We promise this won’t (really) hurt.

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Close READER POLL 2017
We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

Stab Surfer Of The Year: Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Chris Cote, Filipe Toledo, Strider Wasilewski

It's the second-to-last day of the Stab Surfer of the Year and by golly if we don't have a tight race!

Sitting in first and second are a pair of Brazilian jersey jockeys. Third and fourth slots are filled by two of Australia's finest non-compètes. A Hawaiian tube-tickler sits in fifth and all of them are in contention for the win. But how will today shift the scales?

For those who are just catching up, we've recruited 50 of the world's most influential surfing figures (from industry leaders, longtime surf critics, and of course the surfers themselves) to tell us whose surfing impacted them most in 2018. These folks were asked to list their top-five males in order of their annual performance (1st place = 5 points, 2nd place = 4 points, etc.) and their top singular female. After the votes of all 50 people have been tallied, we'll announce the Stab Surfer(s) of the Year. 

We've been releasing five voters a day for the past week. After a seven-day lead, Gabriel Medina has been dethroned by Filipe Toledo. Here are the current results after Day 8:

Males (Top 12):

1. Filipe Toledo (53 points)

2. Gabriel Medina (49 points)

3. Noa Deane (46 points)

4. Chippa Wilson (45 points)

5. Nate Florence (43 points)

6. Julian Wilson (42 points)

7. Italo Ferreira (41 points)

8. Griffin Colapinto (33 points)

=9. Dane Reynolds (22 points)

=9. Seth Moniz (22 points)

=11. Grant 'Twiggy' Baker (19 points)

=11. Billy Kemper (19 points)

Female (Top 5):

1. Steph Gilmore (16 points)

2. Carissa Moore (6 points)

=3. Keala Kennelly (4 points)

=3. Caroline Marks (4 points)

=3. Bethany Hamilton (4 points)

Informing the leaderboard today will be: the greatest surfer of all time, a South African eyeball fountain, the (second) most cloying voice in surf, a Brazilian wunderkind, and a notable in-tube announcer.


Kelly Slater

Jordy Smith

Chris Cote

Filipe Toledo

Strider Wasilewski

SSOTY KellySlater Article

Kelly Slater

Age: Less

Bio: CT’s first Senior Citizen and only 11x World Champion, surf world puppet master, prolific social media personality.


  1. John John Florence (5 points): "Injured mid-year after a very below average start, but sometimes an unwelcome sidelining is just the thing you need to refocus and recharge. That’s bad news for everyone else competitively, but great news for surf fans. John’s a quiet assassin, but will forever be one of the greats, already. His nonchalance and depth of interest in other things will always keep his surfing fresh."
  2. Gabriel Medina (4 points): "The most clutch guy on tour. His skills are undeniable. He wins whatever he sets his mind to (it’s amazing it has taken him so many years to win a second title; he won’t let that happen again). He also lands basically everything he tries. If he took a year off Tour and just did a film about going as big as possible, it would be freakish."
  3. Filipe Toledo (3points): "Most exciting contest surfer ever? Guy’s insane. He’s got springs built into his ankles and knees. His speed and precision are unmatched. His timing is perfect. He’s also hungry and very open to learning, because he’s a humble kid. Love watching him surf."
  4. Chippa Wilson (2 points): "Simply the most freakish guy ever, combining skating approach into surfing. Is there anything he can’t do? You should maybe ask your readers to come up with specific challenges and just go down the list ticking em off." [See below.]
  5. Kai Lenny (1 point): "Best all around waterman in all skill sets, ever? Nicest guy you could ever meet, too. Probably the only thing wrong with this guy is that he is so nice."


Stephanie Gilmore (1 point): "God’s gift to (women’s?) surfing. Steph is the standard. Other girls do some things better, but none of them do it all as well as she does in one package. Badass guitarist, to boot."

