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New Study Confirms the Explosive Growth of Surfing

A new report shows the number of surfers is trending upwards, and now more than one out of every 100 people in the U.S. take part in the sport. These numbers are good news for those looking to create human-made waves. 

EpicSurf Surfing for all

More Surfers Than Ever Before

Data from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) surveyed 18,000 people to discuss their activities and found more than 3,400 surfed in 2021. This number is a slight decline from 2020, but overall the amount of surfers has steadily grown in the past five years, with participation booming at the start of the pandemic. 

Based on the findings, 1.1% of Americans ranging from six-year-olds to seniors, now surf. Even more interesting, the survey found surfers who live all over the country, including those in landlocked states far from the coast. Overall, the report found a more than 35% increase in surfers in less than a decade.

Surf Parks Meeting Demand

Following this surge, there has also been a recent boom in big announcements in the surf park industry, including two new parks in Texas, a Beach Street Development project in Houston and plans for a Surf Lakes park in Austin, and the recent addition of UNIT Surf Pool to a project underway in Florida. These new projects demonstrate the industry is making the right moves to meet the growing amount of surfers.

“We’ve heard anecdotally from surfing hardware suppliers, and we’ve noticed in the lineups that over the pandemic, the surfing population exploded,” says Jess Ponting of Surf Park Central and an SDSU professor focused on sustainability in the surf industry. “This study confirms a 35% increase in core surfers from 2019-2021. That is remarkable and a pretty amazing data point for surf park developers to have in their back pocket.”

In a recent interview at Surf Park Central, Fernando Odriozola of Wavegarden shared just how busy demand has been for their wave technology, saying in part, “We expect that we’re going to be delivering projects at the rate of six to ten projects a year starting in 2024. Very exciting times.”

Similar answers could be found from other company leaders, including Surf Lakes, Endless Surf and more. 

About SFIA

SFIA Research, powered by Sports Marketing Surveys USA (SMS), is the sole provider of marketing research and analysis for the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), whose purpose is to support our member companies and promote a healthy environment for the sporting goods industry by providing access to thought leadership, advocacy and public affairs, research, and member services.

The organization conducted similar research on dozens of other sports and activities. 

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