It is not a question of "if", but rather "when." Every surf fan around the globe – even the harshest critics of Brazilian surfing – knows that a Brazzo will eventually win the World Title. It's only a matter of time. Right?
Well, 2014 has arrived and a new era in pro surfing looms on the horizon. ZoSea promises big changes, Slater is close to retirement – yet when you talk about favorites to take the Title, the same names seem to come up: Slater, Fanning, Parko, Burrow. Maybe John John and Jordy get on that list now too. But very few would put their money on a Brazilian.
But competitive surfing is just as unpredictable as a Brazilian World Champ in 2014 is improbable. It could happen. This year. And this is why.
Candidate 1: Adriano de Souza
De Souza – or Mineirinho, as he's called back home – is a grinder. A blue-collar surfers' hero driven to the max. His dedication and relentlessness is second to none. He wants to win more than anything and is scared of no one. Not even Slater – who he's beaten 5 times in World Tour events. It's no wonder he's achieved far more in his 8 years on Tour than surfers arguably better than him. He won four events and was in the Top 10 for 5 years straight ('08 – '12), having dropped only a few spots over the last couple of years.
He's won at 4 of the 11 stops on the 2014 Tour: Bells, Rio, J-Bay ('QS event) and Portugal. He made the finals on the Goldy and semis at Trestles, Fiji and France. If can get similar results at these spots, he could very well arrive in Hawaii – which has always been his Achilles' heel – with the Title in the bag. That would obviously be a difficult task, but all he needs is a couple good results to get on a roll – with a win and a semi in the last two 'QS events in Australia, this might just be Mieirinho's year.
Candidate 2: Gabriel Medina
Brazil's wunderkind doesn't have De Souza's track record, but he's got an arsenal that can trump experience. He makes backflips seem terrestrial and pulls massive air reverses in his sleep. He's not even 20 years old, yet he can ride the barrel like a true master. He won twice in his rookie season. And most importantly, he's got flair.
For Medina to clinch the Title in 2014, he needs one thing: consistency. Even though he made the semis in Rio and the finals in Fiji, last year proved to be a tough one for him. But Medina genuinely seems to have learned more from his recent losses than his out-of-the-gate wins. Having written off 2013 as a "bad year", he arrived in Hawaii with his eyes already set in 2014. Maybe that's why he shined at Pipe, demolishing Bruce Irons and barely losing to event finalist John John Florence. Medina has all the tools at his disposal – the surfing, the flair and that Brazilian warrior mentality. If he starts the year with a bang, he'll be difficult to stop.
—Steven Allain, International Editor of HardCore Magazine, Brazil