Noteworthy other:

Dane Reynolds: "I don’t see Dane surf much these days but the surfing he did was better than most people will ever surf on their best days [see: Electric Acid]. It was hard not to put Twiggy, Lucas Chumbo, Italo, Griffin, Parko and Mick on this list. That could be a list in itself for this year."

[Ed note: No one took this process more seriously than Slater. He changed his answers multiple times and had a near-mental breakdown just trying to get his answers "right". The man really does care about surfing.]

SSOTY Days6 10 Article17

Jordy Smith

Age: 30

Bio: Tall glass of South African water, perennial World Title hopeful, "hung like a donkey".  


  1. Italo Ferreira (5 points): "I see first and foremost everyone on tour; it’s Apple and Bananas comparing them to video guys. I think it’s incredible what the video guys do, but I can’t relate to it as much, because to have a whole year to go make a crazy sick video part doesn’t really seem that hard. Give Italo a month to go away and film, and you’ll come away with something better than all those freesurfers. I think he’s probably done the most high-performance surfing this year. He’s doing the gnarliest stuff."
  2. Filipe Toledo (4 points): "It’s about who does it consistently. That’s what I like to watch... John John, Noa Deane, they just put out one edit, bru. That to me is not that impressive. Filipe is stomping big shit and putting it out like clockwork." [See below.]
  3. Julian Wilson (3 points): "I really liked Julian in France this year. He brought back his air game, in particular his backhand airs."
  4. Gabriel Medina (2 points): "I's Medina's tenacious competitor vibes is what I really liked. He has an ability to block everything out and do what he needs to do. He rises to it. He surfs better in heats than he does in freesurfs."
  5. Billy Kemper (1 point): "The guy is just hammering! He’s flying around, chasing big swells, then he’s competing in the Triple Crown, winning Big Wave events, doing some of the QS... I saw him in Durban this year for the prime event. That to me is just all around super impressive."


Caitlin Simmers (1 point): "She absolutely rips. She won the ISA worlds. I reckon she’s got the opportunity to be the youngest World Champ ever. She’s 13, I think."

Noteworthy other:

John John Florence: John still had the best clip by a fricken’ mile (Space). He just put everyone to bed with that thing. The height, the technical aspect, the tubes, everything. And he’s a fricken tour boy! He put everyone in a combo.

SSOTY ChrisCote Article

Chris Cote

Age: 42

Bio: ex-Transworld Surf editor, 540 advocate, considered amongst Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough for his superior tonality


  1. Chippa Wilson (5 points): "It’s undeniable for me. In the video parts he’s put out this year, surfing in small waves, big waves, wavepools, on fricken’ boogie boards, twin fins, whatever, he is definitely the most advanced surfer on the planet. I’m a skater, so I know how hard it is to take skate tricks and apply them to the ocean on a surfboard, and no one’s been able to do it like Chippa Wilson. He’s just beyond."
  2. Nathan Florence (4 points): "2018 was the year of Nate. In every heavy situation, every big wave session, every Pipe swell, Jaws, Maverick’s, whatever, he’s been such a standout and has such a good style, which I think is really hard to do. A lot of big wave surfers have a really utilitarian, kinda jock style, but Nathan Florence just makes it look so smooth."
  3. Italo Ferreira (3 points): "For winning three contests in his own way. And for doing the best airs of anybody on tour. He has this kind of skate-influenced style when he does airs, and I don’t even think Italo skates, but the way he pops his tail above the lip is really reminiscent of skating to me. He and John John make airs look the best."
  4. Mikey February (2 points): "He just has the best style and the best soul – and I mean Soul in his surfing and in his human spirit. Mikey radiates positivity. He was so fun to watch at the wavepool. He was crushing it at J-Bay on the twin fin. Then at Teahupoo, even though it wasn’t big—it was just perfect little waves—and he made it look so fun. I was aware of Mikey before 2018, but this year he jumped into my favorite surfers category."
  5. Noa Deane (1 point): "I weight that heavily on his style and in 2018 he seems to have gotten better. Pipe, Headnoise, how well he did at Stab High, the dude just rules. I love everything about Noa, in and out of the water."


