What do girls think about the guys on the WCT? If you’re looking for a list of the hottest surfers you’ve come to the wrong place, but without subverting all stereotypes, let’s turn the surfing world into a romance, just for fun. Or maybe a rom-com, because even if you say you don't like them, we know you do.

It’s a well-trodden path to know our relationship with the sea as one of intense love and hate. The sea is often personified as an emotional, changeable mistress to whose command we always fall to. She gives the rush of pleasure in hollowed waves that are at once surreal experiences and suddenly violent eruptions as they detonate with you inside. Perfect setting, the surfing world’s got romance written all over it.

Schmick Mick. 

With the ocean as our setting, we need a cast. There’s a girl, check. We need a boy, a good one - handsome, intelligent and conveniently loaded. Then we need some tension, so let’s throw in the bad guy, the underdog, the one that maybe doesn't speak too good, but he’s got that not-good-for-you draw.

It’s obvious, I know what you’re thinking. This sounds just like the clash between competition surfing and free surfing! There seems to be a simmering tension between the two, with many a heart broken and tears shed on settling on one side or the other. Which one would be better for you, which would be the fairytale, which one the story of passion, which would treat you better…

Competition surfing, well the WCT at least (the QS definitely falls into a grey area here) has the undeniable appeal of getting paid to surf at the world’s best locations. In walks Prince Charming. You’re flown straight in, dropped off at whatever 5 star resort is on the water’s edge, the swell will hit the next day and the best waves are served up to you on a platter. Forgot a wetsuit – no problem – you’ve got plenty to choose from. Wish you brought another board for the conditions? Think and it’s there. It’s what you’ve always dreamed of, you think it’s too good to be true. Must be love at first sight (gross, I know).

Pro surfing pin up boys, Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson

Everything’s going swell, getting paid to do what you love. Then one night, you catch eyes with Mr dark and broody. Coincidently you’re introduced to free surfing, the shadier, dare I say hipster character with his come-join-me-in-the-darkness stare. For many, free surfing takes a far more carefree approach to surfing. For many it seems to hold more authenticity, staying true to the original counter-culture values of the lifestyle (it’s a path, not a sport).

Freesurfer Craig Anderson can afford to focus on the backdrops instead of his next heat.

On the surface, competition and free surfing can appear incredibly similar - salt-crazed yahoos chasing the best waves they can find, hunting after the ride of their life, but it seems that the magic of this hunt is marred by the competitive and commercialised aspect. There’s the age-old idea of island hopping through the South Pacific, searching for mysterious waves, seeking breaks that have never been surfed, sleeping rough, getting tangled in cultural barriers that get you matches and three live chickens when you thought you asked for directions. Maybe I exaggerate (never), but it’s these type of encounters that aren't given the chance when travelling CT style. Which gives us pause to think, perhaps competition surfing’s monetary allure, endless photos of yourself and babysitter sponsorship is the evil temptation after all…

Kelly Slater may be the ultimate comp surfer, but he doesn't mind flirting with freesurfing ideals.

It’s nearing the end, and we need a resolution. Maybe it’s free surfing. There’s that satisfying, adrenaline-filled kick out of going against the grain, the appeal in the idea of risk that keeps you feeling young so that one day when you're finally considered ‘old’, you can look back and say ‘fuck, I did good’. Or alternatively, you can work your ass off, get yourself to a decent ranking on the CT and show your kids all your trophies and pics of yourself on empty, perfect waves - in the three storey house that you bought (not your parent’s basement).

Which one does the girl ultimately want? Anyone but the bodyboarder.