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These Are Your Favorite (Male) Surfers

Insights from the 2022 Stab Reader survey.

// Aug 13, 2022
Words by Brad Bricknell
Reading Time: 4 minutes

[Editor’s note: In the 2022 Stab reader survey, over 5,000 surfers revealed to us how they see our world. In the coming weeks, we’ll share bit-by-bit breakdowns of the data with stories by Brad Bricknell and Mitchell Shepherd. Topics will span your favorite surfers, boardshorts, wetsuits, surfboards, fins — and even why only 36% of you are goofy-footed.] 

We’re a funny bunch, humans. 

Different tastes, theories, points of view. 

How do we even determine what constitutes a great surfer? Do we judge purely by world tour rankings? Social media reach? Video parts? And we haven’t even mentioned style yet. 

It’s much for my brain to compute but, fortunately, you’ve done the hard yards for me. 

Here are the world’s most beloved men’s surfers, as decided by you, our beloved Stab audience. 

At First Glance

There are a few things that get my head tilting slightly to the right as if to try to get a better angle of the list. Despite their dominance on the CT in recent years, there are no Brazilians in the top 10. In fact, you’d need to scroll all the way down to #15 to see probable 2022 world champ, Filipe Toledo’s name — and #16 to find a certain Mr. Medina. Italo Ferreira is the next Brazilian at #25… but that might just mean you’re not that into male workout videos.

It’s not surprising that Stab’s audience is mostly American and Australian, but it is surprising that these guys aren’t moving the needle in the US and OZ. What more could you need? 

Also, age is not a factor for relevance anymore. Two out of the top 10 are over 40 (Kelly and Mick) and one is on the wrong side of 35 (Dane). The GOAT opened that door, and it seems many are following. 

Even though 50% of the top 10 are not current WSL CT surfers, other than the lack of Brazilians, the mix strikes me as a fair reflection of where surfing is today. A couple of perennial favorites mixed with some fresh faces buoyed by high-profile contest results and a creative sprinkling of free surfers – who, I might add, are all quite different in their pursuits. Mason, Mikey, Dane, and Torren are all bringing their unique flavor to the table, and the people are eating it up. 

Lately, and finally, Ethan Ewing’s competitive results have been aligned with public opinion. Photo: Beatriz Ryder/WSL

How good!

Tell me we share the same excitement upon seeing Ethan Ewing’s name up there? To quote Ronnie Blakey, “Watching Ethan surf is like squirting honey in your eyes.” And now that he’s finally cracked the contest code, his fans can hopefully stop all their post-event therapy sessions. Great move, voters.

Mick’s still the man. Although he dropped down from #4 last year, Mick remains one of the sport’s most lovable characters. Personally, I could gush on about all Mick’s accomplishments (in and out of the water) but no one is going to begrudge his spot in the top 10.

You’d smile, too. Photo: Alan Van Gysen

That’s interesting…

Seven out of this year’s Top 10 featured in last year’s Top 10. Ethan, Jack Robinson, and Griffin Colapinto are the new faces in the mix, representing the rise of the next gen on the CT — explosive, exciting, and always with a throng of young fans in tow. Retiring pros can often leave a vacuum when they go, and let’s face it, there has been a little void (especially for the Aussies after the retirement of Taj, Parko, Mick, Julian [maybe], etc). With Italo, Gabe, and JJF drifting away from the average male world title age of 25.46, the new blood is more than welcome. 

Dane Reynolds and John John Florence have been your two favorite surfers of the past two years. In 2022, though, they traded places on top of the leader board. John’s non-WSL-related claim to the title of the best surfer in the world remains intact as the reader survey result backs up the 2021 Stab Surfer of the Year (as chosen by 50 influential names in surfing) title claimed last year. It seems, much like Dane, that John can do whatever he likes and still be adored by both the masses and his peers. I’d love to see him crack one more Title, but even if he doesn’t, I get the sense that he’ll feature on this list for many years to come.

…And I would love a Stab in the Dark featuring JJF. Just saying.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that five out of this year’s top 10 also featured in STAB’s 2021 Surfer of the Year Awards. That indicates you’re an educated, insightful bunch with your fingers on the pulse. JJF, Mason Ho, Jack Robbo, M-Feb, and Griff Colapinto, all take a bow for your doubles.

This one cracked a million views — fair enough.

Wildcard

There’s always one surprise in the bunch and, for me, this year it was Torren Martyn. Although he squeaked into the top 10 last year, I didn’t really expect him to make it again in 2022. 

Post-Covid, everyone wants to take a surf trip, and Torren has put out some amazing travel content on Need Essential’s YouTube channel in recent years. Might not be a coincidence that Need’s wetsuits have also popped into your fav’s list this year, too — that story is coming soon.

Something to ponder in the mean time.

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