7 surfers with a future in politics

Surfers aren’t exactly known for their strong political views. However, recently, former professional big-wave surfer Fergal Smith announced his candidacy in the Irish general election, and Kelly Slater talked openly about his views on politics and the aftermath of 9/11.

It seems they are not alone. We take a look at seven surfers who have made (or are making) their mark in politics.

Fergal Smith

Last month, former professional big-wave surfer Fergal Smith announced he was entering into politics as a candidate in this year’s Irish general election.

“I am running for the Green Party for my daughter and all Irish children,” said Smith. “I could no longer sit and watch decisions made without due care for our children’s future.”

Three years ago, Smith turned his back on a lucrative and high-profile career as a big-wave surfer to become a community-organic farmer. Now, it seems, he has his sights on the bigger picture.

Kelly Slater

Kelly warms up for his role as Commander-In-Chief. Photo by WSL
Kelly warms up for his role as commander in chief. Photo: World Surf League
While the 11-time world champion, fashion entrepreneur and artificial wave-making wizard seems a little too busy for politics, a recent interview showed that he is not afraid to voice his strong opinions.

Talking to We Are Change, he didn’t hold back when speaking about topics like 9/11 and the wars that followed, Monsanto, the threat of ISIS and his political heroes.

And while he expressed frustration with the system, if he did decide to enter politics, his million-plus followers on social media would surely vote for him. After all, he sure surfs Pipe better than Donald Trump.

Dustin Barca

Dustin Barca rallies the troops. Photo Barca4Mayor
Dustin Barca rallies the troops. Photo: Courtesy of Barca4Mayor
The former professional surfer turned MMA fighter ran for Mayor of Kauai County in 2014, losing to the incumbent Bernard Carvalho by 14,688 votes to 8915.

However, this was Barca’s first bid for political office after rising to prominence as anti-GMO campaigner, and at 34 years of age, time is on his side.

“When I returned home from a traveling surf career, I started becoming aware of the issues our island is facing and how they are compromising the health of our community and land,” he says on his Barca4Mayor website. “It’s time to move in a different direction, we can’t let things continue as they are.”

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi receives a surf report from a friend. Photo by www.votefortulsi.com
Tulsi receives a surf report from a friend. Photo: Courtesy of www.votetulsi.com
Gabbard is Congress’ best (and perhaps only) current surfer. In 2012, she was elected to represent Hawaii’s second congressional district and became both the first Hindu and first person born in American Samoa to serve in the House.

Gabbard is also a decorated captain in the National Guard who served in Iraq and Kuwait. Surfing, however, is her first love.

“As soon as I get home back to Hawaii, my number one priority is to go for a surf,” she told Yahoo News. “I like to wash the airplane off me, get my feet in the sand and get grounded.”

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott does an about face. Photo Dementia Australia
Tony Abbott does an about-face. Photo: Courtesy of Dementia Australia
While nowhere nearly as talented as the other surfers in this list, Australia’s Tony Abbott reached the highest political office in the country serving as Prime Minister from 2012 to 2015.

Abbott grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney and was heavily involved in surf lifesaving, as well as being a frequent surfer. Last year, he was filmed surfing huge conditions for a dementia fundraiser and managed to catch a few waves.

Having been ousted as Prime Minister last November, Abbott now has plenty of time for surfing.

Fred Hemmings

Fred Hemmings (left) hands over the first professional surfing trophy to Peter Townend in 1976. Photo by WSL
Fred Hemmings (left) hands over the first professional surfing trophy to Peter Townend in 1976. Photo: Courtesy of World Surf League
Surfing’s first mainstream politician, the 1968 world champion was elected to Hawaii’s House of Representatives in 1984, having been the president and founder of the International Professionals Surfers (IPS), the forerunner to today’s World Surf League.

In 1990, Hemmings won the Republican candidacy for the governor’s race but lost the general election. In 2000, he was elected to the state Senate and served as Senate Minority Leader from 2002 until 2010, when he retired from politics.

More from GrindTV

Polar explorer Alison Levine on finding adventure and first ascents

4 of the best outdoor jobs in the country

SAFE AS avalanche clinics empower women to explore more and risk less

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!