Brazil headed into its premier event with a mixed bag of modern history. It’s the first year they have a reigning world champ, Gabriel Medina, at the same time Adriano and Filipe tear apart the ratings hell bent on their own titles.
Yet the year opened with the death of Ricardo Dos Santos (24) in January after an argument with an off-duty cop. Raoni Monteiro was officially barred for ‘unintentional’ use of performance-enhancing drugs and the event’s back-up venue was closed after unacceptable levels of untreated sewage were recorded.
Everyone arrived in glorious Rio with huge smiles on their faces after a cracking Western Aus event
Everyone arrived in glorious Rio with huge smiles on their faces after a cracking Western Aus event and a fun warm up via the QS Oakley Lowers Pro at Trestles. Filipe arrived with the biggest smile. It would hard to imagine how the ever-cheerful and humble Brazilian could smile harder but by the end of the event he certainly would be.
The Brazilian tidal wave we were promised seems less like the Hokusai tsunami and more and more like the Pororoca tidal bore, the ‘Great Roar’ of the Amazon. The locals call it the poroc-poroc ‘the act of destroying everything’, which perfectly sums up Toledo’s attack on Barra da Tijuca.
Still it was Slater who tore out of the gate threatening to finally pull his finger out. The 11-times world champ scored a deep square bomb and accepted a 9.50, twenty minutes later he picked up a ridiculous barrel to get 9.77. Yet, defeated Kiwi Ricardo Christie would eventually make it through the heats to reach the quarters.
However, Slater himself didn’t make it beyond Round three after Banting scalped him. Gabe lost to Asing. Fanning was, once again, the only world champ to progress.
Brazil still does events the old way Thousands turned out, day in, day out to support their brethren
Brazil still does events the old way. Thousands turned out, day in, day out to support their brethren and their passionate support requires more security than any other event. In fact their love of their countrymen is so intense that the crowd almost missed John John’s rodeo flip while looking back up the beach for the Brazilians to arrive. After that it seemed that no one was really watching Florence as he exited the event without any real performance.
By the final day everyone’s money was on a Wilko/Toledo showdown. Yet Filipe destroyed countryman Italo Ferreira and Bede Durbidge did the same to Wilko making for a clash of old and new, big carve/big wave verses small wave magic.
Finals day highlights
Filipe was up before the buzzer had finished opening the final. And he never stopped. The call for restraint from the pundits fell on deaf ears as tail blows and punts galore rained down on Rio. Within ten minutes a massive air rotation threatened to kill Bede’s involvement in the final. The Aussie battler looked out of place and ultimately deserved the combo that Filipe served him in the pitching Barra lips.
Final in Full
Toledo took his second WCT win giving him a head start on the world title. Very few surfers have managed to maintain their initial tear through the ranks; Taj Burrows, for example, has made petering out year in, year out his thing. Slater and Fanning are consistent in both topping the podium and hitting the numbers. Parko waited until the last event at Pipe to win an event in his 2012 title year.
Fanning yet again breathing down everyone’s neck as we head towards Fiji
Yet a win on the Gold Coast, Trestles and now in Brazil still only puts Toledo second behind Adriano, with Fanning yet again breathing down everyone’s neck as we head towards Fiji and the real tests. Julian Wilson, a man who manages to seem bitter in interviews even when he wins said that Toledo is ‘the best in the world in these kind of waves’ meaning small and gutless.
It is an accusation that has always been levelled at Brazilian surfers, even by fellow South Americans. And while Gabe’s win at Chopes, Fiji and a second at Pipe went some way to quashing the claim – Filipe’s masterful small wave ballet seems only to be confirming it.