hate cunt, go join a sweaty man pit of a boxing gym. Ignorant scum cunt.
      Jealousy is such a useless emotion.

      • Ventura Glass Master


        Sonalito dude – I am not jealous. I am just being brutally honest.
        I have full respect for surfers who actually put in their time and earn
        their spot in the line up. And yep, I don’t think Coffin has really earned
        a spot at the top yet. You can’t jump the cue …. you have to put in the time
        you get the actual results.

        Marketing exposure and big money will turn a few heads
        but it can’t magically elevate you into the top line up.
        It takes much more.


        • sick of dumbasses

          youre a dickhead mate. He wasnt picked as one of the top 5, he was just asked to give his opinion. I think all you need to give an opinion is half a brain, so you make thecut too..

        • Josh Jacinto

          ignorant as fuck the kid will probably end up on the CT and there taking perspectives from pros throughout almost all generation and different type of surfing grow the fuck up kook you fuckn jealous its your falt your a kook that cant surf

    • mila

      Did you just check the definition in your dictionary?
      It is surfing and surfing is fun.
      You must surf incredibly well to talk like that.
      Where you left off the list?
      Now go check the definition of ‘idiot’ and have a nice day.

    • Josh Jacinto

      dude shut the fuck up ur a dumb fuck he’s a fuckn professional that deserve a professional opinion that deserves to be shared the coffin bros rip you probably cant even surf im actually positive you cant surf cause if you could you wouldn’t say something so fuckn ignorant faggot! fuckn kook

  • Slightly Stoopid

    AI Forever!

  • pamela

    it’s be nice to see Kelly & Bruce & Kerr’s top 5’s.

  • douala

    Nice to see “Qwardo” mentioned

  • tellmedoistink

    dean morrison.

  • marz is 1

    Where is Clay marzo?

    • MauiBoyz

      Yea what up? No mention at all of Clay or even Dusty Payne. No love for Maui I guess…

  • Cheers Cunt

    They pretty much nailed the top 4. Not sure about Kerrsy, the guy is definitely amazing, but the number 5 position could’ve gone to any number of guys really … Fanning, Parko, Owen, Hobgoods and so on.

    Good stuff anyway Stab, this is stuff that people want to read–pros rating pros. You guys should do a whole series of these, but maybe try to get more voters in next time.

  • geoff

    john john is fucking great but kelly is still better. They are equally as good in the tube and at comming out. but if i had to seperate them id say kelly makes harder drops. and under pressure kelly is better. fiji last year john had a chance to meet kelly in the final in his quarter against mick fanning in the dying minutes had the chance to get a 9 or 10 and went over the falls on a wave he should have easily made.joel parkinson not even putting kelly in his top two… what a disrespectful sack of a champion.hope he enjoyed his title because i would bet my left nut he wont be getting another one.

  • Frothdog

    only way to settle this is on smelly skaters wave machine.. turn it up to 11 for size and thickness, have curren 7 lopez judging style and bust out the stop watch.

  • jimmy

    Peers??? Since when is Kala, Chippa etc considered peers of Slater and John John? Bit rich some of the votes by the haiwaiins,like Kala voting for his brother and Makua. Talk about being one eyed

  • john howard

    kala’s top 5 is pretty amusing

    • kawhat!

      Surprised Kala didn’t vote for Bruce

  • Stuck in the 70’s

    Mp . No wait, rabbit.

  • Mike

    For serious, Ando’s tuberiding is nothing to be sniffed at. Ask Lopez. And when that Skeleton Bay footage comes out…. yikes. Not saying he should knock anyone out of that top five but he’s up there. So is Dingo.

  • NS

    kelly just has more power in the tube. Andy had more than both though.

  • NS

    Power tube riding>

  • NS

    John will one day go down as the best ever though. Wait till he grows.

  • L

    Unquestionably Slater. Ask this question when John John is 40 and the answer may be different but for now the great bald one has pulled shit out of his hat inside the tube for so long there can be no other right now.

  • name

    clearly they all responded before kala dropped that SUP footage…

    …rendering this whole thing pointless.

