10 Most Powerful Surfers Of All Time
With today’s emphasis on above-the-lip surfing, spins, and grabs, power surfing—the kind where you turn so hard your fins beg for mercy—has become a missing component in many repertoires. We compiled this list to give a respectful nod to some of the most powerful surfers to ever bury a rail. Take notes kids…
10) Junior Moepono. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Velzyland heavyweight Junior Boy Moepono weighed in at well over 400lbs. but despite his stature was somehow able to rip, albeit on gargantuan surfboards that most could have used to tandem surf. Sadly, Moepono’s size would be his ultimate demise and he succumbed to health related issues in 1999. It’s been said that when Junior hit the lip, nobody threw more spray. We’re not going to argue that claim…
9) Pete Mendia. Photo: Stafford/SPL
The lone East Coaster on this list; Florida’s Mendia can keep up with anyone when it comes to displacing large amounts of water off the rail of a surfboard. Anyone who’s seen Mendia surf has witnessed him going mach two into frontside cutbacks, submerge all but the tip of his outside rail, and power through the turn leaving a wake a Boston Whaler would be proud of. With a particularly lethal backside snap as his main weapon, Mendia is the most powerful surfer to ever come out of Florida.
8. Dane Kealoha. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Any surf rat who grew up in the 80s must have had a Town And Country poster somewhere in their bedroom with Hawaiian powerhouse Dane Kealoha laying down the law at places like Backdoor and Pipeline. At Pipe, he pioneered the “pig dog” backside tube attack and ruled the lineup with an iron fist. I once played golf with Dane and when I asked him about a scar crossing his hand, he kinda chuckled and said, “Gladiator days, bra.”
7) Gary “Kong” Elkerton. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Built like a gorilla and born with a thirst for big, angry waves, Australia’s Gary Elkerton was one of the few surfers that could match the Hawaiians power surfing on their home turf in the 80s. While he was no slouch in the small stuff, Kong came alive in the big stuff, and, in the winter of 1987-1988 won back-to-back contests at massive Sunset Beach. Besides, with a nickname like “Kong” how can one be left off this list?
6) Taylor Knox. Photo: Dorsey
Taylor Knox is called “Captain America” for his superhero like power gouges. A dedicated fitness freak, Knox recently starred in a video entitled “Surfing Exercises” that is all about surfing with more power and strength. One of the oldest guys on the ASP World Championship Tour, Knox is proof that even in the age of aerial surfing, good ol’ fashioned power never goes out of style.
5) Mark “Occy” Occhilupo. Photo: Jones
The best word to describe Mark “Occy” Occhilupo’s body type would be stumpy. With short, muscular legs and a compact torso, Occy was born to surf with copious amounts of power and in 2001 channeled it into an ASP World Title. Famously funny and loved by all, Occy still holds court when attacking waves that you can really lay into like Rocky Point (pictured), Duranbah, and Jeffrey’s Bay. The nickname “Raging Bull” says it all.
4) Sunny Garcia. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
2000 ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia has earned more than 1-million dollars surfing with brute strength and big, powerful carves. He’s won six Vans Triple Crown titles (the culmination of three, big wave surf contests on the North Shore of Oahu). Sunny has never done a chop hop and is still a force to be reckoned with in waves of consequence, especially big, open ocean rights like those found on the North Shore of Oahu. The spray from his trademark frontside hack leaves welts on anyone within range.
3) Tom Carroll. Photo: Stafford/SPL
Compact and muscular Australian goofyfoot Tom Carroll used his powerful style of surfing to win two ASP World Titles in the 80s. At the 1987 Pipeline Masters, Carroll pulled one of the most extraordinary turns ever seen to this day at Pipeline, still referred to simply as “The Snap” to this day. Even as Carroll enters his late 40s, he’s still shredding as powerfully as ever in his signature short shorts that show off his tree-trunk like legs.
2) Johnny Boy Gomes. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
As powerful as he was scary, Johnny Boy Gomes ruled North Shore lineups in the late 80s and into the 90s. Built like a truck, Gomes was remarkably light on his feet for his size, and while known for his lip-destroying hacks, he also could whip out stand up “barrel rolls.” While he wasn’t a fixture on the ASP World Tour, Gomes did win the 1997 Pipeline Masters and a record $56,000 at the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout in 1999 as a swan song to his competitive career.
1) Pancho Sullivan. Photo: Dorsey
Coming in at nearly six-feet tall and over 200lbs., former ASP World Tour surfer Pancho Sullivan is the epitome of a power surfer—and the most powerful surfer of all time. Raised in the unruly surf of Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, Pancho pushes back where others get pushed around. A four-time winner of the Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach, a “power surfing event” as it’s billed, Pancho regularly displaces more water than anyone with his patented power hacks.
Are we out of our minds? Give us your Top 10 Most Powerful Surfers Of All Time list…the answer we deem best will win a prize package from X-Trak, Magma Surf Wax and Skullcandy!
Power Surfing Photo Gallery with the above mentioned Top 10 and some of today’s most powerful including Tai Van Dyke, Kekoa Bacalso, and Jesse Merle Jones.