Surfing Competitions For Glory, Pride And Money

Surfing competitions are not new. In fact, research suggests that surfing contests were held in Western Polynesian cultures thousands of years ago. Back then, men competed with each other to show their prowess on the waves. Tribal leaders were expected to be the most adept surfers. Meanwhile, commoners could acquire privileged positions within the tribe by performing well in surfing competitions.

Since then, the nature of surfing contests have changed. No longer do surfers compete to improve their social status. Instead, the vie for massive cash prizes and sponsorships. While "soul surfers" (those who enjoy the spiritual purity of surfing) chafe at the commercial aspect of modern surfing competitions, such contests remain the focal point of a multi-billion dollar industry. Below, we'll briefly describe a few of the most popular surfing competitions that draw the most ambitious, aggressive surfers from across the globe.

Billabong Pro

The Billabong Pro tour is one of the most prolific. Due in part to the status and clout of the Billabong clothes company, it draws most of the world's best surfers. It's often held in Tahiti where the waves can be simultaneously brutal and beautiful. The tour is sometimes held in other locations such as South Africa and takes place over several days as competitors struggle for the chance to advance into later rounds.

Vans Triple Crown

This is another of the most successful surfing competitions held. It draws many of the top names in surfing including Roy Powers, Dean Morrison and Bede Durbidge. Like the Billabong Pro tour, the Vans Triple Crown boasts huge prize winnings. In December 2007, Bede Durbidge made history by winning the largest cash prize in the history of professional surfing. This tour includes both men's and women's events as both genders strive to win top placement among their peers.

East Coast Surfing Championships

Held annually in Virginia Beach, the East Coast Surfing Championships is the longest-running surfing tournaments in the U.S. Like the Vans Triple Crown, it includes men's and women's events and attracts hundreds of professional and amateur surfers from dozens of countries. One of the differences between this tour and others is that the East Coast Surfing Championships includes other events besides surfing. Volleyball, skateboarding and even a swimsuit competition provide a menu of events that appeal to a wide range of spectators.

U.S. Open Of Surfing

The U.S. Open Of Surfing is a high-gloss, widely-observed tour held in Huntington Beach, California. It's the biggest surfing competition in the world and takes place over nearly 10 days as men, women and juniors compete for prize money and corporate sponsorship deals. The highest-profile surfers attend this tour to compete and observe other surfers. The U.S. Open also includes events such as skateboarding and biking, though surfing remains its biggest draw.

The Growth Of Surfing Competitions

Though surfing competitions rankle those who hate the commercial aspect of the sport, they continue to be a major catalyst for billions of dollars in sales. Each year, millions of people visit surf stores to buy the latest clothing, equipment and other products related to the surfing culture. Sponsors who want desperately to gain exposure to a new crop of fans pursue the best surfers in the world to offer lucrative sponsorship deals. Meanwhile, the glitz and glamour of world-ranked surfers entices thousands of amateurs to compete. Surfing competitions become more popular each year, promising to attract the next generation of enthusiasts.