Miguel Pupo Interview

Catching up with the young Brazilian after the biggest win of his career

Miguel Pupo smiles for the camera with a pocket full of gold and dreams of Disneyland. Photo: Van Swae

Miguel Pupo was in a pickle today when he stopped by our office. He had a problem that most of us wish we had. Thanks to a first place finish at the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro, Miguel had a solid gold railroad spike worth $30,000 in his pocket, and needed to find a safe place to stash it before he could go to Disneyland. Who says that the life of a professional surfer is easy? But in all seriousness, Pupo did put on a golden performance at Lower Trestles against one of the most stacked fields of competitors to ever enter a Prime event. At 19 years old, the prodigal Brazilian has a bright future in surfing, and his lethal frontside attack in the Lowers lefts certainly earned him some recognition, or at least a good seat on the Indiana Jones ride.

Did you ever think that you would win at Lowers, and that your friends would more or less dominate the event?

At first I think we were all just trying to surf good, and then Jadson [Andre] started surfing like crazy, and everyone got excited. Gabriel [Medina] started surfing really well, and Alejo [Muniz] was going nuts, and Junior [Faria] too. So everyone just got really excited and I think that's why all the Brazilians did really well.

What was it like being the underdog in the final against Tanner Gudauskas in front of his home crowd?

I think after my heat against Jadson in the Quarters I started to think that maybe I could win it. I was just thinking about the points, and trying to make as many heats as I could. After my heat with Jadson, I was like, “Yeah, that's 4,000 points!” And it went up with each heat, so I was just trying my best to get the points, but then when I got closer to the Final I started to think about the gold and the money. But I really didn't realize that was going to happen.

Did you know going into the contest that first place would take home a $30,000 piece of gold?

Yeah, I knew that, but I didn't really think about it. Me and my dad were just thinking about the points and getting closer to making the Tour. I was taking it heat by heat until I made it into the Final, and then all my friends were like, “Yeah! Go Brazil!”

So where are you keeping that gold spike?

It's in my pocket right now. There's no place to leave this thing! It's the sickest trophy ever, but it's also the scariest thing ever because you don't know where to put it. I've just been carrying it around it my pocket because I can feel it. It's so heavy! I'm going to go leave it at the bank today before I go back to Brazil. Before my dad left he was keeping it in his pocket.

So now you're heading back to Brazil?

Yeah, I'm going back home. I'm spending a couple of weeks there, and I'm going to keep working hard. I was at home before I came here, and I was just waking up at like 5:00 in the morning every single day--just training and getting focused by myself. As long as you work hard, the results will come. I'm from the North Coast of São Paulo, which is pretty much the same place as Thiago 'Shrimp' [Camarão] and Gabriel. I'm just like five minutes from Gabriel's house, which is good because we just grew up pushing each other's surfing.

Miguel Pupo sealed his spot atop the Lowers podium with incredible frontside turns in the punchy lefts. Photo: Ellis

Do you think that the new generation of Brazilians is going to make a mark on the global contest scene in the next few years?

I think that this generation is healthier and more focused. We've all known each other since we were like 12-years-old, and we've been traveling together. Me, Alejo, Jadson, and Gabriel are always fighting for first place. So we just push each other, and other guys are getting really excited also, like Thiago and Jesse [Mendes]. Jesse started doing really well. I don't know, it's just kind of different. We see each other do well and we don't really get jealous, we just get really excited and want to do exactly the same thing. I think that's why the level of surfing is just going up in Brazil.

Is there a certain sense of camaraderie in a situation like the Lowers Pro, where a lot of the competitors are from California and they have more support on the beach?

Yeah, I think that the Brazilians are pretty close. We like to see our countrymen doing well. If I'm at a comp and I see a Brazilian in the semis, then of course I'm going to get down to the beach and clap them in, you know? When I was the last Brazilian in the final, I was really wanted to make it, and it was cool to see all the other Brazilians on the beach shouting.

Would you be surprised to see a Brazilian World Champ some time soon?

We are all working hard for that, and right now is the right time because everyone is surfing good and the brands are really supporting us now. Just a few years ago it was pretty hard, but now you can get sponsored by brands from America and everything. Like Alejo with Nike--they are putting Alejo everywhere and he's traveling with Julian and all those guys. And me too, I'm so stoked to have my sponsors supporting me and sending me everywhere.

So what are you doing with the rest of your day?

I'm going to Disneyland because I've never been there. My manager thought it was a good idea, and I just love it because when you're a surfer you don't have time to do those things like a normal kid. I've never been to a concert, or a lot of things like that in my life that most kids grow up doing. I've never been to Disneyland, and I have a chance right now so I'm going to go for it!