Nice...Bertleman was slightly ahead of his time... awesome surfer and an influence on many in surfing and skate (watch Dogtown and Z- boys)
Pottz was in the same mold... good call. Hows about a Pottz protege? Mr. Matt Archibold. Bad life decisions aside, he was considered by many the best surfer in the world for a minute and the ultimate f-you surf rebel type.
Bunker Spreckles, the heir to the Spreckles Sugar fortune. The guy was a combination of a drug dealer, rock star, porn star, surf star and surf recluse. While all the other surfers at the time were into "Country Soul", Bunker would pull up to Honolua Bay in a Mercedes and a mink coat. Was a damn fine surfer, and was shaping and surfing some of the craziest shapes in the water during the first "short board revolution" in the late 60's and early 70's. As with all who live so fast, he surely died young.
Mike Purpus has a great story, too. And don't ever forget about MIKI DORA
There was mention of Larry Bertlemann. Check this video of Bertlemann. It's taken from on old 16mm film:
Definitely up there for me, but I'll be back with my top shortly. Bertlemann was ahead of his time and had such a big influence on surfing, but really influenced skateboarding as well. The post above was right...He really influenced the Dogtown crew and the direction their skateboarding went. AND those guys just completely pushed skateboarding ahead of it's time and opened the potential. I've also heard from people that knew him that he was an extremely nice guy as well. I think it's rad to not only influence surfing such a great deal, but cross over and have just as big of influence on skating.
I think these are my choices that account for almost every decade since the 30s.
I'll go with Tom Curran as well. As nj42 said, stylish, powerful and skilled, but also controlled with such smooth flow. One of my favorite pieces of video tape is Curran at Jbay in Ultimate Sessions.
You've gotta love Jeff Clark too. I mean to paddle out at mavericks, which is not exactly a few hundred feet and the water is not exactly warm, by yourself, when nobody else had ever done it............what words would you use to describe him; sick, nuts, ZOO MAN...............
Present: Dane Reynolds
Past: Shaun Tomson
I just like Dane and Shaun's style and demeanor on and off the waves, seems like they'd be cool guys to hang out and surf with.