21 Exciting Surfing Stats for 2021: Unlock the Surfer in You

Even though surfers are aware of the risk they are exposed to, surfing stats reveal this is one of the most popular water sports.

What fires surfers’ enthusiasm is the joy of riding the waves and the unique feeling of freedom that comes with it. The thrill and adrenaline overcome the fear.

Read on to discover more, and who knows, you might also take an interest in becoming a surfer yourself.

Top 10 Surf Statistics and Facts

  • The tallest wave ever reached 100 ft.
  • The longest surf ride was almost four hours long.
  • There are between 17 million and 35 million surfers in the world.
  • The UK tops other European countries, with 500,000 wave surfers.
  • Every year, around $3.1 billion is spent on surfboards and accessories.
  • Average surfboards cost between $700 and $1,300.
  • The surfboard market is expected to grow by $2.74 billion by 2024.
  • The global surfing market is expected to reach $3.2 billion by 2027.
  • Surfing has a risk of 2.2 injuries per 1,000 surfing days.
  • 61% of recorded shark attacks in 2020 were on surfers.

Essential Surfing Statistics

If you want to know some more details on this subject, you’ve come to the right place. Read on and find out about the number of surfers in the world, the surfing industry, surfboards, and what the average surfer is like.

1. There are five types of surfboards, and the shortest one is called the fish.

(Surf Lounge)

The fish is under six feet long, according to the surfboard facts. Then there’s the shortboard, which is six feet long, the funboard — between seven and eight feet long, and the longboard — eight feet long and over.

Finally, there is the gun — usually the same length as the longboard but can be up to one foot shorter.

2. As strange as it may sound, surfing trends show that dogs take part in surfing competitions, too. 

(Kaplan International)

Our best friends tend to follow us everywhere, which means that many owners don’t mind spending money on their pets’ entertainment too — and surfing competitions aren’t an exception.

Since the majority of surfers belong to Generation Y and knowing how much Millennials spend on their pets, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

One of such competitions is the Annual Surf City Surf Dog competition at California’s Huntington Beach.

There, dogs are judged on their confidence and how long they can remain on the board. You should also know that the money from this competition goes to animal welfare organizations.

3. Surf stats reveal that the tallest wave ever reached 100 ft.

(Smithsonian Magazine)

A mega-tsunami, which happened in Lituya Bay, Alaska, in 1958, left some brutal consequences. To clarify, it was a 100 ft wave, which torpedoed trees 1,700 ft above the ground and took the lives of five people.

As a result, it holds the record for the tallest mega-tsunami ever recorded. Safe to say, it was an absolute disaster.

4. Fun facts about surfing reveal that the longest surf ride was almost four hours long. 

(Kaplan International, Guinness World Records)

Gary Saavedra holds the record for the longest time surfing in open water. It lasted for three hours and 55 minutes, as surfing facts reveal. The record was set on 19 March 2011, in Panama City.

This is also the record for the longest distance crossed on a wave of 41.3 miles (66.47 km).

5. The modern bodyboard was invented in 1971.

(SurferToday)

According to surfboard industry statistics, Tom Morey invented the modern bodyboard almost 50 years ago, in 1971.

Today, modern bodyboards come in many shapes, and many core materials are used to manufacture them. Some of them are extruded polystyrene foam, polypropylene, beaded cores, and arcel.

Global Surfing Demographics

With the UK having half a million surfers and the whole world somewhere around 35 million, you can see the importance of surfing worldwide.

Not to mention that the people interested in surfing are usually well-educated, work full-time, and are in their 30s. Learn more by reading this section of the article.

6. Surfing figures show that there are between 17 million and 35 million surfers in the world.

(SurferToday)

New surfers keep showing up every day, so there’s no exact data on how many there actually are.

Still, like ISA, Surfing Australia, and SIMA (the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association) state, there are 17–35 million surfers worldwide.

7. The UK tops other European countries, with 500,000 wave surfers at its disposal. 

(CBI, SurferToday)

According to surfing facts and statistics, with its 500,000 wave surfers, the UK is Europe’s largest surf-tourism market, and third country in the world by the number of surfers.

