Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

World Surf League

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Sport  Professional Surfing
Founded  1976
Founder  Ian Cairns
Abbreviation  WSL
World Surf League httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaen66dWor

Location  Santa Monica, CA, United States
CEO  Paul Speaker (28 Feb 2013–)

The World Surf League (WSL) is a governing body for professional surfers and is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best talent in a variety of progressive formats. It was known as the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) from 1983 to 2014. The organization was founded in 1976 by Hawaiian surfers Fred Hemmings and Randy Rarick.


In 2013, the ASP was acquired by ZoSea, backed by Paul Speaker, Terry Hardy, and Dirk Ziff. At the start of the 2015 season, the ASP changed its name to the World Surf League (WSL). As of 2016, the WSL CEO is Paul Speaker, a non-surfer and former NFL (National Football League) executive who had previously produced the Quiksilver Pro New York.

As of December 2016, the WSL had more than 5.2 million Facebook fans, surpassing more established sports such as the National Hockey League, the Association of Tennis Professionals and Major League Soccer.


In March 2015, WSL launched a free downloadable app, which garnered more than a million downloads in its first year. The app provides real-time updates on competitions and provides personalized alerts, letting fans know when their favorite athletes are about to enter the water.

In April 2016, the World Surf League introduced WSL PURE, its philanthropic initiative dedicated to supporting ocean health through research, education and advocacy. WSL PURE has contributed an initial $1.5 million in funding that will support scientists from the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, as they lead research into ocean health & ecosystems, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and the role the oceans play in climate change.


  • 1964 to 1972, International Surfing Federation (ISF) held the World Surfing Championships as a single event every two years and was open to all comers.
  • 1973 to 1975, Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships, occasionally referred to as the de facto professional world championship because the International Surfing Federation had been unable to establish a format or sponsorship so no official amateur championships were held between 1973 and 1975.
  • 1976 to 1982, International Professional Surfers (IPS) was the original world governing body of professional surfing.
  • The predecessors of the WSL relates to what organization predominantly represented individual professional surfers at that time. This is an important point because the International Surfing Federation (ISF) still functions to this day as the International Surfing Association (ISA) and also refers to competition winners as world champions (or variants thereof).

    Creation of the ASP

    Ian Cairns watched the demise of the IPS commence throughout 1982 and saw an opportunity. In January 1983, Cairns launched the ASP and lured the world circuit organizers to the new organization, which effectively pushed aside the IPS who were left to operate only the Hawaiian pro events. By December 1984, the ASP had sanctioned the IPS controlled Pipeline Masters as a specialty event available to ASP members to enter for the first time. At the start of the 2015 season, the ASP changed its name to the World Surf League (WSL). The WSL has remained the predominant surfing organization and sanctioning body for professional surfers since its formation. The WSL's first world champions were Tom Carroll (men's) and Kim Mearig (women's) in 1983.

    WSL membership

    Membership to the WSL is only available to individuals.

    WSL sanctioned tours

  • WSL Men's Championship Tour (CT)
  • WSL Women's Championship Tour (CT)
  • WSL Men's Qualifying Series (QS)
  • WSL Women's Qualifying Series (QS)
  • WSL Men's Longboard Championships
  • WSL Women’s Longboard Championships and
  • WSL Junior Championships.
  • WSL Big Wave Tour
  • World Surf League = 2015
  • WSL World Title Race

    The WSL World Title Race is used to determine the WSL Men's World Title and the WSL Women’s World Title. The winner is referred to as the WSL Tour Champion.

    In 2015, the WSL Men's World Title is given to the surfer with the most accumulated points from their respective best 9 results from the 11 WSL World Tour events (WSL Qualifying Series (QS) events excluded).

    In 2015, the WSL Women’s World Title is given to the surfer with the most accumulated points from their respective best 8 results from the 10 WSL Women’s Championship Tour events (WSL Qualifying Series (QS) events excluded).

    Championship tours

    The WSL Men's Championship Tour (CT) is the men's elite competition consisting of the best 34 professional surfers competing in 11 events (as of 2015). The WSL Men's prize money for winning a CT event is $100,000 US.

    The WSL Women's Championship Tour is the women's elite competition consisting of the best 17 professional surfers competing in 10 events (as of 2015). The WSL women prize money for winning a CT event is $60,000 US.

    Event results are converted to points and count towards the WSL World Title Race and the ultimate prize of being called the WSL World Tour Champion.

    WSL Qualifying Series events

    A WSL QS 10,000 event is held at premium venues with a restricted field and offers WSL QS 10,000 World Rankings points.

    A WSL QS 1,000 - QS 9,000 event is a lower level of competition, compared to an WSL QS 10,000 event, with their importance indicated by how many points they are assigned: more points means generally better competition and prize money.

    WSL world ranking

    WSL Men's Championship Tour and WSL Women's Championship Tour surfers accumulate points from each WSL Championship Tour and WSL Qualifying Series event they compete in which count towards their WSL World Ranking. Accumulated points are valid for 12 months from the final date of the scheduled event in which they were earned.

