Rio Wrap Up

A final report from the World Masters in Rio

Shea Lopez

The author of SURFER's Top 32 Review, Shea Lopez spent 11 years competing on the World Tour and now reigns as our resident expert on the pro surfosphere.

After a week of my gringo ass enjoying Rio’s winter weather perfection, I have come to the conclusion that Brazilians know how to enjoy themselves more than those from any other country. Everyday the beach here is packed with locals and tourists enjoying themselves (you can't imagine the attire girls see fit to wear here). Every block--or even less in certain hot spots--would have small, locally run beach concessions renting chairs and umbrellas, while selling beer and caparinhas to be consumed, legally, right at the water’s edge. In America or Oz this would be a recipe for complete chaos and disaster.

Not here, though.

Every evening there wasn’t a piece of trash on the beach left, only smiles and good vibes could be found. And the fun kept going after dark with the introduction of stadium-quality lighting that enables everyone to surf through the night on the playful left walls of Aproador.

All the while, the party keeps rolling along on the beach and boardwalk.

My home beach is cool and all, but this place is beach utopia. Now if only we weren't smack dab in the middle of the flattest week all winter. Video of their local club contest only weeks earlier in epic 6-foot lefts makes me cringe with “what if’s.”

In Brazil surfing and partying continue until the wee hours. Photo: Shea

What happened during the contest though was still undeniably fun, despite the lack of surf. Tom Curren, just a year or two shy of being in the grandmasters, was the highlight of the event for me. Tonight he told me two things that left an impression: "The funnest part of competing in the small surf was the chess match with positioning that went into every heat.” And, "I was really disappointed in myself.” That statement was regarding a lack of focus that allowed Peterson
Rosa to paddle behind him and slide into position for one of the best waves all week. At almost 50, Tom Curren still loves to be challenged by his own ability to surf and manage a heat. Even saying, "I made the same mistakes this event that I get on my kids for making in NSSA events."

Seeing so many true legends of our sport and how they competed/acted during the week was quite an eye opener. Every surfer during the five rounds got more and more into their routines and rhythm. Oz Grand Master “Richo” with his webs and nightly practice surfs under the lights, all the while keeping a tremendous smile with his gorgeous wife on his arm, will stay with me forever.

So will Glen “Mr. X” Winton surfing a brand new board his Brazilian friend let him use for the comp with the hard plastic wrap still on. He simply waxed the plastic a bit and gave it a spin. If Glen didn’t like it his thinking was--he would give it back to his friend still new and wrapped in plastic. He liked the board and rode it to a third-place finish in the Grand Masters. The division was won by NZ judge Ian Buchanan in a close fought battle with Rabbit Bartholomew that was decided on the last wave when Bugs, needing a 4.5, only managed a 4.1. Bugs gave a head bob and pointed to the judges, letting them know he thought the score was too low. If you read my first post from Brazil you already know Bugs has been caught between a rock and a hard place in his mind regarding his past position at the ASP, and his current position of defending his Grand Masters title. Congrats to Ian though, he came through a couple times to pull off last-minute heat wins in almost every round.

In the Masters division, I once again showed up with my heat already entering the water. This time I thought I was in Quarterfinal Heat Two with Victor when I was actually in heat one with Nathan “Noodles” Webster. Not that it mattered though, as I sat patiently for 19:58 minutes of a 20 minute heat before the first decent wave presented itself to me. I was no match for Nathan in the dribble anyways--he always spanked me our entire careers in the small stuff. If you take away Pipe, Sunset, Teahupoo, and Cloudbreak from the Tour back in the day, Nathan becomes a Top 5 surfer from my era. The Masters Title was always going to be his or Victor’s this week. And now Noodles has a very hip Masters World Title to complete a lifetime of surfing contests.

A lifetime of surfing contests…

Every one of us here has committed to a lifetime of surfing and competing. A huge thanks goes out to Super Surf and the ASP from all of us involved for presenting us an amazing opportunity to still take part in what made up the majority of our lives. It will most likely not be until next year in Brazil when many of us compete again, and definitely the next time I drink a caparinha or twenty. Looking forward to both...