Alana Blanchard (1 point): "This was a huge comeback year for Alana. She had a kid, and then she came back in a huge way – how she surfed at Honolua Bay, beating Lakey to help Steph win the Title. And even though Alana is the most popular female surfer as determined by the 2018 Surfer Poll, I think she’s actually underrated as a surfer." [See above.]

SSOTY Days6 10 Article19

Filipe Toledo

Age: 23

Bio: Fastest surfer on earth, incredibly fertile, slowly starting to charge


1. Italo Ferreira (5 points): "Italo had three wins, several amazing performances, and he finished in the top-5 for the first time in his career."  

2. Gabriel Medina (4 points): "Medina had three wins and a crazy comeback on the second half of the year. He's so solid."

3. Griffin Colapinto (3 points): "Griffin is all about innovation, style, and personality. He really impresses me."

4. Wade Carmichael (2 points): "Wade is super solid, has not many weak points, and made two finals in his rookie year on Tour." [Brazil and J-Bay (see below)]

5. Owen Wright (1 point): "This year we saw the good ol’ Owen: always with flow, progression, and style."


Lakey Peterson (1 point): "She was the only one fighting for the title with Steph. She's got strong power surfing, and she’s smart in the heats."

SSOTY Days6 10 Article20

Strider Wasilewski


Bio: Ex-Pipe specialist, has WSL commentated from the tube, sunscreen entrepreneur  

Quote: “I’m on tour all year, and I see these guys surf and I feel like they can do better.”  


  1. Italo Ferreira (5 points): "Because of how unexpected he is. You never know what you’re gonna get from Italo but it’s gonna be big. And rad." Always."
  2. Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (4 points): "Chumbo’s pretty incredible. His stoke for massive surf is tangible. He’s just always wanting to go."  
  3. Noa Deane (3 points): "Noa’s got a rad line in surfing. It always looks like he’s going slow but he’s not. He’s got an old school flavour to him, but he’s one of the most progressive guys in the world."
  4. Mason Ho (2 points): "For his creativity. It’s not the most radical surfing in the world, or the biggest waves in the world, but he sets his surfing apart from everybody by the style of surfing he does. In this day and age, I think character goes a long way, almost more than peak performance. I like surfing as an artform more than peak performance. That’s why I like Mason." [See below]
  5. Grant “Twiggy” Baker (1 point): "That wave at Jaws."


Carissa Moore (1 point): Every time I see her surfing, when she’s on her game, she gets more powerful and more radical. That’s a hard one too, because Steph is so beautiful to watch.


Safe to say Steph has this thing under lock and key. Meanwhile the men's race is tighter than a roll of quarters.

Photography WSL

Stab Surfer of the Year running total:

Males (Top 12):

1. Filipe Toledo (60 points)

=2. Gabriel Medina (59 points)

=2. Italo Ferreira (59 points)

4. Chippa Wilson (52 points)

5. Noa Deane (50 points)

6. Nate Florence (47 points)

7. Julian Wilson (45 points)

8. Griffin Colapinto (36 points)

=9. Dane Reynolds (22 points)

=9. Lucas 'Chumbo' Chianca (22 points)

=9. Seth Moniz (22 points)

=12. Billy Kemper (20 points)

=12. Grant 'Twiggy' Baker (20 points)

Females (Top 5):

1. Stephanie Gilmore (17 points)

2. Carissa Moore (7 points)

=3. Keala Kennelly (4 points)

=3. Bethany Hamilton (4 points)

=3. Caroline Marks (4 points)

Tomorrow is the final day of the Stab Surfer of the Year. After tallying our last five surfers' votes, we'll be able to determine who is the most influential surfer of 2018. Casting the final ballots will be: 

Ian Walsh

Steph Gilmore

Ross Williams

Jimmy Wilson

Owen Wright

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