It's a well-known fact; there is prejudice against Brazilians in the world of surfing.
You all know it, but why is it like this? I'd say it boils down to them being easy targets. There hasn't been a legitimate Brazilian Title contender in well over a decade. They are always throwing out exaggerated claims even on average rides. They grovel every bit of the wave until it fizzles out. They are passionate and proud of their country. They are not known for having particularly smooth styles. And lastly, they are immediately written off in solid surf.
I want to ask, though: why are we so quick to write them off?
Lots of countries haven't had legitimate world title contenders in over a decade or longer. How many countries can possibly have contenders when Slater is on tour? Australia and America have been the only two countries with a chance since… forever ago (and yes I'm including Hawaii in with America.).
Exaggerated claims? Who doesn't throw these out nowadays on the WCT? I saw Mick Fanning claim a glorified head dip in his semi vs Parko like he thought he just got a 10! I think he got a 6.5 or something on that wave. Jordy Smith was throwing out retarded claims like no tomorrow! It's just stupid psychological bullshit to make the judges score you higher, which is the fault of the ASP more than the surfers themselves. At least when the Brazilians claim a wave it's out of actual stoke, because they're so fired up. They aren't manufactured like Mick Fanning and company.
Grovel much? Adriano was taking waves in noticeably far and ripping them with combinations of tail-blows snap. We like to talk shit about it, but who can argue that he was ripping his way to the inside while also making it easier to be picked up by the PWCs?
Patriotism? I'm pretty sure most people are proud of their country and want to represent it well. I don't see a problem with the passion Brazilians show for their country. It's a good thing.
Style? Sure many surfers from Brazil don't have the most polished style. Not everyone can surf like Parko, but I see wacky surfing styles coming from everywhere these days. Some people have it, some people don't. It isn't just "That dude is from there, so he automatically has bad style."
Big-wave chargers? You guys remember when Bruno Santos took down Slater en route to his victory at Teahupoo last year? Bruno is a Brazilian. Carlos Burle, Danilo Couto, Rodrigo Resende, Maya Gabeira…the list goes on and on.
So all these opinions that Americans, Australians, and whoever else around the world share, gives Brazilians a bad rap when it comes to the sport of surfing. It's never highlighted more than when one does well and takes down a few people that we like, such as Adriano de Souza did in the past couple days.
Yeah, some people are giving him a little bit of credit. Surfline's Lewis Samuels did a couple of days ago on his blog and we need to recognize that. But the key word here is "little". It's like the majority of American and Aussie reporters are writing him off at the same time. They'll suck it up and say he's a contender, but deep down they're shocked he actually is, and it shows through arrogant writing styles. Everyone seems to think it's some kind of fluke Adriano surfed his way to the final of the Quiksilver Pro. I mean, it must have been a fluke if he beat Taj, right? Taj blew it! God, what happened to Taj? How'd he let Adriano beat him?
I agree that Taj is a better surfer than Adriano. Taj is sick. But I'll also agree that the gap is closing between the two. Adriano has more upside at this point in his career than Taj, and he just straight-up beat T.B. in that heat. Just like he straight-up beat Bede Durbidge, and just like he straight-up beat everyone else except Parko that whole event.
Adriano has been steadily, if not rapidly, improving year after year. He's taken his surfing to a new level while many of his peers have just flatlined or even declined.
Take Bobby Martinez for instance. He and Adriano qualified the same year. It took Adriano one year to qualify, it took Bobby many more, but Bobby immediately killed it on the WCT and shot to the top end of the ratings. Adriano hung in the middle of the pack his first two years, then shot up to seventh last year. While Bobby has stayed up in the top 10, he hasn't been on an "upward climb" like Adriano since his stellar rookie season.
Now who would you say has a better shot at winning a world title, Adriano or Bobby? I'll go with Adriano if I'm a betting man. At least until Bobby shows some more grit and determination.
Here's a few quotes from around the surf world (ourselves included) that downplay Adriano's recent accomplishments…
"I saw Taj go limp in a pathetic performance against Adriano De Souza in Semi No. 2, as the conditions went to hell and Adriano went to his first WCT final." – Our own Stuart Cornuelle, surfingmagazine.com
That's it? So it's about Taj's pathetic performance more than De Souza's air-tight heat surfing? The guy was nails from start to finish and has been improving every year since his rookie debut in 2006.
"There might be more Brazilians on the Gold Coast than there are in Brazil. Adriano looking like he just won the comp." – caption in lightbox on www.surfingmagazine.com
This is all we can say about the kid who was in the top 5 for most of last year and opened up with his first finals berth in 2009? Shame on us.
"The second semifinal was, frankly, anti-climactic after that spectacle. But Adriano de Souza deserves full credit for a determined and skilled display in trying conditions, as the tide ran out and the wind and rain whipped up. Taj looked out of sorts and never really got going. Adriano even beached one after a clean, little tube, milking it all the way to the shorebreak as if was if he was back in at a Brazilian beachie. Old habits die hard." – Tim Baker, Surfline.
He actually killed that wave, did two tail-outs and got totally underscored. That heat against Taj should have been by an even wider margin than it was. It was like the judges were trying to leave the door open in case Taj mustered a comeback so they could overscore him straight into the final.
"Despite the Brazilian excitement on the Gold Coast, with flags waving and the Latino crowd mobbing their hero, there was a sense of inevitability about the final." – Tim Baker, Surfline
Hey, it's a lot better than a bunch of self-conscious, surly Americans with their arms folded and worried about looking cool. They're all for one and one for all, and that's cool. Not something for us to continue to make fun of.
"de Souza's run in this event was awesome, and you can't dispute that, still in his early 20s, he'll be a force for some time to come on the World Tour…" – Joel Patterson, Surfer
His report was as boring as hell, but what does he mean, 'You can't dispute that?' You're damn right we can't. Would you ever say 'You can't dispute that' if Taj or Mick or Parko made the final. Of course we wouldn't. Another little snip at Adriano's credibility.
"With 1000's of Brazilians on the Goldy, he had a massive and very vocal cheering squad! This kid is to be reckoned with as a serious contender—super consistent and can surf in anything." – Justin Cote, Twsurf
This story wasn't even really a story. But at least they call him a "serious contender" as opposed to a not-so-serious contender, or one we "can't dispute."
"With apologies to the Brazilian surf fans who will react to this news with boiling blood in the comments box – Adriano's run to the final was unexpected. That's not to say he didn't deserve his place – Taj went missing in their semi, and Adriano did everything he needed to do, but it was still a shock to see him there. Who would've put money against Bede, the world number two surfing down the road from his house, yesterday? Maybe you would've thought about betting against Taj based on Adriano's clinical dismantling of Durbidge, but as Mick and Joel proved, today was about barrels, and you'd be forgiven for not picking de Souza to beat Burrow in big, shifty kegs." — ASL
The hands-down winner. When will we set prejudice aside and celebrate a hard-working, super-talented surfer from Brazil?
It's time to stop undermining Brazilians, or any country's surfers for that matter. Bottom line is that Adriano de Souza is leading the charge for Brazil and he isn't going anywhere, anytime soon. Quit hating and give the kid his props. He's earned every bit of it.