The Passion of De Souza
2011 was not a fluke. Think back. That's the year that the Brazilians stepped up and bit off a big piece of the competitive surfing pie. Some thought it was a lucky flash in the pan -- others prophesized that we'd have the first Brazilian world champ in the next few seasons.
Neither of those predictions has come to fruition, but the leader of this pack of brash Brazzos, Adraino de Souza, who was on tour years before this current movement, is certainly keeping himself in contention. He was part of that epic title race in the fall of last year. And currently ranked number four in the world, de Souza just won the Rip Curl Pro at Bells.
When he thinks back to that victory, he feels the critical moment was his win against former Bells champ, Mick Fanning.
"He is my hero and defeating him in those conditions gave me a lot of strength to face Jordy and then Nat at the grand final," de Souza explained from a recent trip to Indonesia.
But let's talk about momentum for a minute. With the big win in his pocket, the next stop on the tour is the Billabong Pro Rio, the event that de Souza won in its inaugural year in front of his countrymen. Between those two victories, he should have some real confidence heading back to Barra Da Tijuca. But as de Souza explains it, he doesn't run on that kind of momentum.
"Good results are always a confidence boost, but, to be honest, I don't think I do better because of it. I believe my strongest ability is my technique during competitions. Conditions are always subject to change in this sport. I never know what to expect, I can't tell what's coming up ahead. I feel it's best to just go with the flow."
And while he fully supports his fellow Brazilian surfers, he doesn't get caught up in who else is winning. For example, Willian Cardosa and Raoni Monteiro chopping down the big trees that are Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson at Bells doesn't affect him one way or another.
"The momentum couldn't be better for the Brazilian Crowd," he admits, "This new Brazilian generation is surfing really well. But we all know that we have to go one step at a time. I will arrive in Rio the same way I would had I had not won Bells. I always strive to beat my opponents and I know that this event will be really hard. I try to focus on my surfing and not think about how the other athletes will perform," he says.
It certainly would be easy to get caught up in Brazilian fever. Brazil just hosted a banging X Games. And although surfing is not physically part of the X line-up, the new Real Surf video competition bought waveriding back into the fold to some extent. Jordy Smith just walked with the gold, but Brazilian Gabriel Medina won the fan favorite. Then consider the fact that the World Cup is coming to Rio in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016. Brazil, which is known around the world for its passion for sport, is riding a huge wave of national pride. So even with this razor sharp focus, de Souza admits that coming back to Brazil holds some emotional motivation.
"I do believe the Beach in Rio will be packed with supporters. And I know I'm considered a surf icon in Brazil. It would be so great to be able to represent my green and yellow flag with a huge crowd supporting me."