The 2018 Euro Power Rankings (30-16)
Who's blowing up the Euro scene in 2018?
Previously the Power Rankings, like so many other things in life, were the sole preserve of the elite WSL CT Top 34.
Well not any more.
We figured that your fave Euro freecharging big wave loons, just like the unsung QS warriors slogging their guts out on The Grind, and those prodigious super groms, deserve a good Power Ranking alongside the CT stars, too. And, it being 2018 and all, why keep it all male and stale? We figured let's Power Rank Europe's female rippers alongside their male counterparts.
In the past, surfing's Power Rankings had been the cause of consternation among the top pros. More used to being on the receiving end of free stuff, universal admiration, the advances of attractive courters and the appeasement by their inner circle of sycophants than online critiques of their surfing technique, results or hair, some of the less flattering observations ruffled more than a few feathers on more than a few peacocks.
After one such light-hearted assault on the ramparts of pro surfer ego on Surfline's Power Rankings, Ben Mondy was in fact banned from a lucrative part-time role as WSL Qualifying Series commentator for a year, at the behest of a now-retired Top 44 surfer, an episode he likened to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom. (It's rumoured the year in co-commentator wilderness cost him hundreds of dollars in lost earnings.)
Having served his time and made a comeback of sorts to commentate low ranked QS events, Mondy has now also summoned the courage to tackle the Top 30.
Welcome to SE's historic first-ever Euro Power Rankings!
30. Edouard Delpero
Edouard Delpero rode into the surfing record books when he enforced the first ever World Title Surf-Off at the Taiwan Open World Longboard Championships. If we ignore that a) there seemed to be two World Longboard Championships events and b) no one gives a fuck anyway, it was still an impressive result for the Biarritz-based all-round ripper. History will show that he lost the surf-off to Tyler Jensen, but being minor asterisk in the record books of one of surfing’s least followed sub-sets is still pretty solid.
29. Axi Muniain
“Chasing the biggest wave in the world" is Axi Munain’s website tagline, and to be fair, he’s had a pretty good crack at it. The Basque madman has spent the last decade hunting the Atlantic’s heaviest storms, discovering numerous slabs and big-waves in the process. More recently he’s been making a name for himself at all the premier big-wave locations like Mavericks and Jaws, and, like any big wave surfer worth their inflation vest, is now targeting Nazare. It’s here that he is as good a bet as any other surfer of living up to his website claim.
28. Reubyn Ash
While the opening of a surf school is traditionally the death knell of a proper pro career, and it does feel like an awfully long time ago that Rubes was surfing as a CT wildcard against Slater at Bakio, he won the UK Pro Surf Tour in 2017 and is still by far and away the best surfer from those fine islands. Which, in itself, says something, doesn’t it? Previous essays on this topic have seen me blackballed from Truro to Thurso, so let’s avoid controversy and stick to the facts: Ash is still dominating the reefs and beachies of his stretch of coast and retains one of the best technical combos of air and rail game in Europe.
27. Conor Maguire
The pint size 23-year-old from Bundoran, Conor Maguire has made a name for himself primarily through his efforts at oversized Mullaghmore, the big frightening ledgy left near his hometown. All the elder statesmen of the wave have commented on both his humble nature and pure fearlessness in waves of consequence, earning serious amounts of cred, which, in the big wave scene, is still a stronger currency than the Swiss Franc. Learning from the likes of Ferg, Tom Lowe and tow partner Barry Mottershead sees him now well placed to lead the next generation of Irish chargers.
26. Benjamin Sanchis
Sancho continues to plough a rewarding and lucrative big-wave furrow, consistently maintaining a high profile through a mix of pure big wave balls, savvy media wrangling and exceptional product placement. Most of his year, and fair swathes of his best footage, has been taken up with the filming of a new big wave documentary, due for release this year, which promises to be epic. Sancho created the mold for the European big-wave surfer, riding and documenting every big swell and, Acai bowls and surf house aside, isn’t about to break it any time soon.
25. Adrien Toyon
In terms of freesurfing stealing the show of the main event, Toyon’s enter stage left cameos during the Quik Pro France in October weren't exactly Briley between Pipemasters heats in the 90’s, but were still something to behold. As a spectacle, the fan entertainment served up by the lefthand grower at Centrale was often better than non-title race heats out front. Historically semi-infuriating on the Q, he's known for doing a sick turn out the back, well on his way to a score then falling, on every continent, all season long. Or, to use another sporting analogy, like a frontline Test batsman coming out and making bright n' breezy 20’s then getting out reverse sweeping, time and time again.
24. Justin Becret
The Hossegor grom came of age in 2017 with highly impressive debuts at Jaws and Mullaghmore, as well as plenty of heavy water barrels at home, showing an appetite for gnarl to back up the bog standard Pro Junior comp path. With Europe not exactly bulging with world class junior talent, Becret seems to have the all round skills, and deserves to go all the way... or at the very least to have an overpaid 10-year career on the QS. In all seriousness though, check the Mully work from this winter. Lad got some fecking stones on him.
