When you think surfing, which nations comes to mind? Hawaii? Australia? Tahiti? South Africa? All of these nations hold a special place within the surfing community, offering a panacea to die hard surfers looking for consistent wave breaks along some of the most beautiful coastline Mother Nature has to offer. However there is a storm emerging, a hot-bed of youthful talent uncontrollably bursting on to the professional scene.
Brazil is blessed with a long beautiful coastline but cursed by a long-stretched Atlantic continental shelf butchering the consistency of quality waves. As a competing nation, Brazil has always been seen as the longtime underdog nation, this explains why the rest of the world outside of the surfing community has been unable to link Brazil to the highest quality trend setting style of surfing coming out of the country. The first Brazilian to win the World Surf League Championship Tour was Gabriel Medina in 2014 and in 2015 fellow countryman, Adriano de Souza made sure the title stayed within Brazilian hands. The 2018 tour however has been the tipping point for Brazilian surfers across all levels. Within the 2018 Championship Tour athlete roster Brazil impressively holds the highest representation by a long way:
Countries in order of 2018 CT representation (number of competitors):
- Brazil (13)
- Australia (8)
- United States (5)
- Hawaii (4)
- France (2)
- South Africa (2)
- French Polynesia (1)
- Portugal (1)
- Japan (1)
Within the Mens Qualifying Series, Brazil is the third most represented country with 116 athletes. However it is not the amount of representation Brazil is putting on show which currently makes them the undeniable global force of surfing, it is the radical style with which they fearlessly perform in competitions. At its highest level Brazilian surfing is an athletic demonstration of Brazilian culture; playful, charismatic, rhythmic and full of bravado. Brazil has cemented its place within the surfing community with the coining of this new wave of talent as the “Brazilian Storm”. It appears as if the eye of that storm has well and truly passed and is unleashing it’s wrath.
The Championship Tour consists of 11 events around the world, the season is currently 8 competitions in. A Brazilian has won 7 of those competitions and Gabriel Medina is the current defending champion of the next two upcoming competitions. The current top 5 leaderboard consists of 3 Brazilians, Italo Ferreira holds the top spot, with Gabriel Medina trailing closely behind in 2nd and Filipe Toledo holding the 4th spot with everything to surf for.
The first ever Surf Ranch Pro, at the critically acclaimed Kelly Slater Wave Company location, an in-land venue with a man-made wave was a true demonstration of surfing talent. Surfing in the ocean involves a lot more than just surfing a wave, it involves wave selection and with that positioning, tactically managing wave priority and predicting the way to surf any given wave. The Surf Ranch takes these elements out of the competition, ramping up the pressure for the athletes to perfect each and every wave the Hydrofoil delivers to them. This year the first ever Surf Ranch Pro ended in a compelling final with Filipe Toledo landing three air manoeuvres and catching a barrel on a single wave, which wasn’t enough to see off Gabriel Medina’s consistency and final Kerrupt Flip manoeuvre to win the tournament. This mix of free-surfing and professional consistency has undeniably delivered some of the most dominant surfing seen in the history of competitive surfing.
The NY Times has explained this Brazilian surfing explosion with the growth of the countries middle class, allowing talented youth to travel the world in order to get away from the Atlantic continental shelf. However to produce the likes of Gabriel Medina there is so much more required than just a growing middle class, his talent — along with his fellow countrymen — is the product of sacrifice, not only from himself but his supportive family. The Medina family is now reinvesting in home grown talent to ensure the storm doesn’t dissipate. The investment opens up young Brazilian’s with an opportunity to take on the world and continue in the legacy being written by the Brazilian Storm.
Nick is a consultant to Mulberry Green Capital & Engaged Tracking