  • D.Logie

    All names listed kill it in the barrel…. Would’ve liked to see more Hobgoods in there though, damn those guys get critical. Ando also has the best pigdog in my book.

  • What year is it?

    Neil Puchase Jnr backhand. Jim Banks forehand.

    • qq

      Neil’s backhand is much more enjoyable to watch than a lot of the shit on this site.

  • legend

    Wardo will crush everyone

  • tubes

    Bruce, John John and reef and kelly kill it!

  • BB

    Would love to see more of Bruce’s surfing haven’t really seen much this winter.

  • Willcox

    Irons brothers, Kelly, JJ, Wardo, Kerr in no particular order

  • Thomas

    J0sh Kerr is the only Aussie on the list… that says it all. All the rest can keep doing their flapper moves. hahahahaha

  • Kelly

    If you’re bringin out the legends on this …. lets mention Shaun Thomson.

  • Reality

    The fact that Wardo is not on that list is ridiculous. I don’t even like the guy, but his tube riding is top 5 easily.

  • Stevo

    Pretty much everyone, mate. Haha!

  • jbg

    After slater made that barrel in ocean beach during those crap conditions was a big one for me Kelly is number 1 for sure. I liked Andy better than bruce and Mason kind of kills all the other guys one of the most underrated surfers right now

  • Sf sisco

    This the “1000th” comment on Stab !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    what do i WIN ?????

  • me

    I am, nobody makes me feel better than when I´m in the TUBE.

  • Free as a trolley dog

    Thought Parko got a bit of a snub. Might not be the best but has stepped his tube game up to an elite level over the past 5 years. Since AI died seems like Parko picked the ball up and ran with it

  • Bushy

    Bruce the best but I reckon Dean Morrison should be in there as well

  • o well

    I know people will think I’m nuts, but in surf under DOH I’ve seen Dion Agius get some pretty deep and long ones with reeeeeally good style. Shame we’ll probably never see him in waves of consequence.

  • cheese

    yeah, wheres clay marzo in all of this?

  • Lacky

    Josh Mulcoy!

    • merc

      no, Josh Loya.

  • birdog

    1 – Kelly
    2 – JJF
    3 – JOB
    4-7 – Parko, Kerrzy, JFlo, Wardo
    I don’t see anyone else belonging in this company as today’s best all around tube riders – small, big, forehand, backhand. Irons bros a few years back, but no more.

  • dash

    KALA and BRUCE must be no longer speaking …………

  • Matt

    Not enough mentions for Flores in my book. He and JJF are the regular footer who’re carrying AI’s backside tube torch. But #1 is clearly Slater has made the impossible look probable with almost metronomic regularity over the last couple of decades. The 2 layback drops at Chopes and countless other ludicrously outrageous feats. I hope JJF takes it to the next level over the coming decade or two but for now it’s Slater. I had the pleasure of watching him at La Graviere this year on that epic day and this wave in particular was one that I think only Slater would have been capable of making

  • Spitball

    If you are talking best of all time Dane kealoha pretty much wrote the book that kelly and john john learn from. NeilPurchase jr. And Dingo are also serious contenders. No one can top mike Stewart for depth or total time behind the curtain.

    • Lacky

      Good one with Neil Purchase Jr.! He can ride the barrel like a king!

  • Rabbit

    Dingo! Dingo! Dingo!

    Dean Morrison kills it at Backdoor!

    • bersh

      shame dingo is a complete fuckwit

  • Shea

    Cory lopez at Teahupoo………still a legendary wave

  • paco

    Aritz Aranburu backhand…check the Namibia footage!

  • Reality

    Wardo is way better than JJF

    • fuckreality

      Fuck off. Look who won pipe pro, and look who is on the CT

  • Pablo Aparicio

    Chris Ward

  • tyler

    Slater, jjf, jamie o, hobgoods, kerr, flores, marzo, ward

  • Tombies


  • Tom Morey

    Mike Stewart

    • Malia

      good call.

  • Moby


  • Kirras still not back


  • Look! Behind you!

