How to Become a Pro Surfer

Pro Surfer Jordy Smith in competition

Kolesky / Lexar

Surfing may look like a lot of fun in the sun, but it’s also a job that requires a great deal of hard work, time, and dedication. If you are one of the hot and talented surfers who have what it takes to make it as a pro surfer, but have yet to get noticed, then you need to get to work. Learn what you need to do to have a shot at the pros.

Self-Assessment

It takes more than just ripping at a local beach break to make it. A pro surfer needs to get out there and get some experience and results in a surfing competition. Those who make the pros need to first perform well on an amateur level, but luckily that doesn’t mean it's expected that they will win every event. However, some the most promising performers have gotten burned out or have failed to make the transition from grom to adult.

Once an amateur finds that they are doing well in the local events, the next step is to try traveling outside of their comfort zone to try their chances against unfamiliar surfers and new waves.

Get Qualified

The next step is to search out the closest Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) region. The ASP has Pro and Junior Pro (for kids 20 or under) events that cater to the surfers in every area. By taking advantage of these opportunities, an amateur can test themselves agains the skills of other surfers in regional or state amateur events. These events are also a great place to meet some of the traveling pros and even get a chance to compete against world-class talent. Note that, for both the Junior Series and the World Qualifying Series (WQS), members must pay yearly dues as well as individual contest entry fees, so competing isn’t cheap, especially if the competitions require travel.

A surfer's finish in each event during a calendar year is assigned a point value, with the higher overall point standing at the end of the year resulting in a higher standing in the following year. A higher standing translated into fewer heats a competitor is required to surf to make it to the final. Plus, the top 5 surfers from each region will be invited to the World Pro Junior event in Australia—the most prestigious event in the world for aspiring young surfers. Just look at the finalists over the years and you will see the top-tier pros on the World Championship Tour (WCT).

Surfing Full Time

The next step for an aspiring professional surfer is the WQS. This is a tour of pro events located all around the world with the purpose of amassing points for qualification for the elite WCT. Participating int he WQS is a full-time job, especially since the series keeps a relentless schedule with contests that are often held in sub-par conditions.

The WQS contests range from 1 to 6 star prime-rated events as well as Super Series events. Each added star means more points added towards improving a surfer's seeding. To make the ASP elite WCT tour requires 10,000 points based on the 7 best results. The lower star events seed a surfer into the higher star events, but the competition is grueling. Many of the best surfers in the world have taken two rounds or more on the WQS to make it to the WCT. You can imagine how, for a mid-level surfer, this process can be a series of letdowns as they pour more and more money into travel and living expenses. If you make the WCT, the hard work and sacrifice will be all work it. However, even once you have achieved the dream, your work is far from done, as you are now a pro surfer with your life dedicated to chasing the waves.