How to Become a Professional Surfer


It sometimes seems like one minute a surfer is amateur and the next minute he's professional, with little in between. The truth is, a lot goes on between Point A and Point B. Competition is stiff in the world of surfing and making the transition from hobbyist or amateur to professional is challenging. If you possess exceptional talent, drive, athleticism, determination and a passion for surfing, turning pro is within reach.

Start Local

  • If you're positive you have what it takes, begin entering amateur surfing competitions in your area. Each region has a surfing association. For example, the Western Surfing Association is the oldest amateur surfing organization on the U.S. West Coast. To compete, you must become a member of a surfing association, which involves paying a membership fee. The fee is typically between $100 to $200 per competition year. Once you become a member, check the competition schedule and register to compete in events to build up steam with some impressive wins and gain local recognition.

Compete Regionally

  • Once you've proven yourself on the local level start competing in other regions. You must earn ratings points to do this, which is accomplished by entering Junior Pro competitions in your area. These are held by your local Association of Surfing Professionals and are open to competitors under 21 during the competition year. You earn ratings points by placing in the Top 5 in these competitions. The points you earn give you seeding position and determines who you will compete against. The Top 5 surfers from each region are invited to the World Pro Junior event.

Compete in the World Qualifying Series

  • After having regional success, start adding some World Qualifying series events. The WQS is pro surfing's minor league event tour with competitions all over the world. This is where you get a chance to see what you're really made of by going up against higher-level competition. The goal is to qualify for the ASP World Championship Tour. To qualify, you must amass a certain number of points by placing high in at least seven WQS events. Prize money is reinvested to help cover travel and living expenses.

Get a Sponsor

  • If you have success in the WCT, it's time to start contacting potential sponsors. They supply equipment and money for you to travel and compete for a living, in exchange for promoting their products and services. Write letters to potential sponsors outlining why you would be a good partner for them. Include photos and videos of your best performances and list your competition results. Sponsors expect to get something in return, so tell the potential sponsor about those who follow you and how you can increase exposure of their brand to a target audience.

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