The storm is over, the dominance has begun.
Remember the Brazilian storm? I’m not exactly sure when, where or by whom that term was coined, but it already seems like it was a long time ago. The initial chat was that it was a newly formed low pressure system all set to direct a slew of long period young Brazilian surfers to the upper echelons of surfing.
The thing about storms though is that although highly destructive and powerful, they aren’t supposed to hang around. This Brazilian storm though, like genital warts, isn’t going anywhere. With the penultimate QS10,000 event just completed at Haleiwa and only five spots on the CT roster left up for grabs, the ascension of Brazil as surfing’s superpower remains unchecked. This isn’t a storm anymore. It’s a unbudgeable high pressure system that has set up camp in the surfing atmosphere for the foreseeable future.
Along with the already qualified Jesse Mendes and Yago Dora, Willian Cardoso and Tomas Hermes secured their spots in the mess at Haleiwa. Now I’ll grant you, if Cardoso and Hermes are the answer, than we are surely asking the wrong surfing questions, but it does show that the depth of Brazilian talent is staggering.
These four will join Gabriel Medina, Adriano de Souza, Filipe Toledo, Caio Ibelli, Miguel Pupo, Wiggolly Dantas and Italo Ferreira on the CT in 2018. That’s 11 out of the 32 spots. There’s also a fair chance of Michael Rodrigues and Jadson Andre making the cut and tipping them over the 33 per cent CT market share. If Brazilian surfers had voting rights, there’d be eight comps in Rio each year.
In comparison Australia looks set to lose Bede Durbidge, Josh Kerr, Jack Freestone, Stu Kennedy, and Ethan Ewing and that’s without the small matter of the imminent retirements of Fanning and Parkinson. The lone replacement for this swathe of Aussie talent is Wade Carmichael. Now I’m one of Wade’s biggest fans, but that’s a lot of double pluggers to fill for a 25-year-old journeyman.
It’s not just the quality where Brazil’s dominance is starting to settle and gather roots, but also the quality. In Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo they have the only two surfers under 25 who are capable of pushing John John Florence. Italo too is young and world class, while Dora, at just 20, has the potential to reach that level. In the veterans like Adriano de Souza, Jadson Andre, Wiggolly and Miguel they have experienced campaigners who also take their role as CT mentors to the young Brazilians very seriously.
The result of this talent, timing and teamwork is the dominance we are now seeing. The future role of wave pools too must be considered. If thousands of Brazilian surfers start to get learn to surf in man-made perfection, rather than crappy beachbreaks, the trajectory will only get faster. Imagine plonking one of Kelly’s Wave Pools just outside the outskirts of Sao Paulo, which has a population of over 12 million people? Mini Filipe Toledo’s will be springing up like mushrooms in a Mullumbimby dairy farm after an April shower.
Yep, it’s safe to say, the Brazilian storm no longer exists. It came a few years ago and blew the doors, windows and roof off. The conveyor belt of talent has now simply come in, taken up residence and started to rebuild a CT fortress. It might take another storm to dislodge them. That could well be a decade away.
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