    Lance Burkhart

  • Bum Bleacher

    Alana Blanchard

  • Me


  • cunt

    suprised Kala didn’t vote for himself

  • SAW

    Damon Hayes at Trigg Point should get a run

    • Pfft

      Ha ha ha haaaaaaah!

    • Crabs

      Fuck yeh. And James Catto for best death stares at Trigg Point Carpark. Ah haaaaaaah haaa!

  • dudebeach

    dylan, dylan, dylan, dylan, wardo

  • masonblows

    hey look Mason how can’t read or follow directions, what a shock. Dumb twat!

  • masonblowscantwrite

    #70, you can’t even write….. you have no right to call anybody a “dumb twat”.

    Does this survey mean that Dane isn’t one of the best surfers in the world? How can somebody that everybody claims to be the best surfer in the world not be in the top 5 tube riders??? Didn’t even get a mention. Dane is amazing, but not the best.

    This survey is cool STAB. More of this.

  • chiz

    marti paradidis

  • chiz

    marti paradisis on rights

  • sizzle

    Ocean tube riders
    1)neco padaratz
    2)Gerrad Butler
    3)Serena Brooke

    Land tube riders
    1) Ron Jeremy
    Tied 3rd) Wilt Chamberlain/Motley Crue

  • pete

    I’ll second Mike Stewart

  • oaxaca

    Todd Morcom

  • Alex

    Michel Bourez got serious skills in the tube

  • Alex

    So stoked to see JOB putting down Heiarii Williams on his list. Full Tahitian underdog who defenetly know how to no grab backside tube at Teahupoo.

  • unanimous

    That users pool above was biased. Of course the best is kelly. Don’t know the rest of the list, but as tuberiding goes, kelly is on top for sure.

  • michael

    You have to win at least one Pipe Masters to be on this list. Exceptions will be made for a 3 time Volcom Pipe Pro winner

    1. Kelly (of course!)
    2. Andy (obviously)
    3. Jamie O
    4. Bruce (best style ever)
    5. John Florence

  • David

    surf surf get a wave,,smile with your friends and others.. you better than me better than thee better you anger,hatred,we the best.. boring,boring,get over it and get tubed ..its an article by a journalist for the fun of it ..anyone who gets barrelled is the best.. you are the best

  • no shit!

    i want to hear about behind the shock wave ridding. kelly is the only one ive seen talk about it. i think it was an article in a pommie mag . i did it once…
    i told npj about it and im not sure if his look reflected his lack of knowledge or he thought i was making shit up or maybe copying something id read or seen. he didnt even say anything!
    its never discussed! why?
    can anyone point me to an article or anything on the subject?
    im not talking about blasting through a backdoor section either i mean somehow getting behind and sliding along behind the shocky and climbing back over it.
    its a one in a million fluke(for me anyhoo) but i know kelly can back me up on the possibility for the unbelievers.
    for the record it was during an almost unbroken run of swells 3months straight, first season of the ‘superbank’ just after sundown.
    i remember corrugations and an errie feeling of complete stillness. its like yourve stopped in the wave and… i dont know how to explain it. just as freaky was finding myself back on the face and seeing the hole coming back into reach… one in 10 million….

  • Ellis Knost

    So, like, totally mainstreeeeeeeeammm.

  • no shit!

    ahh on topic, kelly. who else can, or has freefallen to layback to recover on a serious wave?

  • marlon brando

    you made the bottom

  • stephy

    Judson Andre kills in the tube.

  • just saying

    Anyone on the planet got more tube time than John McGroder in the Mentawais?

  • tard

    owen, reef, mick, cj hobgood

    what a waste asking hawaiians and groms whose the best.

  • florida


  • Rudy


  • Milldogg

    Wardo #3

  • mike

    clay marzo

  • no ct ho

    why bother asking hawaiians? they’ll just list their friends. mason ho claiming derek and mike ? i love the family respect, but seriously.

  • no ct ho

    any list without job is biased.. come on

  • Andy


    • Ian

      Yes Andy. I agree. Camel it is.

