Long gone are the days when being a surfer was viewed as a bit of joke in terms of being a professional sportsperson. Surfers are now elite athletes building brands and making careers out of a lifestyle sport.
Surfing has transcended global borders and brings together a community of people who love what they do together in the water.
But what does all this mean for the sport?
Are there now too many people surfing? Many may argue yes and many may argue no.
The recent news of Billabong and their share price plummeting might be a clear indicator that the days of the surf brand that doesn’t stick to its roots and look after its core audience may suffer the consequences.
Surfing like any sport has undergone a massive transformation with the advancement of technology resulting in increased levels of surfing performance and the ability to reach waves that were previously unreachable.
Being a surfer is about being part of something and identifying with the people that participate in that sport. Once you are a surfer it is hard to ever go back and remember what it was like before you became one.
Surfing has become more popular and the beaches have become more crowded. If you are a surfer you want more waves and fewer crowds.
Even though this rings true for many it is still good to see the number of people who have taken up a sport that offers so many physical and mental benefits.
Globally there are an estimated 23 million surfers. In Australia alone one in every 20 people surf and there are now over 400,000 annual surf school participants.
They are some staggering numbers when you think that surfing could be taking over some of the mainstream sports in terms of popularity and people engaging in them in Australia.
More people who surf results in more exposure for the sport and people pushing the sport to the next level.
If surfing doesn’t continue to be pushed and become more popular the next wave of junior surfers coming through might not get the exposure they need to take the sport to the next level.
Like anything it’s about encouraging the next wave of people to continue to push the boundaries. Surfing has always been about being different and pushing yourself and others.
As a community surfers need to continue to support each other so we can all participate in the sport that we love.
There are downsides to the rising popularity of surfing. The more mainstream surfing becomes the more it can feel like the sport has lost some of its soul that makes it so special.
On face value it is easy to think of surfing like this. It has become corporate and sometimes it is about making money rather than the actual surfing.
Think about the new destinations people are finding everyday, the new waves that are being surfed and the new surfboards that are being created.
Surfing still has that something special that makes it unique and not only a sport but a way of life.
Surfing may be becoming more popular but is that necessarily a bad thing?