Naturally, the US and Australia are at the top of the chart.

France is right behind it, with around 450,000 wave surfers, and that number in Germany is 420,000. Surfing is also in great demand in Portugal and Spain.

If we look at the data by continents, we’ll see that once again America is at the top of the chart.

8. Surfer demographics show the average surfer is 34, has a college degree, works full-time, and earns $75,000 a year. 

(Public Surfrider, Wave Loch, Brandon Gaille)

In the US, the average age of surfers is 34. They all have at least a bachelor’s degree, are employed full-time, and earn just about $75,000 annually.

The average US surfer possesses four surfboards and will drive for 10 miles to go surfing.

Surfing Industry Statistics

As one would expect, surfing costs. Of course, that’s not a problem for a real soul surfer. After all, money spent on the things you genuinely enjoy is never spent in vain.

So, how much do surfers spend, and how much is the surf industry worth?

9. Every year, around $3.1 billion is spent on surfboards and accessories.

(Brandon Gaille)

It goes without saying that surfing requires specific equipment, and consumers don’t think twice about spending money on it.

Surfing statistics reveal that surfboards and accessories make up $3.1 billion in yearly sales. Footwear alone results in $1.6 billion a year.

10. Average surfboards cost between $700 and $1,300.

(Brandon Gaille)

As mentioned, surfing requires the right equipment, and there is only so much you can save on it. According to surf industry statistics, Longboards are the most expensive surfboards.

Next in line are shortboards and paddleboards, which can be anywhere between $400 and $800.

Then there are the cheapest ones, skimboards, that will cost you $200 or less.

11. Surf stats show that Americans visit the beach about 100 times per year to go surfing.

(Public Surfrider, Wave Loch)

We all enjoy the occasional visit to the beach and always dream of more. Well, some people go to the beach more often than others.

For instance, US surfers visit the beach 100 times a year and spend approximately $66 a visit.

Based on some surf tourism statistics, 162 countries can be proud to say they manage surf tourism.

12. The surfboard market is expected to grow by $2.74 billion by 2024.

(Business Wire)

COVID-19 affects industries’ development big time. Some industries report a low demand. Others, at the same time, continue to show intact progress.

However, surf statistics show that the surfboard market belongs to the latter group. More precisely, it’s expected to grow at more than 6% CAGR during the period mentioned above.

13. The global surfing market is expected to reach $3.2 billion by 2027.

(Strategy R, Wave Loch)

The surf industry is going at a fast-paced tempo. Statistics on the surfing industry growth show a 12–15% increase every year. That makes surfing one of the fastest-growing sports.

Surf industry market research suggests that by 2027, the global surfing market will have risen to $3.2 billion.

Surfing Injuries Statistics

Surfing is a relatively safe sport, and the low risk of injury shown below supports that.

However, injuries and deaths still happen, and some places are more dangerous than others.

Here are the essential surf statistics for 2021 to prepare you for safe wave riding.

14. Surfing has a risk of 2.2 injuries per 1,000 surfing days. 

(Sports Medicine Australia)

Contrary to popular belief, surfing has a much lower risk of injury than some other sports — just 2.2 injuries in 1,000 surfing days.

Not to mention that most of the injuries aren’t severe.

15. Surfing deaths statistics point out that the most common causes of death among surfers are blows to the head and drowning.

(Wave Length)

After hitting the bottom of the sea or their board, surfers can lose consciousness and drown. Drowning can also happen when waves trap surfers underwater.

Some pre-existing medical conditions may also cause death, such as heart issues and brain aneurysms.

Even though there aren’t precise surfing fatalities statistics, it’s estimated that the total death toll is close to 10 people each year.

16. 61% of recorded shark attacks in 2020 were on surfers.

(Florida Museum)

Sharks don’t attack surfers only in movies. Surfing stats show that more than half of sharks’ victims in 2020 were surfers and those engaged in board sports.

The next ones most endangered are swimmers, body-surfers, and divers.

