Maths: Who Is Actually The World No.1?


Jordy Smith is World no.1! His semi-final finish in Tahiti grabbed him that world leader’s gold jersey and placed him on the top of that Jeep Leaders board, so he is! Go Jordy, etc.! Right?

The World Surf League rankings can be a difficult system to follow. The number of points awarded for each event placing up in the thousands for one thing, then there’s the odd numbers of points too, like 5,200 points for fifth and 1,750 points for thirteenth. It makes for some awkward point standings.

But the most difficult obstacle in the way of working out who is winning in world surfing, or, more accurately, who is in the best place to win the World Title right now, is the fact that at the end of the year a surfer’s two lowest scores are eliminated from their year end total. Meaning that the World Champ can have two shockers, two last place finishes even, and still be the clear World no.1 by the year’s end (which is rare, World Champion surfers tend not to finish last). These struck out events don’t start appearing on the rankings till the penultimate event of the year.

With seven events down, all featuring a different winner, the World Title race is a brilliant tight pack as we look to the last four events on the home stretch.

As it stands, Jordy Smith is world no.1, followed closely by John John Florence, then Matt Wilkinson, Owen Wright, and Julian Wilson. But how does that top five rearrange itself when we subtract the two lowest scores of each surfer, just like it’s done at the end of the year? Well, there are some pretty big changes actually.

The rearranged top five:

1: Matt Wilkinson – 33,700
2: John John Florence – 33,400
3: Jordy Smith – 32,100
4: Julian Wilson – 29,600
5: Owen Wright – 29,600

See that?! It’s Wilko, not Jordy, not even John John, who is on top of the leader board! Wilko! The fella from Copacabana is the man closest to the title. But it is also Wilko, with his 25th place at Margarets and his 13th at Bells, who is walking the tightest line, risking sliding the most if he suffers a bad result at Trestles, in Europe, or at Pipe. But still, Wilko is no.1 kinda! Let’s celebrate it!

Similarly, the women’s side – where Tyler Wright is world no.1, followed by Sally Fitzgibbons, then Courtney Conlogue – gets mixed around when you strike the two worst results from their year too.

The women’s rearranged top three:

1: Courtney Conlogue – 31,799
2: Tyler Wright – 31,400
3: Sally Fitzgibbons – 29,500

Conlogue! Conlogue and Wilko!

Mike Jennings