Are Surfers RACISTS?

Are Surfers Racist?

If you come from an ethnic background not typically associated with surfing in the mainstream culture, you might wonder if you’ll be seen as an outsider

Having surfed in Australia as a Korean for the past 15 years, I can share my personal experiences. During my time in the water, I’ve never encountered racism in Australia. While I occasionally felt a bit out of place among the predominantly Caucasian surfers, any discomfort I felt was more due to my insecurities rather than any outward hostility.

Many of my friends have shared similar feelings of being in the minority while surfing. However, as we improved our skills and became more comfortable in the lineup, those feelings gradually faded away.

Sometimes, what might be mistaken for racism is simply a reaction to beginner mistakes. Novice surfers often unintentionally get in the way or make errors, which can lead to being corrected by others in the lineup.

In certain surf spots, particularly places like North Narrabeen in Sydney, beginner surfers may not feel particularly welcome. These spots are often seen as playgrounds for experienced surfers, and newcomers, regardless of their race, might face hostility. However, it’s worth noting that this attitude is gradually changing for the better.

It’s interesting to note that the professional surfing scene has been largely dominated by a few countries: the USA (including Hawaii), Australia, and Brazil. While some may attribute this to systemic racism, restricting access to high-level surfing, I believe it’s more likely based on competency, possibly influenced by behind-the-scenes politics, as seen in many other sports.

Surfing has enjoyed popularity for over 50 years in countries like the USA, where exceptional talent has been discovered and cultivated over time. It’s only natural to encounter surf legends like Kelly Slater or John John Florence occasionally.

Over the past 10-20 years, surfing’s popularity has surged in Asian countries, leading to an increase in Asian surfers in the Australian lineup. This trend suggests that we may witness a greater diversity of races represented in professional surfing tours in the years to come.


My name is James, the person behind With 15 years of experience in surfing, I am excited to help you on the journey to becoming a competent surfer.

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