Did someone forget to tell Italo Ferreira about the global pandemic? The reigning world champion has been on a tear throughout 2020.

Last week he won the WSL’s French Rende-Vous event. The week before that the Onda do Bem exhibition event in Brazil. This week he's in Portugal vying for another win – this’ll be his third, the same number he has entered in 2020 if he can pull it off.

His training came in the form of a hit and run trip to the Maldives where he reminded us how tac sharp his freesurfing act is.

He’s the kind of surfer that can bank five insta-clips in the space of a session. Easy.

While most pro surfers chose to hibernate through 2020, Italo has been surfing like a frothing grom and dropping banging clip after clip that boggle the mind.

The rapid-fire evidence should send a chill through his competitors.

His Brazilian peers Gabriel Media and Filipe Toledo are arguably just as talented with a similar strike rate.

So, where’s the proof?

Either Medina has been stockpiling footage for years towards a bio-pic out of this world or the former Brazilian world champ is completely unnerved.

Medina fever was in full effect well before his first world title. He was a household name in Brazil, rolls with celebrities, and knows how to live the good life. Despite coping criticism for his signature slow starts to the CT season, he consistently finishes strong and thrives when there’s a target to chase down.

Whether Medina has the motivation to fight for more world titles or settle for good times probably depends on how long competition remains ‘on hold’. He stakes his relevance in performances in a jersey. Everything else documented is the playboy lifestyle.   

Filipe Toledo meanwhile has been quiet. The San Clemente based Brazilian is now a family man. Holding down a pro surfing life with two kids in tow and an extended family is a tall ask. But you’d think all that time in lockdown would warrant a little more than some clips from the vault.

As one keen observer noted, it’s not like he doesn’t have a filmer and entourage on call to slip a trip south of the border or post up at Trestles for a viral edit.

Does he still have the drive to win at all costs?

Toledo’s air game at J-Bay and Surf Ranch plus his commanding small-wave repertoire are his bread and butter. But the nagging omission from his whole act remains. Until he finds the nerve to step it up when the waves do he’ll be hard-pressed to challenge Medina and Italo for world title silverware despite the changes to the Tour in 2021.

Like it or not perception is everything in our exceedingly public lives. For athletes, their every move is monitored as we dive into their lives through their social feeds, edits, and comments playing out in real-time.

Some welcome the scrutiny others shy away completely. However, like it or not we all have our favourites and total objectivity is near impossible. We all have an opinion on who has been ripping the most and “in form”.

No doubt the judges have been watching with a keen eye too.

The battleground is no longer a 30-minute heat in 2020. It’s life outside the Tour in a COVID-world.

If the rest of the Tour doesn’t get a move on and catch the reigning world champ with their performances I’m backing another Italo Ferreira world title in 2021.

And if the WSL guns for a Hawaii 2020 start for the 2021 season expect the pocket dynamo to show everyone up again at Pipe. Fizzing with infectious good vibes, stoke-ed all the way.