      Last time I saw him he was LIVING in a barrel. The dry, last end section of Bango-Bango to be exact (only surfable when deserts is maxed out ) ..on a finless board he shaped himself . He was using his foot as a keel and scraping it on the reef …. Ask any seasoned pro if he has not gleaned SOMETHING off him.

  • overall jjf

    BACKSIDE: kelly and jjf are pretty close, edge to kelly
    FRONTSIDE: jjf, also clay marzo in smaller stuff at least

  • Ironic

    Kelly has a much longer list of “what-the-fuck-how-is-that-even-possiple?” moments (like the freefall to layback in Tahiti) than JJF, but that’s only because he’s had so many more years of exposure. I think JJF is every bit as capable of doing all the things we’ve seen Kelly do, we just haven’t seen him do it yet.

    JJ is the only Person I have ever seen ride a backhand tube so deep and commited that he has been sucked up the face, gone over the falls still in a pigdog position, then landed back at the base of the tube and continued riding. He also has the ability to slow right down when a tube is clamping, so instead of getting pinched trying to bust through the lip, he stalls and stays in the deepest part of the wave and just lets the thing collapse all around him until the foam pushes him back out onto the flats.

    Either way he & Kelly are #1 & 2, there’s dozens of guys who could fill up the rest of the top 5, depending on who you ask.

    • ^ super creep fan

      easy buddyyyy, sounds like you want to fuck the guy…

  • Jiggy jig

    Johnny boy Gomes for the beach point to fist claim

  • bucky

    get over clay marzo.. wtf has he done to be one of the top 5 tuberiders in the world? maybe top 5 at the easiest barreling left in maui..

    • Brent Churchill

      windmills is not easiest wave to surf, and clay rips but everyone keeps missing brian conley!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 dvds of him getting sickest shacks and u know that was the best f00tage he had so hes got like what 50 more hours of him getting tubed??? come on give him credit he dserves

  • cheeee

    watch clay at the chopes trials a few years back!

  • Paul

    Clay Marzo

  • Paul

    Clay Marzo,Clay marzo

  • Bruce Sanchez

    Nice to see no Brazillians on the list!!!

    • Sancho Panza

      Sancho Panza, you again! What happened between you and the brazilians, bro? Any of them fucked your boyfriend? Take it easy, Sanchito!

    • Brain Dead

      Huh yeah let me think about that one… they only had Australians, Americans and Hawaiians voting…. for Australians, Americans and Hawaiians only….. yeah that is really weird that there no Brazilians heh?

  • crackers

    like how hobgoods get counted as a single person. what about mark healy?

  • Craig A

    shaper hammo is an ugly rat. that rat mouth should not be allowed….

  • informed new yorker

    Laurie Towner, Ryan Hipwood, HELLO???!!!!

  • max

    wee are missing park! remember his pert at tubular contests!!! he rips at barrels

  • riding the Anal-ana tube


  • lifewithoutvolcom

    Alana, the best tube ride!

  • Raven Lundy

    Can’t believe Raven Lundy was left off these lists!

  • cc

    Donavon Frankenreiter is the best tuberider in the world

  • jguvs

    Joel Fitzgerald

  • manrique


  • Lincoln


    She sits deeper than all the boys behind the rock at snapper and is out there no matter how big it gets. Plus… I was lucky enough to see her at P-Pass last year, she was going H.A.M!

  • Lou


  • matt

    no mention about the lack of goofies in the top five. not sure that I agree with that.

  • Juan

    I’ll never forget Kelly’s tube at Chopes, nearly falling at the beginning and managing somehow to make it

  • rafael

    Laurie Towner

  • rodney

    ed hatcher

  • Mike

    Wow! The Hobgoods get voted as one person

  • surfcheck

    You have to climb Mt Kelly. Others have done it and lived to tell the tail. A few.

  • pierre

    Any one heard of multiple pipe master Tom Carroll?

  • Brent Churchill

    um……….BRIAN CONLEY , cant believe no one mentioned him……..the guy is fucking unreal. oh and a guy named jon roseman co-founder of tavarua.

  • USA


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