Surfing9 min

Forecast: Brazilian success storm shows no sign of stopping

New video follows the journey of Brazilian surfers as they ride a wave of global domination.
By Douglas Goncalves BarbosaPublished on
After decades in the wilderness, Brazil is now a powerhouse in the world of surfing with the likes of Lucas ‘Chumbo’ Chianca and Mateus Herdy making a big name for themselves on the global stage. The latest installment of the But Why Tho video series reveals how Brazil came to be such a hotbed of sensational surf talents.
In the video above filmmaker Andy Burgess explores why Brazil, despite having more than 4,000 miles (6,437km) of coastline, initially struggled to get a foothold in the surfing scene during the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. What seemed to be lacking was a first-rate surf break such as a permanent feature like a coral reef that could supply constant waves.
Historically, the Brazilian economy was also unstable with huge inflation. It finally stabilised in the 2000s and this allowed talented surfers to travel to places like Hawaii, Tahiti, California and Australia where big waves could be found.
Gabriel Medina surfs in San Clemente, California, USA on September 5, 2014.
Gabriel Medina's world title in 2014 changed the game
Burgess’s film reveals that when Brazilian surfers first dropped in on elite competitions, there was a big culture clash as they were deemed loud and obnoxious with an aggressive reputation during their runs.
Once they settled in and adapted, though, they finally managed to break the American and Australian stranglehold on the men's scene thanks to Gabriel Medina's world title in 2014.
We didn't have that kind of money like the Americans and Australians. Surfing here got way more serious when Gabriel came. It changed everything
Brazilian surfers Mateus Herdy and Adriano de Souza.
Mateus Herdy
Surfing Competition
Medina’s success opened the floodgates for his fellow Brazilian surfers. Adriano de Souza followed up with the maiden World Surf League title in 2015 as Medina made it two world crowns in 2018 and Ítalo Ferreira took home the last one in 2019.
The boys from Brazil embraced their underdog reputation to begin with on the tour, then used their nation's long success in football and Formula One to provide extra motivation. Not only that, they were used to generating speed and power themselves on bad waves in regional Brazilian events which came in handy when they got on to the global stage.
Now young stars like Chumbo, Herdy and Pedro 'Scooby' Vianna are excelling with Chumbo winning the prestigious 2019 Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge two years after compatriot Rodrigo Koxa broke the world record there for the largest wave ever surfed at 80 foot (24m).