    Promotion and relegation

    WSL World Ranking determines the promotion or relegation of surfers.

    2012 tours

    The qualifiers for the 2012 ASP World Tour top 34 surfers was determined using a Rotation Points system.

    The qualifiers for the 2012 ASP Women's World Tour was determined by a surfer's rank at the conclusion of the 2011 Tour. The top 10 re-qualified for 2012 and the remaining 7 places were taken from the ASP Star Ranking.

    2013-2015 tours

    The qualifiers for the following year's WSL Championship Tour top 34 surfers will consist of:

  • Top 22 surfers from the previous season of the WSL World Title Rankings;
  • Top 10 surfers from the previous season of the WSL World Qualifying Series (QS) Rankings (those who haven’t already qualified in the above) and
  • 2 WSL wildcards.
  • Judging

    In contests surfers will be scored on a scale of 0.1 to 10.0, these scores will be broken up into increments of one-tenth. The following scale can be used to relate descriptions with the score:

  • 0–1.9 = Poor
  • 2.0–3.9 = Fair
  • 4.0–5.9 = Average
  • 6.0–7.9 = Good
  • 8.0–10.0 = Excellent
  • Judging criteria

    Judges will base the score on how successfully surfers display these following elements in each wave:

  • Commitment and degree of difficulty
  • Innovative and progressive maneuvers
  • Combination of major maneuvers
  • Variety of maneuvers
  • Speed, power and flow
  • These elements may be weighted differently from day to day and event to event, depending upon on the surfing conditions and the type of breaking wave at each event location. This criterion is different from in longboarding competitions. All of this is focused on creating some type consistency that can be seen throughout the many different events.

    The events themselves are previously declared QS 1,000 - QS 10,000 events; among other things this ranking shows what numbers of judges which are required at the event. QS 1,000 - QS 3,000 Qualifying Series events are required to have a six judge panel with four judges on each heat. A QS 4,000 - QS 6,000 Qualifying Series event requires seven judges with five of those judges on each heat. At QS 5,000 - QS 10,000 Qualifying Series events there are only allowed to be 3 judges from any one region. This is then limited to two at any world championship events. All events also require an WSL approved head judge who has the ability to make corrections to errors or any other events that may have affected the results.


    There are many rules out in the water that all revolve around the idea of right of way. A surfer has the right of way if he or she is closer to the area where the wave is breaking, this is more commonly referred to as having the inside position. If another surfer takes off in front of the surfer that has the inside position, then interference will be called, and penalties will be enacted. In most circumstances it does not matter who stood up first but who has the inside position.

    A surfer can also be found guilty of interference if they catch more than their maximum number of waves in a heat and that this takes away from the other competitors ability to catch waves. A competitor is also not allowed to interfere with another competitor’s paddling and maneuvering for a wave.

    The rules of right of way vary slightly with the type of break. Point Breaks will always have a consistent direct of what is inside, that is, the person further up the line will have right of way. In a single peak situation where there is both a left and a right two people are able to be on the wave at the same time, provided that one goes left and one goes right and that neither crosses the path of the other to go one direction. If this does happen then, the surfer who stood up first will get the right of way. On a multi-peaked wave where the wave eventually comes together, both peaks can be surfed until the surfers come together. When they do the surfer who stood up first has right of way, and the other must maneuver to get off the wave without interrupting the other surfer.

    In a one-on-one competition, priority can be declared by the Head Judge. Once the person with priority has paddled for a wave priority is then turned over to the next person until that person does the same. The person with second priority can paddle for waves as long as it does not interfere with the other person who will lose their priority only if they catch a wave.

    A surfer who has already taken off or obtained possession of a wave maintains this position until the end of their ride. If another surfer takes off on the inside of this surfer, then this person does not obtain priority and is considered to be snaking. If this surfer does not hurt the other surfers ride, then both people can be scored based. If the judges determine that the snaking did interfere then the person will be penalized. Interference penalties are called by the judges and must have a majority to be declared an actual penalty. Interference are shown as triangles on the score cards in various different ways depending on when or where in the heat they were made. If three or more waves are being scored than one wave will be dropped off the score card. If only the top two waves are being scored, then 50% of the second best-scored wave will be taken off. If a surfer has more than one then 50% of the best waves score will be taken off also. The surfer who has been interfered with will be allowed an additional wave to their maximum as long as it is within the time limit. If a surfer interferes more than twice in a heat then they must leave the competition area.

    Qualifier for list is to hold a minimum of two world championship titles across the categories.

    Calculations include world championship titles outside of the WSL as discussed in Predecessors to the WSL section.

    WSL Store

    In 2016, WSL created an official merchandise line that consists of athlete jerseys, t-shirts, coats and hats. These items are available for men, women and kids with only slight variations in the clothing.


    World Surf League Wikipedia