"Lad got some fecking stones on him"
23. Gony Zubizarreta
Still going strong and still one of the most likeable humans in surfing, Gony collects one star QS victories like his teenage opponents collect sexually transmitted diseases. That he is still competing, and smiling, with the same level of intensity after more than a decade on surfing’s second tier is fucking miraculous. His surfing is still good enough to have him ranked in the top 100 surfers in the world, and easily ranks him as one of Spain, and Europe’s, best ever. We expect neither to change till 2025, at least.
22. Victoria Vergara
It says something for the breadth of the surfing church that while on the one hand we quibble over minutae of technical repertoire, demand daring, progression and audacity from some of our stars, we also celebrate others for very different reasons. Essentially a highly photogenic one trick pony, Vic V’s cross step to nose ride to cross step back, repeat, ad nauseum, has arguably done more to grow the sport, to stoke out fans, to launch surf trips than many (forward slash any) a QS career. Style, grace and fun over function will always be relevant because for every ardent webcast gazer, Fantasy Surfer stat-o, surfing-as-sport ratings carer about-er, there are a hundred times as many who merely aspire to trim somewhere warm either in a bikini, or near somebody who is. Or creep one who is on IG.
21. Aritz Aranburu
It’s not the supermodel partner. It’s not the melodic high pitched Basque lilt. It isn’t even the smoldering green eyes. It’s the sheer amount of tube time that Aritz logs each year that should keep him high in the Euro Power Ratings for a while yet. In between the kegs in Indo, Africa and South America, Aritz also snagged a fifth in the Azores, as well supporting an array of charitable and environmental causes in his downtime. There’s a chink in the armour in there somewhere, we just have to find it.
“I hate puppies... because they have a future"
20. Kyllian Guerin
It was the comedian Stevie Wright that said, “I hate puppies... because they have a future." He wouldn’t like 13-year-old Kyllian Guerin, who spent the better part of 2017 surfing the Caribbean, Nias, the Maldives, Bali, Hawaii, Morocco and splitting his “downtime" between Hossegor and Costa Rica. For such a young surfer he has an already incredible tube riding ability and is seemingly improving every time he hits the water, which is about five times a day. His surfing future, like his pubes, grows every day. Now Steve Wright also once said, “When I was little my grandfather asked me how old I was. I said, ‘Five.’ He said, ‘When I was your age, I was six.’" Which says it all, really.
19. Pauline Ado
In Premier League footballing terms, Ado is the Middlesborough of the surfing world, forever bouncing between the two tiers. Yet again she is caught in that surfing netherworld; too good for the QS, but not quite good enough for the CT. She failed to win a heat in 8 of her 11 CT events in 2017, and won only three all year. She will yet again have to hit the grind and yo-yo back to the Premiership, which she’ll almost certainly do, at a canter. If you wanted to be harsh, you could say that following incredible early promise, there’s been little evidence of much marked improvement down the years. But then again, you could say that about my writing... only minus the early promise.
18. Ramzi Boukhiam
Battling to get screen time on surfing’s most compelling docu-drama can’t be easy, but Ramzi’s efforts on Snake Tales have been electric. When not setting up the tripod or wiping the sweaty brow of the Scorsese-esque Jake Paterson, he supplied some of the emotional narrative and surf action highpoints. He however ended up in the same place as the year before (44th), which is lagging about 35 spots behind where his surfing talent is. It must be tough continually seeing lesser surfers qualify, especially given the solid sponsor backing and corner crew behind him. Ramzi is due a massive breakthrough season anytime now, although so too are about 50 other QS pros, all vying for 10 coveted spots.
17. Nic Von Rupp
Nic Von Rupp has carved out a European niche as one of the most high profile surfers through a mix of world class slab charging, high quality edits, incessant traveling and positive vibes. Mesmerizing at macking Kandui, sure, but perhaps even more impressive has been his more recent commitment to Nazaré, where he has transferred his tube riding ability to going straight on 11 foot guns at one of surfing’s heaviest, and most random, breaks. It’s earned him a call up at the Nazare Challenge where he, like it, will be dangerous.
16. Marc Lacomare
A quarterfinal in the Quik Pro France was proof, if it was needed, that Lacomare has the power and competitive snout to beat the best in the world — Jordy Smith would be one that would have to agree. And hearing the raucous hometown support and celebratory headlines must’ve been sweet relief from the relentless, thankless grind of season upon season chasing QS points around the world, where he's slipped considerably on the ratings after coming close last year, just as he did in 2014 after almost making the cut in 2013. 29 next year, time is running out if he wants to have an impact at the highest level like he did in Hossegor as a wildcard, although the Duru effect of seeing the pay off after continued persistence will hearten longtime QS warriors like Marc.