18+ Mind-Blowing Surfing Statistics You Need to Know

Surfing, once underestimated, has soared in popularity since its Olympic debut in 2021. Key stats include a $3.88B industry, an 86ft wave record, and 13.5M US surfers.

Surfing is a popular sport that people participate in worldwide. It, however, plays second fiddle to other mainstream sports, such as soccer and basketball. Since its introduction to the Olympics in 2021, its popularity has grown, and more people indulge in this adrenaline-filled sport daily.

According to archeologists, surfing is one of the oldest sports in the world. This is after they discovered prehistoric stone carvings in Peru 5,000 years ago. The topic of growth in the surfing industry is up for discussion on whether it’s good or bad. Nonetheless, it makes for some interesting statistics.

Statistics on the number of people that surf, giant waves people have surfed on, the field’s highest earners, and more give you an overview of what the industry is like. Here are some of the most mind-blowing surfing statistics.

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Top 10 Surfing Statistics 

Below are some of the most notable surfing statistics you should know:

  • The global market value of the surfing industry is estimated at 3.88 billion dollars in 2020.
  • The highest wave ever surfed was in 2020 by a German surfer for 86 feet (26.21 meters).
  • The most extended barrel ever ridden was at Skeleton Bay, Namibia, in 2017.
  • The richest surfer in the world has an estimated net worth of 25 million dollars.
  • The most significant contract ever paid to a surfer was a 30 million dollar eight-year deal.
  • The United States sells about 400,000 annually for a total of 200-400 million dollars.
  • There are about 13.5 million surfers in America.
  • The global surf industry generates about 22 billion dollars in revenue from surfing hardware.
  • The global surfboard market might grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.4 % from 2021 to 2028.
  • North America accounts for the largest revenue share of more than 47%. 

Overall Surfing Statistics

How big is the global surfing industry? What is the estimated market value of the surfing industry? How many surfers are there in the world? How many surfboards sell out every year? In this section, we dive into the details surrounding surfing statistics.

Estimated Market Value of the Surfing Industry (Grand View Research)

The global surfing market size was estimated at 3.88 billion in 2020 and might expand at a compound annual growth rate of 4.4% from 2021 to 2028. 

Estimated Market Value of the Surfing Industry (Grand View Research)

The global surfing market size was estimated at 3.88 billion in 2020 and might expand at a compound annual growth rate of 4.4% from 2021 to 2028.

Number of Surfers in the World (Surfer Today)

There are about 23 million surfers globally. 60% are above 25, while 60% range between one and 24. Of the 23 million, 2.8 are from the United States.

Highest Wave Ever Surfed (Men’s Health)

In 2020, a German surfer received the Guinness World Record for the highest wave ever surfed. He surfed a surge of 86 feet which is equivalent to 26.21 meters. He surpassed the previous record of 80 feet.

Richest Surfer in the World (Rookie Road)

Kelly Slater is at the top of the list of the wealthiest professional surfers in the world. The industry considers him the most outstanding professional surfer, with a net worth of 25 billion dollars.

Largest Revenue Share in the Surfing Industry (Grand View research)

North America accounted for the largest revenue share in the world in 2020, with a share of more than 47%. This is due to the growing popularity of surfing in this region, causing people to buy surfing equipment.

Number of Surfboards Sold Annually Across the Globe (House of Surf)

According to surfing statistics, 13 to 24 million surfboards sell out globally annually. The US alone makes sales of about 220 million dollars to 400 million dollars from selling 400,000 surfboards annually. Globally, surfing sales make up to 13.2 billion dollars.

Biggest Prize Won at a Surf Event (House of Surf)

Owen Right bagged a 300,000-dollar prize in 2011. This is the highest amount of money ever won at a surfing event. It occurred at the WCT event, win held at Long Island, New York.

Surfing Debut in the Olympics (Sports Brief)

On 3rd August 2016, IOC unanimously approved the proposal to include surfing in the Olympics. However, it was not until 2020 that surfing debuted in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Number of Countries in the Olympics (Olympics)

Being the first time surfing was a part of the Olympics, 40 athletes from across 17 countries participated in the 2020 Tokyo Games. The team included 20 men and 20 women.

Number of Countries that Cannot Participate in Surfing (Surfer Today)

Although the surfing industry is continuing to gain popularity, 44 officially and universally landlocked countries cannot participate in this sport. This is because they are entirely cut off from the sea and don’t have access to open ocean activities.

Longest Barrel Ever Surfed (Flat Rock Wet Suits)

Skeleton Bay, located in Namibia, is the most extended barrel that anyone has ever ridden. A professional surfer, Koa Smith set the record for surfing a wave in this barrel for 1 minute and 55 seconds.

Most Significant Contract Paid to a Surfer (House of Surf)

Jon Jon Florence received the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the history of surfing. This deal spread across eight years, saw Florence receive 5.3 million dollars per year in sponsorship money.

Number of Annual Surfers Globally (Surf Industry)

In 2020, the overall population of surfers was approximately 3.8 million. This number grew by 34 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Percentage of Women and Men Surfers (Surf Industry)

Out of the 3.8 million surfers in the world, 65 percent are female while 35 percent are male.

Highest Number of Surfing Products Sold (Grand View Research)

Surfing boards dominated the market with a revenue share of more than 68% in 2020. They are the most sold surfing products globally.

Largest Figure Recorded for Surfers (Surfer Today)

In 2012, the ISA accounted for around 35 million worldwide surfers. This is the largest ever figure for participation within surfing.

Biggest Wave Ever Surfed (House of Surf)

The biggest wave ever surfed was at the iconic big wave spot Nazare, in Portugal in October 2020.

Longest Wave Ever Surfed (House of Surf)

In 2006, Steve King rode a tidal on River Seven for over 12 kms.


Surfing is one of the oldest sports that dates back 5,000 years. Although it’s not as popular as football, rugby, and basketball, the sport is rapidly increasing its popularity. Today, there are about 23 million surfers in the world, a number that may grow soon.

Although not all countries can participate in this sport due to the scarcity of oceans, a remarkable number of countries have embraced this sport. With this growth comes an improvement in countries’ revenue.

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