17. Hawaii is the most popular yet most dangerous surfing destination.

(STAB, Book Surf Camp)

The top go-to places for surfing include Sydney, Bali, Costa Rica, and Morocco. However, the number one surfing place in the world is Hawaii.

According to surfing death statistics, Hawaii is also the most dangerous place in the world regarding the number of deaths. Since 1989, seven surfers have died in Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii.

Some other dangerous places are Waimea Bay in Hawaii, Mavericks in California, Teahupo’o in Tahiti, and Puerto Escondido in Mexico.

Facts About Surfing and Celebs

Surfers are sometimes not-so-ordinary people — celebrities take up surfing more often than you think. Now, if you like fun surfing trivia, you will enjoy the following facts.

18. Cameron Diaz broke her nose while surfing.

(Insider)

According to some interesting facts about surfing, the famous Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz took up surfing after shooting one of her movies.

However, her surfing experience hasn’t been entirely pleasant since she broke her nose so badly, she needed surgery to help her breathe normally.

19. Patrick Swayze also had a surfing accident — he cracked four ribs.

(SurfHolidays)

While on the subject of movie stars and surfing injuries, Patrick Swayze is also a part of these surfing injury statistics.

While filming some scenes for Point Break, one of the best surf movies, he cracked four ribs.

20. Four high-profile deaths happened over the last decade — Sion Milosky, Kirk Passmore, Alec Cooke, and  Zander Venezia.

(Wave Length)

Although the number of people who died during surfing is low, for some people, surfing has shown to be fatal, as surfing stats point out.

Four great surfers shared terrible fate — they all died while surfing. Sion Milosky died in 2011, Kirk Passmore in 2013, Alec Cooke in 2015, and Zander Venezia in 2017.

21. Hawaiian surfer and lifeguard Eddie Aikau died at age 31.

(Boardmasters)

As surf facts show, Eddie Aikau was a famous Hawaiian surfer and lifeguard. Throughout his life, he saved more than 500 people.

Unfortunately, he died as a victim of the sea himself when he was 31, and his body has never been found.

The search for Eddie is considered to be the most extensive air-sea search in the history of Hawaii.

FAQ

How long has surfing been around?

The right answer to this question is hard to find. As reported by some researchers, its origins date back to the late Polynesian culture.

Moreover, some stories claim that the man who could surf the best was the tribe’s chief.

In other words, surfing was not just a hobby — it was an art and a way of life. For many people, it still is.

Who invented surfing?

Some of the first surfing records originate in Polynesia. A 12th-century-cave painting displays people riding on waves.

Then, Polynesians brought it to Hawaii, where it became an essential part of religion, too.

There, everyone from ordinary people to kings surfed. However, there was a strict rule regulating who surfs where.

What are the benefits of surfing?

Surfing is excellent for both your physical and your mental health.

Among the many benefits of surfing, we can’t exclude exercising your entire body and improving heart health.

Boosting your immune system, getting vitamin D, dealing with stress, meeting new people, and improving your confidence, are positive sides of surfing.

How dangerous is surfing?

When taking into consideration other sports, surfing is classified among the safer ones. Then again, the risk of drowning while surfing is very real, and that’s the greatest danger of it.

That can happen by hold-downs, getting stuck on the reef, getting detached from your board, or losing consciousness.

That’s why it’s always smart to go with a friend who can help you in these sorts of situations.

What percentage of surfers are female?

The professional surfer and writer Lauren Hill wrote in her book “She surf” that women currently take up between 20% and 30% of surfers.

However, there’s no denying that the number will continue to grow in the future.

Conclusion

We can’t deny that the ongoing pandemic has changed the way people look at traveling, but we know for sure that surfers long for the days when they can surf again.

Even though there is no way of knowing what the future has in store for us, these surfing stats estimate the surfing industry will increase even more over the coming years.

As long as there are waves, there will also be surfers to ride them.

Sources

Damjana is a writer from Bitola, North Macedonia. After teaching for 8 years, she found a new challenge — writing. With her academic background in English, doing research and writing is always fun and enjoyable for her. In her spare time, she loves binge-watching TV shows, especially crime documentaries, or spending time with her dogs.

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