A few weeks back, the world’s greatest surfers hit the artificial waves at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California to compete in the Freshwater Pro, a stop on the World Surf League’s World Championship Tour. With surfing making its Olympic debut in 2020 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the tour is pulling double duty this year. The world rankings at the end of the season will determine 18 of the 40 places at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
For its part, the WSL is known around the world as a progressive leader in sports. Last September, the league announced that they’d be offering equal prize money to men and women across all of their owned and operated events — which shouldn’t seem like a big deal until you realize that they are the first US-based global sports league to do so. The WSL’s efforts have been widely covered and offer a model for combatting unfair pay practices between gendered-sports (we’re looking at you soccer).
Slater’s Surf Ranch has also tried to increase the visibility of women surfers with Rising Tides, a global engagement program for girls offering clinics with the world’s best surfers at each stop to inspire the next generation of wave riders. The WSL’s Challenger Series is also set to increase from two events to four in 2020, giving women more chances to qualify for future Championship Tours and overall improving the level of competitiveness.
Ahead of the Freshwater Pro, we spoke with five of the top-ranked surfers in the world about how they travel. WSL Freshwater Pro 2019 champion Lakey Peterson, a Santa Barbara, California native who is currently ranked 2nd in the world, and a Team USA Olympic hopeful. Stephanie Gilmore of Australia, a seven-time champion and Olympic hopeful for Team Oz. Caroline Marks a Melbourne Beach, Florida native and the youngest surfer to every qualify for a WSL Championship Tour. Carissa Moore, a three-time world champion from Honolulu who is currently ranked number one in the world, and a frontrunner for Team USA, and Courtney Conlogue, a two-time runner-up to the World Title and a Team USA Olympic hopeful from Santa Ana, California.
What did we learn? That surfers love Japan, have great taste in food, and have the best jet-lag beating tips. Plus lots of insight into some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Here is how the world’s best surfers travel!
What is your sure-fire method for finding the best food when you’re out on tour in new places?
Carissa Moore: Word of mouth. Talking to the locals.
Stephanie Gilmore: Before I go anywhere, I usually try and reach out to some friends to get a little list of all the good spots.