EXCLUSIVE: ABC has greenlighted surfing competition reality series Ultimate Surfer, headlined by 11-time World Surf League champion Kelly Slater. The eight-episode series, from prolific unscripted producer Craig Piligian’s Lionsgate-owned Pilgrim Media Group and WSL Studios, will feature top up-and-coming surfers. They will train and live together as they battle it out at WSL’s state-of-the-art Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, which employs by Kelly Slater’s man-made wave technology. (You can watch a video about the facility below)
Slater will serve as on-air talent and special correspondent for the show, executive produced by Pilgrim CEO and President Piligian, WSL Studios President of Content and Media Erik Logan, and UFC President Dana White. It is slated to begin production in 2020.
In Ultimate Surfer, men and women will compete in individual and team challenges focused on specific surfing disciplines. Weekly eliminations will leave two men and two women as finalists who will vie for the male and female titles of the Ultimate Surfer and the opportunity to compete on the WSL World Tour.
“In addition to being a globally recognized sport, surfing is also a lifestyle; and Ultimate Surfer will give viewers a uniquely personal look at what goes into becoming a world-class champion,” said Rob Mills, SVP, Alternative Series, Specials and Late Night, ABC Entertainment. “We’re ecstatic about the opportunity to utilize Kelly’s world-class surf facility and his expertise in showcasing these incredibly talented on-the-rise athletes.”
“This is an unprecedented opportunity for two surfers (one man, one woman) to win an opportunity to compete against the best surfers in the world on the WSL Tour,” said Slater, who will be the lead consultant for the series. “This will put some of the best up-and-comers against each other in a more direct way to see who stands above the rest, and Surf Ranch is obviously a great venue to use for ‘Ultimate Surfer.’ I’m excited to watch how they step up to the challenge.”
The series stems from the co-development deal Pilgrim Media Group and WSL Studios unveiled in July to produce surf-centric sport and lifestyle content across all formats and platforms. It was one of two major projects that already had been put in the pipeline, along with a feature documentary.
Piligian and White have a longstanding relationship, having produced together another competition reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, since 2005.
Logan, an avid surfer, has been ramping up content at WSL Studios since he joined the World Surf League last year after seven years as President of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. This marks the studio’s first series.
Surfers, 21 or older, interested in being a contestant on the show, can apply here.