Request for Question Clarification by
18 Dec 2006 00:02 PST
Thank you for your question. I found a bit of information and links to
reports you can purchase that might be helpful in answering your
question. Since Google Answers is winding down and I don't believe
this is as complete an answer as you and I might desire, I'll post it
as a Clarification. If you find it meets your needs, please let me
know. If not, perhaps another researcher can discover more for you
before this service closes down on December 30th.
An interesting excerpt from an article at The Future of Freedom Foundation says:
"...The world of surfing has seen an explosion in the number of people
who want to surf. In the early 20th century, the only people who
surfed were native Hawaiians. As tourism became an integral part of
Hawaii?s economy, tourists took surfing back to California. In 1959,
it is estimated there were approximately 5,000 surfers worldwide. The
popularity of the movie Gidget, which was released that same year,
drastically changed the landscape. By 1963, there were two million
surfers, most of them in California. Today, the worldwide surfing
population is estimated to be between 17 and 23 million.
That is an explosion in demand that any corporate CEO would drool
over. With the number of surfers growing at an exponential rate and a
limited number of waves for them to share, crowding has become a
problem. The crowding occurs because no one has a right to the waves,
specifically the right to prevent others from using them. It is a
first-come, first-served system. In the early days of the sport, this
wasn?t much of a problem: very few people were jockeying for rides.
Ten people could easily share waves at a good break. Now it is not
uncommon to find 50 or more people fighting for the same wave.
Things are not quite the same in Fiji though. One of the premier
surfing destinations in the world is Tavarua Island Resort, which owns
not only the entire island of Tavarua but also the waves that hit the
island. Its waves are so good that the professional surfing tour holds
an annual competition there.
Because Tavarua Island Resort and the waves that break on its shores
are private property, it can offer what almost every place in the
world cannot ? relative solitude in prime surf. The resort limits the
number of people on the island on any given day to 24. That?s it. For
your money you know for a fact that there will be a maximum of 23
other people out in the water with you, and most likely fewer. If you
have the cash, $3,478 to be exact, you can rent the perfect waves for
a week. Twenty years ago, surfers never dreamed that such a resort
could have existed. And it never would have if property rights had not
evolved to include waves..."
At Free Republic:
"...The tensions reflect both the increasing popularity of surfing and
the increasing unpopularity -- among surfers -- of beach
replenishment. The number of surfers in the United States has
increased from 1.7 million in 1999 to 2.3 million last year, according
to Board Trac, a market research company that specializes in board
sports. Over roughly the same time period, replenishment destroyed
several dozen surf breaks in northern Monmouth County, according to
surfing advocates like Andrew Mencinsky, executive director of the
Surfers' Environmental Alliance..."
Board Trac can be found here:
"Board-Trac syndicated market research studies track the lifestyles
and purchasing habits of people who participate in or are influenced
by board sports.
The annual skateboarder, snowboarder and waverider studies illustrate
how sports and leisure time activities influence spending habits on
hardgoods, apparel, footwear and accessories. Reflected in all
Board-Tac studies are brand preferences, product ownership,
influences, spending, shopping, sports participation and leisure time
activities. The studies also show brand rankings, year to year
comparisons and trend analysis..."
Their reports can be purchased on this page:
Wetland.com notes in 2004:
"...Take California, for example. Estimates vary, but figures put the
total number of surfers at around one million. If there were 5,000
surf breaks in the state, that would represent roughly 200 surfers per
spot. If you were to add 1,000 new reefs, so there were a total of
6,000 breaks, that would only reduce the number of surfers to 170
surfers per spot. And that?s adding 1,000 new reefs to the coast!..."
And Florida Heritage notes:
"...Although California and Hawaii are the primary states associated
with surfing, Florida is a major force in the sport. Many outstanding
surfers are Floridians. For example, Kelly Slater of Cocoa Beach is
the only person to win the world championship six times. In addition,
there are a number of world-class surfboard makers located in the
state. East Coast surfers now outnumber those on the West Coast, and
Florida is the leading surfing state in the east..."
I found a number of interesting links at sportsvl.com:
ZigZag Surfing Magazine (South Africa) has this to say about the
future in this cached page:
"...1. Durban is known both nationally and internationally as ?surf city? due to
our unique surfing conditions that suit beginners to experts. The
developer?s proposals shall destroy the cradle of surfing in Durban.
2. Some facts:
- The surfing industry contributes R1 billion to the Ethekweni economy.
- Approximately 40000 surfers have learnt to surf at Vetch's beach
over the past ± 40 years.
- Almost 200 new surfers per month emerge from the surf schools
situated at Vetch's.
- Roxy Surf School has produced over 7000 girl surfers over the past 6
years, they use the Vetch's beach area.
- Surfing is a relatively inexpensive sport to participate in and is non elitist.
- Market research predicts a continued surfing growth curve or another 15 years.
- World Champions Shaun Tomson (1976), Martin Potter (1989) and Jordy
Smith (2003, 2006) all learnt their early skills in this area.
- Currently Ethekweni has 20000 active surfers (80% learnt to surf at
As to market size, growth and future - once again, some of this
information carries a cost with with it. American Sports Data has a
report for $395 that says in part:
"...This report allows interested professionals to rise above the
dizzying array of individual sports statistics and see the big picture
of a sports group or category. Very often, readers are focused on a
single industry, and may prefer to view data pertinent to a certain
sector, organized in different ways: ranked by participant population;
by demographic indices; and most importantly, aggregated to reflect
the total (net) number of participants within a sports group?after
filtering out duplicate counts of cross-participants.
A board manufacturer for example, would like to know the size of his
or her particular universe: the total number of frequent participants
in Skateboarding, Snowboarding, Wakeboarding, Surfing and
Boardsailing?after the elimination of cross-participants.
Board sports are in turn part of a larger category of so-called
"Extreme" sports, a phenomenon of the Generation Y subculture. How
large is the genre? Is it (as widely believed) a 12-24 year-old male
market, or are there surprises? Are there geographic concentrations or
wide dispersions of this "Millennial" segment?with coherent
demographics, psychographics and sports participation behavior?that
have implications for planning multi-sport theme parks or video game
The realm of physical fitness offers a particularly compelling example
of the need to aggregate data. The fitness movement is a complex
tangle of sub-trends, each with a life of its own and each moving in a
different direction. Running and Walking participation may be flat,
Aerobics down, Treadmill Exercise up, and Personal Trainer usage way
up; but in sum, what is the master trend of physical fitness? Market
analysts in the more "traditional" sectors of Shooting Sports, Team
Sports or Fishing have similar needs; they too must aggregate
individual sports data.
This report is an exceptionally useful marketing tool for strategic
planning because it presents the big picture?a wider vista ranging
beyond the individual sport, and a new tableau upon which strategies
for cross-marketing, line-extensions, related event sponsorship and
other business opportunities can be written..."
number of surfers +millions +US OR Worldwide -internet
number of surfers +"per year" +US OR Worldwide -internet -web
future OR outlook +surfing +market OR industry
surfing +"market size"
Unfortunately I was unable to locate data per year or more specific
data on surfers per location. I do hope some of the information above
has been helpful for you.